Estero graduate going back to high school as Bonita principal
Bonita Springs resident Jeff Estes Jr. is realizing a lifelong dream in his own backyard. From a pool of 70 applicants spread over the nation, Estes was selected principal of the new Bonita Springs High School.
“As a hometown kid, I’m happy to be opening a new school here,” he said. A graduate of Estero High School, Estes returned there as an educator, teaching math and coaching golf. In 14 years with Lee County Schools, he’s been assistant principal at Diplomat Middle, Estero High, and most recently East Lee County High School.
Estes graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University, and has been active in Bonita Springs as a Little League coach and avid golfer. He and his wife have two sons, ages 5 and 8. “I feel well connected in our city,” he said.
“My current priority is hiring the right teachers,” Estes said. “With many substantial interactions occurring between students and teachers, I want our students to feel well-supported.”
The school’s first 275 ninth graders will start classes this August in modular buildings at Estero High School. Next year, the new high school campus will open for grades nine through 12.
Estes sees his key role as establishing a culture that offers something for all students, including academics and extracurricular activities. “The school is located close to many students’ homes, so I expect our sports and other activities will flourish,” he said. “Research shows that students involved in extracurricular activities are more successful, overall.”
The new principal’s fond memories of his own high school years include playing saxophone in the marching band. “That’s where I met my future wife. She also played the sax, and all of her siblings were marching band members,” Estes said. “Her dad was band booster president at the time.”
Estes is enthusiastic about a program that familiarizes students with leadership and business aspects of their community. Through the Estero High School Leadership Academy, he has worked with Steve McIntosh, taking students to meet with leaders and business owners.
“We’ve been to City Hall, the Centers for the Arts, the fire department, public safety, and various businesses,” Estes said. “Community leaders have been highly supportive, and we’ll continue this on a broader scale,” he said.
Estes is also excited about programs such as Sustainability and Entrepreneurship, where students grow crops and sell them on campus. “We have Aerospace Technology studies, and the FGCU Collegiate Academy offers college level courses,” he added. “Today’s students are better prepared for more career options.”
Bonita Springs High School will be an integral part of the community, offering mentorship opportunities for Rotary, Lions and other clubs.
Instilling resiliency and versatility are keys to preparing high school students for the future, Estes said. “We foster their interests and encourage them to pursue their dreams.”
Anyone who has questions about the new Bonita Springs High School may contact Estes by phone or email. “We also encourage interactions on Facebook and Twitter,” he said.
Visit www.facebook.com/ BonitaSpringsHS/. The Twitter handle is @BonitaSpringsHS