The School Board of Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) in Orlando, Florida, has selected Maria Vazquez, an alumnus of the Chiefs for Change Future Chiefs leadership development program, as the district’s next superintendent. She is currently OCPS deputy superintendent and will succeed Chiefs for Change member and Chief in Residence Barbara Jenkins. Dr. Jenkins has been with the district for more than 30 years and has served as superintendent for the past decade. With more than 206,000 students across 202 schools, OCPS is the ninth-largest school system in the United States. It is also one of the largest employers in Central Florida, with more than 25,000 staff.
“As the daughter of immigrants, I deeply understand the power a quality education has to change lives,” Dr. Vazquez said. “School was a place where I thrived. My teachers challenged me, and with their help, I succeeded despite my language barrier. I have made it my life’s work to create school environments where all children feel safe, supported, and successful. I am honored to be selected as the next superintendent of Orange County and look forward to continuing the important work with our community to give every child an excellent education.”
As deputy superintendent, Dr. Vazquez oversees all academic, administrative, and operational functions related to teaching and learning for the A-rated district. She led the system’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr. Vazquez has also played a critical role in developing practices that increased the graduation rate to an all-time high; narrowed achievement gaps for students of color; grew the percentage of high-performing schools; expanded access to Advanced Placement and dual-enrollment courses; and strengthened supports for teachers. She has served as deputy superintendent since 2018. Throughout her 30-year career, Dr. Vazquez has also been a teacher; assistant principal; principal; principal supervisor; and chief academic officer.
“I am extremely pleased that the school board selected Dr. Vazquez,” said Dr. Jenkins. “Maria is well versed in every aspect of the district and will be able to accelerate strategies for student success. More importantly, she has the passion and the fortitude to lead a large urban district, thanks to her experience and her preparation by Chiefs for Change and other organizations. I am confident that she will work with the school board to continue leading our students to success.”
Dr. Vazquez has a doctorate and a master’s degree from the University of Central Florida and a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida. She is an alumnus of the fifth cohort of the Future Chiefs program. Through the program, Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan network of state and district education leaders from across the United States, identifies talented, diverse emerging leaders and integrates them into a community of practice. Future Chiefs receive coaching and mentorship from superintendents, commissioners, and education system CEOs and participate in a variety of other relevant learning opportunities. To learn more about the Future Chiefs program, click here.