New, More or Less



In the first days of a new calendar year, it seems that we are surrounded by ambitious activities to keep newly minted resolutions. 

Research on the topic shows of the 60 percent of us who admit to making New Year’s resolutions, top vows include doing more or less of certain behaviors with the end goal to improve ourselves, our families, our communities.

Do these promises sound familiar?

·       Exercise more. Eat less.

·       Save more. Spend less.

·       Cook at home more. Eat out less.

·       Read more. Watch less TV.

·       Relax more. Worry less.

·       Live a more balanced life. More family time, less time away from home.

·       Affirm more. Judge less. 

A new calendar filled with 365 blank sheets just waiting for our distinctive imprint has an undeniable allure. All of that promise, potential and opportunity: What will we do with it? What will we look back on when we flip the page to December 31?

The impetus to change things up at the start of a new year affects businesses, too. On the cusp of a new year, we often are more amenable to retiring old practices that no longer work in order to make room for different undertakings that offer more potential.

It’s a time for decluttering, sorting, self-examining, reflecting and sometimes reinventing.

Every year brings its own challenges to keep up with changes in our personal and professional lives. This is a priority for education advocates because our children’s future world will be vastly different from our time in 2019.

Here at the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, self-assessment, evaluation and measurement are year-round standard operating procedures. As an organization whose mission includes “inspire innovation in education,” it’s incumbent on us to lead by example.

An innovation isn’t limited to an item, invention or a “thing.” It can be a novel way of thinking or a different application of an effective technique. 

Witness the 2019 Ignite Education Innovator Award recipient, Dr. Todd Brown, who infuses his middle-school civics classes with experiential immersive scenarios that make different times, people and places come alive and relevant to students. The students thus are empowered and inspired to make their own marks and enact positive changes that impact their generation. 

Or consider the STEMSmart Summit, sponsored by the Education Foundation in partnership with the district. This event, coming up later in January, is an innovation showcase for students to learn from one another.

Week-long immersive scenario projects that the Education Foundation provides at selected partner schools are more terrific examples of innovative teaching.

Other demonstrations of applying innovative design thinking principles include the College, Career and Life Readiness Initiative with its challenge to rethink how we as a community prepare students to thrive after high school; and our transition to the role of organizational backbone of the Local College Access Network (LCAN).

And what about our New Year’s resolution?

In 2019, we will do more to enhance the potential of students, promote excellence in teaching, and inspire innovation in education, guided by strategic philanthropy.

We hope you’ll join us.

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

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