Meet Sara Clements – one of the 30 under 30 rising stars in Florida politics

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If you had told Sara Clements a few years ago that she would be working in politics, she would have waved you off and gotten back to her lesson plans. Her lobbying efforts were directed at a bunch of middle-school students.

Turns out working in a low-income school in Orange County was good training for trying to convince lawmakers to take the state’s education system in a new direction.

Sara is not only a teacher, she’s the daughter of a teacher and now leads the state advocacy efforts for Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future.

“I taught for four years and I had good and bad experiences,” she says. “The things that frustrated me weren’t the kids and the parents, but the system and the bureaucracy.”

She says she left the classroom because “I felt that I could be more useful by addressing some of the problems in the state system.”

And she finds that her classroom experiences gives her arguments before lawmakers and others more weight.

In her off time, she and her husband, Joe, (another of our rising stars) volunteer with Last Hope Rescue, which rescues dogs. After adopting a dog that was abandoned in a dumpster, they now foster dogs preparing for new homes.

She also likes to cook and bake and is always on the look out for new vegetarian recipes.

Here is Sara in her own words:

I am 29 years old and …

I live in Tallahassee but grew up in Wellington, FL. I graduated from the University of North Florida with my BA and expect to graduate from Florida State University in December with my Master’s. I hope to visit Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast (both in Italy), Turkey, Greece…the list goes on.

I got into politics… because I saw first-hand how entrenched, adult-centered policies hindered the learning of students. I knew that I could never reach my full potential as a teacher – and therefore give my kids what they needed to be successful – until our state addressed those problems.

One principle I always put above politics is… good policy. It’s why we elect people to represent us in the first place.

Person or people who gave me my first shot… Patricia Levesque (in the political process) and Wayne Green (in education). And I’m eternally grateful to both.

I’ve already worked for/on… Foundation for Florida’s Future as a legislative analyst and Foundation for Excellence in Education as Regional Advocacy Associate. Formerly a classroom teacher in Orlando and Tallahassee.

When I begin a project or first work on a campaign, I look for… a leader and team who are committed to the end goal.

I’ve been blessed to have these people as my mentors… Joanna Hassell, Lowell Mathews

The people I most admire in politics are… Gov. Jeb Bush,  Condoleezza Rice

One lesson I’ve already learned is… always go the extra mile. You will quickly stand out because most people simply aren’t willing to do that.

If I wasn’t working in politics, I’d be working in… Education, of course! Outside of the education world, I would probably be running my own business.

In 10 years, you’ll read about me… still advocating for student-centered policies in Florida. The Sunshine State has come a long way, but until every child can read, write, and do math at a high level, graduate with a diploma, go on to be successful in a meaningful career, and ultimately live out their God-given potential…we will still have work to do. As our chairman says, “success is never final, reform is never finished.”

You can connect with me on social media: @SaraSClements.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.