Sarasota County Schools News

District’s Teacher of the Year to be named April 5 from three finalists

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Teacher of the Year Finalists 2017

TOP TEACHERS: Pictured from left are Sarasota County 2017 Teacher of the Year finalists Holly Houghton-Brown, William “BJ” Ivey and Christine Braun. One of them will be named district Teacher of the Year in a ceremony April 5.

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

SARASOTA, March 30, 2017 – Superintendent Todd Bowden and Education Foundation of Sarasota County President Jennifer Vigne will announce the overall Sarasota County Teacher of the Year for 2017 from among three finalists at the annual awards ceremony honoring educators. This year’s event will be a luncheon held from 12:30-2 p.m., Wednesday, April 5, at Michael’s On East in Sarasota. The individual Teachers of the Year for each school also will be honored at the luncheon.

A partnership of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and the Sarasota County School District produces the event.

The three finalists — one each for elementary, middle and high schools — were surprised at their schools Feb. 2.

The finalists for Sarasota County Teacher of the Year are:

Holly Houghton-Brown, Tatum Ridge Elementary School fourth-grade teacher, Elementary School Teacher of the Year

Christine Braun, Pine View School social studies teacher, Middle School Teacher of the Year 

William “BJ” Ivey, Riverview High School social studies teacher and basketball coach, High School Teacher of the Year

About Teacher of the Year
The Teacher of the Year program recognizes educators in Sarasota County who exemplify dedication to student learning and innovative instruction. The 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. The district Teacher of the Year will receive a $2,500 cash award from the Education Foundation, sponsored by Sunset Automotive Group; the two runners-up will each receive $1,250. The district Teacher of the Year 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 until the next district Teacher of the Year is chosen. Due to a change in the timeline, the next Teacher of the Year will be named in December 2017 and will serve in the 2018 calendar year, rather than for an academic year.    

About the Education Foundation of Sarasota County
The Education Foundation of Sarasota County is a supporting partner that exponentially enhances the educational experiences available to the children of Sarasota County. Its mission is to strengthen the community by investing in educational opportunities for the students, teachers, and schools. The Foundation works to match donor’s passions with high-impact projects and initiatives that help every child in Sarasota County rise to their full potential. It achieves this mission through scholarships, access to advanced technology, supplies needed for creativity to flourish, and funds for educators’ professional development. The Education Foundation of Sarasota County and its philanthropic investors are champions for students, teachers, and schools. For more information on the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, call 941.927.0965 or visit

Southside Elem. students unveil art book, ‘The Best Parts of Us!’

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Southside art book kids March 2017Southside art book cover March 2017

ARTISTS AT WORK: In top photo, Southside Elementary students Ella Moulton, at left, and Jacob Cobb create art for the class book, "The Best Parts of Us!" The book's cover is shown in the bottom photo.

SARASOTA, March 29, 2017 – Students in Sandy Waite’s fourth-grade class at Southside Elementary School will celebrate the completion of a book of their own artwork from 2-3 p.m., Thursday, March 30. All participating students will receive copies of the book, and family members and other guests will join in the celebration.

The book, titled “The Best Parts of Us!”, was inspired by the book, “The Best Part of Me: Children Talk about Their Bodies in Pictures and Words,” by Wendy Ewald. The Southside students wrote and created art about what they viewed as the best part of themselves. They used watercolor, printing and collage media as backgrounds for their writings and black-and-white photographs based on the theme.

The project was created with the guidance of Waite, Ringling College of Art and Design student Kat MacMillan, and Florida Studio Theatre Teaching Artist Adam Ratner, in conjunction with Youth Experiencing Art!, also known as the YEA Program. YEA! was founded by John and Robin Sullivan, who continue to fund many of the programs projects, along with other donors. The Sullivans plan to attend the celebration.

“Through this project, students learned a great deal about accepting others and recognizing their differences through their artwork and classroom drama lessons,” said Waite. “As a culminating activity, all student writing, photos and artwork was included in the book. I firmly believe that integrating the arts into our lessons is a driving force in making ‘literacy magic’ happen in the classroom.”

In November, Waite was named the Florida Elementary Reading Teacher of the Year by the Florida Reading Association. 

Southside Elementary School is located at 1901 Webber St., Sarasota.


Tampa Bay Lightning brings hockey camp to Oak Park School

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SCS News

SARASOTA, March 28, 2017 – Staff from the Tampa Bay Lightning professional hockey team will visit Oak Park School Thursday, March 30, to teach students how to play street hockey. Oak Park provides educational support and therapy to students with special needs, from pre-K to age 22. Students participating in the hockey camp will be at middle-school grade levels (grades six-eight) and above.

Lightning representatives will teach four one-hour sessions to Oak Park students, starting at 10 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.

“We’re excited that a good portion of our students will be able to participate in this fun sport that can contribute to physical fitness for everyone, no matter their skill level,” said Assistant Principal Ron Hirst. “Through this camp our students will gain exposure to the game and learn basic skills. We’re all looking forward to street hockey camp!”

Oak Park School is located at 7285 Proctor Road, Sarasota. 

Fire official visits Alta Vista Elementary, shows students uses of GPS system

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Stephen Cantu SCFD march 2017

GPS EXPERT: Battalion Chief Stephen Cantu of the Sarasota County Fired Department will teach Alta Vista student about emergency uses of the GPS system.

SARASOTA, March 23, 2017 – Battalion Chief Stephen Cantu of the Sarasota County Fire Department will visit Alta Vista Elementary from 8:45 to 11:30 a.m., Friday, March 24. Cantu will show students how the Global Positioning System, popularly known as GPS, is used by firefighters and paramedics to find the locations of incidents in order to help first responders fight fires, treat injuries and save lives. The audience will be students in grades three-five who are participating in science and technology programs, including what the school calls “Science Genius Hour.”

Many of Alta Vista’s students use GPS tagging in photos, social media and gaming (such as Pokemon Go). They are looking forward to the visit and are excited to learn from Cantu about some of the emergency uses of GPS.

“Making computer science standards relevant for students increases engagement, especially when we can relate it to social media or games the students use on their personal devices,” said Tiffany Gammaro, technology specialist at the school.

Last May, computer science standards were approved by the Florida Department of Education. The standards that will be covered by Cantu’s visit include “identifying ways that technology can foster teamwork, and collaboration can support problem solving and innovation” and “describing how hardware applications can enable everyone to do things they could not do otherwise.”

Alta Vista Elementary School is located at 1050 S. Euclid Ave., Sarasota. 

Booker Elementary students ‘dig’ items found during spring break

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Booker Elem student Jospeh Charles on dig 3-22-17

HE CAN DIG IT: Joseph Charles explores archaeological finds using scientific methods.

SARASOTA, March 22, 2017 – Students at Emma E. Booker Elementary are learning how to be archaeologists this week in a project called “Can You Dig it? An Immersive Science Experience.” The week-long event is designed to build students’ interest in scientific inquiry and discovery.

The premise of the project is that a school custodian uncovered a large unidentified item over spring break (March 13-17). Students are engaging in an archeological dig throughout the week of March 20-24. The event is supported by scientists from the Suncoast Science Center.

Daily announcements are being made on the school’s Booker News Network (BNN) closed-circuit television programs.

Events of the week include the following:  

  • On Monday, March 20, various “artifacts” were located, including a cannonball, gold doubloons and glassware. The items represent early explorations by Spaniards in Florida.  
  • On Tuesday, March 21, students explored a treasure trove of sharks’ teeth, representing the fact that Southwest Florida was once underwater and a part of the ocean system.  
  • On Wednesday, March 22, students learned more about Florida history as they explored Calusa Indian “artifacts” and remnants of a shell midden left behind. The items included fishing hooks, nets, and other tools that present the culture of these native Americans.  
  • On Thursday, March 23, the “big unveiling” will take place, when the school will confirm the origin of a large unidentified object found during spring break. The object appears to be the thigh bone of a mastodon, an ancestor of the modern-day elephant and prehistoric wooly mammoth that once roamed the area. Classes will visit the dig site in a “walking field trip” between 9 and 10 a.m. to view the excavated items. A real-life scientist will discuss the significance of this discovery with students.
  • On Friday, March 24, students will contribute items to a time capsule that will be buried; their items will reveal something about their own present-day culture.

This experience is a follow up to last year’s Big Impact experience, which included the “landing of a large meteor” on campus. This is the second partnership with the Suncoast Science Center and the Emma E. Booker Elementary Science Committee. The project receives funding support from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Emma E. Booker Elementary School is located at 2350 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Sarasota.

Superintendent names assistant superintendent-chief academic officer

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Laura Kingsley 2014

Dr. Laura Kingsley

SARASOTA COUNTY, March 22, 2017 – Superintendent Todd Bowden has named Laura Kingsley as the assistant superintendent/chief academic officer for Sarasota County Schools. The assignment is effective Thursday, March 23. The School Board is expected to formally approve the appointment at its April 4 meeting.

The position is a new one under Bowden’s reorganization of his cabinet, which also will consist of an assistant superintendent/chief financial officer, and an assistant superintendent/chief operations officer. Wendy Katz, a former district administrator and elementary principal, is serving as acting executive director of elementary schools until that post is filled. 

Kingsley, 59, has served as the district’s executive director of elementary education since February 2015. In that role she has led a task force to close the achievement gap between white and minority students; worked with foundations, school administrators and teachers to help students strengthen their reading skills as a fundamental building block of learning; and supported community programs to bolster school attendance, among other initiatives. 

“Dr. Kingsley is the ideal person to continue and enhance our district’s tradition of academic excellence,” said Bowden. “In her career as a teacher, principal and district administrator, she has always found innovative ways to ensure that all children reach their full potential throughout their academic careers. She is a big-picture thinker who cares about each and every student.” 

Kingsley said, “I am incredibly proud of the direction Dr. Bowden is leading us, and I’m excited and honored that he has entrusted me with this assignment. I’m fortunate to be able to work with outstanding educational leaders in our schools and district office, and such dedicated teachers and staff. We’re also lucky to have so many wonderful partners in this community that care deeply about public education. I look forward to nurturing those alliances as we strive to help all children succeed.”

Before becoming executive director of elementary education, Kingsley served as principal of Fruitville Elementary (2001-2014), assistant principal of Emma E. Booker Elementary School (2000-01 and 1995-97) and assistant principal of Laurel Nokomis School (1997-99). She taught at Emma E. Booker Elementary from 1988-95, where she served as a supervising teacher for interns and a mentor for new teachers.

In 2012 Kingsley was Sarasota County Principal of the Year, the Council for Exceptional Children Principal of the Year and Florida Studio Theater Educator of the Year. She earned a national award for teaching economics in 1991 and was Teacher of the Year at Emma E. Booker in 1990 and 1993. She taught education courses as an adjunct professor at Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Fla., in 2010-11 and has made presentations at various state and national education conferences and workshops.

Kingsley earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Manchester College in N. Manchester, Ind. She earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of South Florida.

Kingsley said she and her husband Ric “are proud of our four children, who all graduated from Sarasota County schools. We also have eight grandchildren under the age of 7 who are future graduates of our schools!”


School Board approves distribution of proposed 2017-18 budget

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SCS News

SARASOTA COUNTY, March 22, 2017 – The Sarasota County School Board on Tuesday approved the release of Superintendent Todd Bowden’s proposed 2017-18 district budget. The document will be distributed to schools and departments this week for review and will allow the district to begin the staffing process for next year.

The 2017-18 district budget is expected to be an increase of approximately 4 percent over the 2016-17 budget of $421.9 million, but the exact amount will not be known until state funding for schools is finalized in May. The final district budget will be adopted in July.

The new budget is balanced except for state workforce development funds required to support operations at the new Suncoast Technical College North Port campus. It includes a $5.7 million increase in the general fund to restore some of the more than 500 staff positions that have been eliminated or reduced since 2008 and to add new positions to improve services to students and support instruction. The budget also factors in a possible 1.5-percent salary increase for staff next year at a cost of approximately $3.75 million, including benefits.

Bowden said the budget proposal reflects the extensive input he received from the School Board, principals and school staff regarding district priorities. The proposal focuses on achieving the district’s most important goals: maintaining its excellent quality of instruction and “A” grade, focusing resources to improve achievement for all students, and graduating students who are ready for college and careers.

The new budget was developed after the 2016-17 bargaining agreement was completed, so raises for staff could be included in the current budget and the Board would know how much they could reasonably invest next year to restore or add programs and positions.

Bowden said wages for 2017-18 will be subject to collective bargaining, but it is important for staff to know that the budget includes funds for improving staff compensation. He said he is confident that the proposed budget is sufficiently conservative to be fully implemented without reducing district reserves.

One of the top priorities in the new budget will be funding summer learning academies at schools where the majority of the student body is economically disadvantaged. Another priority will be to fund the opening of the North Port campus of Suncoast Technical College.

A total of 144 instructional and support positions will be added to the district staff to help teachers focus on instruction. The positions added include home-school liaisons, teacher aides, custodians, reading recovery teachers, career advisors, social workers, behavior analysts, a data management coordinator, and additional Career Technical Education staff and middle school tech support staff.

The budget also includes 20 new administrative positions. Eighteen of those positions are school-based and two are in central administration. The school positions include 16 assistant principals, an assistant director for STC North Port and a program manager for virtual instruction. The assistant principals will help with the burgeoning volume of compliance and evaluation work that has seriously limited the time available for principals to focus on their primary duties as instructional leaders.

New assistant superintendent and executive director positions in the district office were created to bring district administration into closer alignment with generally accepted management practices. An analysis in 2012 by MGT of America, an independent school district evaluation company, concluded that the district central administration was understaffed.    

MGT recommended that the district should reduce the number of people who report directly to the superintendent to improve efficiency and district performance. Even with the one-time correction in district organization recommended in the budget proposal, only about 4 percent of district staff will be administrators.

Bowden said the budget proposal reflects his belief that all students can learn, but only if they are provided with the environment and the resources they need. “I claim no special expertise in elementary education,” he said. “I have a doctorate in school finance.” However, he said, one of the biggest influences on instruction in a school district is how it spends its money.

“All students can learn if they are allocated the resources to maximize their potential,” he said.

“If we keep teachers front and center in everything that we do, and every decision we make is about how we provide teachers with the unique resources they need to make sure each and every one of their students is successful, then we’ve done our job as a school district.”

EXTENDED DEADLINE: Online survey about schools now open through April 2

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SCS News

SARASOTA, March 21, 2017 – Each year the Sarasota County School District conducts what is known as a “climate survey.” This year the survey will be posted on the Sarasota County School District website from Wednesday, March 22, through Sunday, April 2 (note new later deadline). Click here to take the survey.

Students, parents and staff are invited to weigh in about how their school or workplace is meeting their needs and expectations in such areas as communication, curriculum, management, safety, academics, maintenance of facilities and parent involvement. Information received from parents and guardians through the survey is particularly helpful in measuring customer satisfaction with school services and in identifying areas that could be improved.

Staff and students generally take the survey at their worksite or school. Most parents and guardians take the survey at home. District parents and guardians will be sent a telephone message via the district’s automated calling system inviting them to respond to the survey.

Respondents may take the survey by clicking on the “School Climate Survey” link in the Hot Topics section on the right side of the home page. The parent survey has been translated in to the five languages other than English that are most often spoken in students’ homes: Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Vietnamese and Haitian Creole.

District administrators strongly encourage all families with children in the district to take the survey. Parents who do not have internet access may take the survey at any Sarasota County School or any Sarasota County public library. Parents who cannot exercise either of those options may call the district office to have a copy of the survey mailed to them.

It is important for the district to hear from as many families as possible for the results of the survey to be helpful in guiding decisions. Individual responses are anonymous. The district will use summary information from the survey to identify successes or problems, but it does not identify individual respondents.

SCoSA to honor students, School Board chair as 'Shining Stars' March 23

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SCS News

This news release is from the Sarasota Coalition on Substance Abuse.

SARASOTA COUNTY, March 13, 2017 - The Sarasota Coalition on Substance Abuse (SCoSA) will honor the 2017 award winners at the 12th Annual Sarasota Shining Stars Recognition and Awards Luncheon.

The event will be held from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Thursday, March 23, at Michael’s On East, 1212 East Ave., Sarasota.

Scott Dennis, senior news anchor at WWSB/ABC 7, will serve as the emcee. Les McCurdy of McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre and Humor Institute will be the keynote speaker.

Individual tickets are $75 and table sponsorship is available for $800. Tickets are available online at or by calling SCoSA at 941-928-4435.

The award winners are: 

Citizen of the Year: Caroline Zucker, Sarasota County School Board Chairwoman

Caroline Zucker is being recognized for her years of service on the Sarasota County School Board (1992- 2000, 2006-present), which she currently chairs. Caroline also served as president of the Florida School Board Association. Caroline’s service to the community also includes: Do the Right Thing, Juvenile Justice Committee, Sarasota Community Alliance, Drug Free Schools & Communities Advisory Committee, and so much more. Caroline’s focus on children has positively impacted many lives and enriched the entire Sarasota community.  The Sarasota Coalition on Substance Abuse is proud to recognize Caroline Zucker as the Shining Star Citizen of the Year. 

Community Leadership Award: Gulf Coast Community Foundation  

The award is in recognition of the leadership demonstrated by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation since 1995 (22 years). The Foundation has become the home of more than 650 philanthropic families and together they have invested more than 230 million dollars in grants in the areas of health & human services, civic and economic development, education, arts and culture, and the environment. The leadership shown by Mark Pritchett, Elton White and Jon Thaxton has been a catalyst for change. Gulf Coast partnered with seven key agencies, and more than 30 other service providers, improving the lives of homeless children and their families in Sarasota. Gulf Coast worked with All Faiths Food Bank addressing seasonal food shortages with the Campaign Against Summer Hunger. Because of this leadership homeless children and families have two havens and people who could have gone hungry have more food. The Sarasota Coalition on Substance Abuse is proud to recognize the Gulf Coast Community Foundation with the Shining Stars Community Leadership Award. 

Community Leadership Award: Jewish Family & Children’s Service of the Suncoast (JFCS)

The award is in recognition of the leadership demonstrated by JFCS in the community for 30 years. JFCS is a multi-county, multi-function social service not-for-profit organization. In 2014-15, JFCS served more than 15,000 individuals. The organization has provided more than 75,000 services, including case management, individual and group counseling, life skills education, and assistance with basic life necessities, such as food and emergency financial assistance to prevent homelessness. The leadership shown by Rose Chapman, Phil Gorelick and the staff of JFCS has transformed services in Sarasota. JFCS has maximized its contributions to the community by supplementing the staff of organizations with over 450 volunteers that provide more than 7,500 service hours. The Sarasota Coalition on Substance Abuse is proud to recognize Jewish Family and Children’s Service of the Suncoast with the Shining Stars Community Leadership Award. 

Student Shining Stars:

High School: Charles “Joey” Arnold, Sarasota High School                           

Joey is a senior at Sarasota High School. Joey’s mother died on July 1, 2015, due to an opioid drug overdose. He ended up becoming homeless. “The death of my mother changed my life drastically,” Joey said. “A long two weeks went by of skipping from friend’s house to friend’s house until my elderly great grandmother took me in.” Joey has used these tragic experiences as motivation to change his life in positive ways. He joined Drug Free Youth and began to work extremely hard on his academics. His grades showed dramatic increases and he raised his ACT scores. Joey’s community service includes working with kids at the Boys and Girls Club, aiding and teaching student athletes the game of baseball at Cal Ripken, and supporting the Breast Cancer run. Joey is an athlete and played two years of varsity baseball at SHS.  In Joey’s final words to his mother he promised he would be successful and get a college degree. Joey has been offered admittance to several colleges and universities, including an offer to attend his dream school, Florida State University. The Sarasota Coalition on Substance Abuse is proud to recognize Joey as the Shining Stars High School Student of the year.   

Middle School: Jakobie Green, Booker Middle School

Jakobie Green is an eighth-grade student at Booker Middle School. Jakobie is the Student Council president, school store Manager, School Advisory Board student representative and active member of Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT). He tutors elementary school students. Jakobie wrote in his essay about “coming from a broken home destroyed by drugs. Drugs ironically shaped me into the person that I am. I know what I want to be, and I have chosen the right path. I now help the people in my community that want to be role models, but don’t have the guidance or strength to stand up for themselves. For the past three years in middle school, I have devoted much of my free time to helping with drug abuse awareness in my school and community.” The Sarasota Coalition on Substance Abuse is proud to recognize Jakobie as the Shining Stars Middle School Student of the year.   

About the Sarasota Coalition on Substance Abuse

The Sarasota Coalition on Substance Abuse has been a part of the efforts to combat substance abuse in Sarasota since 1999. SCoSA promotes substance-abuse-free environments through increased community awareness and advocacy. For 18 years, SCoSA has promoted substance abuse prevention and education. During those years, Sarasota has accomplished amazing things. Results come from forming partnerships and collaborations. Community achievements include the Sarasota County Alternative Residential Treatment initiative (CART), the Voluntary Interim Placement Expanded Recovery program (VIPER), supporting expanded availability of Naloxone, anti-dote for opioid overdose, and passage of ordinances regulating “pill mills” and designer drugs. We all accomplish the most when we work together, and Coalition is in our name and our DNA.  



Pine View students distribute food to needy families at Gocio Elementary

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Pine View Farm Share project Feb 2016

DOING THEIR PART: Pine View School Farm Share project coordinators Mira Chauhan, left, and Victoria Gresbach sort produce in February 2016. This year students will distribute food March 11 at Gocio Elementary.

SARASOTA, March 10, 2017 – Service clubs from Pine View School will spend the first Saturday of their spring break weekend to distribute more than 40,000 pounds of fresh produce and other food to low-income families from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday, March 11, at Gocio Elementary School. Spring break for students and staff in the Sarasota County School District is March 13-17.

Fresh produce often goes to waste as grocery stores leave up to 50 percent of it behind, even though it is perfectly edible. Farm Share, a Florida-based non-profit, takes this fresh produce and transports the food to organizations to give to low-income families throughout Florida. 

The Farm Share project in Sarasota is led by Pine View’s PeaceJam club and is supported by several other Pine View based service organizations, in collaboration with Gocio Elementary. PeaceJam is a service-learning, peace action-driven organization which unites youth and Nobel Peace Laureates to create systematic, positive change. The organizations that will staff the event include Serteen, Key Club, Builders Club, Interact, Diversity Council, and National Honor Society/National Junior Honor Society, all of which are student clubs at Pine View, a public school in Osprey serving intellectually gifted students in grades two-12.

“Imagine a semi-trailer filled with thousands of pounds of fresh produce. This is what Farm Share sends us that we have the privilege of distributing in our community,” said Nick Blake, Pine View PeaceJam Ambassador and one of the two project managers of the initiative. “The distribution at Gocio Elementary was scheduled with the idea of providing food assistance to support families over spring break.”  

In addition to promoting fresh locally grown foods, the project also has received generous donations of hygiene products from Ehrlich & Sallapudi Orthodontics to encourage healthy living.

Edward Brunicardi, PeaceJam Ambassador and co-manager of the local Farm Share project, said, “Over the past seven years, the Pine View community has helped provide 15-20 pounds of healthy food to more than a 1,000 Sarasota families in need at each distribution. It’s an amazing feeling to know that we’ve made a real impact.”

This will be Pine View’s seventh year working with Farm Share. Patricia Robbins, Farm Share’s Founder and CEO, said, “Farm Share is excited to partner with Pine View School and the greater Sarasota community to provide fresh fruit and vegetables and other commodities to families in need. Farm Share’s mission is to alleviate hunger and malnutrition by recovering and distributing fresh and nutritious food to those who need it most; our children and seniors are the most vulnerable.”

Gocio Elementary School is located at 3450 Gocio Road, Sarasota.

'This school is awesome!' 10 News School of the Week is Venice High

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VHS 10News School of the Week 3-10-17

SCHOOL OF THE WEEK: 10 News saluted Venice High the week of March 6, including a live broadcast from the school March 10. North Port High was the School of the Week in November 2016.

VENICE, March 10, 2017 - Venice High is the 10 News School of the Week. The station saluted VHS students, staff and programs with a live broadcast and recorded segments early Friday morning, March 10.

Congratulations, Venice High!

Click here to see the video story. 

McIntosh Middle students see ‘ice cream physics’ in action

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SCS News

SARASOTA, March 9, 2017 – Sixth-grade students at McIntosh Middle School are being recognized for their commitment to excellence and exemplary behavior with an “ice cream physics” demonstration. The event will take place at 2:15 and 3:15 p.m., Friday, March 10 — the last day of school before the district’s week-long spring break for students and staff.

Sub Zero Ice Cream will be on campus to give students a chance to observe physical changes in matter as the company demonstrates its unique process of creating ice cream in 15 seconds using liquid nitrogen.

Students have been participating in a school-wide positive behavior support initiative since their return from winter break in January. The results of the friendly competition were measured over a nine-week period. The initiative and reward are sponsored by Sarasota County School Board member Eric Robinson.

McIntosh Middle School is located at 701 S. McIntosh Road, Sarasota.

High school seniors urged to get free vaccines before graduation

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SCS News

This news release is from the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County.

SARASOTA COUNTY, March 8, 2017 - Local public health and school officials remind high school seniors to get their immunizations updated before they graduate or turn 19. Vaccines are only available at no charge through the federally-funded Vaccines for Children (VFC) program while the student is enrolled in high school or younger than age 19. The cost of vaccines required for college entry for those who are no longer eligible for the VFC program can be significantly more than $600. By acting now, families can save money, meet college requirements, and avoid the last minute summer rush. 

The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) Immunization clinics in Sarasota and North Port offers no-cost vaccines to young people still in school or under age 19 and whose health insurance plan does not cover vaccines. Families who have insurance covering vaccines will also get them free of charge if they show proof of insurance. No co-pays will be charged for those who get children’s vaccines at DOH-Sarasota. Parents who decide to get the vaccines from their child’s pediatrician’s office are encouraged to check to see if they are a VFC provider and whether there is an administration fee and co-pay for the vaccines. 

Many colleges and universities, including Florida public universities and colleges, require proof of updated vaccinations for enrollment and/or dormitory-living. 

Two of the recommended vaccines offer safe and effective protection against the most common and serious forms of bacterial meningitis (Men ACWY and Men B). Other recommended vaccines include TDaP (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis or whooping cough) and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Health officials also encourage college-bound students get the Hepatitis A vaccine and the second dose of the Varicella vaccine, which protects against chickenpox. The protection offered through some vaccines wanes over time, so certain vaccines need to be repeated to maintain an adequate level of immunity.

“When young people are current on their vaccines, it reduces the likelihood they will acquire diseases throughout their lifetime which vaccines can prevent. Having good community or herd immunity helps prevent disease outbreaks which can lead to missed time from school or work, costly hospitalizations, permanent disability and even death,” says DOH-Sarasota School Health Supervisor Linda Glover. “You will also save hundreds of dollars by getting vaccines now instead of waiting.” 

Immunizations are available Monday-Friday at these DOH-Sarasota locations. Health officials say early morning hours are usually best for walk-in immunizations and appointments are also available. Parents must accompany those under age 18. Please bring previous shot record and insurance cards. 

William L. Little Health & Human Services Center

2200 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota
Walk-in services begin at 7:30 a.m.
Call for hours or to request an appointment

North Port Health Center
6950 Outreach Way, North Port
Walk-in services begin at 8:00 a.m.
Call for hours or to request an appointment

For additional details, please call the School Health Office at 941-927-9000, ext. 32101. Parents can also visit or the school district website,   

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts. Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health, please visit


Children’s book author visits Phillippi Shores Elementary

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Tish Rabe-author

RAVES FOR RABE: Schools love visits from children's book author Tish Rabe, who will visit Phillippi Shores Elementary March 10.

SARASOTA, March 3, 2017 – Children’s book author Tish Rabe will visit Phillippi Shores Elementary School from 9-11:30 a.m., Friday, March 10. Rabe’s nationwide presentations to students in grades K-three include biographical information, how and why she became a writer, and what she writes — which includes books, television scripts and songs.      

Rabe is a best-selling author, lyricist, animation writer and television producer, with extensive experience in creating media for children and families. She has written more than 165 children’s books, including titles for “Sesame Street,” “Blue’s Clues,” “Curious George,” “Huff and Puff” and many others.

Her interactive presentations to schools have won rave reviews from teachers and school librarians across the U.S. Trained as a professional singer, she also sings songs she wrote for Sesame Street and Disney productions. At the end of each presentation she leaves plenty of time for questions and leads the students in singing her “Reading and Writing Song.”

In 1995, after the death of Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, Rabe was selected by Dr. Seuss Enterprises to create The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library, a new line of rhyming science books for early readers. To date she has written over 50 Dr. Seuss books. An animated series based on her books, “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That,” airs daily on the PBS Kids network.

Rabe also has written scripts for children’s television series, including “Clifford” and “Clifford’s Puppy Days.” She was the head writer for “I Spy!” for Scholastic Entertainment and creative consultant for “Gerald McBoing-Boing” for the Cartoon Network. She also served as senior producer, music producer and script writer for the popular PBS children’s science series “3-2-1-Contact!”

As senior producer for Children’s Media at Random House, she created home videos for the Berenstain Bears, Dr. Seuss and Richard Scarry. She produced “The City Mouse and the Country Mouse,” a Christmas special for HBO, which featured country singer Crystal Gayle performing two of Rabe’s original songs. She became head writer for “The Country Mouse and The City Mouse Adventures” and worked closely with Rosemary Wells to bring Wells’ popular Max and Ruby books to Nickelodeon.

As editorial director and music producer for Soundprints, Rabe created books and audio CDs, composing over 250 original songs for Disney, Sesame Street, the Smithsonian Institution and the African Wildlife Federation, among others. She also performed as a singer-narrator for recordings for both the Disney Princess and Bambi lines of media products.

She is an Advisory Board member of Reach Out and Read, a non-profit organization that gives free books to children from low-income families. Her book “Love You, Hug You, Read to You!” and its Spanish version, “!Te amo, te abrazo, leo contigo!” helps caregivers read to children.  

Trained as a professional singer, Rabe performs with her jazz/country band, Tish Rabe and Friends, in Connecticut and New York City. She enjoys speaking to parent groups, traveling to elementary schools and sharing her love of reading, writing and singing with the children and grown-ups she meets. More information about Tish Rabe is available at


Phillippi Shores Elementary is located at 4747 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

Superintendent spends first day at schools, community events

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Bowden superintendent oath 3-1-17Bowden first day as super-VHS students 3-1-17

NEW LEADER, FIRST DAY: In top photo, Judge Hunter Carroll of the 12th Judicial Circuit administers the oath of office to Todd Bowden March 1 in the School Board chambers, marking Bowden’s first day as superintendent of the Sarasota County Schools. Pictured from left are Bowden, his daughter Johnna, his wife Janene, and Judge Carroll. In bottom photo, at Venice High School, Superintendent Todd Bowden meets with 11th-grade students who are members of the Principal’s Cabinet. Pictured from left are Payton Pisano, Bryden Canty, Bowden, and Jessica Gonzalez.

SARASOTA COUNTY, March 2, 2017 — Superintendent Todd Bowden spent his first day on the job, March 1, visiting schools, engaging with teachers and students, and pledging to maintain his focus on what matters most in a school district: what happens in the classroom. He started his day with an early-morning television interview, visited with elementary and middle school staff members, held a question-and-answer session with high school students and mingled with community members at two receptions. Along the way, he dropped by the School Board chambers to take the oath of office.

It was a busy day, but Bowden said it was important for him to establish from day one that he will spend as much time as possible in schools and classrooms, making sure that the people who carry out the core mission of the district get the support they need to do help every student reach his or her full potential.

At McIntosh Middle, the school his children both attend, he told the teachers that his criteria for evaluating teachers is not based on test scores or a formula. “My number one criterion is whether I would allow my son or daughter in your classroom,” he said. “If you are not good enough to teach my children, you are not good enough to teach others.”

Fortunately his children both have had outstanding experiences at McIntosh. “You have done a great job,” he said. “I have tremendous respect for you all.”

He noted that it is important to believe that all children can learn, but it also is important to recognize that not all students have the support at home that they need to succeed. “All children can learn if they are in the correct environment with the correct resources,” he said. “My job is to survey the landscape and give you the resources you need.”

After he was sworn in by Judge Hunter Carroll at a ceremony in the School Board Chambers, he thanked the standing-room-only crowd for their support. He said he often tells people that he is from Brandon and his wife is from the Philadelphia area, but his children are from Sarasota. “This morning it feels like we’re all from Sarasota. To think that we have been here just 10 short years and have made so many wonderful friends, I am absolutely humbled by your presence here.”

He also thanked the School Board for offering him the opportunity to serve as superintendent. Hiring a superintendent is one of the most important decisions a school board has to make, he said. “I am truly, truly humbled by your confidence in me and I will work every day to affirm that with you.”

He said he had no interest in being superintendent anywhere but Sarasota because the community is so deeply committed to excellence in its schools. He shared the message he had delivered to the McIntosh teachers earlier: “There is change in leadership at the district, but the experience that their children had yesterday is no different than the experience those kids will have this morning, because it’s the teachers in the classroom that do the work.

“If we keep teachers front and center in everything that we do, and every decision we make is about how we provide teachers with the unique resources they need to make sure each and every one of their students is successful, then we’ve done our job as a school district.”

Bowden spent an hour of his afternoon with a group of student leaders called the Principals’ Cabinet at Venice High School. “It’s important that I spend time with students because you are the reason we are here and do what we do,” he said.

“We spend a lot of time talking about students. I want to spend some time talking to students,” he said. “My objective is to hear from you. If you were superintendent, what would you do?”

The students were eager to share ideas ranging from giving their principal and teachers a raise to revising a testing schedule that interferes far too much with instructional time. They also asked about improving career and college counseling, the status of club sports and extracurricular activities, the future of honors classes, campus safety, access to arts activities, and the reinstatement of media specialists. Bowden responded candidly to their questions and engaged the students in a wide-ranging dialogue, prompting one student to say that most of what he had heard was new information.

Bowden told the students he has three goals as superintendent. The first one is related to the fact that the students in Sarasota County high schools this year always have attended an A school district. Maintaining that tradition of excellence is his top priority.

His second goal is to close the achievement gap between the students who are eligible for free and reduced-cost lunches and those who are not. Disadvantaged students have different needs that may require redirecting resources to be sure they succeed.

His third goal is to propel students past graduation, to have them leave high school bound for college or other post-secondary education with the skills to succeed in the work force or with a job offer. “Our goal is not just to graduate you,” he said. “Our goal is for you to succeed.”

He encouraged the students to have a plan, but to be flexible and to “try on” a lot of careers before making decisions about what they want to do. “Mentors are available,” he said. “Adults love to talk. Ask people how they got their job and what they did to prepare for it.”

He advised students to visit work sites and find internships to get a feel for what people actually do in their jobs. “Don’t be afraid to say, ‘That’s not for me,’” he said.

In his meeting with Emma E. Booker Elementary teachers, Bowden said he intentionally visited that school to renew the commitment former superintendent Lori White made to recognize and meet its unique needs. “I claim no special expertise in elementary education,” he said. “I have a doctorate in school finance.” However, he said, one of the biggest influences on instruction in a school district is how it spends its money. “All students can learn if they are allocated the resources to maximize their potential.”

He noted that the teachers at Emma E. are doing a much better job than the school’s test scores suggest. “You can’t judge a school by total points, you have to consider learning gains,” he said. “Your learning gains are well above average and are first in many categories.” He said that means that students at Emma E. are making more progress there than they would at many other schools. “You are all highly effective teachers,” he said.

He said he plans to be out in the schools as much as possible and asked the teachers to invite him to visit when their students are doing things they would like to share with him. “I want you to know you have a partner in me,” he said.

In his final event of the day, Bowden was the guest of honor at a reception at the Sarasota Opera House, hosted by the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and the Argus Foundation. In his remarks there, he said he was proud to be a member of a community so committed to excellent public education. “The support the district receives from the community is unmatched,” he said.

People in Sarasota County want to work with the schools, he said. “They don’t say, ‘You should do that.’ They say, ‘We want to work with you.’”

He told the group that even though he has extensive experience in career and technical education, he is equally committed to the arts. “CTE is a kindred spirit with the arts,” he said. “They both focus not just on what students know, but what they can do. Can they dance; can they act; can they innovate; can they solve problems?”

He thanked the School Board for being willing to make an unconventional choice in him as superintendent. He said Sarasota County is a unique place and the Board recognized that the new superintendent needed to be a person with a specific set of qualifications and skills. “I’m very proud to be that person,” he said.


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