About Justin Sharpless

Justin Sharpless is an assistant professor of agricultural studies at Warner University. Born and raised in Lake Wales and having lived in Polk County most of his life, Justin graduated from Lake Wales High School in 2002. As a teen, Justin discovered his passion for the agriculture industry through his involvement with the LWHS chapter of Future Farmers of America (FFA). After graduation, Justin served as a statewide FFA officer, visiting school chapters throughout the state and promoting FFA initiatives to students. After his year of service, he enrolled in the College of Agriculture at the University of Florida, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and master’s degree in agricultural business. From there, Justin returned to Polk County to teach agriculture at Ft. Meade Middle-Senior High School. He subsequently taught at McLaughlin Middle School and Lake Wales High School before returning to graduate school at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where he earned a master’s degree and is currently a PhD candidate in agricultural education and leadership.

Justin is married to his wife, Emilyn, and they have two small boys, Wyatt and Rhett, and they reside in Lake Wales. Emilyn and Justin each have parents who are career educators in Polk County, both for Polk County Public Schools and Lake Wales Charter Schools. They are active members of High Point Church and remain involved in the community through FFA. Justin identifies as a law-abiding, constitutional conservative. His friends call him “Sharpie”, so he invites you to be part of the “Sharpie” for Students campaign.

Why Justin’s Qualified for the Job

01.

Local

Justin was born and raised in Polk County. He cares about the educational system that prepared him and his wife for success. He has seen our educational system’s strengths, but also sees so much unrealized potential.

02.

Parent

Justin and his wife Emilyn have two sons. Wyatt is four years old and is full of energy, while Rhett is one year old and easygoing. Justin will work for his boys, and all of Polk County’s children, to have access to the best education possible. Justin believes all stakeholders, including parents, should have a voice in our educational system.

03.

Educator

Justin has devoted his life to the field of education. He has taught in the middle and high school classroom and is currently a college professor. Justin is currently a PhD candidate in agricultural education. In his role as a college professor, Justin has educated and trained students who are now teaching in Polk’s school system. Justin receives feedback from the Polk County educators in his life. Justin’s wife is a middle school agriculture teacher. His father is a construction teacher who teaches middle and high school students. His mother teaches high school science and his mother-in-law is a first-grade teacher.

04.

Collaborative Experience

Justin has worked with diverse groups to guide our school system. Two such committees have been Polk Schools’ Attendance Boundary Committee and the Superintendent Search Citizens Screening Committee. As a member of both committees, the value of listening to others and learning from what they shared was reinforced. He was reminded of why we have two ears and one mouth. Justin believes school board members need to have the conviction to fight for what they believe in and at the same time be willing to listen to other’s ideas to come up with the correct solution to issues.

05.

Conservative

Justin is a law-abiding, constitutional conservative, who prioritizes child safety, and respects the law enforcement officers who keep Polk’s children and school staff safe. Justin commits to following Florida law and state statutes to fulfill his duties as a school board member. Justin will also uphold the interests of students and taxpayers in everything he does, seeking continuous improvement in district budget and operations processes to promote the responsible use of funds entrusted to the school board from Polk County taxpayers. 

06.

Voice of Business

Justin will be a voice of Polk’s business community on the school board. While preparing college graduates for entry into the agricultural industry, Justin has built relationships with business partners who communicate their hiring needs. He understands and takes seriously the school district’s role in preparing talent for local businesses of all sizes and industries. 

Justin’s Campaign Priorities

As a board member, Justin will make his permanent “MARK” on Polk County Public Schools through his top priorities:

01.

Meaningful
Diplomas

Justin believes we need to graduate students prepared and competitive for postsecondary opportunities, whether that is at a college or trade school. Postsecondary opportunities require mastery of reading and math, as well as critical thinking, problem-solving, customer service, and collaboration skills required for success. Justin will work with Superintendent Heid and school board members to improve readiness pathways for postsecondary opportunities and to improve Polk school and student achievement, as Polk currently ranks 54th out of 67 Florida districts.

02.

Access
for All

Justin will champion continued advancements and equitable access to high-demand career and technical education programs and advanced academic curriculums across the district. Justin recognizes the success of Polk’s Career Academies has led to fruitful economic development opportunities for homegrown talent recruitment and retention in our community and he appreciates the importance of continuing to evolve these programs through business-based input and partnerships. Also, Justin will prioritize increasing school choice offerings to ensure all parents have the right to choose the best educational option for their children. Justin believes a student’s access to educational options should not be defined by their zip code.

03.

Recruit &
Retain Staff

As a former classroom teacher, Justin understands the importance of recruiting and retaining the best staff possible and will hold district leadership accountable for building and sustaining a positive workplace culture for Polk County Public Schools employees. Justin will also look for innovative solutions to reward, promote and compensate PCPS’ most innovative, loyal, and valued employees

04.

Kindergarten
Readiness

Justin will support efforts and investments around improving kindergarten readiness and early childhood education. According to state assessments, between 2017 and 2020, one out of two Polk County children entered kindergarten unprepared to meet the challenges of that grade level. When students begin school from behind, they often stay behind for the rest of their lives. These educational gaps are more profound for low-income and minority students.

Endorsements

Hear from members of the community who support Justin Sharpless for Polk County School Board, District 6.


Jack Hilligoss
Mayor of Lake Wales


“Justin Sharpless knows what Polk County Schools need. He has an impressive plan that demonstrates his knowledge and puts the students first. He has my full support.”

Representative Fred Hawkins
Florida House of Representatives District 42


“I support Justin Sharpless for School Board because of his passion for Career & Technical Education. He understands how CTE can give students purpose, just as his experience in CTE as a student led him to a career in agriculture education.”

Bill Braswell
Polk County Commissioner

“I endorse Justin Sharpless for the Polk County School Board. Not only is Justin a principled conservative, he is a career educator and father of two boys. He wants a world-class education for all of Polk’s children and is a proven leader with the experience and dedication needed to make a significant impact on our public schools. Make sure to vote for Justin Sharpless on August 23rd!”

Neil Combee
Polk County Commissioner

“I’m endorsing Justin because he is an intelligent and level-headed hometown guy. He is family and children oriented with thoughtful solutions for real world issues.”

Brynn Summerlin
Vice-Mayor of Davenport


“I support Justin Sharpless because we must continue to elect conservatives to our school board. We can see all over the country what happens to public school systems when parents and taxpayers do not pay attention to who they elect. Justin is a principled conservative, which is what we need. I believe Justin’s Polk County upbringing, involvement in the community, deep roots in the FFA, experience as a college professor, and dedicated service working with students in the FFA and 4H programs will bring much-needed insight and value to the table. Justin has a passion for education, public service, family, faith and conservative values. I encourage everyone to vote Justin Sharpless for Polk County School Board on August 23rd. We cannot afford to let our school board lose touch with our principles.”

Austin Gravley
Vice Mayor of Frostproof


“It is my great honor to announce my endorsement of Justin Sharpless for Polk County School Board, District 6! Justin is a passionate and committed leader and has a true desire to see Polk County Public Schools be the best they can be. He will be a strong addition to the School Board. As a reminder there are 4 seats up for election this year and each seat is a county wide vote. Please be sure to show up to the polls on August 23rd and cast your ballot for Justin Sharpless.”

Nathan Register
Vice President of The Republican Club of Lakeland

“As a retired Polk County Sheriff Sargent and grandfather, I support Justin and his emphasis on our children’s safety at school. Justin is willing to meet community members like Toula Giannopoulos and listen to their concerns. I fully endorse Justin Sharpless for the Polk County School Board and encourage you to vote for him on August 23rd!”

Jim “Possum” Schaill
Fort Meade City Commissioner


“Justin began his teaching career at Fort Meade Middle Senior High School. He understands us and holds our small town values. Make sure to vote for Justin Sharpless for Polk County School Board on August 23rd!”

Bob Elliott
Fort Meade Mayor

Community Involvement & Awards

  • Alpha Gamma Rho National Grand President Award
  • National FFA Alumni and Supporters Outstanding Achievement Award
  • Florida FFA Alumni Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award
  • Honorary FFA Chapter Degrees from: Frostproof FFA, Lake Wales Senior FFA and Mulberry Middle FFA
  • Blue and Gold Award from the Polk County FFA Federation
  • American FFA Degree
  • Eagle Scout Rank
  • Lake Wales High School Career & Technical Education Advisory Board Member
  • Polk County Public School Superintendent Search Citizens Screening Committee Member
  • Polk County Public Schools Attendance Boundary Committee Member
  • Winter Haven High School Agricultural Education Advisory
  • Winter Haven Christian School Agricultural Education Advisory
  • Polk County Youth Fair Committee Member
  • Florida State Fair Committee Member
  • Florida FFA Public Speaking Contest Judge
  • Lake Wales FFA Alumni President
  • Orange Blossoms 4-H Club Leader
  • Polk County 4-H Public Speaking Judge
  • High Point Church Board of Servant Leaders Member
  • FFA Officer Screening Committee for the following schools: Auburndale High, Bok Academy, Chiefland Middle, Discovery High, Durant High, Frostproof Middle-Senior and Lake Wales High
  • Alpha Gamma Rho National Scholarship Program Evaluator
  • Alpha Gamma Rho University of Florida Chapter Educational Foundation Board Member
  • Alpha Gamma Rho Florida Southern College Chapter Strategic Planning Committee Member
  • Florida Junior Brahman Association Public Speaking Judge
  • Great American Teach-In Speaker

Donate

Your contribution, no matter the size, is greatly appreciated. Consider making an online donation today to support Justin Sharpless. Click “Donate Now” to make a donation of any dollar amount you choose.