Supporters launch ‘Raise Your Hand’ project for beloved educator

LEE COUNTY, FL, October 22, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ — According to former students, Dr. John F. McCullers, better known as “Jeff,” is the type of inspirational, legendary schoolteacher Hollywood writes Academy Award-winning biographies about. McCullers has a long-standing reputation in his community for being universally beloved by students and colleagues, particularly when he was an English, drama, and stagecraft teacher at Cypress Lake High School in Fort Myers, Florida.

Former Fort Myers Beach, Florida Mayor Anita Cereceda, said she was thrilled when McCullers decided to run. She said, “In the case of Jeff McCullers, the single issue he’s passionate about has always been education. He’s been working on it nearly every day of his life.”

McCullers’s former student Erin Martin said, “He accepts you and he celebrates you. Jeff was everyone’s favorite teacher because he has this unconditional regard for everyone. He makes you feel special, no matter where you come from or what individual talents you bring to the table. He finds that in you, then he helps you believe in it for yourself.”

Cypress Lake High School alum Bronwyn Bedient said, “Jeff values people as individuals. He raises everyone up. I’ve never put out a yard sign for a candidate before, but I’m supporting Jeff.” Former student Mark Konkel added, “Caring about kids and the education they get is in Jeff’s DNA.”

Friends, colleagues and former students say they beamed with pride when McCullers finished close on primary day and advanced to the general election. But many were stunned the lauded former teacher didn’t win the race outright. Former student Joey Adams said, “In politics and in life, there are tons of examples of the best person losing the race to an inferior candidate with better name recognition.” Adding, “Those of us who know Jeff refuse to let that happen here.”

Adams and some friends organized themselves on Facebook and asked for volunteers to share homemade videos about personal experiences with Jeff to help voters get to know him better. “You could say the response was robust. We have already have four volumes of video compilations so far.” Adams added, “Jeff was there for all of us when we needed him, so we all had to be here for him now.”

From a social media post, the Raise Your Hand for Jeff project, and the hashtag “#ElectJeff” were born. Sharon Benner, McCullers’ seventh grade teacher, was among the first to lend support. In a message to voters Benner said, “From the time he was twelve to now as a retired man, Jeff is one the best human beings I know.” Former student Melissa Archer recalls, “Jeff was able to motivate different kinds of students from every walk of life to collaborate and make beautiful things together. He relates to all types of people by taking the time to understand them.”

Former student John Olenski shared, “As a soldier in the Army, the lessons he taught me: to be persistent, to be tenacious, and, to never give up, got me through some of the toughest times in my life. Now as a chef running a restaurant, I manage an army of leaders by teaching Jeff’s ideals every day.”

Former high school principal and Lee County Schools Executive Director, Jeananne Folaros, McCullers’ former teacher and later his boss, said, “I taught Jeff for three years, but I knew he was destined to make our world a better place.” She added, “If we elect Jeff it is a once in a life time opportunity for brilliant, ethical, selfless leadership for the children we love.” Former student Julie Jennings said, “I made choices as a teen I’m not proud of. But Jeff never stopped believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.”

Most folks find themselves watching more political ads airing during an election year than they ever care to. However, rarely, if ever, has a group of former students organized to make political ads to convince voters to elect their old teacher. While it may be difficult to get a diverse, multi-generational group of Americans to agree on anything these days, the Raise Your Hand project participants had no trouble forming consensus that McCullers is their candidate. All expressed confidence McCullers would make a difference on the School Board as he did in their lives. Konkel added, “If he can do for your kids one tenth of what he did for me, they’ll be among the luckiest.”

When asked which famous actor he’d like to see portraying him on the big screen should Hollywood ever go into production on his biopic, McCullers laughed, then said, “Do you think Brad Pitt is handsome enough to play me?”

Selected video highlights can be seen at To view video submissions for the Raise Your Hand for Jeff McCullers project in their entirety, visit

For more information on the Dr. John F. “Jeff” McCullers for School Board campaign, visit

For the original version of this press release, please visit here