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Photos by Laura Jane Pittman - Deborah Gianoulis became executive director of the Schultz Center for Teaching & Leadership in October. The center provides support and professional development for educators. "We are so lucky to have people who make...
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Mar. 27, 201312:00 PM EST

Workspace: Deborah Gianoulis, executive director, Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership

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by: Laura Jane Pittman

Deborah Gianoulis is on her second, maybe third, career. She says she actually has lost count.

Best known for her 25 years as a news anchor for WJXT Channel 4, Gianoulis in the fall took over as the executive director of the Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership at 4019 Boulevard Center Drive.

The independent nonprofit opened its doors in 2002 as a means to offer support and professional development for educators, with the goal of raising student achievement across a five-county area.

It was built with matching state funds that assisted about $8 million in locally raised private donations and grants. The center is housed in a facility that consistently stays busy with programs mentoring, networking and hosting classes and seminars.

Gianoulis has been a strong supporter of education for many years, including acting as chairwoman for Save Duval Schools and serving on the Schultz Center board of directors.

Education also was a large part of her platform when she unsuccessfully ran for a state Senate seat in 2010.

When the center's board began a search last year for a new director, it was not long before she was chosen.

"The board was engaged at the time in a re-visioning process for the center and a search for CEO and I was involved in both," said Gianoulis. "I never thought I would go back to a full-time job, but if you do what you are called to do, it works."

She began her job Oct. 11 of last year — or 10-11-12.

She said the vision Fred Schultz had is more relevant today than it was even then, as teachers and administrators need ways to recharge and learn new skills. Providing them with a facility of their own is critical, she said.

Schultz, a longtime education advocate, and his wife, Nancy, spearheaded the campaign to build the center by putting up the original "million-dollar challenge" grant.

"If you think about it, many schools are built for little people. The Schultz Center is a place just for educators, and they truly enjoy coming to an adult space," Gianoulis said.

"We get a lot of positive feedback, but one of my favorite compliments is this: 'Being at the center first taught me how to break down the walls of my classroom, then how to break down the walls of my schools, and finally, how to break down the walls of our society'," she said

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