Sarasota County Schools News

Annual Fall College Night set for October 7 at Robarts Arena

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SCS News

SARASOTA, Sept. 25, 2015 — 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 2015 Fall College Night. The event will be held from 6-8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 7, 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. Click here for a list of scheduled participants as of Oct. 5. 

Representatives of various military academies and military recruiters also will attend. The Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections will have a table for those who wish to register to vote.

Robarts Sports Arena is located at 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. More information about the 2015 Fall College Night is available by calling the Student Services Department of Sarasota County Schools at 941-927-4036.

Superintendent names new executive director of middle schools

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Karen Rose 2015

NEW LEADER OF MIDDLE SCHOOLS: Karen Rose will be the district's executive director of middle schools, effective Oct. 5.

SARASOTA COUNTY, Sept. 25, 2015 – Superintendent Lori White has named longtime principal Karen Rose as the next executive director of middle schools for the Sarasota County School District.

Rose, 63, has led Sarasota Middle School since 2007 and has worked for the district since 1989. She is scheduled to begin her new job Monday, Oct. 5. She will succeed Page Dettmann, who has served as executive director of middle schools since 2007. Dettmann is leaving the district for another career opportunity.

“Karen Rose has been an outstanding educator in our district for over 25 years and will bring a wealth of experience to the leadership of our middle schools,” said White. “She will build on the work Dr. Dettmann has done, working with local foundations, administrators and teachers to ensure that our middle school classrooms continue to be national models for creative, collaborative learning.”

Rose said, “I’m honored to be chosen to serve as the executive director of Sarasota County middle schools. I am privileged to be working with Lori White and the team of district leaders, and I’m passionate about fulfilling the expectations of our community, students and teachers.”

Candace Dearing, who was principal of Phillippi Shores Elementary from 2003 to 2008, will serve as acting principal at Sarasota Middle for the remainder of the 2015-16 school year. From January to June 2014, Dearing served as acting principal at Heron Creek Middle School in North Port. The district will conduct a search for Sarasota Middle School’s next principal, with input from parents and staff. The new principal will likely start in July 2016.

Before becoming principal of Sarasota Middle School, Rose served as principal of Brookside Middle School (2003-07), assistant principal of Brookside (2001-03), and in various roles at Southside Elementary School (1989-2001), including behavior specialist, teacher on special assignment and liaison for exceptional student education. In the 1980s Rose also worked as a substitute teacher in the Sarasota and Manatee school districts and as an exceptional student education teacher at Blanche H. Daughtrey Elementary School in Bradenton.

She has helped develop and support gifted programs, a middle school International Baccalaureate program, a writing and mentoring program for students at risk, and professional development opportunities and instructional models for teachers.  

Rose holds a master’s degree in education from the University of South Florida and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio. 


Local organizations partner for talks on early learning October 8 and 22

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SARASOTA COUNTY, Sept. 24, 2015 – Local organizations are partnering with the Sarasota County School District to explore ways to strengthen the relationship between voluntary pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. The goal is to make sure students are ready to be successful in kindergarten and beyond.

As part of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation are sponsoring two “V2K: Making Strides from VPK to Kindergarten” dinners and dialogues in October. District administrators of elementary schools, kindergarten teachers, voluntary pre-K teachers, Early Learning Coalition administrators and community members are invited to attend one of the October events at no charge. The first event will be at 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The second dinner will be at 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 22, at the Morgan Family Community Center in North Port.

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County, The Patterson Foundation, the Early Learning Coalition and the school district plan to organize additional opportunities to address concerns identified by the district’s Task Force on the Achievement Gap in Elementary Schools.

“We know that in order for our children to be reading on grade level by third grade, they need to participate in high-quality early learning programs,” said Laura Kingsley, the district’s executive director of elementary schools. “We hope these ‘V2K’ events will encourage our school administrators and kindergarten teachers to collaborate with our preschool providers and develop lasting relationships and perhaps share professional development opportunities. We are very thankful to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation for supporting this initiative through the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.”

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County is at 2635 Fruitville Road in Sarasota. The Morgan Family Community Center is at 6207 W. Price Blvd. in North Port.


Florida House to host fifth-grade students for lessons in sustainability

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Florida House 2015Florida House-student at learn stationFlorida House-students under house

FLORIDA HOUSE LESSONS: Top photo: Florida House is located on the campus of Suncoast Technical College in Sarasota. Fifth-grade students from throughout Sarasota County will tour the demonstration home and yard for hands-on lessons about conservation and sustainability. Middle photo: Home on Earth Kids Advisory Club member Jordi Riberio witnesses the science of refraction and reflection at the Florida House. Bottom photo: Kids Advisory Club members Cachet Postans, left, and Nissi Luvavali explore the science and structure beneath the Florida House.

SARASOTA, Sept. 23, 2015 – Science teachers, curriculum specialists, students, and staff and consultants at the Florida House have joined forces to develop lessons and interactive learning stations based on the demonstration home’s environmentally friendly features. The program, known as Home on Earth, starts this fall and is designed for fifth-grade students. The lessons and stations are based on the STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering and math). In the next two years as many as 3,000 students are expected to visit the house with their teachers to learn science and sustainability concepts through hands-on activities.

Florida House was originally built in the mid-1990s on the campus of Suncoast Technical College, then known as Sarasota County Technical Institute. It was one of the first green demonstration houses and yards in the nation. In 2007 it was moved to a nearby location and was recently upgraded to 21st-century standards.

John Lambie, executive director of the Florida House Institute, said “The Florida House features state-of-the-art design and uses the newest energy-efficient building products. It’s the perfect setting for teaching students about the science behind wise home energy consumption, such as conserving water and energy, and minimizing waste. The project also will challenge students to share these concepts at home and to be aware of their importance to everyone’s future.”

The Florida House Institute’s Home on Earth program is designed to make learning fun and exciting. During each half-day exploration, teachers and students will enjoy seven unique hands-on learning stations. Students will discover the principles of energy and how an efficient home uses limited and renewable resources. Students will be invited to generate electricity, test solar power, measure heat radiation, explore an edible garden, and investigate the inner workings of a modern home, including a unique opportunity to travel below the Florida House itself.

The Florida House STEM curriculum writing team was made up of Sarasota County School District science teachers and curriculum specialists, included Deb Laban, Carlos Hernandez, Khizran Usman, Rob Loeffler, Cheri Dame, Megan Ehlers and Linda Ayad. Wayne Mathe, Florida House education director; Cordelia Washington, project developer and grant writer; and Robert Wolfe, project builder, supervised the development of the Home on Earth program. It was made possible by a $389,000 grant to Florida House from the Toyota USA Foundation.

The Home on Earth Kids Advisory Club, a group of 10-year-old students, evaluates the printed materials, informational signs and interactive stations. Their input makes the Home on Earth program a work in progress. If students have difficulty understanding a concept, or there is no “wow factor” for them, a learning station is adjusted accordingly.

Florida House is located at 4454 S. Beneva Road, between Suncoast Science Center and Suncoast Polytechnical High School.


State education official explores district’s elementary science success

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SCS News

SARASOTA, Sept. 16, 2015 – A program specialist with the Florida Department of Education will visit district offices and Southside Elementary School Thursday, Sept. 17, to explore the reasons for the high scores of fifth-grade students in the 2015 Statewide Science Assessment. The Sarasota County School District’s average fifth-grade scores in FSA elementary science were the second-highest among the 67 county-wide school districts in the state (after St. Johns County).

Heidi Brennan, science and STEM education program specialist with FLDOE, will meet in the morning at school district offices with Sue Meckler, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction; Laura Kingsley, executive director of elementary schools; and principals from Ashton, Bay Haven, Englewood and Southside elementary schools to learn more about how science is taught in district schools.

At 1 p.m., Brennan will make a 90-minute visit to Southside Elementary School in Sarasota to tour classrooms and debrief with administrators. At Southside and other elementary schools in the district, most students visit science labs at least once a week and do experiments and other hands-on activities. Technology helps facilitates inquiry-based thinking and collaborative learning. Students use the scientific method to create projects for school science fairs and the regional science fair.

“I think our elementary science test scores are strong for three main reasons,” said Kingsley. “The schools with the greatest success have strong science lab teachers who infuse technology and provide hands-on activities to every child in the school. They also have a school-wide commitment to science fairs and project-based learning. In addition, they have classroom teachers who integrate writing, arts-related activities and real-life learning into their science lessons.”

Meckler added, “Students in our schools learn early in their academic careers that science, technology, engineering and math are not only the basis for many 21st-century careers, they’re also lots of fun and teach the basic problem-solving skills they need to master for meeting almost any challenge,” said Meckler. “We look forward to sharing our approach to teaching science with the Florida Department of Education.”

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

Regions Bank staff, customers donate shoes for needy students

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Betsy Hooper gets Ragions Bank shoe donation 8-17-15

SHOES AND SOCKS FOR KIDS: Betsy Hooper, left, accepts a donation of socks and shoes for needy students from Frank Santora of Regions Bank.

SARASOTA, Sept. 11, 2015 - Frank Santora, Regions Bank consumer sales manager for Sarasota/Manatee, presented the Sarasota County Schools with 43 pairs of sneakers and 193 pairs of socks. The footwear was donated by the bank’s associates and customers.

The donation was presented to Betsy Hooper of the district’s Pupil Support Services Department in mid-August, just before the start of the 2015-16 school year. The socks and shoes were given to students in need.

“We’re pleased that Regions Bank employees and their customers want children in need to have new shoes and socks when they head to school,” said Hooper. “We are grateful for this thoughtful donation, and we know the kids will appreciate it.” 

Riverview High students help clean up Phillippi Creek using kayaks

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2014 RHS Phillippi Creek cleanup

CREEK CLEANUP: During the 2014 International Coastal Cleanup, Riverview student Erin Walsh joined kayaking classmates to help clean up Phillippi Creek. Now a senior, Walsh will participate again this year.

SARASOTA, Sept. 11, 2015 – Students in Riverview High School’s Marine Club will use kayaks to clean up Phillippi Creek in observance of the 30th annual International Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday, Sept. 19.

In the overall local effort, a group of kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders will clean trash from the county’s shores and waterways from their vessels. In addition, a special partnership between a group of homeowners from the South Gate neighborhood, students from Riverview High School, members of SUP Sarasota and Sarasota Bay Watch and Sarasota County staff will work out of kayaks and canoes to clean up Phillippi Creek.

About 30 students and adult sponsors of the clubs are scheduled to launch kayaks at 9 a.m. from the South Gate Community Center. 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 last year we decided to use kayaks and it was a big success!” 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. The creek is near and dear to us at Riverview because it’s in our backyard. We’re happy to help our neighbors 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 three decades. During each Cleanup, volunteers remove trash and record data about what is collected.

Since its inception the initiative has engaged more than 10.5 million volunteers along 350,000 miles of shoreline to remove more than 192 million pounds of trash in all 50 states and 153 countries.

The items collected most frequently included cigarette butts, candy and chip wrappers and bags, plastic beverage bottles and caps, and other food and beverage packaging. Unusual items found in 2014 include 26 barbecue grills, eight bowling balls, five rubber ducks, a plastic dinosaur and $1,680 in cash. Animals found entangled by items such as packaging and balloons include 440 fish, 57 marine mammals, 46 sea turtles and 22 sharks, skates or rays. 

Suncoast Alliance for Lifelong Learning hosts showcase at STC

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SCS News

SARASOTA, Sept. 1, 2015 – The newly formed Suncoast Alliance for Lifelong Learning will host a showcase of adult enrichment courses from its affiliated organizations, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 10, at Suncoast Technical College in Sarasota.

Registration for the SCALL Lifelong Learning Showcase is $75 and includes four courses on the day of the showcase from among 30 offerings by the four SCALL member organizations: Adult and Community Enrichment at Suncoast Technical College, Pierian Spring Academy, Lifelong Learning Academy and the Longboat Key Education Center. Topics include the arts, investment, history, literature, psychology, meditation, music, technology, wellness, writing, yoga and more. The registration fee is non-refundable but can be transferred to another person if the registrant cannot attend the showcase. Anyone may register through Tuesday, Sept. 8, by calling 941-361-6590 or visiting  

SCALL was formed to stimulate greater interest, appreciation and support for personal growth and enrichment opportunities available through lifelong learning organizations in the Florida communities of Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Its plans include collaborating on marketing the opportunities that currently exist in the area; sponsoring special programs and activities that showcase these opportunities; exploring and establishing organizational and program connections with other educational ventures in area; sustaining and supporting social activities and volunteer opportunities associated with lifelong learning pursuits; contributing to the image of the Sarasota- Manatee area as a special place known for its appreciation for the arts, humanities and lifelong learning; and increasing the educational opportunities of modest- to low-income older adults in the region.

According to Robert Carlson, acting president of SCALL, “Each of the founding members of SCALL sees greater potential in raising the profile of lifelong learning in this area by working together rather than individually. The spinoff of this collaboration should bring more adults into the lifelong learning experience — which we see as a social good — and help ensure continued support of the organizations through maintaining or increasing enrollments in our classes.”

Laura Trubac, program manager of Adult and Community Enrichment, a service of the Sarasota County School District based at Suncoast Technical College, said, “We are happy to host the very first SCALL showcase and to collaborate on this event with other local organizations dedicated to lifelong learning. We hope this is the first of several ways we can work together to increase enrichment opportunities for the many adults in our community who are so passionate about exploring new ideas, learning more about their areas of interest and developing new skills.”

Suncoast Technical College is located at 4748 Beneva Road, Sarasota.


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