Foundations Help Sarasota High Schools Get Innovative Classrooms



Last week, Sarasota County Schools unveiled six redesigned Immersive Language Arts (ILA) classrooms created and implemented through a partnership with Ringling College of Art and Design, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and Gulf Coast Community Foundation. The innovative classrooms are part of a larger effort to transform the learning experience for ILA students by improving content delivery, student engagement, and teacher retention. Students are enrolled in ILA classes after scoring low on the English Language Arts portion of their Florida Standards Assessments (FSA). These are students who historically have been left behind and often struggle to graduate high school. The district is focused on helping them embrace a growth mindset, providing extra support, and investing in creative opportunities to help them improve so they can graduate. The bold new ILA classrooms were designed by Ringling College interior design students with direct input from the students and teachers who will use them. They feature stylish mobile desks for enhanced flexibility and collaboration. An entire wall is covered by a colorful, larger-than-life mural of diverse icons in activism, art, and education—think Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, Black Panther writer-director Ryan Coogler, and Pakistani female education activist Malala.

Gulf Coast and Barancik Foundation funded the classroom renovations. As pilot schools, Venice, Booker, and Riverview high schools have received classroom makeovers so far, but additional investments aim to innovate ILA instruction and benefit students and teachers across the district. Students from Booker, Riverview, Sarasota, North Port, and Venice high schools, for example, recently received their own tablet or laptop as an incentive gift in recognition of meeting their English Language Arts graduation requirements. Additionally, all 22 of the district’s ILA teachers now have access to custom professional development opportunities and incentive bonuses to help enhance their roles and improve retention.

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