Executive Director Cindy Kaiser, Mark Pritchett of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, Rae Dowling of FPL
Sarasota, Florida – September 23, 2010 – “What a joy it is to partner with you,” Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White told the audience gathered at Pine View School in Osprey last night. “You bring the resources our students need to the table, then leverage those resources to do even more.”
Education Foundation of Sarasota County donors heard from the schools chief before touring the nationally renowned public school for the gifted. Superintendent White urged them to take pride in the accomplishments of Sarasota County’s students, whose test scores and graduation rates are among the highest in the state. “But we cannot stop moving forward to support our students. It is too important, and it means so much to the future of our country. Thank you for moving forward with us.”
Former state senator Lisa Carlton, chairman of the group’s board of directors, joined executive director Cindy Kaiser to welcome over 100 guests attending the Education Foundation’s annual donor appreciation reception. Carlton announced that, despite economic challenges, the not-for-profit organization raised almost a million dollars this past year to serve the 41,000 students in the public schools. “But an even bigger story is that this past spring the Education Foundation surpassed the $10 million mark,” she went on to say. “We have raised $10.6 million since our beginnings in 1988.”
Carlton also highlighted the Foundation’s impact on teachers and student learning. “Through our Texcellence Computer Donation program,” she said, “we have provided home computers, training and support for over 3,600 students – and changed the lives of entire families.” Other programs made possible by Education Foundation donors include a new Literacy for Life initiative, reaching struggling readers at the high school level, as well as classroom grants for teachers, the Teacher of the Year program, the Regional Science, Engineering and Technology Fair, Academic Olympics, student achievement awards, scholarships, and other needs met by concerned contributors.
Kaiser recognized the involvement of those who led the way with significant gifts during the past year, including Allan and Sandy Weis, Advanced Network & Services, Inc., the Dart Foundation, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, William G. Selby and Marie Selby Foundation, W.G. Mills, Inc., the Swift Family Foundation, Bank of America, Verizon, The Faulhaber Foundation, The Frank E. Duckwall Foundation and the Koski Family Foundation. She also applauded Grapevine Communications for its support in developing a new logo, tag line and marketing plans. The reception was sponsored by Mabry Carlton Ranch.
Giving guests a brief history of the school, Pine View principal Steve Largo revealed that he had some yearbook photos from Lori White’s time there as a student. “Definitely outside the dress code,” he quipped. Pine View student and captain of the school’s Academic Olympics team, Faisal Sikdar, thanked the donors for giving his classmates the opportunity to compete and excel for over twenty years. Student Matthew Falgowski entertained with a rousing selection of piano tunes, from ragtime to contemporary.
Sarasota County’s 2010-2011 Teacher of the Year, Seth Gardner, told those gathered how fortunate he felt to be part of a school system that was valued by the entire community. “Teachers here are doing tremendously original and exciting work because you support them,” he said. He cited examples of an elementary school’s collaboration with a professional theater and an international cultural exchange between middle schools in Sarasota and Tanzania.
Katie and board member Peter Hayes, Michael and Paula Ippolito
Dr. David Freeman, Tiffany Caldwell and School Board member Caroline Zucker
Board members Greg Banach, George McGonagill and Jason Swift