Inspiring Okeechobee: Dylan Tedders at the helm of Okeechobee High School

OKEECHOBEE — Although I have known Dylan Tedders for years, it was in the past few years I have gotten to know him a bit better. When you’re a band parent, on Friday night home football games, often you find yourself there with the last of the OHS staff who are waiting to shoo the final student out as well as the concession clean-up crew. It was on one of these long nights that I began to think about the day of an administrator at Okeechobee High School.

Dylan knew all too well at this point about early mornings and late nights, with no break in between. But before we get to why he inspires us, we need to tell you a bit more about Dylan.

Dylan Tedders

Dylan moved to Okeechobee as a child, with his parents and younger brother Ryan. While in high school he played baseball for the now retired coach Tim Gillis (still my favorite math teacher of all time). He went on to play college baseball at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla., where he earned his degree in Psychology. After graduation from college, Dylan spent several summers playing for the Anderson Lawmen, an independent baseball league in Anderson, Ind.

Dylan began his teaching career as a substitute teacher at Yearling Middle School and was quickly asked to fill a vacant position, where he taught technology. Eventually, Dylan was promoted to the position of Dean at Yearling Middle School. It was while Dylan worked at Yearling, that he was introduced to his wife, Dana, through his friend Mark Ward. After dating for a few years, Dylan and Dana married in December of 2000. Together they raise three boys: Dalton, Deven, and later JaJuan (a former student).

In 2001, Dylan was hired as the head baseball coach to replace the retiring coach Gillis, his former coach. Dylan coached for nine years at OHS, making it to the state tournament once. I will never forget that tournament! Upon earning his Master’s Degree in Ed. Leadership Dylan moved from Yearling to OHS as assistant principal, then of course principal in 2014.

Dylan was named the principal of Okeechobee High School in 2014 upon the promotion of Toni Wiersma. These were big shoes to fill, and I recall at the time attending a meeting with the superintendent to inquire about the communities’ thoughts on who to hire for this enormous task. The people in the room vigorously gave their support to Dylan, but I think we all knew the job ahead of him was daunting.

Okeechobee High School has approximately 1300 students, not including the students who attend the Freshmen Campus each day. Many of the Freshmen attend classes at the main OHS campus as well. Here’s a bit of trivia — OHS is larger than these Florida cities — Weeki Watchie, Howey-in-the-Hills, Bronson, Webster, and nearly 200 others! Here’s the difference though: Every facility at OHS and all its equipment is repeatedly used by 1300 teenagers! Our house barely survived six of them. The great news is that recently Representative Cary Pigman sponsored legislation to assist with the replacement of OHS, as its buildings are aging. At this point, Dylan could probably point out every crack and crevice in each aging one.

Why is he inspiring though? Through the eyes of the kids who pass through the hallowed halls of OHS, he lets them know that they are part of something bigger than themselves – they are Brahmans. This is a big deal for those of us who graduated from OHS. It’s Brahman PRIDE that we have at sporting events, watching a drama performance, ROTC events, club events, community volunteering, or watching the band. When one suffers, we all suffer and when one triumphs, we all triumph. Dylan has a way of pushing the kids to do more, and be better than they were the day before.

Miss Raulerson, theater teacher had this to say, “I adore Dylan! He supports my theatre program completely. He knows the kids and talks with the kids every day. He is a hugger! He talks straight ball. Even if he needs to correct me on something, he has a way of saying it that generally does not ruffle my feathers. He knows I am passionate about theatre, passionate to the point of being high maintenance sometimes, but he rolls with it and lets me do my thing! Every Saturday he posts pictures of what the students and staff at OHS have been up to that week. On Sunday, he posts inspirational quotes and memes to set everyone up for a good positive week to come.”

Assistant Principal Lauren Myers added, “World renowned business executives, authors, and self-help gurus preach the importance of working within one’s own strengths. As principal of Okeechobee High School, Mr. Tedders is a living testament proving that theory. His presence on campus extends beyond the administrative role. He has the unique ability to challenge and stretch those around him by painting a picture of hope and possibility. Dylan is not afraid to think outside of the box to create solutions to contemporary problems, and then has the tenacity to see them through to fruition. Life at the high school entails fast-paced days and long evening hours supporting students, families, and staff. One would be hard-pressed to find a harder working man. Through it all, his love for his family and his profession fuel his quest to ‘get kids across that stage in May.’”

If you haven’t liked the Okeechobee High School Facebook page, you’re really missing a treat. Seeing our young people in a positive light, doing great things in and out of the classroom, is inspiring to me and others. If you’re lucky enough to be friends with Dylan, you too get uplifted just before the week begins and reminded why we all care about our kids so much. Thanks for inspiring us this week Dylan and #GoBrahmans.

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