2019 Polk County Academies

To find out how you can help strengthen Polk’s Construction Workforce, please contact the committee chairs below. Mentors, guest speakers, supplies and financial donations needed to help make these programs a success!

Bartow High School

Chair: Mike Hickman, Hickman Homes (863-559-8601)

School Staff Point of Contact: Jimmy Giles (jimmy.giles@polk-fl.net)

Lake Region High School

Chair: John Wood, John Wood Homes (863-287-6821)

School Staff Point of Contact: Frank Waller (frank.waller@polk-fl.net)

Teneroc High School

Chair: John Hanson, Springer Peterson (863-860-8175)

School Staff Point of Contact: Jean Isaac (jean.isaac@polk-fl.net)

Fort Meade Middle-Senior

Chair: William Webb, Webb Homebuilders Group (863-944-3605)

Staff Point of Contact: Thomas Hoien (thomas.hoien@polk-fl.net)

Ridge Community High School

Chair: Diana King, Springer Peterson (863-581-2986)

Staff Point of Contact: Jay Schnoor (jay.schnoor@polk-fl.net)

PCBA Point of Contact: Cathy Case, Executive Officer (cathyc@pcba.com)

Future Workforce News Articles

“The Smell of Sawdust in the Morning! Smells Like Success!

Polk County Opens Four New Construction Academies- Nov. 2018

If you’ve ever needed a plumber, electrician or AC repairman but couldn’t find one or you’ve dreamed about being a builder while in school but didn’t know how to get started, you’ll know why the morning of November 29, 2018 was a huge day in Polk County.  Years of hard work by the Polk County Builders Association and its Foundation came to fruition as a ribbon was cut to celebrate the opening of four new construction academies.  

The ceremony took place at one of the new schools, Lake Region High School, with teachers from the other new academies at Tenoroc, Fort Meade and Ridge Community high schools participating in the event. School board officials, PCBA members and the building community also attended this momentous occasion while being given a tour of the new facility and watching students showcase their skills.

PCBA Foundation President Alice Hunt, Hunt Construction of Central Florida, Inc, said “PCBA formed the very first partnership in 1995 with the Polk County School Board to create a workforce training program, and it’s extremely fulfilling to see those efforts come full circle today with more than 600 high school students enrolled in the construction programs.”   As a result of this original partnership, there are now more than 160 career academies today in Polk that train a wide variety of professions from medical to culinary.

Hunt has been one of the strongest voices in Polk County for the cultivation of skilled labor in our high schools, working diligently for decades with teachers, students, parents, school board members and the building community to invest in our future and help meet the demand for labor shortages in our industry.

Hunt gives much of the recent credit to Polk County’s Superintendent of Schools, Jacqueline Byrd, for seeing the value in workforce training and giving the programs the attention and resources they need to succeed.

The construction academies teach students to use their hands and heads to build projects while teaching important life skills such as discipline, work ethic and professional etiquette. No matter the career students choose, whether it’s in the building industry or not, the program will benefit them immensely.  If not already, the programs will have access to all the latest technology including computers, 3D printers and C & C routers. This is a far cry from “shop” class.

The inspiration and model for all the construction academies is located at Bartow High School, headed up by Instructor Jimmy Giles, where students work on complex construction projects and intern with local businesses.  BHS just opened a state-of-the art facility to house its popular construction program that has received accolades locally and throughout the state. 

PCBA President David Adams, Highland Homes, who has made the construction academies one of his main focuses this year, said “I look at the industry needs, but I also look at the needs of our children.” He said the programs have created enthusiasm for students looking for a fulfilling career to showcase their talents but need an alternative to the traditional college path. 

Witnessing the momentous occasion with PCBA was Tampa/Hernando Builder and Developer Bill Paul, representing FHBA. Paul is a Florida Housing Hall of Fame winner, largely for his dedication to the education, career development and training of those serving the building industry through the Home Builders Institute. PCBA was honored to have him present.

Mike Hickman, Hickman Homes, Inc., one of the most recent Florida Housing Hall of Fame recipients and a long-time supporter of BHS’s Construction Academy, will be President of the Foundation in 2019. Adams will serve as Vice-President.  Hickman and Adams are committed to seeing these programs grow next year and seeing increased involvement by the building community and the PCBA membership. These programs need mentors, supplies and financial contributions to flourish.


In Spring 2018, students from the Bartow High School Construction Academy (teacher Jimmy Giles) designed, put together, and sold portable picnic tables.