Our Founder, Fred Spence

SUPERMAN Has Arrived at Team Success Charter School

Fred Spence Bio

Florida’s charter school students continue to outperform traditional public school students, according to a 2013 report from the Florida Department of Education and Fredrick Spence, principal of the award-winning Team Success School of Excellence can take some credit for the impressive results being achieved in Florida Charter Schools. Superman has indeed arrived at Team Success, but it is not in the form of Spence alone. Superman is embodied in the stellar team of educators and staff that he has recruited and assembled at Team Success and who have fully embraced his athletic approach to education. “Part of the reason athletes play the game is the attention they get from being really good at sports,” Spence said. “I took an athletic concept and said it has to work in the classroom.”

Spence received his Masters of Arts Degree from Northeastern Illinois University in 1992 and began his path as education administrator at Conant High School in Schaumburg, Illinois and later relocated to Sarasota, Florida and served as Assistant Principal at Booker Middle School for one year and Riverview High School for nine years. He also served as principal at Wings Academy Charter School as Principal in Sarasota for one year. Spence served as a former High School Physical Education teacher at Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Illinois for nine years where he served as the Girls Track and Field coach for six years and assistant football coach for nine years. He has demonstrated clear leadership abilities throughout his career as an educator having formerly served as vice president of the Illinois Teacher’s Union for two years. Spence has received numerous honors and distinction including receiving the coveted “Teacher of the Year” Award for Evanston High School in 1991; voted Girls Track & Field ‘Coach of the Year’ for the Illinois Coaches’ Association for Girls & Women’s Sport in 1989; and Illinois Track Cross Country Coaches Association ‘Coach of the Year’ in 1990.

In 1997, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office opened the Police Athletic League Academy to serve students in 3 at-risk neighborhoods threatened by gangs, drugs, violence, and poverty. Team Success eventually became independent of the Sheriff’s Office and after years of dismal student test scores and consistent “F” ratings for the school, the board of directors was faced with shutting the school down or turning it around. Enter Spence, a former Sarasota, Florida school administrator, who in 2007 took over Police Athletic League Academy Charter School as CEO. Two years later Spence took over total control of operations and changed the name to the current Team Success School of Excellence. Over a six-year period under Spence’s leadership, Team Success’ school grades fluctuated between Cs and Bs and sunk to an F one year. During the first three years, he hired a principal to take care of day to day operations. The year the school received the “F” he took the bold step of firing 80% of the staff as well as the principal and from that point on Spence has served as CEO and principal and set Team Success on the path to excellence that has been maintained.

Spence and his team have garnered the distinction Team Success being the only one of the twenty-one Title 1 schools in Manatee County to earn an “A” grade from the Florida Department of Education. Spence says that it took five years to get kids to believe in themselves and to get parents to understand that this school matters; and five years to show the community that this program could make a difference. Spence is now clearly on the leading edge of providing greater access to quality education for underserved populations, is creating incentives to recruit the best teachers and definitely helping to move his school district and the State of Florida in the right direction. Team Success School of Excellence is becoming a model that is worthy of national study and replication.