By Margaret Rogero-Hastings
While students race out of Mandarin Oaks for the beginning of their summer break, the school will be extending a bittersweet farewell this year as Patricia Carson retires from Duval County Public Schools. After 38 years in education, Carson, a Jacksonville native, is starting a new chapter in her life — which will include playing with her three adorable grandchildren, traveling, volunteering, and, of course, shopping.
What started out as a possible career in social work changed when Carson went to her first field experience class in education, which led to her degree in the field. Shortly after graduation she started her first job in Atlanta, which is also where she received her first master’s degree in Special Education from Georgia State. She then moved to Memphis where she taught for four more years. It was during this time that Carson took some time off to be at home with her young daughters, Laura and Marianne.
Upon her return to Jacksonville, she worked at Palm Avenue Exceptional Student Center in a semi-administrative role and earned her second master’s degree in Educational Leadership. She has supported her colleagues through personal triumphs and painful losses. Through it all, the faculty at Mandarin Oaks has become stronger thanks to her leadership, compassion, and ability to make everyone feel important.
During her tenure, she has served in many capacities such as assistant and vice principal at Beauclerc Elementary, Chimney Lakes Elementary, and Mandarin Middle, and principal at Greenfield Elementary. She has been the leader of Mandarin Oaks Elementary for the past 14 years.
Her dedication to students has been felt not only within Duval County, but throughout the state as well. She served on the board for the Florida Association of School Administrators and then was president of the Florida Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals. In her career, she has seen schools move toward more accountability, school options for students, the increased use of technology as an aid in the classroom for students, and more opportunities for students with disabilities.
Not only does she leave a mark on those with whom she has worked, but she made an influence closer to home. Her daughter, Laura Jenkins, has followed in her mother’s footsteps and works in Duval County Public Schools as well.
Jenkins said, “My mom’s hard work and dedication to both her family and the field of education inspired me to want to make a difference in the lives of children, to motivate and guide them, as she did for my sister and me.”
While the Mandarin Oaks family wishes her well, she will be missed. Carson has made a positive and lasting impact on thousands of children, families and staff.
Perhaps Marianne Miller’s sentiments, which echo her sister’s, sums it up for all of us when she says, “Watching my mom pursue her passion, achieve success, and raise my sister and me, all while giving back to children set an example for me to follow. She showed me that if we do what we love, and do it with high integrity, we can achieve anything.”
Margaret Rogero-Hastings is a fourth grade teacher at Mandarin Oaks Elementary School.
Photo by Martie Thompson
Patricia Carson works in her office at Mandarin Oaks Elementary shortly before her retirement.