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Sarasota County Schools Gets Ready to “Dive Into Reading” This Summer

by Gina Cirillo, Dive into Reading coordinator, Sarasota County Schools

Sarasota County Schools is proud to be offering “Dive into Reading” to our rising second graders of Brentwood who are participating in the Summer Learning Academies program. The objective of the program is to assist in curtailing the summer slide by pairing students with reading mentors. As our “Dive into Reading” team trains our volunteers, we can see and feel the excitement of these participants, as they prepare to engage with their mentees.

The opportunity to read with, and break bread with, these young students at Gecko’s is a one of a kind experience that won’t soon be forgotten by both students and mentors. As Renee Ryckman, a “Dive into Reading” mentor who recently attended a training said: “I enjoyed the training, and am so excited about being part of the reading program. I was telling my husband this morning how impressive the program is — not just reading, but including science and etiquette. A well thought out program.”

While this inaugural year is touching the lives of students at one of our Title 1 schools here in Sarasota County, it is the goal of the program to expand within the North and South County to include other Title 1 schools and restaurants in the future.


by Anne Rollings, corporate executive, Gecko’s Hospitality Group

Last summer, our SR 70 Gecko’s participated for the first time in the “Dive Into Reading” program. The rewarding experience in Manatee County prompted us to want to continue to help ‘stop the summer slide’ in Sarasota County, so we linked arms with the partnerships from Sarasota County Schools, Anna Maria Oyster Bar, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade Level Reading and The Patterson Foundation. This June, Fruitville Gecko’s is pleased to launch our inaugural year in Sarasota County. We can’t wait to welcome our first class of rising second graders from Brentwood Elementary School on June 4!

Gecko’s Hospitality Group is a locally-owned and operated family of restaurants employing over 650 Floridians. Since 1992, Gecko’s Grill & Pub’s has generated thousands of first-time jobs, launched the careers of scores of hospitality professionals and has been consistently awarded “Best Of” in numerous categories. In addition to a substantial community involvement and charitable giving program —where GHG supports hundreds of not-for-profits, charitable events and philanthropic community endeavors— Gecko's has concentrated our community giving within the schools. Gecko's has been proud business partners with dozens of schools in Sarasota and Manatee counties for decades; it is our privilege to support our community by giving back to the school children, their heroic educators and their schools.