If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an engineer such as Robert Jordan to launch a school.
In 2011, as Jordan watched Space Shuttle Atlantis lift off for one last journey, the furthest thing in his mind was starting a school. Jordan was fearful for his job as the shuttle program ended. His fear was well-founded, for Jordan was laid off from a 30-year career soon after. It was a day after he lost his re-election bid for the Brevard County School Board, where he had served as the first African-American chair and co-chair.
Where others would see a lemon tree, Jordan saw lemonade.
"I love a challenge, and this was my biggest challenge," he said.
Two weeks later, Jordan, with funds from his 401K and his wife’s blessing, purchased Genesis VII, a small engineering, logistics and construction firm. Now president and CEO of Genesis VII, Jordan oversees projects for clients that range from Disney to the U.S. government.
Not too long after, Jordan was asked to help Viera Charter School since the developer was ready to pull out because of inaction. Inaction is not in Jordan’s vocabulary.
"I’ve never opened a school, but I understand process and opening a school requires a process," Jordan said.
Even when all the school had to its name was the dirt of an empty lot in Viera, a public meeting on the school drew standing-room crowds. The school received more than 1,200 applications for 650 available slots.
"I got teary-eyed because these people were willing to trust their children, their most prized resource, in our hands," Jordan said.
Jordan did not let the parents down. As chairman and president, he led Viera Charter School to become an A-graded school during its first year, a rare accomplishment.
"God was shining on us," he said.
The STEAM-focused nonprofit charter school, which opened in 2013, has experienced rapid growth. It will have a capacity for 1,650 students this fall, when a new middle school opens with a gymnasium/performing arts theater, new cafeteria and new athletic fields. The existing school building will be expanded and renovated to be devoted to kindergarten to fifth grade. Under Jordan’s leadership, the school has earned an A rating every year, as well as the Florida Governor’s School of Excellence Award.
Jordan, who lives in Titusville, is a busy man. In addition to his efforts with Viera Charter School, he is the longest-serving board vice-chair of Parrish Medical Center. He has given freely of his time and talent to the United Way of Brevard, Circles of Care, the North Brevard Economic Development Zone, Titusville YMCA, the Brevard Cultural Alliance, the Jess Parrish Foundation and Brevard Workforce.
"Where there is a need, I want to fulfill that need," he said.