On Tuesday June 14, the Hernando County School Board held a special 11 a.m. meeting to approve the naming of the planned stand alone technical school to be located at the Dennis Wilfong Center for Success. The school will be named Wilton Simpson Technical College. The Dennis Wilfong Center for Success, scheduled to open in March 2025, will be located on an 18 acre site adjacent to the Brooksville Tampa-Bay Regional Airport which will also be home to a county facility and the Pasco Hernando State College (PHSC) corporate college.
In bringing this before the Board for a vote, School Superintendent John Stratton stated, “Mr. Simpson has been a driving force for the technical center. We appreciate his unwavering support for Hernando County schools.” The Board approved the motion to rename the center by a vote of 5 – 0. Sophia Watson, Director of Adult Education and Technical Education, in addressing the board and the audience, remarked, “We know how important it is to have a champion. Before Senator Simpson we had a vision and after Senator Simpson we had a way to reach that vision.”
“We firmly believe that Hernando County is going to lead the state in workforce education,” she concluded. Senator Simpson addressed the gathering and spoke about his background growing up in an agricultural family. In relating how he identifies with the people who follow a career path in the technical or, so-called “blue collar” field, he commented, “In general, I think politicians forget about the quiet dignity of a hard day’s work. That’s why my goal has always been to use my experience as a farmer, business owner and entrepreneur to be the voice of hard working blue collar men and women who are the backbone of our state’s workforce.”
He went on to explain the need to restore the value of jobs that do not require a four-year degree, why he is so dedicated to improving vocational and technical education and the reasons he advocated for the new technical and vocational education center that will be built, hopefully, within the next couple of years.
Ms. Barbarita Hinton, an instructor at the vocational technical school, stated, “Who you are tomorrow begins with what you do today.” She commented that we all need a bit of hardship and struggle because it teaches us to overcome obstacles. “What we are celebrating today is a culmination of outstanding team leadership where many hands, hearts and minds came together to dream what many said was not possible,” Ms. Hinton concluded.
Twenty-two-year-old Jordan Coker, a recent graduate of the Suncoast Technical Education Center, spoke about his experiences and accomplishments. He had done custodial work and been a propane worker before he finished his studies. Now he has a good paying job as a technology specialist. Suncoast currently offers specific training programs on multiple high
school campuses. “This school gives you a chance. It gives you a future and it’s given me a career,” Coker explained.
After the official reveal of the new name, Karen Jordan who acts as a liaison with the legislative delegation spoke about the work they are doing to advocate before the state legislature for Hernando County schools to obtain approval of projects and the funding for these projects. She then presented Senator Simpson with a memento recognizing his support.