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Manatee schools' new superintendent ready to impact more students

Throughout his career, Jason Wysong has been looking for the next opportunity to make a bigger impact.

Jason Wysong has been named the next superintendent of the School District of Manatee County.
Jason Wysong has been named the next superintendent of the School District of Manatee County.
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As Jason Wysong started his career in education as a social studies teacher and debate coach at Cypress Creek High School, he never thought about moving up the ladder.

He was focused on opportunities to impact students to prepare them more for college, careers and being good citizens. 

Wysong wanted to see more of the “light bulb moments” from his students where the lessons he was teaching just clicked for them.

As a teacher of all types of social studies from American history to world history to government and economics, he was always finding ways to connect history to the present. 

“You have those moments of understanding of family history sometimes that are really personal,” he said. “For me as a high school student, that was learning about the Great Depression and understanding some of my grandparents’ economic and lifestyle choices because of what they experienced, their lived history.”

It wasn’t until as a teacher Wysong saw his principal navigate the tough situations and make hard decisions that come with being an administrator that he was inspired to take the next step in his career and impact more students. He wondered what he would do if he were in the principal’s shoes.

“I had no thought about going into school or district administration, but I think along the way, you see opportunities to have more impact, to do things that positively affect more kids’ lives,” he said. “I’ve always looked forward to the next opportunity to scale up the work I’m doing to help more students.”

Since 2007 when he took his first school administrative position, Wysong has been moving up and taking on various positions to impact more students. 

Wysong’s next step to making an impact on thousands of students is serving as the School District of Manatee County’s superintendent. 

Wysong was sworn in as the superintendent July 3 after a five-month national search. 

“It’s very gratifying and humbling to have this opportunity and this responsibility,” Wysong said. “It’s obviously something I take very seriously. I’m excited to get to work.”

Using years of experience

As superintendent, Wysong intends to use his 22 years of experience in education and even the skills he learned on his high school debate team to move the district forward. 

In his days on the debate team, Wysong said he learned about research and communication as well as how to look at all sides of a disagreement or controversy. 

“I always try to understand where other people are coming from,” he said. “I also learned how to frame information and discussion, which has been invaluable for the work I’ve been doing and that I’ll continue to do. I think high school debate is one of those activities where you can grow a skillset that’s transferable to lots of different types of careers and future pathways. It’s come in handy over the years.”

Although Wysong spent the beginning years of his career as a high school teacher, his experience at the administrative level and most recently, serving as the deputy superintendent of Seminole County Public Schools, has given him the opportunity to see and admire the work of elementary school teachers. 

“We entrust our elementary school teachers and leaders with a lot of responsibility, not just academic growth but also so much social development happens in those years,” he said. “The care and concern that is evident when you walk into elementary classrooms is really remarkable. Every chance I get to spend time in classrooms is a good day. I think there are so many unsung heroes in our schools and especially in our elementary schools.”

In his 16 years with Seminole County Public Schools, Wysong said he would often look to see what other districts were doing in terms of innovation. Manatee County was always a district to which he paid attention. 

“The districts are similar in size and I think the community values are similar from what I’ve seen so far,” Wysong said. “Over the years I’ve had teams from Seminole who visited Manatee to look at a specific program. Manatee was always a district I watched and certainly a district I was interested in when (retired Superintendent Cynthia) Saunders announced her retirement.”

Now that his dream of becoming a superintendent is a reality, Wysong is thrilled to get started. His first task: listening.

“Sometimes new leaders come in and they have an agenda they want to complete, and it doesn’t always go well,” he said. “You have to hear what people have already experienced and what they’re looking forward to. That’s true across all stakeholder groups.”

He wants to invest time listening to parents about their expectations and aspirations for their families, the business community about where they see the future of Manatee County and what the district can do to fill industry needs and employees about how they entered into a career in education and what supports they need to continue or finish their career in Manatee County. 

The man behind the title

When Wysong isn’t visiting schools, handling matters of the district or working closely with district employees or community members, he likes to travel the country with his family.

His family loves traveling to the Pacific northwest, including Alaska and the Oregon coast. 

“We like most of the places we experience,” he said. “We say, ‘Hey, we’re going to come back here again,’ and then there’s always some other neat place to go and see.”

Among the places he’d like to return are Maine and Alaska. 

But when schedule constraints don’t allow him to get away, Wysong said he’ll dive into a book. When it’s not a book on education, the books almost always have a connection to history. 

“I always find historical fiction interesting,” he said. “Writers that are trying to honor the past but with an interesting story line. When I read nonfiction, I love things from the founding of the country and the early republic.”

Among his love for travel and books is also his love for desserts. Ice cream, cookies, brownies, all of it. 

“The hardest decision for me at a restaurant is what to order on the desert menu,” he said with a laugh. 



Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.

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