In more than 20 years with The School District of Palm Beach County, Dr. Anthony Lockhart has built a reputation as an exemplary leader with a knack for connecting with his students and rising above whatever challenges are thrown his way, whether improving the performance of a struggling school or pushing an already high-achieving school to greater heights.
That track record of excellence is why Dr. Lockhart, currently the Principal at Lake Shore Middle School in Belle Glade, was recently named Principal of the Year for 2016-2017. He will represent Palm Beach County in a statewide competition for the Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership.
Dr. Lockhart’s most recent success came this year, with the news that Lake Shore Middle — a chronically low-performing school — moved from an F to a C. It was an assignment personally requested by Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa before the 2015-2016 school year.
“When I asked Dr. Lockhart to move from a high-performing high school to lead the change at Lake Shore Middle, he said yes without hesitation,” Dr. Avossa said. “He is a fantastic leader and motivator, and I’m proud to have him represent Palm Beach County to be considered for the Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership.”
Before Dr. Lockhart’s arrival, Lake Shore Middle had been plagued with discipline problems, exasperated faculty and an overall lack of purpose. It was also on the verge of state takeover after receiving F grades from the state two years in a row. Once Dr. Lockhart became principal, he interviewed teachers, spoke directly with concerned community members and worked to change the school culture.
“Instead of seeing students that embraced a failing attitude, I saw children that had not been given an opportunity to succeed,” Dr. Lockhart said. “I saw teachers that needed encouragement, training and support, and a community that could be convinced that success was possible.”
Under Dr. Lockhart’s leadership, Lake Shore Middle improved by two letter grades in just one year, rising from an F-rated school to a C rating.
Moving forward, Dr. Lockhart wants to maintain the school’s new spirit of accomplishment. He created a pledge that students recite at the beginning of every school day. It reads in part, “my hard work and positive attitude tell me one thing; I am a winner! Failure is not an option!”
“The changes in our school this past year are a testament to the dedication and hard work by our teachers, students and staff. Together, we changed the conversation regarding Lake Shore Middle School, and accomplished great things in our first year together,” Dr. Lockhart said. “There is still work to be done, but I am proud to say that Lake Shore Middle School is definitely moving in the right direction.”