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Monday, December 11, 2023

Street renamed to honor Marion County educator

A street in Ocala has been renamed in honor of an 84-year-old retired educator who spent three decades teaching children in Marion County.

During the Ocala City Council meeting that was held on September 19, council members unanimously agreed to rename SW 7th Street as “Frank Washington Jr. Street,” from SW 20th Avenue to SW 21st Avenue.

The president of the Poinciana Heights Homeowners’ Task Force had requested the honorary street name designation to recognize Washington’s contributions to the local education system and the Poinciana Heights community.

Street renamed to honor Marion County teacher
Frank Washington, Jr. (center with cane) poses with city officials during the Ocala City Council meeting on September 19, 2023 (Photo: City of Ocala)

Council member Ire Bethea, Sr. read a list of Washington’s accomplishments, which began in August of 1961 when Washington was hired as a teacher in Marion County. He worked for the next decade in different teaching positions.

Washington went on to serve as assistant principal at Osceola Middle School (1971 to 1974), principal at Madison Street School (1974 to 1980), and principal at Fort King Middle School (1980 to 1985). He then worked for another decade at the school district office before ultimately calling it a career after over three decades.

In addition, Washington was instrumental in establishing the mentoring program at Howard Middle School and the free breakfast program for public schools.

Over the years, Washington’s reach also extended beyond the classroom. “Mr. Washington has been actively engaged in the city and in the west side community all of his adult life,” said Bethea.

Washington was a key player in establishing the Poinciana Heights Homeowners’ Task Force, a neighborhood community group founded in the early 2000s that regularly meets with city staff to discuss and resolve issues in the Poinciana Heights neighborhood.

According to city staff, Washington’s “diligence and tenacity have paid dividends” by partnering with the Ocala Police Department to reduce crime, ensuring that residents are aware of the resources available to them, challenging the community to take pride in their neighborhood, and working with the city to improve public safety through the installation of traffic calming and traffic control devices.

Bethea stated that Washington is the type of person who never has to holler to get anything accomplished. “He’s very stern in his deliberation but he’s always in control, and I admire that about him.”

Allison Campbell, Chairwoman of the Marion County School Board, was in attendance during the city council meeting, and she thanked Washington for his many years of educating the children of Marion County.

After posing for several photos, Washington took the microphone and stated that the ceremony was a “total surprise.” He thanked everyone in attendance for their recognition, and he also thanked City of Ocala officials for everything they have done for Poinciana Heights.