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SRQ Daily Dec 2, 2017

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition



[Education]  Optical Performance
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

I’ve been voraciously learning about the role the brain has on student achievement. While I profess to be no expert, I am deeply intrigued by neuroscience studies that continue to validate the influence of brain development and its neuroplasticity. Angela Lee Duckworth made great headlines in her TED talk on the power of passion and perseverance. Daniel Goleman is a prolific expert on emotional intelligence, and Ellen Galinsky, author of the highly acclaimed book, Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, teaches us how to foster the most important skills children will need to be successful in life. All of these experts rely on strengthening one of our body’s most important muscles— the brain.

Armed with this enlightening information, I delved further into the specific realm of optimism and student achievement. We all know the half glass theory—view it as half-empty, you’re considered a pessimist. View the glass half-full, and you’re considered an optimist. While this is an overarching simplification to a complex topic, I do believe understanding levels of optimism, or lack thereof, can be a solid indicator on how students can improve their academic performance, and how we as adults can optimize our own performance. Of no surprise, research supports this theory.

If you’ve not yet familiarized yourself to TED Talk presenter Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, then I highly encourage you to do so. Shawn makes a cogent case for the power of positivity by using research-based evidence sprinkled with hilarious commentary that will surely trigger a few positive synapses in your own brain. I found myself reflecting on his comment about how the brain works, “If you can raise somebody's level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed.”

Equipping our children with neurological lifelong tools like optimism, which can be practiced and improved over time, may not only make them happier but studies show it will help them perform better in school. It will help them better overcome obstacles by viewing challenges as learning opportunities and it will develop resilience when they’ve persevered through a difficult circumstance. To be clear, I’m not suggesting a Pollyanna view of the world but rather a healthy dose of balanced optimism that can help children and adults choose a more positive outlook.

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County believes student achievement is much more than academic attainment alone. It includes preparing students with the skills and resources to be responsible, contributory, global citizens by integrating the whole brain with the whole child.

One final thought: Since optimism can be learned at any age, it may behoove us as adults to reflect on ways in which we can become even better role models for our children. If living by example is a valuable teaching tool, then perhaps we should each consider how our own glass is viewed. Sir Winston Churchill states: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” So, what kind of glass do you see?

Jennifer Vigne is president of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[Community]  What Creates the Heart of a Community?
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

Recently, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s lobby was graced by the installation of nationally-renowned artist Anne Patterson’s work, “Circle of Thirds.” The piece, made up of a mile and a half of ribbon, took a week to actually coalesce and come together, but the intention behind the piece was a project years in the making.

For years the ceiling space of the Community Foundation’s lobby was empty. While the building’s architecture is beautiful, the space always seemed to be missing something as it welcomes more than 12,000 guests every year.  A few years ago, I happened to sit next to artist Anne Patterson at the Greenfield Prize dinner the Hermitage Artist Retreat was holding, and I learned of her work utilizing space, merging sensory experiences, and combining vivid ribbons to create these beautiful pieces of art. Instantly I knew that Anne’s work would be the perfect fit for our lobby.  Plus, Anne is a Hermitage Fellow, so she knew our community well from her many visits here. 

After many discussions, Anne and I began envisioning a concept for the work. I had two requirements for the piece. It had to involve public participation and it had to incorporate the essence of community.   What Anne ended up visualizing was the heart of our mission at the Community Foundation—community impact powered by philanthropy.

“Circle of Thirds,” with its three triangles of vibrant red ribbon depicting a circle, represents three major stakeholders in how our community thrives: the donors whose passion and generosity fuels so much positive impact in our region; our nonprofit partners that strive each day to make our region a better place to live; and the community which benefits from active and spirited philanthropy.

Before the ribbons were installed, the Community Foundation invited the public to participate in the work by writing their hopes, dreams, and wishes on each ribbon. Much of Anne’s passion behind this idea lay in the belief on the power of intention, that words when put out into the universe have the power to transform, change, and build a mindset, a person, a community.

As I reflect on the work, I think of the symbiotic and cyclical relationship between the three stakeholders of the piece represents. At the Community Foundation we believe that as more citizens invest in their community, the ability for the community to give back to itself multiples tenfold. Truly, one cannot exist without the other, and how fortunate are we to live in a place where this concept is so ingrained into our psyche. 

The key is that we work collectively to create a community we feel proud of. Together, we have the expertise, knowledge, treasure, and talent to address the issues facing the future of our region. Our success depends on building a genuine, honest sense of community, belonging, and responsibility to create a widespread feeling of unity. As a community, we can be the ones to make a difference and create positive, lasting impact. As I always say, all of us are smarter than one of us.

As we go about our lives, let’s make a pact to live intentionally and towards a goal to create a better sense of community. No act of kindness is ever wasted. Never lose sight of familiar acts of caring that can mean a lot—checking on your housebound neighbors, being a thoughtful driver in our season’s traffic, holding the door for a stranger, giving a friend a hug and sharing a smile, or supporting your favorite nonprofit. 

Roxie Jerde is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

p.s. If you’re close by, feel free to stop by the Community Foundation on Fruitville Road. We’d love to share “Circle of Thirds” with you and feel the power of the words most prevalent from hopes, dreams and wishes written on the ribbons:  happiness, love and peace. We are forever grateful to Sam Alfstad, Jane & Bill Knapp, Harry Leopold & Audrey Robbins, Charlotte & Charles Perret, and an anonymous donor who made this project possible. 

[Best Of SRQ Local]  Cast Your Vote For Best Local Romantic Restaurant!

You can’t re-do a first date, therefore picking the perfect spot to take your hunny is key. Tell SRQ Mag where the Best Local Romantic Restaurant is in town! Vote now! 

Vote Here!

[SCOOP ]  Goodwill's Ugly Christmas Sweater Challenge

Goodwill Manasota is tapping into the whimsical side of the holiday season while working to educate the community about the benefits of the reduce, reuse, recycle movement through its Ugly Christmas Sweater Challenge. Through December 20, community members are encouraged to shop second-hand for sweaters, use the holiday theme and their creativity to decorate their finds, and then post pictures of the resulting attire on social media. Goodwill Manasota is hosting the Ugly Christmas Sweater Challenge on its Facebook page: facebook.com/GoodwillManasota. Submissions will be accepted through December 20, with winners announced on December 22. The winners in three categories – cutest, ugliest, and most creative – will earn a Goodwill gift certificate and bragging rights. 

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP ]  Elite Airways Introduces Pittsburgh / Sarasota-Bradenton Nonstop Flight

Starting February 23, Elite Airways will operate twice-weekly nonstops on Friday and Mondays between Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) and Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ). Pirate City and LECOM Park in Bradenton is the site of minor league and spring training activities for the Pittsburgh Pirates, which will host its season opening home game on Saturday, Feb. 24 in celebration of the team’s 50th season of play there and the start of 2018 spring training. Elite Airways operates a fleet of Bombardier CRJ-200 and CRJ-700 jet airliners known for comfort and efficiency, and maintains an impeccable safety record. Passengers receive free onboard snacks and beverages, first checked bag up to 50lbs and no ticketing change fees (see website for details). Elite Airways is also pet friendly. Early bird fares start at $199.00 each way. “Western Pennsylvania has many strong connections to Florida’s Gulf Coast and this nonstop service to the Sarasota-Bradenton area on Elite Airways will add to that,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “I’m sure many Pittsburgh Pirates fans headed to spring training next year and people headed to the beach will be thrilled with a convenient nonstop flight right to the heart of their destination.” 

SRQ Airport

[SCOOP ]  Children's World Donating to Toys for Tots

Children’s World, kicked off their 5th annual Toys for Tots drive where customers can pick out and purchase a toy in the store and business owners Tim and Cynthia Holliday will match the donation by 50 percent. All monetary donations will also be matched by 50 percent. Children’s World is a big supporter of Toys for Tots and has done toy drives for the last four years as the Hollidays and their staff believe every child deserves a little Christmas.  According to Jim Lamb, Toys for Tots Coordinator for Sarasota County, Toys for Tots was able to give toys to more than 18,000 local children in 2016. Children’s World is also a drop off site if residents want to drop off any new, unwrapped toys at their location.  

Children's World

[SCOOP ]  5th Annual Celtic Christmas Concert Benefits the Sarasota YMCA Safe Children Coalition

The City of Dunedin Pipe Band is hosting the 5th annual Celtic Christmas Concert on December 3 at 7:00pm at the Sarasota Opera House. The concert will feature the City of Dunedin Pipe Band, local singer Sarah Combs, Isle of Skye Highland Dancers, Davenia McFadden, Riverview High School Kiltie Pipe Band and the Sarasota Military Academy Pipe Band. “Many may not know this, but the City of Sarasota has a rich Scottish history. The man deemed the father of Sarasota was from Scotland, and helped put the area on the map,” stated an article from the Sarasota Herald Tribune. In keeping with that Heritage, concert host and founder, Kevin Wiegand and his wife, Alissa, are excited to bring local talent to the stage and share “A Celtic Christmas” with the Sarasota community. A portion of the proceeds will go directly to Sarasota YMCA Safe Coalition Foster Care children. Tickets for A Celtic Christmas can be purchased online at www.celticchristmassarasota.net or at the Sarasota Opera House – 941.350.7345. 

Sarasota YMCA

[SCOOP]  State of Students Report

On October 10, 850 high school students from Sarasota and Manatee counties packed Robarts Arena for the State of Jobs Conference, a full day of engaging sessions on a variety of career tracks. Part of the day included surveying the students to get their perspectives on college and careers so we as a community can better design programming to meet their needs. This is where the State of Students Report (SOSR) was born. This year’s State of Students Report includes 498 responses from 17 different schools in Manatee and Sarasota counties including public, private and charter institutions. Students in this report represent five sectors of post-secondary interest including healthcare, engineering/manufacturing, hospitality/tourism, entrepreneurship and information technology.  “Too often, we focus on telling students exactly what jobs are available by connecting earnings to a profession that’s needed within a community. This forfeits our ability as communities to encourage students to understand their skills, passions, and personality, and connect these attributes to opportunities. We don’t want students finding jobs, we want them excited about careers. Careers that may not even exist yet.” – Chris Laney, Director of Education and Community Investment. To view the full report, visit stateofstudents.org 

State of Jobs

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Phil LedererNote: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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