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Hundreds pay tribute to Orange superintendent Ron Blocker

 | Published on 5/1/2012

 Hundreds pay tribute to Orange Superintendent Ron Blocker

Orlando Sentinel Original Article


After 12 years as superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, Ron Blocker has a lot of people lining up to say goodbye.

Nearly 800 well wishers who paid $55 a head got their chance Tuesday night during a gala dinner celebration in a ballroom at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. The event was arranged by the school district's public relations department and included sponsorships by Rosen Hotels & Resorts and CFE Federal Credit Union.


Blocker has strong roots in Orange County and the school system. He was a school psychologist and principal before rising to the superintendent's job in July 2000.


The event included video testimonials from about 30 people, including current and former employees, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and others.


Blocker has been credited with substantially raising the performance of the nation's 10th-largest school district to include three 'A' grades from the state, followed by a "B" most recently. He also oversaw a broad school building program that included replacing or upgrading numerous schools, and helped bring graduation rates to a record high.


The district's first black superintendent, Blocker's longevity stands out among urban superintendents, who average 3 1/2 years on the job.


"He's a teacher's superintendent," said teacher Rick Ellenburg in his testimonial. "You have to push him to get out of a room. He'd stay and talk to kids all day."


Many of the accolades for Blocker have come in recent years. He was honored as the top superintendent in the state last year by Florida Association of District School Superintendents.


While Deputy Superintendent Barbara Jenkins will be taking over as superintendent May 15, Blocker will be working into June to ease the transition.


Former administrator Clara Walters recalled Blocker talking her into reducing a student's suspension when he was a young administrator.


"He was always and advocate for children," Walters said.


Also Tuesday, the School Board announced that the district's administrative headquarters is being renamed the Ronald Blocker Educational Leadership Center in his honor. or 407-420-5120. Follow her on Twitter @RothLauren.

Copyright © 2012, Orlando Sentinel