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SRQ DAILY Jul 7, 2018

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"We all have the capacity to be role models for the generations that follow, and so we have an incumbent responsibility for our moral compass to shine brightly."

- Jennifer Vigne, Education Foundation of Sarasota County

[Community]  Expanding Summer Learning Academies
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

Summer is often anything but a vacation for the more than half of Sarasota County school students who come from low-income households. Instead of a time to build new experiences or attend enriching summer camps, it's often a period when children and families struggle to afford even the most basic necessities and opportunities to improve learning.

Lack of access to stimulating learning activities leads to a measured reality called summer learning loss, when students lose academic skills during their time away from school. This loss contributes many debilitating effects to a young person's success in school. It's also a key reason why the achievement gap between children from low-income households grows even greater between their peers from medium and high-income households. 

In 2013, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County met donors Joe and Mary Kay Henson who had a vision that students in poverty, given equal opportunity and resources, could perform as well as their higher income peers. We partnered with them on a pilot program for rising kindergartners at Alta Vista Elementary School, a Title 1 school, to prove that philanthropy could fund and learn from an experimental model to help combat summer learning loss. A six-week Summer Learning Academy was born, dubbed the Eagle Academy, to provide additional educational opportunities for the students of the inaugural class. Not only were academic activities offered, but food, books and a student emergency fund to provide clothing, healthcare and other assistance for the students and their families were available as well as enrichment activities. 

The pilot program improved academic skills, school engagement, motivation and relationships with adults and peers, just the outcomes we hoped would happen. Armed with compelling success, the Hensons persuaded the Sarasota County School District to expand the academies to more Title 1 schools: Emma E. Booker, Tuttle and Gocio elementary schools in the following years. The academies proved the average iReady scores (an adaptive assessment tool used by Sarasota County Schools that uses scale scores to track student growth and performance) for SLA students went up higher than their peers who did not attend a summer learning program, with learning gains in excess of 30 weeks for some students.

With greater knowledge from the pilot academies, we also incorporated a two-generation approach to ensure the students' parents also benefit from the academies. Parents who enroll their children for the SLA also attend weekly "parent universities," designed to instruct them on a variety of topics such as financial sustainability, nutritional cooking, building social capital and navigating the educational system. 

We couldn't be more proud of the success of these academies, not just because of the impact they have had in the lives of local students, but also because of the way these SLA models have evolved and expanded. After funding and creating the proof points that these academies work through philanthropy, the Sarasota County School District has now secured the state funding required to establish Summer Learning Academies in all eleven Title 1 schools across our county this summer.

This means more than 1,100 elementary school students currently receive enriched summer learning opportunities and their parents are afforded the relief of knowing their children are in a safe learning environment for six weeks over the summer. It is apparent that when a child's physiological and safety needs are not met, it becomes difficult for them to focus on their social and academic well-being, as well as difficult for a teacher to engage with them in the classroom. Knowing these academies are in place means many of our region's students are on a path to a brighter future. 

The vision of donors like Joe and Mary Kay Henson is behind this great milestone—people who believe in giving our most vulnerable students an opportunity to empower themselves through education. Investing in people to further their education is one of the best investments one can make for lifelong success.

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

[Education]  Integrity: Character in Action
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

From a philosophical viewpoint, is a win a win, no matter how you played? At what point, if any, are you justified to bend the rules or even break them to ensure a victory? As long as performance is achieved, does the methodology matter? How does one wrestle with moral or ethical dilemmas such as these, and by what means do we reconcile them?

One of the unique characteristics of humanity is that we are conscious beings. As such, we have the ability to look inward and tap our individual principles and values when determining right versus wrong. We also can be influenced by outward pressures such as peers, performance evaluations or even market forces that outweigh our internal checks and balances, thus creating internal conflict.

In either case, the defining qualities of a person’s character will be tested. And, as most of us will agree, character matters.

A recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found employers care more about soft skills such as integrity, reliability and teamwork than they do technical abilities. In fact, 87 percent of employers in this survey ranked integrity as one of the most important qualities when seeking new job candidates. Integrity goes beyond being honest, fair, polite and respectful. It is also reflective of one’s ability to make tough ethical decisions. In short, it is one's character in action.

Our children learn by the actions we take. The adage “walk the walk, not just talk the talk” rings true. We all have the capacity to be role models for the generations that follow, and so we have an incumbent responsibility for our moral compass to shine brightly.

History has given us notable examples of those who have led lives undergirded by a bedrock of principles, a strong moral compass and an innate ability to build consensus and achieve a shared vision. Abraham Lincoln inspired a nation when he delivered the Gettysburg Address, leading to the eventual abolishment of slavery, while Winston Churchill inspired the free nations to continue their fight against the tyranny of Hitler during the darkest hours of World War II.

While we don't all need to aspire to the leadership levels of Lincoln or Churchill, we should give considerate thought and pregnant pause before we, as adults, speak or act. Why? Our children are watching, employers are hiring and character matters.

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

[Education]  The Cambridge-Sarasota Connection
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

While the summer season slows down here in Sarasota, our Ringling College of Art and Design campus continues to teem with activity through our PreCollege Program for those 16 and older, Teen Studios for those younger and for older adults Lifelong Learning. Yet, it allows time for our hard-working faculty to take a break from the harried academic year and our dedicated staff time for vacation. For some, it also grants us the opportunity to dig deeper and learn about who we wish to be as leaders in higher education, and time to learn the latest developments in our profession.

That’s the reason three of us at Ringling College went to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

This past month, I had the good fortune to attend Harvard Seminar for Advancement Leadership as part of Harvard School of Graduate Education. Attending with me was my dynamic Vice President for Advancement, Stacey Corley. With us were about 60 select Presidents and Vice Presidents of Advancement from colleges throughout the country and around the world seeking to learn more about raising money to support their respective institutions of higher education and their students.

During our time at Harvard, Stacey and I were able to visit our colleague, Jeff Schwartz, associate vice president for Academic Affairs and Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Ringling College. He was attending the two-week Management and Leadership in Education program at the Harvard School of Graduate Education. How did Mr. Schwartz get there? Dr. Peter McAllister, our VP for Academic Affairs, and myself nominated Jeff for this opportunity because he wanted to learn more and further advance his own academic administrative leadership skills. Peter and I recognized that by Jeff spending two weeks at Harvard mixing with similar academic leaders from institutions in various sectors, and being taught by the best faculty in higher education, only raises the knowledge bar for Jeff and for Ringling College as well. The ultimate benefit is beyond great—to the students, faculty, staff, trustees and the entire community.

As our friends at Harvard say, they are, “devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, and research, and to developing leaders in many disciplines who make a difference globally.”

Ringling College may not be Harvard, but we at this institution are dedicated to excellence by offering the highest caliber art and design education in the world, and to fostering the creative leaders of tomorrow. Yes, our exact aim and expertise may differ a bit, but our alliance in inspiring the best of the best in education is completely in tune with one another.

As an aside, we have had a strong connection with Harvard as a result of the Harvard Club’s esteemed alumni and those of other Ivy League clubs in Sarasota who have been welcomed to our campus. We at Ringling enjoy returning the favor by helping to teach them a bit about art and design higher education and the greatness of Ringling College here in our town, and we are very grateful for their interest in and support of this institution.

As for my continued learning, you might ask why I should go to a seminar at Harvard when I’ve just begun my 20th year leading Ringling College. Because knowledge is power. And I remain completely open and humble enough to know I need to continue to learn more to not only be better at my job but to also be better at life. This openness speaks loudly and clearly to one of our main missions at the College…Lifelong Learning.

About two years ago, the Lifelong Learning Academy became part of Ringling College and its School of Continuing Studies. Recently, because of a grant from the Osher Foundation, the Academy changed its name to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Ringling College. The Institute is all about continuing the process of learning and stimulating your mind, no matter one’s age or expertise. As a result, our Lifelong Learning programming includes workshops, courses, lectures, film discussions, global travel and off-site services throughout our region.

The benefits of lifelong learning are overwhelming. Research demonstrates that lifelong learners, including people like me, Stacey and Jeff and our students in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, improve cognitive abilities, become more active, realize a sense of purpose, connect more with the community, and experience reduced anxiety and depression. Amen to that.

When I asked Jeff Schwartz to describe his Harvard Institute experience in three words, he had this to say: “Engaging, challenging, transformative.”

May we offer the same experience for all within our community, as it is my great hope as president of Ringling College that both our youth and our elders will be engaged, challenged, and transformed.

Let me end by saying, it’s amazing how this relatively “old dog” can really learn new tricks. And I am beyond grateful for each and every lesson that comes my way.

Dr. Larry Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art and Design. 

[SCOOP]  Glass in the Gardens

Vases, bowls and other glass artworks featuring plants and pollinators will be on display and for sale at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens beginning July 14 for the exhibition “In Dialogue with Nature: Glass in the Gardens.” The works are all botanically-themed and made in St. Petersburg at the acclaimed Duncan McClellan Gallery. Glass blowers from the St. Petersburg Hot Glass Workshop and the Duncan McClellan Gallery are partnering with Selby Gardens to bring this botanically-themed art glass exhibition to the area. All works were made in  St. Petersburg, Florida, and illustrate a variety of glassmaking techniques. Additional talks and demonstration classes with a traveling hot shop will be announced. 

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

[SCOOP]  Coolinary Health & Wellness Celebration

The Coolinary Restaurant is hosting a Health & Wellness Celebration on Wednesday, July 11 from 5-7pm. Enjoy Craft Cocktails, Healthy Natural Cuisine and a selection of Health Businesses providing information and demonstrations to enjoy, as well as live music. There will be demonstrations from Siesta Healing (Acupuncture), Massage by Elly, Massage by Steve Purium and Brenda Ley, and a $10 In-Kind Charity Donation to benefit Tiny Hands, which provides thousands of backpacks filled with school supplies for local community children in need. 

The Coolinary

[SCOOP]  North Coast Extends Its Stay at FST

Florida Studio Theatre is proud to announce that New York City’s premier hip-hop comedy team  and named one of the “Top Ten Best Comedy Shows” by Time Out New York, North Coast is extending its stay in Sarasota following the 10th Anniversary Sarasota Improv Festival.  After the three-day Festival, from July 12 to July 14, North Coast will be in residence at Florida Studio Theatre for an additional week, leading workshops and delivering special encore performances on July 20 and 21 in Bowne’s Lab Theatre.. This year marks North Coast’s fifth year at the Festival. Tickets for these performances are $15 each and can be purchased at www.floridastudiotheatre.org or (941) 366-9000. Workshops are $35 and are limited to 16 people.


Florida Studio Theatre

[KUDOS]  Kim Livengood Receives APR Designation

Kim Livengood, Chief Communication Officer with The Eclipse Agency, has successfully completed the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations, entitling her to use the APR professional designation. The announcement was made by the Universal Accreditation Board, a consortium of nine professional communication organizations that directs this competency certification program.

The accreditation program aims to improve the practice of public relations by assessing competence in 60 areas of knowledge, skills and abilities associated with the profession. The computer-based portion of the Examination is administered throughout the year at more than 300 Prometric Testing Centers. The Panel Presentation is conducted prior to the computer-based portion of the Examination by a panel of three Accredited members of one or more of the nine organizations participating in the UAB. Professionals earning the APR must maintain their credential through continuing professional development, providing leadership to the profession and serving their local communities.


The Eclipse Agency


Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s Board of Directors approved over $5.8 million in grants and scholarships, which included over $3.8 million in grants from donor advised funds, as well as $508,000 in scholarship awards. Five Leveraged Grants, totaling $289,500, will fund collaborative work to address specific regional priorities identified by the foundation through periodic community assessments. These grants included $100,000 to support the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, $27,500 to the Gulf Coast Partnership, $40,000 to United Way of Charlotte County, $97,000 to Ringling College of Art and Design and Sarasota County Schools and $25,000 to Van Wezel Foundation to support the planning phases of the organization’s capital campaign to create a world-class performing arts center. Gulf Coast also awarded over $139,000 in Community and Sponsorship Grants, which are smaller grants to fund programs, projects, and fundraising activities at regional nonprofit organizations. These included a $20,000 grant to The SKY Family YMCA in Venice, which will sustain scholarships for low-income families to participate in a variety of children’s programs at the Y, such as early learning, childcare, summer feeding, and youth sports.


Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[SCOOP]  Goodwill Relaunches Good Readers Program

Studies show that children exposed to books at a young age are more likely to do better both academically and behaviorally. Goodwill Manasota invites area families to enjoy monthly installments on Saturday mornings at 11AM in one of the four Goodwill Manasota Bookstores in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Goodwill Ambassadors will read to groups of children for an hour, while parents are free to browse the store or listen with their child. When story time ends, each child will receive a free book. First launched in 2014, the Good Readers Program works to engage young minds and foster a lifelong love of reading in children. understanding, and narrative comprehension. The goal of the Good Readers program is to provide additional support and assistance for low-income children, and the gift of books of their own.


Goodwill Manasota

[KUDOS]  Sarasota Military Academy Enlists Local Veteran to Head Newly-Formed Foundation

Sarasota Military Academy has recently hired C.J. Bannister, a local veteran, to lead the newly-formed Sarasota Military Academy Foundation, Inc. as its Chief Development Officer. In this new role, Bannister will focus on strategy, planning and administration duties for the Foundation in addition to recognizing fundraising, major gifts and planned giving opportunities. Previously, Bannister worked for a local non-profit organization where she led efforts to provide services to veterans as they faced barriers to employment. After graduating from high school, Bannister joined the United States Air Force and served as a Crew Chief, then moved into training as a Paralegal and worked with Judge Advocate General Corps, commonly known as JAG, for the remainder of her time in the Armed Forces. She earned the rank of Staff Sergeant along with many notable awards and medals until she ended her military career in 2001. Before joining the nonprofit and development industry, Bannister worked as a financial advisor, and she has continued her community involvement and volunteers with a variety of local organizations. 

Sarasota Military Academy

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: 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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