Floyd T. Christian biography, possibly used as press release


Material Information

Floyd T. Christian biography, possibly used as press release
Physical Description:
Christian, Floyd T.
Publication Date:
Physical Location:
Box: 5
Folder: Biography of Floyd T. Christian (Before Taking Office as Superintendent)


Spatial Coverage:
North America -- United States of America -- Florida

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
sobekcm - AA00006398_00001
System ID:

Full Text


Floyd T. Christian will take office as State Superintendent of Public

Instruction with more than two decades (21 years) of school experience behind

him, 17 years as county superintendent of Pinellas County, the fourth largest

county in the State.

The first appointed county school superintendent in Florida, he has

served as president of two of the major school groups in the state and was

named previously to state office by two different Florida governors.

He served as President lf the Florida Association of County Superintendents

in 1954 and as President of the Florida Education Association in 1955. Governor

LeRoy Collins named him a member of the Florida Educational Television Commission

in 1955 serving as its first chairman, and in 1965 Governor Haydon Burns named

him as one of his first appointees to the newly-organized Board of Regents.

The school system he headed for the past 17 years was named in 1960 by

the American Association of School Administrators and the National School

Board Association as one of the twenty outstanding school systems in the nation.

Interestingly, he was elected Superintendent of Public Instruction in

Pinellas County in 1948, the same year State School Supt. Thomas D. Bailey

won election as State Superintendent, whose position Christian will assume on

October 1.

He will be the-16th State Superintendent of Public Instruction in the

history of the state.

Christian started his career in education in 1937 as a teacher and coach

at Clearwater High School. In 1938 he served as Director of Athletics and

Head Coach at Fort Myers High School, remaining there until called to active,

duty as a First Lieutenant in the Army during World War II.

As Battalion Commander of a Field Artillery unit (the 697th) he served

in five major battles in Southern Italy, earned five decorations, and was

discharged as a Colonel in 1946. He received the Legion of Merit, French

Croix de Guerre, the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and the Italian Medal of


On his return from the Army, he spent two years as Administrator in charge

of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs in St. Petersburg.

In 1948 Christian was elected Pinellas County Superintendent of Public

Instruction and was re-elected in 1952 and 1956. In the 1956 election, when

a heavy Republican vote defeated all but three Democratic candidates in the

county, he was one of only two incumbents to be re-elected, receiving the

overwhelming vote of 62,660 to his Republican opponent's 33,886--the highest

vote received by any candidate for county office.

In 1957, when the county received approval to appoint its county school

head, he became the first appointed superintendent in the state. He was re-

appointed in 1960 and again in 1963.

Christian has been active on behalf of school improvement on county,

state and national levels.

Under his leadership, Pinellas County built more than 60 new school buildings

to keep pace with enrollment growth (up from 20,714 in 1948-49 to 76,890 in

1964-65), and operates one of the largest vocational technical education programs

in the state, with an agriculture center, a technical education center and two

comprehensive high schools.

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Last year's teacher salaries averaged $6770 (all instructional personnel)

ranking the county third highest in the state. (An index salary increase in

excess of $2 million and averaging between $300--$400 has been provided this year.)

Pinellas County led in development of educational television, with a studio

at St. Petersburg Junior College. The college has expanded from an enrollment

of 300 in 1949 to over 8,000 students, with a new campus at Clearwater.

The county was one of the first to provide a separate building for the

special education of physically handicapped children and the first to provide

teaching facilities for blind children in regular classrooms.

A corrective reading program was developed to provide part-time special

reading teachers in all elementary schools and a remedial summer reading

program made available for grades 1 through 12. The county operates kinder-

gartens at 28 school centers enrolling some 1800 pupils. Librarian services

are available at all schools including elementary schools.

Christian established a special division of educational services in the

fields of psychology, casework, educational testing and adult guidance

counseling, including placing full-time guidance personnel in every high


Curriculum programs in the fields of slow learner education, English,

reading, Earth sciences, biological sciences, advanced biology, advanced chemistry,

general science, and accelerated mathematics were developed. Foreign languages

are emphasized and Pinellas students can take five years of Spanish, French

and Latin, with 25 foreign language laboratories located in all senior high

schools and in two junior high schools.

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The county provides extensive opportunities for in-service education of

teachers, with special emphasis on reading, mathematics, handwriting, social

studies, and economic education.

On the state level, Christian served on numerous state education committees

and as President of the Florida Education Association during the 1955 Session of

the Legislature, helping to obtain big boosts in school funds.

That session, teacher salaries were raised $200 across-the-board, $25 per

teacher unit extra was provided for instructional materials (both passing

without a dissenting vote), driver education received its first major state

financing in the amount of $900,000, and the first state funds for junior

college buildings ($4,196,652) were provided.

As FEA president, Christian met with Governor LeRoy Collins and legislative

leaders and worked on the development and passage of the legislative program.

He spearheaded the successful fight which took school milk out from under

the price-fixing powers of the Florida Milk Commission, resulting in a drop in

the cost of school milk.

Nationally, he is an active member of the American Association of School

Administrators, serving on that group's advisory council and resolutions

committee. He represented Florida as the legislative delegate from the state

with the National Education Association and holds life membership in the NEA,

FEA, and Florida PT-A.

In 1961 he was selected by the U. S. Department of Commerce to serve as

consultant in setting up a program of educational television at the International

Trade Fair in Turin, Italy,

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Active in local community.affairs, Christian has been recognized many

times for leadership and service.

He has received the St. Petersburg Junior Chamber of Commerce Good Govern-

ment Award, the American Legion Outstanding Service Award, the American Legion

Citation for Meritorious Service, the Florida Athletic Coaches Association

Award for Meritorious Service, the City of St. Petersburg Award for Outstanding

Service, and designation as Boss of the Year by the American Business Women's


He is a Charter member of the Board of Directors of the Juvenile Welfare

Board, a member of the Executive Committee of the Boys Scouts, a member of the

St. Petersburg Rotary Club, and the Pasadena Community Church. He is a member

of Florida West Coast Educational Television, Inc., a non-profit organization

providing ETV for the area. He is listed in Who's Who in American Education

and Who's Who in America.

Christian was born on December 18, 1914, in Besseme; Alabama, moving to

Pinellas County with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry C. Christian, in 1927.

He graduated from St. Petersburg High School in 1933, received an AB degree

from the University of Florida in 1937 and a Master's degree in Education from

the University of Florida in 1950. He has done advanced studies at Peabody

College and served as Chairman of the Superintendents Work Conference at

Columbia University in 1954.

He is married to the former Margaret Littlejohn, of Clearwater. The

Christians have three children, Mrs. Claude E. Leiby of St. Petersburg,

Floyd Thomas Christian, Jr., a student at the University of Florida, and

Robert Rick Christian, 14, a junior high school student.

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