John Risner and Danielle Boyce are leading a new public-private initiative for alternative education, serving students in grades 6-12 in Jacksonville, FL, at the Horizon Institute.
Mr. Risner is the superintendent of alternative education for the Horizon Institute. He is also a retired Air Force officer. According to Mr. Risner, “My experience has shown me the value of employing every community resource available to catch and empower these young people, in addition to the academic resources afforded directly by the school. I think about three key words as we launch this meaningful endeavor in Jacksonville: Redemption, persistence and opportunity. Denzel Washington, in a 2011 commencement address, focused on the idea of ‘falling forward.’ At the Horizon Institute, we aim to give our students the tools they need to ‘fall forward’ instead of ‘fall down.'”
Mr. Risner relocated to Jacksonville from Cleveland, OH, in July 2021, specifically to take on this organization’s purpose of providing an alternative education program that puts into action the most current research and resources. His prior experience is extensive: Mr. Risner has been principal of Cliff Park High School, which is an alternative dropout prevention high school in Springfield, OH; superintendent of alternative education for the Columbus Region for Midwest Education Group; testing coordinator for the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Station in Cleveland; and adjunct professor at Tiffin University. Mr. Risner completed his undergraduate degree in business administration at Tiffin University in Ohio. He obtained his MBA from Regis University in Denver, CO. He completed the Inspired Education Leadership Program at Cleveland State University, which enabled him to earn his K-12 principal license for Ohio. He is also a distinguished graduate of the United States Air Force Officer’s Candidate School. Mr. Risner served in various capacities for the military. He has one son and lives with his two pet yorkies.
Ms. Boyce is the assistant principal for the Horizon Institute. She attended Wright State University for political science/pre-law for her undergraduate degree, and she received her master’s degree at Grand Canyon University in educational leadership for K-12. She is currently in her doctoral program in organizational leadership for K-12. Ms. Boyce began her educational career as a teacher in dropout prevention as a teacher of Social Studies and English at MYcroSchool of Jacksonville. Ms. Boyce has also developed and written curriculum for multiple states and across multiple disciplines. As a lead teacher, Ms. Boyce’s department attained the highest pass rate for the U.S. History EOC and created a study strategies course to provide professional development for teachers. She has made a career of empowering young people who are in dropout recovery: She created the first student government and a service club that allowed scholars the opportunity to earn community service hours towards scholarships. She has also served as a principal and director of education in private educational settings. Ms. Boyce is a mother of three and a proud dog mom. She enjoys running, cooking and cheering for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
“Think of our school as a judgment-free zone. We recognize that our youth have and will continue to experience challenges that can feel insurmountable. We will use every advantage possible to help our students recover academically and thrive socially and emotionally,” says Ms. Boyce.
Mr. Risner and Ms. Boyce are bringing the full weight of their professional experience to serve Duval County’s at-risk youth population with development from the ground up of the Horizon Institute. The program will be accepting enrollment in time for the start of the 2021-22 school year.