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SRQ DAILY Jan 2, 2021

"Even in the midst of the most unexpected and tiring school year imaginable, our teachers demonstrated they are part of a common cause helping to build up our community."

- Jennifer Vigne, Education Foundation of Sarasota County

-Love Conquers, as seen in SRQ's December 2020 feature. Click here for the full article.
[Community]  An A+ Opportunity for Students of All Ages
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

If the last year was an exam on whether the pursuit of academic dreams could be accomplished in the face of the unimaginable, every student – and their families – passed with flying colors. Scholars of all ages have endured struggle after struggle and earned an A+ in discovering opportunities to advance their studies as well as their careers. There wasn’t a study guide for these future community leaders to refer to while the education landscape was redrawn in 2020. Personal innovation and community support are two of the most important tools area students are wielding to seize opportunities during a challenging time.

I think of student leaders like Amber Patrick, a single mother of two young boys with dreams of entering the medical field. After a Fall resurgence of COVID-19 led to an unexpected job furlough, Amber was reconsidering plans to continue her education through the spring semester at the State College of Florida, where she was pursuing a pre-med track. With an increasingly uncertain financial situation, she applied for an adult scholarship at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. With a single click on the submit button, Amber became eligible for more than 40 different scholarship opportunities.  

Ultimately Amber was awarded support from the Edward K. Roberts Scholarship Fund, which was created in 2009 as a resource to support single mothers wishing to pursue higher education or academic enrichment. Thanks to this vital assistance, she is able to enter her spring semester with the support of the community behind her.

In a thank you letter that touched our hearts, Amber shared her desire to “one day follow in this donor’s footsteps and give back to the community that has given so much to me.”

Amber’s is one of 173 lives touched by an Adult Scholarship awarded by our Community Foundation in 2020 alone, assistance totaling more than $350,000 to empower adults ages 24 and older to attend universities, community colleges, technical schools, or certification programs.

But by no means does her story stand alone. As our extraordinary volunteer committee members discovered, the painful hardships brought on by the global pandemic combined with the altered economy, education is the new path many adults are charting in 2021. Along with a sharp increase in adult scholarship applications of nearly 40%, we recognized more than half of this year’s awardees plan to study nursing, reflecting a growing national trend of increased demand for healthcare professionals.

Our community has long recognized that investing in a student’s journey can enrich our region in so many ways for generations to come. Over the years, donor by donor, 87 scholarship funds have been entrusted to the Community Foundation, each with its own unique vision for bringing about a brighter future for students of all ages. The next opportunity for high school and college students will open later this month with our Traditional Scholarship Program, which accepts applications for students under 24 years of age living in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte or DeSoto counties.

Let’s face it: No amount of test preparation could have prepared us for the last year, and the same could be said for the year ahead. Although we may have passed the midterm exam, class is still in session with plenty of learning to be amassed.  Despite the odds, our students are finding opportunities to continue innovating and creating the future, all to improve the lives of their families and of those around them. And that alone merits an A+ for effort.

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

[Education]  Make January 21 Teacher of the Year Day
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

January is a celebratory time of year--a time of happy holidays, season’s greetings, and joyful toasts to an auspicious new year.

We like new beginnings at the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. After all, our focus is on preparing future generations to step confidently into their college and career paths.

Now, at the threshold of 2021, we can look in the rear-view window and acknowledge that the past year of the coronavirus pandemic has been incredibly difficult, yet equally promising, in different ways for so many people. 

This is particularly the case for our teachers who have experienced more than their fair share of ups and downs. There is no better time than now to celebrate them.

In addition to the usual traditions marking the turning of the calendar page, this time of year traditionally marks our annual Teacher of the Year celebration.

The COVID-19 safety protocols may have disrupted our usual large celebrations but witnessing the recent reality has elevated our appreciation for and support of our teachers.

On that point, it gives me great pleasure to recognize the four finalists for Sarasota County Teacher of the Year:

  • Kari Johnson, kindergarten teacher, Fruitville Elementary School;
  • Samantha Miller, design teacher, Sarasota Military Academy Prep;
  • Emily O’BrienSwope, fifth grade ELA teacher, Alta Vista Elementary School;
  • Becky Satterly, math teacher and dropout prevention coordinator, Booker High School.

One of these professionals will be named district Teacher of the Year at a virtual celebration scheduled for Jan. 21, 2021. More information as to how to participate is available at EdFoundationSRQ.org/IgniteAwards

Leading up to their selection, it was my pleasure to participate in interviews with various teachers of the year from different district schools. The interviews served to increase my appreciation for what teachers provide each and every student.

Even in the midst of the most unexpected and tiring school year imaginable, our teachers demonstrated they are part of a common cause helping to build up our community.

One after the other told the interview team they felt lucky to be a teacher because they got to be part of a student’s success.

They didn’t bemoan the circumstances in which they are required to teach in this odd year. Instead, they told us why they still have the joy of teaching.

One fifth-grade teacher said, “When you’re living day to day and watching these children grow, it’s unlike anything else.”

A kindergarten teacher said, “I hope the community sees that teachers are putting all they have into doing the best they can for the students.”

From another teacher, we heard: “In this weird year we just go with the kids. No point in getting down because that would make them down too.”

Undoubtedly, teachers are important and what they do in the classroom is unique. We invite the community, businesses and individuals to join us on Jan. 21 for Ignite Education: An Awards Celebration Honoring Sarasota County Teachers by registering here: EdFoundationSRQ.org/IgniteAwards

Many creative ways exist to say to teachers “thank you” and “you are valuable” not just on Jan. 21 but throughout the year. We challenge our resourceful community to develop and share their favorite ways to recognize and celebrate our community’s dedicated, talented asset—our teachers.

Jennifer Vigne is President and CEO of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

Photo: Becky Satterly, Booker High School, is honored as Sarasota County High School Teacher of the Year.

[On Selby]  Science Happening at Selby Gardens Daily
Marianne McComb

As Vice Chair of Selby Gardens’ Board of Trustees and a close neighbor, I am passionate about Selby Gardens. Mr. Bill Furst’s claim that there is no scientific or educational work happening at Selby Gardens is baffling, considering Selby Gardens is a Smithsonian Affiliate and is world-renowned for the study of air plants, while hosting hundreds of educational lectures and classes for all ages. As far as I know, he has refused to do his due diligence to truly learn about and understand the research and educational work that Selby Gardens does. Instead, he appears to have relied on hearsay from a few individuals who oppose Selby Gardens and their perception of how it operates.

At face value it may seem that Mr. Furst is simply doing his job; but if that were the case, he surely would be holding Selby Gardens to the same tax standards he has applied to similar nonprofits, such as Mote Marine Aquarium. If his desire to tax 100% of Selby Gardens’ property is allowed to stand, it will have significant implications for all nonprofits in Sarasota, nonprofits across the state, as well as worldwide plant science and conservation. I invite Mr. Furst and his attorneys to visit Selby Gardens to learn about the important scientific and educational work that happens there daily. Until he makes that visit and seeks to truly understand our mission, I can’t see how he can be impartial and fair, a key responsibility of his oath as a public official.

Marianne McComb is vice chairwoman of the Marie Selby Botanical Garden Board of Trustees. 

Photo: A scientist works in Selby Gardens' molecular lab.

[In This Issue]  Selby Substitute

Sue King, a retired schoolteacher, takes her talents out of the classroom and into the gardens. 

Click here to read the full article from SRQ's December 2020 edition.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Selby Gardens: Lights in Bloom: An Open-Air Holiday Light Show , December 12 – January 2, 6pm-8pm

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens brings you Lights in Bloom: An Open-air Holiday Light Show on December 12 to 23, 26 and 31 and January 1 and 2, 2020 from 6pm until 9pm. More than two million lights illuminate the gardens, and walkways are transformed into sensory light tunnels. Stroll through magical gardens filled with beautifully lit flowers, radiant rainforest butterflies, dragonflies, and more. Lights in Bloom: An Open-air Light Show has become a tradition for residents and visitors to celebrate the holiday season in Sarasota. Masks are required for entry. Access each evening is limited. Selby Gardens will monitor the number of visitors to ensure appropriate social distancing and safety for all. Santa will not be visiting this year and interactive games will not be available. Instead, we will be offering a special, free photo opportunity for you and your guests. Food and beverages will be available for purchase at a variety of locations throughout the Gardens, including the Selby House Cafe. General admission is $20 for members and $25 for non-members, early access is $30 for members and $35 for non-members, and four night passes are $80 for members and $100 for non-members.

[SOON]  SPORTS: Weekly: Sunday Polo at the Sarasota Polo Club , December 13 – April 25, 1pm-4pm

Welcome to the 30th Anniversary Season at the Sarasota Polo Club beginning Sunday December 13th, 2020 thru Sunday April 25th, 2021. Sunday Polo matches are open to the public every Sunday at 1pm beginning December 13th, 2020 through April 25th, 2021. Gates open at 10am. Fieldside general admission tailgating, reserved midfield premium seating or VIP midfield boxes are available for Sunday Polo. Children 12 and under are free, (general admission tailgating). Exciting polo action, opening parade, live national anthem, theme weeks, half-time entertainment, food, drinks, and divot-stomping. Dress comfortably and for the weather. Remember, you will be walking on the grass. Well socialized dogs are welcome on a leash.

Sarasota Polo Club

[SOON]  DANCE: Sarasota Cuban Ballet School: Black Box Series Live 2021 , December 16 – February 10

Join the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School on December 16, 2020, January 13, 2021 and February 10, 2021 to witness the future in dance and see up close the amazing students of SCBS. 

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: The Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru Experience , January 1 – January 10, Times vary.

Friday, January 1 marks the opening day of the Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru Experience at Tropicana Field. The Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru Experience is the only place to encounter some of the largest dinosaurs to ever roam the earth, and eeriest marine creatures to lurk the ocean's depths, from the safety of your family vehicle. The show features more than 70 true-to-life size dinosaurs and prehistoric marine creatures. The tour will be at Tropicana Field from January 1-10 with shows running every hour. Audio tour is available in both English and Spanish. Show hours are Friday, January 1 from 11am to 8pm, Saturday, January 2 from 9am to 9pm, Sunday, January 3 from 9am to 9pm, Wednesday and Thursday, January 6 and 7 from 1pm to 8pm, Friday, January 8 from 9am to 8pm, Saturday, January 6 from 9am to 9pm, and Sunday, January 10 from 9am to 8pm.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Virtual: The Ringling: Gallery Conversation, New Year's Resolutions , January 5, 1pm

Haven't made those New Year's resolutions yet? It’s time to leave 2020 behind and look at art that can provide motivation for a healthy, happy, and productive 2021 at 1pm on January 5, 2021. $5 / Free for Members.


[SOON]  GALLERY: Center for Architecture: Designing Sarasota an Architectural History , January 12 – April 17, Gallery hours.

In collaboration with the Sarasota Architectural Foundation, the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation and the AIA Gulf Coast Chapter, this exhibit will examine the unique history of architecture in Sarasota from the time of Native Americans to the present and will run from January 12 until April 17, 2021. Timed reservation information will be available soon.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Virtual: Speaking of the Arts with Francisco Serrano , January 12, 1pm

Arts Advocates continues its Speaking of the Arts series with Francisco Serrano, a member of England's Royal Ballet. Serrano will share his star-studded journey from Sarasota to London via New York and Havana, as well as video clips of him performing and rehearsing. "Speaking of the Arts... Meet Francisco Serrano, Artist with England's Royal Ballet” is on January 12, at 1pm and is free via Zoom. Registration, which is limited, is required. Arts Advocates is pleased to offer this Speaking of the Arts program in collaboration with the award-winning Sarasota Cuban Ballet School (SCBS), led by Serrano's parents, Cuban-born Ariel Serrano, artistic director, and Wilmian Hernandez, managing director.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Virtual: Friends of Osprey Junction Trailhead: TreeJuvenation Florida , January 13, 11am-12pm

Join Friends of Osprey Junction Trailhead (FOJT) for their “TreeJuvenation Florida” webinar, a 1-hour workshop on January 13, 2021 from 11am to noon. A grant from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation is underwriting this webinar. We're celebrating Florida Arbor Day by offering a workshop on the importance of trees. By attending this session you’ll learn about and discover the many benefits you and your community derive from trees. These benefits include improved physical and mental wellness, reducing carbon dioxide, lowering temperatures, mitigating heat-island effects, and how trees contribute to cleaner water and cleaner air.  This presentation will answer the many questions you might have about why adding trees to your landscape is important and how they add more life to your yard. 

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe: Ruby , January 6 – February 21, 2pm and 7:30pm

A world-premiere musical by Nate Jacobs and his brother, Michael Jacobs, this dark tale lays bare a shocking true-life crime and its aftermath - when a Black woman murdered a white man in Live Oak, Florida 1952. The crime brought celebrated writer Zora Neale Hurston to town to cover the story for a northern newspaper. This powerful musical, performed from January 6 until February 21, 2021 at 2pm and 7:30pm, explores the secrets just beneath the surface of the genteel exterior of a small Florida town, evoking the themes of today's #MeTooMovement.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, 1012 North Orange Avenue

[SOON]  GALA: Virtual: Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation: The Hospital Gala , January 9, 6:30pm-7:30pm

This year, the spotlight will be on the SMH healthcare heroes. Their commitment and compassion during one of the most challenging years in the hospital’s history has been extraordinary. Proceeds from the gala on January 9, 2021 from 6:30pm to 7:30pm will also support the hospital’s areas of greatest need helping to ensure that SMH retains its ranking as one of the nation’s top hospitals. 

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Selby Gardens: Rainforest Masks of Costa Rica Exhibition and Sale , January 9 – January 31, Museum hours.

For the 15th year, Rainforest Masks of Costa Rica will return to Selby Gardens. A collection of more than 300 masks created by a collective of indigenous Borucan artists will be on display and available for purchase. The Rainforest Masks of Costa Rica exhibit and sale showcases artists from the Borucan Indian tribe of Costa Rica. Experience the vibrant, hand-carved and painted balsa wood masks showcased in the Museum of Botany & the Arts from January 9 to 31, 2021.

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: The Bishop: Science Sprouts , January 10 – April 25, 10:30am-11:30am
We're happy to report that our popular program, Science Sprouts, for budding scientists ages 2-5 will be returning on January 10 from 10:30 to 11:30am on the second and fourth Sunday of each month. January 10 is "A Waddle of Penguins", January 24 is "All About Opposites", February 14 is "Wonderful Wetlands", February 28 is "Burrow Buddies", March 14 is "Prehistoric Pals", March 28 is "Manatee Mischief", April 11 is "Earth Sweet Home" and April 25 is "Beneficial Bees". Tots can bring their favorite grown-ups to explore and discover in the Mosaic Backyard Universe. Cost is $14 per child for members of the Discovery Society and $18 per child for all others. This includes one adult to accompany each child. Advance reservations are required.

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.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. 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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