Ever since she was a young girl, Caprice Edmond wanted to help her community and the children within it. A lifelong resident of St. Petersburg, she became a passionate advocate for children in need, serving as a Guardian Ad Litem, working in a children’s shelter and becoming an elementary school teacher in Title 1 schools.
In 2020, she was elected to the Pinellas County School Board. As one of seven board members, Edmond advocates for policies that enhance student achievement, compensate teachers fairly and create a safe learning environment – while being responsible for the overall operation and administration of Pinellas County schools.
“Given my experiences both inside and outside of the classroom, I felt that I had the tools and could affect positive change for young people in Pinellas County,” Edmond said.
We talked with Edmond - who graduated with a bachelor’s in Psychology in 2010, a master’s in Elementary Education and Educational Leadership in 2015 and 2017 respectively, and just received the young educator alumni award from USF’s College of Education – to hear about her path to the Pinellas County School Board, the key education issues she advocates for and the role the USF St. Petersburg campus played in her career trajectory. This interview has been edited for length.
Where did your passion for education and advocating for children and families come from?
I’ve worked with children all of my life. I wanted to be a child psychologist at an early age and that eventually led me to working with kids in foster care. For many of these kids, academic challenges are a major issue, which brought me to the teaching profession. During my career I served as a Guardian Ad Litem (a guardian that a court appoints to watch over a neglected or abused child) for over 10 years, an interim program manager at Sallie House (a children’s shelter) and a school teacher for six years at a number of schools in St. Petersburg.
Why did you want to run for the Pinellas County School Board?
Drawing on my wide range of experiences as an educator and participant in the educational system, I saw the opportunity to make an impact. And my experience working at Title 1 schools gave me the understanding on a wide range of challenges that students and teachers face.
What are the key issues you are trying to advocate for and find solutions to while on the School Board?
I’m really looking at the opportunities to uplift all students in our county. First, that I’m committed to working on when it comes to both academics and discipline. Second, I’m interested in a deeper understanding of how can we take an individualized approach to learning, as each child is unique and learns differently. I look for the best way to reach every child. Finally, COVID has resulted in a lot of heartache, mental health issues and additional pressures on families, students and staff. How can we support the members of our community while addressing the needs of the whole child?
What should the public know about the work of the school board that they may not necessarily realize?
Although we are elected in different parts of the county, when we vote, our vote impacts the entire county. The board’s impact is far-reaching, and every member makes a difference. Also, each school board member has a unique range of skills and experiences that we bring to the table.
What made you choose to study at the USF St. Petersburg campus?
I earned a scholarship to the University of Central Florida and spent a year and a half there, but it was just too big and overwhelming for me. I transferred to USF St. Pete and it was the right move – a tight-knit campus where I was able to talk to professors and receive the additional support that I needed. That worked out best for me, as it allowed me to remain in the community where I grew up my whole life, where I could continue to build relationships and ultimately start a career. My academic experiences at USF prepared me well for the roles I’ve taken on since that time.
How would you describe your higher education experience to students who might be interested in attending the campus?
Going to USF was a game changer. I can’t imagine receiving my education anywhere else. From the quality of the teaching to the sense of community, I appreciate what the college offered me. In fact, I still stay in touch with professors and peers from my years there. And I’ll feel forever grateful for the preparation that USF and its faculty and staff provided me for my career and my life.