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SRQ DAILY Jul 3, 2021

"Our illustrious Founding Fathers John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson shared the idea that an educated citizenry and successful republic were inseparably connected."

- Jennifer Vigne, Education Foundation of Sarasota County

[Community]  Success, Fulfillment and Futures On the Summer Syllabus
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

Following a year of tremendous changes, the school district and nonprofits across our region are rallying for student success on a truly collaborative scale. The timing and urgency couldn’t be more pronounced. We’re seeing longstanding efforts and new partners take significant leadership in helping fill gaps – be it gaps in achievement or children’s needs – and ensure hard-earned gains are sustained into the summer months and beyond.

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has a longstanding commitment to ensure that this wrap-around support engages our youngest learners and families through a two-generation (2Gen) lens. For nearly a decade, thanks to the trust of donors we work with, we have invested in programs that prepare new students to enter the classroom and mitigate learning loss for returning ones, which includes our work with Summer Learning Academies and Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. In the face of a global pandemic, however, the student learning environment has drastically changed and along with it, new possibilities have emerged.

Earlier this spring, we brought together 17 local leaders representing cause-driven nonprofits, the Sarasota County School District, libraries, and other philanthropic foundations with the goal of crafting collaborative strategies for summer learning. What transpired was brainstorming and problem solving at its finest. Youth-supporting organizations shared strategies for safely approaching future stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, cultural institutions provided the framework for arts-integrated curriculums, and the libraries supplemented the conversation with resources aplenty.

So inspired by these ideas and the potential for long-lasting partnership behind them, our foundation is investing $240,000 through the Allen Wirtz Nobbe and Jo Bowen Nobbe Fund, Advanced Leadership Initiative Fund and six other funds, each established with the generosity of donors who recognized the importance of education and all its facets. Funding will be disbursed among eight collaborative programs being offered to students, families and teachers this summer, complementing the school district’s programmatic work, during a shortened yet crucial seasonal break.

Here are some high-level snapshots of the possibilities being realized across our region:

  • Summer Reading & Exploration. With a focus on students grades K-4, SOAR Learning Center is implementing a Family Literacy Program that encourages parents – aided by a Parent Facilitator – to be engaged members in their children’s reading habits. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast will build on its successful mentoring model by intentionally working with students who have been identified by their teachers as needing extra support in reading. In addition to providing books to 3rd graders enrolled in summer learning, funding for Sarasota County Schools will enable teachers to offer experiential education to students of all ages through EdExploreSRQ during months when it hasn’t traditionally operated.
  • Youth Development & Academic Enrichment. As part of its Great Futures Academy, Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties will serve 600 children across six locations, with each learner receiving at least four hours of academics with social emotional learning and physical activity. Alongside J5 Experience’s Academic Boot Camp and Girls Inc.’s Support a Girl Summer Program, these youth-supporting organizations will empower hundreds of students in only three months.
  • Teacher & Parent Support. In a full-day, virtual training with local teachers and school staff, The Florida Center for Early Childhood invited experts to share insights into understanding and assisting early childhood brain development and mental health, an all-too-important topic given the context of the last year. As a long-term partner in our foundation’s 2Gen parent success strategy, the Women’s Resource Center’s parent support program – aligning resources with the whole family in mind – rounds out these undertakings.

Program by program, child by child, these partners are reinventing how to realize student success beyond the pages of a textbook or walls of a classroom. I think we can agree that should be part of everyone’s summer syllabus.

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

Photo courtesy Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties.

[Education]  Education and the Foundation of a Republic
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

Let me explain how these relevant dates are linked in the stories of our nation and community.

July 4, 1776
April 23, 1635
July 22, 2021

The first date, of course, marks 245 years ago when our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence, signifying the start of what would become our cherished nation.

The second date represents a key reason America often is called the “Land of Opportunity”: It’s the day the first public school opened in the then-colony of Massachusetts— 141 years before the Declaration of Independence.

Schools quickly became such an essential part of communities that by July 4, 1776, our illustrious Founding Fathers John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson shared the idea that an educated citizenry and successful republic were inseparably connected.

And the third date? On July 22, 2021, the state Department of Education will pay tribute to those dedicated individuals who “educate the citizenry” by naming Florida’s 2022 Teacher of the Year at a special event in Orlando.

Our community will be well represented in Orlando by our own Kari Johnson, kindergarten teacher at Fruitville Elementary School and Sarasota County School District 2021 Teacher of the Year. Kari was selected to be one of just five finalists from around the state who will participate for the state honor.

Kari is the personification of the ideal teacher we have in mind when we say, “That is a really good teacher.” 

I’ve had the joy and privilege of getting to know Kari and witness as she continues to refine her craft and take advantage of opportunities to grow professionally while preparing herself for the statewide spotlight.

While she proudly and skillfully represents not just fellow teachers but also students and families of Sarasota County, Kari admits to feeling more at home in the kindergarten classroom where she has taught for 15 years. It’s the only job she ever wanted, and “mom away from home” is her favorite way to be known.

Kindergarten has changed a lot since Kari’s early days as a teacher. Then, the highlights of a kindergartener’s day were nap time, lunch time and recess. Now the emphasis is on preparing students to read proficiently in first grade and learn how to get along with others.

Kari recognizes that kindergarten is the beginning rung in the ladder a student climbs toward graduation, and she plays a key role in the shared mission of helping each student succeed. She does what it takes to make her kindergarten classroom a happy place, and her fondest wish is that everyone could see the world through a kindergartener’s eyes.

She is so good at what she does and how she does it that her principal takes new teachers to observe her classroom and student management. 

I think all of us of any age and profession could benefit by noting Kari’s skills and characteristics. Her teaching style is relationship-based and focuses on the individual. She makes each student feel valued and important and meets them where they are in their individual progress.

At the same time, Kari takes inspiration from her students, comforts them when they have meltdowns, and laughs with them at their often-humorous observations.

After all the accolades, Kari maintains her gratitude at being able to flourish in her dream job and continue honing her skills and characteristics.

Please join us in sending the full, united support of our community behind Kari as she goes to Orlando on July 22 as one of five finalists for Florida 2022 Teacher of the Year. She is representing not just Sarasota County Schools and fellow teachers but also the students and families and community at large that she serves with distinction.

Congratulations, Kari! We are proud of you.

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

Photo courtesy Education Foundation of Sarasota County: Kari Johnson.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Discover Sarasota: Circus Secrets Of Sarasota , January 1 – December 31

Learn about the rich circus history of Sarasota on an unforgettable trolley or van tour. Pass by key city landmarks as our informative and passionate tour guide, Bob Collins, tells stories about the colorful cast of circus characters, showmen, and performers who called Sarasota home. Meander through historic neighborhoods such as the Rosemary District, known for its vibrant food and art scene. Learn about the rich history of the Ringling brothers, the five brothers who owned and operated the circus renowned as the “Greatest Show on Earth.” Pass by the 21-gallery museum John Ringling constructed to house his extensive artwork collection, which opened to the public in 1931. Explore several other locations intimately involved in Sarasota’s circus history, including Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Circus Arts Conservatory, and the Circus Ring of Fame on St. Armands Circle. This 90-minute trolley or van tour is perfect for all ages and shows you a whole new side of Sarasota. Get ready for a fun-filled circus adventure during this show on wheels. It’s an illuminating experience you don’t want to miss. Tours with fewer than 10 guests will travel in our comfortably air-conditioned high-top van. Tour tickets are $34.99 and include FREE Parking.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Virtual: The Ringling: Private Lectures presented by Dr. David Berry , April 13 – December 31

David Berry, Associate Director of Academic Affairs and Special Projects, is one of Sarasota’s favorite lecturers. His dry sense of humor and wealth of knowledge is sure to both entertain and educate your group. Dr. Berry is available to speak on any of the following subjects: The origins of museums, museum architecture and display, The Victorian museum, early museums in America, museums, education, and community engagement, great women collectors, the illicit trafficking of cultural property, world fairs, an introduction to natural history, great illustrated natural history books, natural history and children’s literature, scientific illustration, natural history specimens, natural history collections, art and medicine, the art of anatomy, the art of astronomy and microscopy, the art of geology and paleontology (including dinosaurs), botanical and zoological art, botanical and zoological gardens, the golden age of botanical exploration, the orchid craze in Victorian Britain, and Japanese garden design and horticultural practices (ikebana and bonsai). $100 flat fee; must be scheduled at least 3 weeks in advance, $250 for custom topics; must be scheduled at least 6 weeks in advance. Lectures include a single-speaker, slide illustrated lecture. All programs are hosted via Zoom. For additional information, or to book a virtual program, contact Laura Steefel-Moore, Head of Educational Programs, at laura.steefel-moore@ringling.org.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Arlington Park & Aquatic Complex: Summer Swim Lessons, Programming & Extended Hours , May 8 – August 31

The City of Sarasota Parks & Recreation District is increasing the accessibility and enjoyment of swimming at the Arlington Park & Aquatic Complex. From lessons, to extended hours, they have your swimming needs covered. Learn to Swim: This program provides a positive, fun-filled opportunity for youth to learn abilities that will help reduce the number of water accidents and provide lifelong skills in swimming. Swim lessons are geared toward youth ages 6 months to 12 years. Participants will be divided into classes based on their abilities and ages. Sessions offer eight lessons for a registration fee of $65. Parent & Me classes are offered in a four-week session consisting of four lessons on Saturday mornings for $35. Adding to Arlington Park & Aquatic Complex’s Aquatic Programming is the Aqua Blast Class. Join us every Tuesday and Thursday for a steady paced cardio exercises mixed with weights and resistance training. This new class is a great way to burn calories just before lunch time. Non-swimmers welcomed, as this class is in our 3-foot Water Instructional Pool. Tuesdays and Thursdays starting May 11 from 10am to 10:45am. Ages 18 and up are welcome, and classes are $3 each. Purchase a 5-Class Pack for $55. Registration Deadline: Mondays prior to Tuesday class and Wednesday prior to Thursday class. Call 941-263-6732 or register on eTrak: https://www.letsplaysarasota.com/program-guide/online-registration/how-to-register. Starting May 8 Arlington Park & Aquatic Complex will be open on Saturdays. Reservations are available on the hour between 11am and 4pm. The high diving board is closed, but the low diving board will be available. Reservations for Saturday swim are now available on eTrak: https://www.letsplaysarasota.com/program-guide/online-registration/how-to-register.

[SOON]  DANCE: Sarasota Contemporary Dance: In The Round , May 28 – July 17, 7pm

In The Round is an opportunity for emerging choreographers from Sarasota Contemporary Dance members and selected choreographers chosen by SCD’s Artistic Staff to set a work in progress during the Sarasota Contemporary Dance Summer Intensive. The choreographers are given feedback during the performance from audience members using the Liz Lerman Critical Response Process (CRP). Each In the Round will be its own unique experience, offering works choreographed on SCD summer participants by a variety of emerging choreographers and SCD Company dancers. In-Person Dates: May 28, June 25 & July 16 at 7pm. Masks are required. Seating is limited at half capacity. Please book in advance to secure a spot. Tickets are $20. Ticket purchases close 30 minutes before the show. Virtual Dates: May 29, June 26 & July 17, 7pm Virtual Broadcast Recording. Tickets are Choose what you pay, $5, $10, $15. Ticket purchases close 30 minutes before the show.

[SOON]  THEATER: Florida Studio Theatre Improv: Life's A Beach , June 5 – July 31, 7:30pm

Florida Studio Theatre (FST)’s resident improv team, FST Improv, returns to the Bowne’s Lab stage with one the troupe’s most popular shows, Life’s a Beach. Drawing inspiration from audience suggestions, FST Improv’s cast members create scenes and musical numbers that celebrate—and poke fun at—all things Sarasota. Beginning June 5, FST Improv will perform Life’s a Beach every Saturday at 7:30pm in FST’s Bowne’s Lab. Doors open one hour before show time. A full food and drink menu is available for pre-show dining. Tickets are now on sale at 941-366-9000 or floridastudiotheatre.org. After performing for live, limited capacity audiences this spring in FST’s Mainstage Keating Theatre, FST Improv will now return to its home theatre, FST’s Bowne’s Lab. Lampooning and celebrating this piece of paradise loved by so many are FST Improv members Kevin Allen, Sarah Durham, Kyle Van Frank, and Will Luera. ​These quick-thinking performers will also be joined onstage by one of two musical improvisers, Sergei Glushonkov and Michelle Neal. From the annual snowbird migration and never-ending construction to pervasive roundabout confusion and elusive downtown parking, nothing is safe from a good-spirited tease.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Sarasota Orchestra: Celebrate the Sounds of Summer , June 10 – July 24

Wear and share your love of Sarasota Orchestra. During the months of June and July, the beautiful music of Sarasota Music Festival and Summer Music Camp fill the air. By purchasing a limited edition T-shirt by July 24, you make it possible for Sarasota Orchestra’s mission to shine through programs like these and provide our musicians with the ability to enrich the community during all four seasons of the year. Help us celebrate the Sounds of Summer by wearing and sharing your love of Sarasota Orchestra with your friends. Thank you for your support of these wonderful programs. T-shirts purchased before June 26 will ship in mid-July. T-shirts purchased from June 27 through July 24 will ship in mid-August.

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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