Sarasota County Schools News

Booker Elementary, USF help students explore college possibilities

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EEB student art 2015 Ariauna GilbertEEB student Joshua Calloway at USFSM 2013

FUTURE PERFECT: Pictured at top, Ari’auna Gilbert, a fifth-grade student at Emma E. Booker Elementary, envisioned herself as a podiatrist for the 2015 “What Could I Be with a College Degree?” project. Her drawing will be among the artwork featured in an exhibit at the USF Sarasota-Manatee for the next year. Photo at bottom: At the 2013 “What Could I Be with a College Degree?” event USF Sarasota-Manatee student Bailey Leonard, left, interviewed Emma E. Booker Elementary fifth-grade student Joshua Calloway, who envisioned himself as a doctor. Calloway’s drawing is on the wall above him.

SARASOTA, Feb. 25, 2015 – Eighty-five fifth-grade students at Emma E. Booker Elementary recently asked themselves, “What Could I Be with a College Degree?” They are exploring the answers to that question thanks to a partnership of the school and the USF Sarasota-Manatee College of Education that was formed to increase college and career readiness for the elementary students.

The unveiling of an exhibit of art by Booker students that is an integral part of the project is set for 9:30-10:30 a.m., Friday, Feb. 27, at USF Sarasota-Manatee. After seeing their artwork on display, the children will receive a guided tour of the USFSM campus led by students and faculty members.

“We are truly thankful for the partnership we have formed with USF Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Education,” said Dawn Clayton, principal of Emma E. Booker Elementary. “It is such as pleasure to work hand-in-hand with professors, their students and our wonderful teachers to encourage our creative and talented students to aspire to higher education and rewarding careers.”

The project began with fifth-grade students and teachers brainstorming the careers that they could pursue with a college degree. They were challenged with the task of imagining themselves as college students, working toward careers that required higher education. They researched how long it would take to get the degree they sought, what clothes they would wear in their profession, what tools they would use and what salary they would earn in that field. The project culminated with each student creating a self-portrait reflecting their image of their future selves.

“It is our pleasure to present the self-portraits of the fifth-graders at Emma E. Booker Elementary as they envision their future with a college degree,” said Marie Byrd, associate professor at the USFSM College of Education. “The artwork will grace our college’s hallway for the next year.”

Susan Ambrioso, who teaches art at Booker Elementary, said, “This project helped our students visualize their futures and realize that college was a real possibility, rather something that was out of their grasp — and that it wasn’t that far in the future. They also learned that some professions require a college degree and some need a special training route instead.”

USF Sarasota-Manatee is located at 8350 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. 

Sarasota Virtual School enrollment begins March 9 for 2015-16

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SCS News

SARASOTA COUNTY, Feb. 24, 2015 – Open enrollment for Sarasota Virtual School for the 2015-16 school year will be held Monday, March 9, through Friday, Aug. 7. Sarasota Virtual School (SVS) is a district public school which provides a full-time online learning option for students in grades K-12.

Sarasota Virtual School is an interactive learning environment created through technology, in which the student and teacher are separated by time, space or both. Students access lessons and assignments and receive assessments via the Internet. Using technology, teachers communicate with students and parents in many different ways. The school meets all Florida public school standards and requirements. Students completing graduation requirements will be awarded a high school diploma.

The Sarasota County School District contracts with three outside virtual instruction providers (VIPs) approved by the School Board. K12 Florida, Inc. provides the district with online learning services for students in grades K-12. Edgenuity serves district students in grades 8-12 and Florida Virtual School serves students in grades 9-12. High school students have the option of using either of the three VIPs to meet their specific needs. 

The school uses a state-approved curriculum with instructional materials that include text books and a variety of printed materials. Computers may be provided at no charge to eligible students who meet family income requirements, and affordable internet access is available.  Instructors are highly qualified and/or certified teachers, as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind law. 

Sarasota Virtual School is graded, just as all schools in Florida receive a grade each year. Teachers monitor student progress and give assignments online and through physical materials shipped to and from students. Student attendance is monitored, based on online activity, completion of material, and successful assessments. Textbooks and traditional instructional materials are used, but much of the content is delivered via the providers’ websites, (grades K-12), (grades eight-12) and (grades nine-12).

For the 2015-16 school year, all students in grades K-5 are eligible for enrollment. Students who were enrolled in a Florida public school (traditional, charter or alternative) since Sept. 30, 2013, and are in grades six-12 will also meet the enrollment eligibility criteria.  According to current Florida Statute, students in grades six-12 who were home-schooled during the 2014-15 school year are not eligible for SVS. Parents that are interested in this option must schedule an appointment with the SVS administrator to discuss their student’s needs and eligibility status. 

The Sarasota Virtual School office can be reached at 941-927-9000, ext. 32289, or via e-mail at       

Next principal named for Riverview High School, will start July 1

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RHS principal Eric Jackson 2015

NEXT RHS LEADER: Eric Jackson has been named the next principal of Riverview High School.

SARASOTA, Feb. 24, 2015 – Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White has named the next principal of Riverview High School. Eric Jackson, who currently serves as principal of Tatum Ridge Elementary School, is scheduled to begin the job as Riverview’s new leader July 1, pending School Board approval. He will succeed Linda Nook, who is retiring from the district at the end of the school year after leading Riverview since 2001. About 2,500 students attend Riverview High.

“I’m looking forward to working with the Riverview High School community,” said Jackson. “I’m excited to lead such a high-performing high school that offers a wide range of educational programs and experiences for all students. I will work very hard to ensure that every student is challenged academically and is equipped with the tools necessary to be well-prepared for success in college and the workforce.”

Jackson, 47, began working for the Sarasota County Schools in 2006 as an assistant principal at Sarasota High School. He served in that role until 2008, when he was named an assistant director at Sarasota County Technical Institute (now Suncoast Technical College). He returned to Sarasota High in 2010 as an assistant principal and remained there until his appointment as Tatum Ridge Elementary principal in 2012.

Executive Director of High Schools Steve Cantees said, “Eric’s strong leadership and curriculum skills and his varied experiences in education; including high school, elementary, special education, and career and technical education; make him the ideal choice to lead Sarasota County’s largest high school.”

Cantees added that “Linda Nook is leaving Riverview High in a very good place, and Eric Jackson will build on that success.”

Before coming to Sarasota County, Jackson was an assistant principal at Rockville High School in Vernon, Conn. (2004-06). He was Social Studies Department chair and teacher at Enrico Fermi High in Enfield, Conn. (2001-04); social studies teacher at Ellington High in Ellington, Conn. (1996-2001) and a teacher of special needs students at Eagle Hill School in Southport, Conn. (1994-96).

Jackson holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, a certification in Secondary Education from Central Connecticut State University and a master’s degree in Educational Computing from the University of Hartford. He earned certification in Educational Leadership through advanced graduate studies at the University of Connecticut.

Jackson said he and his wife, Amy, “are very proud of our two children, Katlyn and Matthew.” Katlyn graduated from Sarasota High School in 2014 and Matthew is a sophomore there.

Venice Middle student’s art featured in ‘Embracing Our Differences’

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Venice Middle student Mackenzie Reiss EOD winner 2015

DIVERSITY DUET: Eighth-grade student Mackenzie Reiss’s painting, “A Duet is Often Better than a Solo,” won Best of Show in the Student category of the 2015 Embracing Our Differences art competition.

VENICE, Feb. 20, 2015 – A painting by Venice Middle School eighth-grade student Mackenzie Reiss has been selected for display in the 2015 art exhibit Embracing Our Differences. Reiss is an eighth-grade student at Venice Middle School whose work “A Duet is Often Better than a Solo” was chosen from among thousands of entries from 118 schools as “Best in Show” in the Student category.

Reiss’s colorful and imaginative piece, created using acrylic paints, depicts a guitar and a violin lounging on a blanket together under a starry sky. It will be featured as part of the Embracing Our Differences outdoor art exhibits at Sarasota’s Island Park and at Bradenton Riverwalk from March 29-May 31. Venice Middle School will receive $1,000 to use for its art programs.

When asked what inspired her painting, Reiss said, “I like music and when I’m in band class my teacher tells us to listen to the other instruments and try to blend in with the ensemble. This idea reminded me of the way we need to listen to each other, even though we may not look or sound the same. We also must accept everyone as they are and attempt to befriend everyone around us.”        

Venice Middle School is located at 1900 Center Road. 

About Embracing Our Differences

Embracing Our Differences believes that diversity is one of the world’s greatest assets. The organization’s goal is to create a community where diversity and inclusion are honored, while teaching the importance of being an “up-stander,” not a “by-stander.” The centerpiece of Embracing Our Differences is an outdoor juried international art exhibit featuring 39 billboard-size images created by local, national and international artists, writers and students reflecting their interpretations of the themeenriching lives through diversity.”

The Exhibit

Each year the Embracing Our Differences international art exhibit gets bigger and better.The 11th annual exhibit in 2014 was no exception; it hosted 293,000 visitors, bringing attendance to more than 1.9 million people since 2004. The 2015 exhibit received 6,454 submissions, representing 80 countries, 42 states and 118 schools. Submissions were received from such distant lands as China, Iran and Vietnam. 


Elementary students practice Spanish at ‘El Restaurante Bay Haven’

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SCS News

SARASOTA, Feb. 12, 2015 – As part of a cultural experience blending language learning, culinary exploration and etiquette, the cafeteria at Bay Haven School of Basics Plus will be transformed into “El Restaurante Bay Haven” from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 25. All students in grades K-5 will order their lunch in Spanish, including desserts from Mexico and other Latin cultures. Spanish-speaking parent volunteers will serve as waiters.

The youngest students will create their own menus; older students will order from a special menu in Spanish. Students will help decorate the cafeteria with art projects to create the ambience of a Mexican restaurant.

“Based on my own personal experience, I have a firm believer that the best way to learn a second language is through immersion,” said Bay Haven Spanish teacher Jaime Viera. “I have encouraged my students to practice their Spanish by visiting some of the many Spanish-speaking restaurants in Sarasota and Bradenton. It’s great to see my students using conversational Spanish in preparation for this event. Even stumbling through mistakes is part of the process that leads to conversational fluency.”

During this event, movement teacher Beverly Boardman, who has been part of Bay Haven’s Spanish program for seven years, will lead several types of fiesta dances. After the Restaurante the Bay Haven Spanish program will shift its focus from Mexico to six other countries in Latin America, as students build further on their conversational Spanish in preparation for the school’s Latin Cultural Fair, scheduled for May.              

Bay Haven School of Basics Plus is located at 2901 W. Tamiami Circle, Sarasota.

NOTICE: High school seniors must take state-required online course

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SCS News

SARASOTA COUNTY, Feb. 12, 2015 - ATTENTION HIGH SCHOOLSENIORS AND PARENTS: Students in the graduating class of 2015 must have taken and passed an online course to meet state graduation requirements. Any high school senior who has not met this requirement should meet with his/her school counselor as soon as possible and sign up for a Sarasota Virtual Academy course. Please note that this online course requirement does not apply to any senior who is pursuing an IB or AICE diploma. 

The last day to sign up for a required online course through Sarasota Virtual Academy will be Tuesday, March 31, 2015. If you are a senior with questions about whether you have met this online graduation requirement, or if you have questions about how to sign up for an online course, please contact your school counselor or an administrator immediately.


Riverview High School team wins regional History Bowl contest

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SHS History Bowl JV team-2015 regional champs

HISTORIC VICTORY: The Riverview High School Junior Varsity History Bowl team won the JV championship at the 2015 Central Florida Winter National History Bowl competition, held Jan. 31 at Largo High School in Largo. Pictured from left are Erin Formanski, Cullen Bolkey, faculty advisor Don Baeszler, Jaime Velez and Sanket Manjesh.

LARGO, Fla., Feb. 10, 2015 — A team from Riverview High School in Sarasota emerged as Junior Varsity champions at the 2015 Central Florida Winter National History Bowl, a history quiz tournament with competitions across the U.S. The RHS team competed Jan. 31 at Largo High School against public and private schools in the Tampa Bay and won the championship with two victories over the JV team from Berkeley Preparatory School, a private school in Tampa. Three other Riverview teams also participated in the competition, performing well against strong competition.

The Riverview High Junior Varsity team members are Captain Erin Formanski, a sophomore, and freshmen Jaime Velez, Cullen Bolkey and Sanket Manjesh. Faculty advisor and RHS International Baccalaureate Program history teacher Don Baeszler said, “There were amazing performances from each team member. They prepared for three months with two practices a week to be ready for this match. Erin was spectacular as the captain; she held everyone together and was a true leader in the most clutch moments.

“The History Bowl is a great competitive format that really helps students learn through competition. The questions range from quick ‘toss-ups’ to those requiring detailed responses. Our JV team, which is particularly strong in world history and European history, won four matches and lost one during the preliminary rounds, then swept the playoffs in very close matches. Riverview teams have placed second in the tournament a few times, but this is our first time winning. We dream of going to Washington one of these years to participate in the ‘big show.’”

The victory by the RHS JV team makes them eligible to compete in the Florida State History Bowl Championship at Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory March 7 in Hollywood, Fla., but the team has not yet decided whether to make the trip. A championship there would qualify the team to compete in the National History Bowl Championships in late April in Washington, D.C.  

Riverview High School is located at 1 Ram Way in Sarasota.

Winners of 2015 Regional Science Fair announced

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Science Fair 2015-Rebecca Elsishans SHS

SARASOTA HIGH SCIENTIST: Rebecca Elsishans of Sarasota High School was one of the top six winners with her project, Mitigation of the Cytotoxicity of Single-walled Carbon Nanotubes Utilizing Surface Functionalization and Non-toxic Surfactants.

This news release is from the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

SARASOTA, Feb. 4, 2015 – The finest young scientific minds in Sarasota County will be honored with prizes, scholarships, cash awards and – for two gifted high school students – a chance to shine in international competition thanks to the 2015 Regional Science, Engineering and Technology Fair. 

Sarasota County Schools’ Science Program Specialist Carlos Hernandez announced winners by grade level and research category this week. First place projects will be on display at the Sarasota County Fair from March 13-22. The top six high school student projects will be competing at the State Science and Engineering Fair of Florida from March 31-April 2 in Lakeland, FL. In addition, two of Sarasota County’s top high school projects will go on to compete internationally this spring at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in Pittsburgh this May.  All expenses for the Science Fair competitions, including the state competition and Intel ISEF,are paid for by the Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

Click here for a list of all 2015 Science Fair winners.  

Sarasota High School boasts four of the top six projects with Rebecca Elsishans’ Mitigation of the Cytotoxicity of Single-walled Carbon Nanotubes Utilizing Surface Functionalization and Non-toxic Surfactants; Skyler Haber and Savannah Jordan’s Cost-Efficient Method to Removing Harmful Contaminants in Water Through the Integration of a Mycelium Based Filtration System; Natalie Olson’s Increasing NO Production of Aromatase Inhibitor-Treated Endothelial Cells via the Addition of Resveratrol; Dylan Burgin’s The Effect of Temperature on Staphylococcus Epidermidis Biofilm Formation in the Presence of the Human Cathelicidin Peptide LL-37. 

Courtney Astore from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School placed in the top six with MEDI-Profiler: A Computational Classifier that Identifies Determinant Chemical Features and their Influences on Pharmaceutical Drug Properties; along with Henry Tingle, Liam Rouse and Peter Florian from Pine View School with Full Body High Stress Protection Suit 833.

Sarasota County students from over 50 public, private and home schools submitted individual and team projects to the regional competition.  More than 150 volunteer judges evaluated submissions and interviewed students from grades 3-5 on January 27 and from grades 6-12 on January 29.  Their scores determined the winners of each category, and the overall winners of the Science Fair.

Sarasota County Schools collaborates with the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and the Sarasota County Agricultural Fair Association to present the fair each year.  Students participate by completing research in science, engineering, math or technology using the scientific or engineering method, and then submit their projects for judging at Robarts Arena in late January.  The Education Foundation underwrites the regional fair, the county’s participation in the state and international competitions, and cash prizes provided through the generosity of community sponsors. 

The Intel ISEF has been called the “Olympics, the World Cup, and the World Series of science competitions.”  Now in its 65th year, the Intel ISEF is the world's largest pre-college science competition and the only science project competition for students in grades 9-12.  The Intel ISEF brings together students, teachers, corporate executives, and government officials from around the world.

Local sponsors support the Regional Science Fair at various levels.  Leading sponsors include the Dart Foundation and The Faulhaber Foundation.  PGT Industries, a first year sponsor, is also supporting the event this year.

Scholarships underwritten by sponsors are presented to outstanding high school student participants.  The Faulhaber Foundation Prize will be awarded to two students for their accomplishments.  The Dart Foundation Award for Medicine & Health and the Dart Foundation Inspiration Award, will also be presented at the annual celebration scheduled for March 26.  

About the Education Foundation of Sarasota County 

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County, founded in 1988 as an independent 501(c)(3) organization, serves more than 41,200 students in 58 elementary, middle and high schools.

The Education Foundation is the leading advocate for an exceptional public education for all students in Sarasota County. With strong support from donors and the community, the Education Foundation undertakes significant, high impact projects and initiatives that go beyond what tax dollars can provide. The Education Foundation encourages donors with a passion for education to express their imagination in finding solutions, to make an investment in providing new opportunities for student learning, and to share the inspiration their generosity sparks in young people whose lives are forever changed.  For more information, visit or call 941.927.0965.


Booker High students stage ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

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BHS Midsummer Night cast Feb 2015

'MIDSUMMER' STARS: Booker High students will perform Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Feb. 11-14 at the school’s VPA Theatre. Pictured from left are Josue Rivera as Puck, Solo Matelau as Oberon and Zoë Verbil as Titania

SARASOTA, Feb. 6, 2015 – The Booker High School Visual and Performing Arts Theatre Department will present William Shakespeare’s comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 11, through Saturday, Feb. 14, in the VPA Theatre on the BHS campus. 

The play, written in the late 16th century, is one of Shakespeare’s most imaginative comedies, drawing on references as diverse as Greek mythology and English fairy lore. It revolves around interconnected plotlines about love, both mutual and unrequited, to hilarious effect. The version that will be performed at Booker High is a 90-minute adaptation.

Director Natalia Mock, an adjunct acting instructor, said that the timing of the play’s run — leading up to and including Valentine’s Day — is perfect. 

“It’s a play about love,” Mock said, noting that everyone can relate to the ideas conveyed through its characters. “It’s also a frothy take on how quirky lovers are, and how they find themselves in quarrels that get worked out in the end. It’s just really hilarious.”

Mock said she initially faced trepidations about undertaking such an important and widely produced play and making it unique and totally fresh for audiences who may be familiar with it. But the fears melted away when she saw how capably her young cast tackled the material.

“The cast is incredible,” she said. “They have taken every inch of the script and made the words come to life. They’re not afraid of the material, which is exciting.”­

Not only have the actors committed themselves to dynamic portrayals, but the entire department is adding to the uniqueness and magic of this experience. From the imaginative set design by Ken Wiegers and fanciful costumes by Heather O’Brien, to the original music written by acting teacher Scott Keys and sophomore Eli Schildkraut, the production delivers the story in an enchanting way.

Mock’s vision is on full display here, perhaps best demonstrated by the 1990s pop music motif for the fairies. She says some of the modernized elements of this performance will make it more accessible to today’s audiences, giving this production an edgy appeal.

“The music is sort of Gwen Stefani-meets-Nirvana,” Mock said of Keys’ lyrics and Schildkraut’s score. This marks the second collaboration of the musicians, providing another opportunity for Schildkraut to exercise his skills as a composer. Schildkraut also performs the part of Bottom, who gets turned into a donkey.

Tickets are on sale now and can be reserved by calling Judy Piercy at (941) 355-2967, extension 65215, or online at  Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students with an ID.

The Booker High School VPA Theatre is located at 3201 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota. 

Teacher of the Year finalists surprised at three schools

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Teacher of Year 2015-16-SPHS Russell Finger

HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White, right, names Suncoast Polytechnical High School’s Russell Finger the district’s 2015-16 High School Teacher of the Year Feb. 5. Middle School and Elementary School Teachers of the Year also were surprised at their schools. Photo by Randy Breit, courtesy Prestige Portraits by Lifetouch

SARASOTA, Feb. 5, 2015 – Teachers at three public schools in Sarasota were surprised when they were revealed as the district’s 2015-16 Teachers of the Year finalists by the annual Teacher Tribute Tour, Thursday morning (Feb. 5). Superintendent of Schools Lori White, School Board members Shirley Brown, Caroline Zucker, Bridget Ziegler and a team of district administrators, past winners and representatives of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County congratulated the teachers as their students and peers helped celebrate the event.

The first stop was Suncoast Polytechnical High School, where Russell Finger was named High School Teacher of the Year for the district. Students joined in the surprise; there were lots of hugs and smiles.  

“It feels really amazing to get this recognition from my peers,” said Finger. “But this is really a shared reward because teaching is always a group effort: teachers, students, parents, administrators and the whole community. So it’s hard for me to feel more special than anyone else.”

Regarding his approach to teaching, Finger said, “I try to engage students with science and technology because as a society we’re going to need that expertise more and more in the years to come. I try to tap into students’ natural curiosity and enthusiasm and feed off that wide-eyed wonder. I love what I do.”

Finger has been teaching for a decade, including eight years in Sarasota County. He teaches chemistry and physics at Suncoast Polytech. A nuclear engineering major at the University of Wisconsin, he switched to chemistry at Portland State University in Oregon, earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a Master of Education. He spent 10 years as an analytical chemist in the computer-chip industry before switching careers. He taught in public high schools in Portland and began teaching in Sarasota County at North Port High School in October 2006.

Finger created an “exploration” teaching unit that integrates art and chemistry for, a website that links teachers to various learning opportunities in Sarasota County, and helped bring the Suncoast Science/Faulhaber FabLab to the Suncoast Technical College campus.

Next, the bus pulled into Brookside Middle School, where Principal Kristine Lawrence called International Baccalaureate Program Coordinator Christi McDowell-Cameron on a walkie-talkie to tell her there was a visiting group from China to greet in the media center. Used to greeting global visitors, McDowell-Cameron was shocked when White announced that she is the district’s Middle School Teacher of the Year

Teacher of Year-MS Christi McDowell-Cameron 2015-16

MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Christi McDowell-Cameron, center, was surprised as the 2015-16 Sarasota County Middle School Teacher of the Year at Brookside Middle School Feb. 5. Behind her are her father, Bill McDowell, at right, and Brookside eighth-grade student Michael Medico, at left, holding artwork with student handprints.

As IB coordinator for Brookside’s IB Middle School Program, McDowell-Cameron works with teachers and students to help develop student portfolios — examples of student work in particular areas that is required by the globally recognized program.

“I love to problem-solve and create,” McDowell-Cameron said. “I also enjoy mentoring students in need of extra support. I believe we all really do need each other and that each person has something special to offer to others.”

She likes to identify a student each day and try to make his or her time at school a little better.

“We all have rough days,” she explained. “I like to find a student who needs a little extra bit of encouragement and give it to them.”

A teacher for 14 years — all of them in Sarasota County — McDowell-Cameron taught at North Port High School and Heron Creek Middle School in North Port before joining the Brookside faculty in 2005-06. She was Heron Creek’s Teacher of the Year in 2004-05.

McDowell-Cameron earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Indiana Wesleyan University and a Master of Education, Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University.  

The final stop on the tour was Wilkinson Elementary School, where Edward Hashey was named the Elementary School Teacher of the Year. The school’s chorus sang “Today is the Best Day of My Life.” It clearly was one of the best days of Hashey’s life; he didn’t hesitate to share his emotion with the students as he choked up a bit at the honor.  

“I really just love being a teacher and spending the day with other teachers and students,” he said. “This is the toughest job I’ve every loved. To be a teacher is more than a job — it’s a lifestyle; you have to live it. But I get to work with students who are struggling and help them succeed. The work rewards me every day because it reminds me that even the toughest problems can be solved with collaboration and teamwork.”

Teacher of Year-ES Edward Hashey 2015-16E

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Edward Hashey, at right, gets high-fives from his fifth-grade students after being named the 2015-16 Sarasota County Elementary School Teacher of the Year. Students pictured from left are Dakota Arnold, Robert Easterbrook, Jonathan Macias and Timothy Schneckenberger. 

Hashey was taught for 12 years: eight of them in elementary schools and four at the college level. A U.S. Navy veteran, Hashey earned a bachelor’s degree in illustration from Ringling College of Art and Design and a Master of Education from the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. He was an adjunct faculty instructor in graphic design at Ringling in 1999-2000 and at USF’s St. Petersburg campus in 2004-05.

In 2007-08 he taught at Rowlett Magnet Elementary School in Bradenton, then taught at Wakeland Elementary School of International Studies from 2008-2013, joining the Wilkinson Elementary faculty later in 2013.   

About the Sarasota County Teacher of the Year program  

The Teacher of the Year program is co-produced by the Sarasota County School District and the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and is made possible through the funding and support of community partners. Each of the three finalists will receive a cash award from the Education Foundation. All 40 individual schools’ Teachers of the Year will receive a quality professional portrait by Prestige Portraits.

The overall district Teacher of the Year for 2015-16 will be announced from among the three finalists at a luncheon Tuesday, March 24, at Michael’s On East in Sarasota. The individual Teachers of the Year for each school also will be honored at that event.

The district Teacher of the Year will receive a $2,500 cash award from Sunset Chevy Buick GMC; the two runners-up will receive $1,250 each from the dealership. The district’s Teacher of the Year also will represent Sarasota County Schools at the Florida Department of Education-Macy's Teacher of the Year program and will serve as a spokesperson for and representative of the teaching profession at various events throughout the 2015-16 school year.

About the Education Foundation of Sarasota County  

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County, founded in 1988 as an independent 501(c)(3) organization, serves more than 41,200 students in 58 elementary, middle and high schools. The Education Foundation is the leading advocate for an exceptional public education for all students in Sarasota County. With strong support from donors and the community, the Foundation undertakes significant, high impact projects and initiatives that go beyond what tax dollars can provide. The Foundation encourages donors with a passion for education to express their imagination in finding solutions, to make an investment in providing new opportunities for student learning, and to share the inspiration their generosity sparks in young people whose lives are forever changed.  For more information, visit or call 941-927-0965.

Feb. 19 workshop seeks input on North Port technical college and library

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SCS News

NORTH PORT, Feb. 4, 2015 – Sarasota County Schools, Sarasota County Government and the City of North Port will hold a Neighborhood Community Workshop about the planning, design and programs for the new Suncoast Technical College and Sarasota County Public Library. The two-hour workshop, set for 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 19, in the Toledo Blade Elementary School Cafeteria in North Port, is designed to inform neighboring residents and the community of North Port about the project, and to solicit ideas, suggestions and concerns.

The $15 million project is scheduled to open in early 2017 at Toledo Blade and Cranberry boulevards. In a partnership of Sarasota County Schools and Sarasota County Government, the site will include a branch of Suncoast Technical College (formerly Sarasota County Technical Institute) and the second Sarasota County Public Library in North Port.

Click here for an overview of the project (PDF file). 

The Florida Legislature appropriated $3 million for the project in May (part of the $15 million total project budget) for the project. The Suncoast Technical College North Port campus will provide basic job skills and technical training in one of the fastest-growing areas of Sarasota County. The new joint-use county public library planned for the site will be located approximately 10 miles from the existing North Port Public Library. It will serve a growing population near the Toledo Blade Boulevard corridor and the entire south county area, including the students who will attend Suncoast Technical College in North Port.

Toledo Blade Elementary School, the site of the Community Workshop, is located at 1201 Geranium Ave., North Port.  

About Suncoast Technical College

Suncoast Technical College provides quality technical education to meet workforce development and community needs. It is accredited by the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and is also certified, accredited or approved by the several program-specific organizations. Campuses are in Sarasota (main campus at Beneva and Proctor roads), Sarasota/Newtown, Sarasota/Fire Science Academy, Venice and North Port (temporary location at North Port High School). More information is at  

About Sarasota County Libraries

The Sarasota County Library System offers equal access to information, fosters lifelong learning and inspires community engagement. Library cards are free for county residents. There are nine locations in Sarasota County, including libraries in Sarasota, Venice, North Port and Osprey. More information is at


Feb. 17 'This is It' screening at Booker High moved to gym

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SCS News

This news release is from the Sarasota Film Festival. Due to rain and wind in the forecast, the event has been moved inside to the gym.

SARASOTA, Feb. 4, 2015 - Sarasota Film Festival’s Moonlight Movies Winter 2015 season will kick off with “This Is It” Feb. 17 at Booker High School. The free screening will be at 6 p.m., 3201 N. Orange Ave., in the school's gymnasium. The SFF Education Department offers the free screenings as a way of giving back to the community before the festival season begins. Future screenings will be in different locations, including Siesta Key Beach and Lido Beach.  

“This Is It” is a documentary that follows the "King of Pop," Michael Jackson, before his ill-fated tour of the same name. Jackson tragically died 18 days before the tour was supposed to start. The film offers unfettered access to the entertainment icon as he works through his dizzying dance moves and soaring vocals.  

Before the movie, SFF Education Director Samuel Curtis, along with Booker High students Kiara Mitchell, Deja DuBose, Teithis Miller, Wade Turner and Jonathan Buckley, will introduce a trailer for the documentary “Newtown: A Glimpse Through Our Eyes.” The students were part of SFF’s Film Academy and helped create the film. The documentary will be shown in its entirety at the Sarasota Film Festival April 16 at the Sarasota Opera House.  

Additionally, Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino will be on hand and the department will have a Blue + You booth set up. Blue + You is the department’s community outreach program that aims to connect residents with Sarasota police.  

All Moonlight Movies screenings are free and open to the public. Attendees should bring blankets and/or lawn chairs. There will be concessions for sale.  

SFF’s screening of “This Is It” is also sponsored by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Culture Builds Florida, Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax Revenues, Arts and Cultural Alliance, Women’s Exchange, Inc. and the Sarasota Police Department Blue + You initiative.


Laurel Nokomis School to hold info sessions for K-8 classes

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NOKOMIS, Feb. 4, 2015 – Laurel Nokomis School, the only traditional public school in Sarasota County serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade, will hold information sessions during the school district’s school choice window, Feb. 2-20. A Kindergarten Round-Up will be held in April.

The events are:  

  • School Choice Tours for elementary students, 9-10 a.m., Friday, Feb. 6. Parents and prospective students who will be in grades K-five in 2015-16 can tour the campus to see areas of interest; classes are in session to assist in decision-making regarding school choice. The tour begins in the media center. Refreshments will be served.  
  • Sixth-Grade Showcase, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 10. Parents and prospective students who will be in grade six in 2015-16 can meet the school’s teachers, learn about the curriculum and visit classrooms. Current sixth-grade students at Laurel Nokomis will speak about their experiences at the school. The showcase begins in the cafeteria. Refreshments will be served.  
  • School Choice Tours for middle school students, 9-10 a.m., Friday, Feb. 13. Parents and prospective students who will be in grades six-eight in 2015-16 can tour the campus to see areas of interest; classes are in session to assist in decision-making regarding school choice. The tour begins in the media center. Refreshments will be served.  
  • For those students who will attend kindergarten at Laurel Nokomis in 2015-16, the school will hold its annual Kindergarten Round-Up at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 30. Incoming kindergarten students will visit classrooms and meet teachers. Parents will receive information on registration, kindergarten readiness and what to expect as their children enter school. The showcase begins in the cafeteria. Refreshments will be served.  

More information about school choice is at  

Laurel Nokomis School is located at 1900 E. Laurel Road in Nokomis.

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