Sarasota County Schools News

District starts Meatless Mondays in school cafeterias

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SCS News

SARASOTA COUNTY, Sept. 30, 2014 — Beginning Oct. 6, the Sarasota County Schools will serve only meat-free dishes in school cafeterias on Mondays. Students will be able to fill their trays with such dishes as hummus and vegetable subs, veggie pasta bakes, spaghetti marinara and fiesta taco salads. Meatless Mondays are planned for the remainder of the school year; vegetarian dishes will continue to be offered as options for students dining on other days as well.

The Meatless Monday campaign, now a popular international movement, was created by the U.S. government as a resource-saving measure during World War I. It was revived in 2003 by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Monday Campaigns to promote abstaining from meat one day a week for personal health and for the health of the planet.

The Monday Campaigns is a non-profit public health initiative associated with Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Syracuse universities that dedicates the first day of every week to health. Every Monday, individuals and organizations join together to commit to the healthy behaviors that can help end chronic preventable diseases. The Humane Society of the United States also promotes the health benefits and other positive effects of eating more plant-based foods.

Annual Fall College Night set for Oct. 8 at Robarts Arena

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SCS News

SARASOTA, Sept. 26, 2014 — Local high school students and parents can meet representatives from more than 100 colleges and universities from across the U.S. when Sarasota County Schools hosts the 2014 Fall College Night. The event will be held from 6-8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 8, at Robarts Sports Arena in Sarasota. Admission is free. 

Schools scheduled to send representatives include post-secondary institutions in the State University System of Florida as well as public and private colleges and universities from around the nation.

Robarts Sports Arena is located at 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. More information about the 2014 Fall College Night is available by calling the Student Services Department of Sarasota County Schools at 941-927-4036.

Click here for a list is attached of organizations scheduled as of Sept. 26 to participate in Fall College Night.

Schools in Sarasota and Venice celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

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Venice Middle Hispanic Celebration Oct 2013

OLÉ! In October 2013, eighth-grade students Jacob Cockrill, left, and Max Pierce were among those celebrating the culture of Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries at Venice Middle School’s Hispanic Heritage Celebration. This year’s event will be held Oct. 10 at the school.

SARASOTA COUNTY, Sept. 26, 2014 – Three elementary schools in Sarasota and a middle school in Venice will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in October. Nationally, the month-long event is celebrated each year from mid-September to mid-October.

From 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 9,Gocio Elementary School will host a Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration with traditional Hispanic dances, a mariachi band, a parade of flags, cultural displays, foods, a photo booth and much more. The event is free and is open to the families of students attending Gocio, Fruitville and Tuttle elementary schools.

Gocio Elementary is located at 3450 Gocio Road in Sarasota.


From 7:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., Friday, Oct. 10, Venice Middle School will hold its annual celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and Columbus Day. About 800 students will participate, as well as parents, teachers and members of the community.

Students enrolled in Spanish classes have created posters and presentations representing the world’s Spanish-speaking nations. Every student in the school will “travel from country to country” to collect information from the students who worked on the project. Students will carry a passport that will be stamped in each country they visit. Travelers will hear the music of each country. Some displays will include visual aids, such as currency, instruments, clothing, food and decorations.

“It’s like a small version of Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center,” said Spanish teacher Carlos Carrion, who helps organize the event each year. “In one day students can visit many countries, meet ‘natives’ of each nation and learn about how they live, work and play.”

Venice Middle School is located at 1900 Center Road in Venice.


Booker High Law Academy leader honored by Bar Association

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BHS Law-Michelle Anderson award

LAW-AWARD LAUREATES: Honorees display their awards at the Sarasota County Bar Association’s annual dinner on Wednesday, Sept. 17. In front row from left are Michele Stephan, Booker Law Academy Coordinator Michelle Anderson, Dana Keane and Jennifer Grosso. In back are Cynthia Riddell, Stefan Bunecky, Christina Unkel, Kevin Bruning, Doug Cherry and Eugene Pettis.

SARASOTA, Sept. 26, 2014 – The coordinator of the Booker High School Law Academy has received the Distinguished Service Award from the Sarasota County Bar Association. Michelle Anderson was honored at the association’s annual dinner Sept. 17.  

According to the inscription on the plaque, the award is “in recognition and appreciation of your extraordinary service and relentless passion to the legal profession and community in your capacity as the coordinator for the Booker Law Academy at Booker High School.” The wording also praised Anderson for “inspiring and educating the future leaders of the Sarasota community as to opportunities related to the law.”

Opened to students in August 2013, the Law Academy is a four-year program incorporating rigorous core academics with legal and law enforcement specific electives. Law Academy students receive an educational foundation in the legal profession and criminal justice system at the local, state and national levels.

A mock courtroom provides an authentic, experiential educational setting for students. The courtroom is the first facility of its kind in the Sarasota County School District; it includes a judge’s bench, jury box and counsel tables. Funds to construct the courtroom were provided by donations from local law firms, the Sarasota County Bar Association, the City of Sarasota’s Newtown Community Redevelopment Act Advisory Board and individuals.

The Law Academy includes a speech and debate component, guest speakers, curriculum-related field trips and internship/externship opportunities. Curriculum instruction is supplemented and supported by local practicing and retired volunteers from the legal and law enforcement professions. 

As a Sarasota County Schools magnet program, the Booker High School Law Academy is open to all eligible students in Sarasota County on a space-available basis. Information is available on the Booker High School website at

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

Riverview High students clean up Phillippi Creek using kayaks

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Coastal Cleanup RHS students Phillippi Creek 9-20-14

CLEANING THE CREEK: Riverview High School junior Erin Walsh, a member of the school's Marine Club, collects a styrofoam cooler and other trash along the shores of Phillippi Creek Sept. 20. Walsh and about 30 other students used kayaks to clean up the creek in observance of the 29th annual International Coastal Cleanup Day.
SARASOTA, Sept. 18, 2014 – Students in Riverview High School’s Marine and Environmental clubs will use kayaks to clean up Phillippi Creek in observance of the 29th annual International Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday, Sept. 20.

About 30 students and adult sponsors of the clubs are scheduled to launch kayaks at 9 a.m. from the dock behind the school on Phillippi Creek. They will spend three hours cleaning up the creek, returning to the dock about noon.  

“Our clubs have traditionally participated in the Coastal Cleanup at local beaches, but this is the first time we’ll be doing it using kayaks,” said Katrin Rudge, director of Riverview’s Aquascience Program and the Sarasota County School District’s 2013-14 Teacher of the Year. “Phillippi Creek is beautiful, yet environmentally challenged because of its popularity. It connects over 100 miles of canals that flow through a large mid-section of Sarasota. Its habitat and recreational value have great, unrealized potential. 

“The creek is near and dear to us at Riverview because it’s in our backyard. We’re happy to help clean up this local gem.” 

Suncoast Waterkeeper is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of local waterways. SUP Sarasota, which rents stand-up paddleboards and kayaks and schedules tours and lessons, will provide students with the use of its new fleet of tandem and single sit-in kayaks.

Riverview High School is located at One Ram Way, off Proctor Road east of U.S. 41. 

About International Coastal Cleanup

Sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to keeping the world’s oceans clean and healthy, the International Coastal Cleanup has enlisted millions of volunteers, organizations and businesses around the world in the past 28 years. During each Cleanup, volunteers remove trash and record data about what is collected. 

In 2013 nearly 650,000 people in 92 countries and locations gathered more than 12.3 million pounds of trash from almost 13,000 miles of beaches and waterways. The items collected most frequently included cigarette butts (more than 2 million), plastic beverage bottles and bottle caps (a combined 1.8 million) and food wrappers (1.7 million). Unusual items found included a 1904 typewriter, a working iPad, a lava lamp, a wedding dress and a trampoline. 

Brookside Middle students to paint flags for International Day of Peace

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SCS News

SARASOTA, Sept. 16, 2014 – Using their own designs, sixth-grade students at Brookside Middle School will paint “peace flags” Wednesday, Sept. 17, in observance of the International Day of Peace on Sunday, Sept. 21. Flag-painting will take place from about 1:15 to 3:15 p.m.

 Because Brookside is the home of the school district’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program, the students were inspired by the IB Program’s recommended design cycle — an approach to developing solutions in response to challenges. The five steps of the cycle are: investigate, plan, design, create and evaluate.

Based on rough drafts of their peace flags, students will paint a flag with their own message of peace for their community and the world. The completed flags will be hung in the school’s cafeteria.

Brookside Middle School is located at 3636 S. Shade Ave., Sarasota.

About International Day of Peace  

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on Sept. 21. The United Nations General Assembly has declared it as “a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.”

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly was was first observed in September 1982.

SCTI's student-staffed Bistro 502 opens for lunch Tuesdays-Thursdays

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SCTI Culinary students Sept 2014Bistro Burger Sliders Sept 2014

CHEFS OF THE FUTURE: In top photo, high school students in the SCTI Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts program prepare to serve lunches at Bistro 502; the on-campus restaurant reopens to the public Sept. 16. In the front row from left are Maddy Luscko, Brianna Wall, Shirley Mendosa, Jessie Broom, Nicholas VonKnorring, Cierra Kuriata, Chelsea Butz, Jordan Thomas and Michaela Gazziro. Middle row: James Moulillet, Leleska Morrissey, Sarah Morse, Carla Olivier, Breana Bacon, Crystal Vatrtova, Matthew Khampapha, Brendan Thompson and Chef Brian Knecht. Back row: Sean Dawson, Nick Griffith, Devin Ates, Randy Gualtier, Holton Irwin, Tion Eubanks, Janes Jones, Tyler Marzuillo and Austin Mitchell. BOTTOM PHOTO: Bistro Burger Sliders return to the menu for 2014-15

SARASOTA, Sept. 12, 2014 – Bistro 502, a restaurant staffed by students in the Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts Program at the Sarasota County Technical Institute, will open its doors to the public for the 2014-15 school year at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 16. The facility will serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays throughout the school year, with some exceptions. Bistro 502 is located on the SCTI campus at 4748 Beneva Road.

SCTI Culinary students Sept 2014
Click to enlarge

The menu will change periodically, starting with the popular original lineup of dishes served when Bistro 502 first opened in March 2011. These selections include Warm Goat Cheese and Grilled Chicken Breast on Baby Lettuce Salad, Bistro Burger Sliders with Homemade Potato Chips, Seafood Crepes au Gratin with Ratatouille and Cream Cheesecake with Spiced Pineapple Topping and Butterscotch Sauce, to name a few. Items on this menu will be served through Oct. 23; the menu will change periodically and the restaurant will close for the school district’s winter and spring breaks. More information, including the current Bistro 502 menu, is available at

 “We’re excited to bring back some favorite items and experiment with some new ones,” said Chef Brian Knecht, 53, who directs the Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts Program. “The students look forward to preparing and serving affordable gourmet meals to new and returning customers.”

This year’s students include Maddy Luscko, 17, who divides her day between the program and her classes as a junior at Riverview High School. She said she learned about the opportunity from a friend during her sophomore year at RHS. “I heard it was an excellent program so I toured the facilities,” she said. “Then I knew it was for me! I decided to enroll this year.”

Luscko said she became interested in cooking after watching competitive baking challenges on the Food Network cable television channel.

“Buddy Valastro appeared on many of the programs I watched, including the series “Cake Boss.” I fell in love with his careful techniques and exquisite cake designs. I actually got a chance to go to his bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey, where I saw three-layered cakes stacked around the shop, mouth-watering pastries in a refrigerated case, and heavenly looking cupcakes on display. I started baking regularly after this once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Luscko said her “dream college” is Johnson and Wales University in Miami. She believes the SCTI program will prepare her well for her post-secondary education and her career. She plans to open her own bakery or her own line of desserts to sell to restaurants or retail stores. 

Holton Irwin, also 17, is a home-schooled student. He decided this year to attend the program.

“I wish I started sooner,” he said, “because so far I really like the program and it ties in with something I might want to go to college to study or do when I’m older.”

Irwin isn’t sure what he’ll do for a living. “But no matter what job I have, I always envision myself being around people and communicating with them, whether that’s in the kitchen or in some other environment. I'm not necessarily set on being a chef but my job could definitely be in the restaurant or hospitality fields.”

Irwin works after school and on weekends as a “food runner” at a local restaurant, setting up the plates, making sure the customers are happy and clearing the tables. He says he’s always had an interest in cooking.

“I love the idea of being able to express yourself with your cooking: your style, taste and approach to cooking can be different from everyone else’s.”

One of the first things Irwin learned how to cook was a grilled cheese sandwich. “It’s the simplest thing possible, but I remember feeling like I made the world’s best grilled cheese and I should start a grilled-cheese restaurant. Now my favorite dishes to make are usually pasta dishes. I love making Chicken Alfredo and different types of pastas with different meats.”

Irwin adds that “Mr. Knecht and Mrs. (Mary) Sullivan are definitely my favorite teachers. They are both so cool and do a great job teaching the material. I feel like I’ve learned a lot so far and I’m excited to see what the rest of the year brings!”

About the SCTI Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts Program           

The Sarasota County Technical Institute has been educating high school and adult students since 1967. More than 620 high school students attend SCTI on a half-day basis each year, leaning new skills in 40 career and technical education programs offered at the campus. The two-year Culinary Arts program is one of the most popular.

The doors to the current facilities of the Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts Program at SCTI, including the student-staffed restaurant Bistro 502, opened to the public in March 2011. Led by Brian Knecht, a skilled chef with a background in country club, restaurant and catering kitchens, students are trained to prepare and serve food using professional equipment.

In addition to the lunches served at tables in Bistro 502, a food kiosk features fresh baked goods, soup du jour, sandwiches, salads and takeout meals.

Students who successfully complete this program have the opportunity to earn college credits through articulation agreements with postsecondary institutions, including the State College of Florida, Johnson & Wales University and the Culinary Institute of America. A three-year apprenticeship program training cooks to become chefs is also available and is sponsored by the American Culinary Federation on the campus of SCTI.

SCTI culinary students regularly win local, regional and national competitions. High school student Matthew Khampapha placed second in the region out of 18 competitors and sixth in the state out of 24 competitors in the SkillsUSA Culinary Arts Contest, which was held in May in Pensacola.

Enrollment open for Adult & Community Enrichment classes in North Port

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SCS News

NORTH PORT, Sept. 12, 2014 – Enrollment is now underway for the first Adult and Community Enrichment classes at the Sarasota County Technical Institute’s North Port location, currently located on the campus of North Port High School.

In addition to the career & technical and adult general education classes offered at SCTI North Port, enrichment classes in popular computer software programs, culinary arts and digital photography will be held at ACE at SCTI North Port. Classes begin as early as Sept. 29. Some are held weekly over four to six weeks, while others are one-time classes lasting two to three hours. Classes are held in the evenings or late afternoons. Enrollment continues throughout the semester.

“We’re very excited to be starting ACE classes in North Port,” said Yvonne Hebda, facilitator for SCTI North Port. “The classes offered through our ACE offices on the Sarasota campus of SCTI have long been popular with the community and we’re pleased to begin offering them in South County. We are beginning with about a dozen different classes and we hope to add more as the program expands.

“Learning is a lifelong adventure, and we encourage people to sign up for some fun and interesting classes to expand their horizons!” 

More information is available at (click on Courses on the upper left of the home page, then search by subject area or campus location) or by calling 941-361-6590 or 941-257-2252.   


ACE at SCTI North Port is located at North Port High School, 6400 W. Price Blvd.

Middle school ‘Baby Kilties’ to march at Riverview High game Sept. 12

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Baby Kilties march at RHS Oct 2013

KILTIE KIDS: Middle school students march with the Riverview High School Kiltie Band on Baby Kiltie Night in October 2013. Pictured left to right are Sarasota Middle School student Phillip Skladanowski; RHS students Adam Frazier, Nic Patterson and Greg Harkay; SMS student Julia Poncelet and RHS student Eddie Ledwith.

SARASOTA, Sept.. 11, 2014 – More than 100 students from Sarasota County middle schools will march with the Kiltie Band at Riverview High School starting at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12, before the Riverview Rams-Venice Indians football game.

This annual event, known as “Baby Kiltie Night” is sponsored by the Riverview Kiltie Band. The march is designed to attract aspiring teens and pre-teens to join their ranks when they transition to high school.

The younger students will join the high-schoolers for a pre-game marching practice, then follow them to the RHS courtyard for the traditional section line-up. The grand finale will be the 300-strong group marching in the Ram Bowl to perform the pre-game show, which will feature performances of  “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “God Bless America,” and “Amazing Grace.” The Baby Kiltie experience will wind down as the middle-schoolers sit side-by-side in the bleachers with their high school role models to watch the first half of the RHS-VHS game.

Riverview High is located at One Ram Way, east of U.S. 41 at Proctor Road.

Pine View senior wins national art award, work to be shown in D.C.

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Amanda Healy PV art award 2014No Face No Name-Healy 2014

NATIONAL WINNER: At top, Pine View senior Amanda Healy displays the American Visions Medal she received in the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for her drawing "No Face, No Name," pictured below.

SARASOTA COUNTY – A senior at Pine View School has received a national award for artwork she created in her junior year. Amanda Healy’s drawing, “No Face, No Name,” is the winner of an American Visions Medal in the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

“No Face, No Name” will be displayed along with 55 other works of art and writing in the lobby of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building in Washington, D.C. as part of a project called ART.WRITE.NOW.DC. A day of events celebrating the year-long exhibit will be held Friday, Sept. 19, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. Healy plans to attend the event with her father. 

Courtney Buckland, associate manager of communications for the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, which administers the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, wrote in a congratulatory message, “We are honored to present Amanda’s art as an example of the very best creative work by our nation’s emerging young artists.”

Describing her work, “No Face, No Name,” Healy said the drawing “is a visual commentary about conformity in society. We conceal our interests and ourselves in an effort to become like everyone else, creating something quite bland and lifeless — like people with paper bags on their heads!”

Retsy Lauer, Healy’s art teacher at Pine View, said, “Amanda is a prolific artist. She is constantly working on a variety of ideas in one of her many sketchbooks. This summer she attended a month long pre-college program at California College of the Arts. She returned to Pine View with new skills and enthusiasm.”

Regarding future education and career plans, Healy said, “After Pine View I want to go on to be an art major, specifically in 3D animation. Movement has always been a fascination of mine, and a field that involves both art and motion would be a dream come true.”

Lauer urges interested Sarasota County students to submit artwork for the 2015 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The deadline for all entries is Thursday, Jan. 15. Artwork will be judged Saturday, Jan. 17. The art awards and show are scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 29, at Ringling College of Art and Design. Students who would like more information may contact Lauer via email at or by calling Pine View at 941-486-2001.

About the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards were established in 1923. Over the years they have grown to become the longest-running recognition program for creative teens in the U.S., and the nation’s largest source of scholarships for creative young artists and writers. A roster of past winners includes Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Robert Redford, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, John Updike and many more.

Each year the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, which administers the awards, partners with more than 100 visual and literary arts organizations across the country to bring the awards to local communities. Teens in grades seven through 12 can apply in 28 categoriesof art and writing for the chance to earn scholarships and have their works exhibited or published. Submissions are juried by professionals in the visual and literary arts, some of whom are past award recipients. Panelists look for works that best exemplify originality, technical skill and the emergence of a personal voice or vision.

In the last five years alone, students submitted nearly 900,000 original works of art and writing. During that period, more than 6o top arts institutes and colleges have partnered with the Alliance to make $40 million in scholarships and financial aid available to regional and national winners of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.


Five Star and Golden Schools recognized for community involvement

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Five-Star-Golden Schools chart 9-5-2014

Thirty-nine Sarasota County public schools have been named Golden Schools for 2013-14; 22 of them are also Five Star Schools.

SARASOTA COUNTY – With a new school year underway, the Sarasota County School District is celebrating special recognition for a number of schools by the Florida Department of Education. Thirty-nine Sarasota County public schools have been awarded the Golden School Award for their community involvement in 2013-14; 22 of those were named Five Star Schools. Sarasota County is one of only three school districts in Florida to be awarded Five-Star status for all schools that applied for the designation.

“We are pleased that so many of our schools have received this recognition,” said Tanice Knopp, coordinator of the district’s Volunteer and Partnership Office. “They are grateful for and proud of their strong, enduring school-community collaborations.”

Superintendent Lori White said, “The Five Star and Golden School awards reflect our community’s dedication to public education, and to the efforts of our schools to engage and involve parents, community members, local businesses and organizations.”

The Golden School Award has been presented annually for over three decades to public schools with exemplary volunteer programs. Schools must document volunteer hours equaling twice the student enrollment, train at least 80 percent of their faculty to work with volunteers, designate a volunteer coordinator and formally recognize their volunteers.

The Five Star School Award honors schools with exemplary programs that fully integrate comprehensive community involvement toward student achievement through community and business partnerships, family involvement, volunteerism, student community service efforts and initiatives of the school’s advisory council, which is made up of parents and other community members as well as school staff. To qualify for this award, a school must first have a “C” grade or above and meet Golden School Award eligibility requirements.

Two Sarasota County public schools have been Five Star Schools since the award began in 1994: Bay Haven School of Basics Plus in Sarasota and Venice Elementary School.

In addition to recognizing outstanding schools, the Five Star Award also serves as an assessment tool for schools to measure the success of their programs and identifies schools with programs that serve as models for other schools.

Helios Education Foundation awards $500,000 grant for teacher training

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SCS News

SARASOTA – The Education Foundation of Sarasota County received a $500,000 grant from Helios Education Foundation to help transform teacher preparation, classroom instruction and organizational culture in every traditional public middle school in Sarasota County. The foundations will make a presentation to the School Board of Sarasota County at the Board’s regular meeting, 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 2, in the Board Chambers.

The funding will support a two-year project to address the decline in academic achievement and motivation that sometimes occurs when students reach the middle school grades (six, seven and eight). Over the two-year grant period more than 145 teachers in the district’s eight traditional public middle schools (Booker, Brookside, Heron Creek, Laurel Nokomis, McIntosh, Sarasota, Venice and Woodland) will receive in-depth training to use technology-enhanced classrooms, present a more challenging curriculum and deploy instructional strategies to engage all students as active learners. The funding also will provide tools to track and assess changes in student behavior and achievement. 

Transformation of the classroom, teacher preparation and the delivery of classroom instruction are three elements within the larger change framework taking place in Sarasota County. Classrooms are being redesigned to foster small learning communities where students learn from each other as well as from the teacher. Scientific and technological tools are available to each student in order to connect learning to life and to facilitate the integration of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) principles to ignite each student’s passion for learning. Funding for these systemic changes is provided by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Sarasota County Schools, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and other community-based individuals, businesses and organizations. 

“Our goal is to keep students on track through those middle grades, when so many lose ground,” said Susan Scott, executive director of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County.  “We want all children to find their passion and a path to the future, and to stay on course for college and career. Thanks to Helios Education Foundation our teachers and families will now have the tools they need to create an environment of high expectations that will benefit every student.”

In the near term, the project will serve more than 9,500 pupils. “Dr. Page Dettmann, executive director of Middle Schools and our project leader, has designed the professional development component so that change will reach every corner of the school district and become a firmly embedded practice for years to come,” according to Scott.

“Helios Education Foundation is proud to partner with the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and local schools to ensure that our students graduate high school ready for college and career,” said Paul J. Luna, president and CEO of Helios. “We are dedicated to ensuring that every student in Florida and Arizona has the opportunity to succeed in postsecondary education. We are confident that this partnership with the Education Foundation of Sarasota County not only will engage students during their middle school years but also will encourage their pursuit and completion of a postsecondary certificate or degree.”

About Helios Education Foundation

Helios Education Foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals to succeed in postsecondary education by advancing the academic preparedness of all students and fostering a high-expectation, college-going culture in Florida and Arizona. The foundation focuses its investments across the education continuum in three key impact areas: Early Grade Success, College and Career Readiness, and Postsecondary Education Success.

As an engaged foundation embedded in communities across both states, the foundation is contributing its leadership, expertise and financial resources to better prepare students for college and career and to succeed in a globally-competitive economy. Since 2006 Helios has invested more than $142 million in education-related programs and initiatives in Arizona and Florida. More information is available at

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 41,000 students in 58 elementary, middle and high schools.

As the leading advocate for Sarasota County public schools, the foundation engages the community in support of a quality education for all children, producing and funding innovative initiatives that go beyond what tax dollars can provide. Since its inception the foundation has provided over $16 million in direct support to Sarasota County Schools.

Through the generosity of our community, the foundation invests in every child’s success in the classroom and their preparation for the 21st century workplace. With outcomes that reflect sustainable and fundamental change, the foundation’s projects and programs advance student academic achievement and attainment of skills needed to excel in the 21st century, and enhance teacher expertise.

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. More information is available at or by calling 941.927.0965


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Gary Leatherman, Director

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Phone: 941-927-4009 or
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