One of Ashton Hayward’s priorities as Pensacola’s first strong mayor has been addressing the workforce training needs of adult drop-outs in the Greater Pensacola Area. With a goal of assisting the area’s over 30,000 adults who lack a high school education, Hayward has formed the City of Pensacola Workforce Community Coalition. Composed of churches, education entrepreneurs, and community organizations, this new coalition is taking positive action, especially among minority populations.

Pensacola-based Smart Horizons Career Online Education (SHCOE) has joined Hayward’s coalition. “As the world’s first fully accredited online school district, SHCOE is committed to preparing students for entrance into careers and the workplace by delivering quality, supportive, career-based online education,” said Dr. Howard Liebman, SHCOE CEO and Superintendent. “We are proud to be part of Mayor Hayward’s new coalition, which aligns perfectly with Governor Scott’s ‘7-7-7’ plan for job creation in Florida. I see great things going forward.”

The coalition’s initial goal is to re-engage 1,000 adult drop-outs back into the education process by making it possible for them to participate in the SHCOE program. “But that’s just the beginning,” Hayward said.

Other organizations that have joined Mayor Hayward’s coalition include the YMCA of Northwest Florida and five area churches:

  • St. John Divine Missionary Baptist Church
  • Englewood Missionary Baptist Church
  • Greater Union Baptist Church
  • Bethel Baptist Church
  • And Greater Little Rock Baptist Church

The pastors of these churches have offered to make computer labs located on their church campuses available for use by SHCOE students, and the YMCA is offering a free day of recreation at any area YMCA facility for new SHCOE students. In addition, all coalition members have made a commitment to seek funding from various sources so that students can receive financial assistance.

“I have given my support to this coalition first and foremost because there is a need within our culture and our society as a whole to provide innovative avenues by which people can become more successful in life and more viable in the workforce,” said Dr. Joseph Marshall, Pastor of St. John Divine Missionary Baptist Church. “Many people are limited by the dynamics of their surroundings and this new coalition is offering a choice, an alternative by which they can be more successful in life, society, and the workplace. I see great potential in this initiative and St. John Divine Missionary Baptist Church stands ready to do all we can to help support it.”

“SHCOE is an essential part of Mayor Hayward’s coalition because they afford people an opportunity to achieve an education while still carrying on with their lives,” said Michael Bodenhausen, CEO of the YMCA of Northwest Florida. “They empower individuals through education, career advancement, and higher pay.”

Mayor Hayward is excited about the City of Pensacola Workforce Community Coalition and says, “Dr. Liebman and his team at SHCOE, as well as the YMCA of Northwest Florida and various local churches, stand ready to make it possible for adult drop-outs to earn a genuine high school diploma and the career credentials that will prepare them to enter the workforce.”

Smart Horizons Career Online Education, founded in 2009 and located in Pensacola, Florida, is a private, AdvancED/SACS accredited online school district. AdvancED/SACS District accreditation signifies that SHCOE and all of its schools are fully accredited and that SHCOE is recognized across the nation as a quality school system. Smart Horizons Career Online Education offers 18-credit, career-based high school diploma programs that are designed to prepare students for entrance into the workplace. Career certificate offerings include Childcare Education, Office Management, Protection Services, Homeland Security, Healthcare (coming in Fall 2011) and Transportation Services. For more information, visit our Web site at, call our office at 800-261-6248 or email our office at