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SRQ DAILY Feb 5, 2022

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"The need to attract and retain great teachers could not be greater. "

- Jennifer Vigne, Education Foundation of Sarasota County

[Community]  Students: Our Community is Rooting for You
Kirsten Russell

For students taking the next bold step along their journey to a better life, there is no greater source of empowerment than knowing that their community is fully behind them, cheering for and supporting their success. 

I think of students like LaQuisha Garvin, who, during her last couple of semesters, was no longer eligible to receive financial aid and feared she wouldn’t be able to graduate. Amidst these hard times, she applied to the Adult Scholarship Program at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and was awarded enough assistance, in her own words, “to finish and graduate – and I did rock those semesters!” Now, LaQuisha is paying forward that kindness as a Student Support Specialist at a middle school in Manatee County, inspiring a whole other generation of learners to reach for their full potential. 

Another student, Jason Morin, counted on his community to take his next academic steps. Living in foster care during his senior year of high school, Jason considered higher education out of reach. Through encouragement and support from his community, he was introduced to the Community Foundation’s Traditional Scholarship Program and, on the very day the program began accepting applications, he completed his in one sitting. That decision “dramatically transformed” his life, Jason recalls, as he then received support for all four years while obtaining his undergraduate degree, which led to him earning two bachelor’s degrees with honors. He then went on to complete his law degree, pass the bar, and begin his career as a lawyer. He shares that: “It’s hard to believe that from where I was to where I am now, it all started with that leap of faith and the Community Foundation has been right there the entire time.”

LaQuisha and Jason’s stories of perseverance and success were two of included in our digital thank you carddelivered to the inboxes of the many volunteers who make our scholarship opportunities possible (you can hear more about their experiences here). Each year since our scholarship program’s inception in 1988, these caring individuals across Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties change lives as they thoughtfully review hundreds of applications to help determine scholarship recipients. The unique vision, voice and life experience that each volunteer brings are vital in enriching the process, ensuring gifts are made more equitably and with the greatest impact in mind.

Our scholarship program is powered and bettered by these diverse perspectives. I look to how, during the worst moments of the COVID-19 pandemic when the mental health of our students was at an all-time low, committee volunteers elevated festivities through Zoom calls and personalized award notifications. 

And we’re always welcoming our neighbors to be part of this ongoing effort (learn more how you can join on our website). Last year, one-third of our committee members successfully completed their first year of service as volunteers. Without them, the approximately 800 scholarships – totaling more than $2.2 million – would not have found their way as timely and efficiently to our youth and adult students. 

Time and again, students have shared with our team just how supported they felt by the community at every turn on their path to higher education, with meaning far beyond the financial. Their messages remind us that time is one of the greatest gifts that we all have the means to give. We invite you to spend yours in the service of helping students transform their dreams into realities. Become a Scholarship Committee Volunteer.

Kirsten Russell is Vice President of Community Impact at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. 

Image courtesy Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

[Education]  Nourishing Teachers and Schools That Nourish Our Children
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

In our fast-changing world, new and urgent problems seem to arise almost daily, problems that will require creativity, ingenuity and resilience if we are to solve them. Today, as our economy changes, the labor market requires more workers with education beyond high school, be that a two- or four-year college diploma or a high-value certification. More employers in our community need adaptable, curious, lifelong learners.    

Essential to developing students ready to solve pressing problems and step into the jobs of the future is a thriving school district. We are lucky to have a district that has maintained its A rating since 2004, when the current system was launched. We are lucky to have so many amazing teachers.

Our best teachers nurture curiosity and instill in their students an expansive mindset, illuminating opportunities while helping young people find their purpose. Purpose is essential because without it, students progress along their K – 12 journeys unintentionally. Too many graduate without a plan.

As a mother of three, I have seen how teachers have inspired my own children, how they have challenged them—and how they have cared for them. This final point can’t be overstated. Caring teachers, especially during challenging times, provide invaluable support and assurance. Their kindness ripples outward, promoting a more compassionate community.

Teachers play a pivotal role in developing our next generation of innovators and creators—developing the young people who will keep our community thriving. So do the schools themselves. And again, we’re lucky to live in Sarasota County, where schools have so much to offer students. 

Music and choir rooms, aqua domes, computer labs, science labs, gardens, theaters, sports facilities, media centers, JROTC centers, art spaces: schools across Sarasota County afford our young people countless opportunities to discover their passions. They provide places for students to try, to succeed, even to fail. In failure, after all, there is discovery.

Our best schools are places where students can find a purpose and where they can access technology, experiential learning, and a vibrant, diverse community, all key ingredients in preparing young people for the 21st century.

As the president and CEO of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, I have a unique view of our school district and get to see every day the power of exceptional educators. I get to visit amazing facilities where our students can glimpse into the future and imagine possible pathways after their high school graduation.

Creating and sustaining an A-rated school district is no easy task and building the district and innovating education to keep pace with our changing world will require a collective, sustained effort. Our district, like districts across the country, faces great challenges.

The need to attract and retain great teachers could not be greater. The need to provide hands-on, inquiry-based learning experiences and new technologies to captivate young minds could not be greater. The need to make opportunities more accessible could not be greater. The health of our community and our country depends upon it.

Great teachers and schools nourish our students. They help them find purpose and discover new pathways—and they help prepare them for success. It is incumbent upon us that we nourish our teachers and our schools too.

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

Image courtesy Pixabay

[Podcast]  In Conversation | Perspectives in Medicine Podcast

SRQ MEDIA is thrilled to announce the launch of our first video podcast: In Conversation | Perspectives in Medicine!

In our first episode, we sit down with Dr. Avantika Mishra, MD of Florida Digestive Health Specialists to talk about the latest trends in health and wellness.

Click here to watch or listen! 

[SOON]  HEALTH: Selby Gardens: Sunset Sound Meditation at the Point February , February 6 – February 27, 4pm-5pm

Discover sound meditation while surrounded by the beauty of Little Sarasota Bay. Sound frequencies and vibrations facilitate relaxation and mental health. A certified sound therapist will be your guide in HSP’s tranquil Sunken Gardens. Wear comfortable clothes and lightweight shoes; bring water and a towel for the final stretch. Open to all age/fitness levels. General admission to HSP included. Please check-in 15 minutes before for your class at the Welcome Gazebo. Sunset Sound Meditation will take place on Sundays from 4pm to 5pm: February 6, 13, 20, and 27. Class fee: Members $50 / Non-members $65. Class Size: 30 Students. Instructor: Lucy Tight.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Crowley Museum and Nature Center: Myakka River Rendezvous , February 4 – February 6, 9am-4pm

Bring the family to Crowley Museum and Nature Center for the Myakka River Rendezvous on February 4 to 6, 2022 from 9am to 4pm at 16405 Myakka Road. Experience Florida pioneer life with living history demonstrations, food vendors, blacksmithing, Black Powder demonstrations, and Old Tyme Games. Tickets are $10 for Adults and $5 for children 3-17. Children under 3 attend for free. Parking is free for all attendees. Crowley Museum and Nature Center is a non-profit nature and pioneer history center located on 1900 acres of native land adjacent to the Myakka River.  The center is a wildlife sanctuary and education center where visitors can learn about the fauna and flora of Old Florida. The history area allows visitors to see how the pioneers of the 19th century lived. 

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sarasota Concert Association: The Russian National Orchestra with pianist Alexander Malofeev , February 8, 7:30pm

The Russian National Orchestra with pianist Alexander Malofeev will perform on Tuesday, February 8 at 7:30pm at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Ukrainian conductor Kirill Karabits leads the Orchestra in Beethoven’s Overture to Fidelio and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5. Nineteen-year-old piano sensation Alexander Malofeev will join the Orchestra for Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sarasota Orchestra: Great Escapes: Be Mine , February 9 – February 13, 5:30pm, 7:30pm, 8pm and 4pm

Love is in the air as highly acclaimed pops conductor Sarah Hicks leads a Valentine's Day program for all on Wednesday, February 9 at 5:30pm, Thursday, February 10 at 7:30pm, Friday, February 11 at 5:30pm, Saturday, February 12 at 8pm, and Sunday, February 13 at 4pm at Holley Hall. Celebrate love's sweetness with music from Gone with the Wind, La Dolce Vita and more.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Florida Studio Theatre: Laughing Matters , February 9 – June 19, Varies.

Laughing Matters, FST’s hit musical sketch comedy show, is back for round six! And this time, nothing and no one is safe from a good-spirited roast. From never-ending Sarasota construction and the perpetual hunt for downtown parking to Mother Nature’s increasingly wild mood swings and our endless quest to stay young, Laughing Matters delivers fast-paced comedy inspired by the culture and politics of today. Laughing Matters, by head writer Rebecca Hopkins with contributing writers Kevin Allen, Sarah Durham, Stephan deGhelder, and Jim Prosser, will play beginning February 9, 2022 through June 19, 2022 in FST's Court Cabaret.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Asolo Repertory Theatre: The Great Leap , February 9 – February 16, Varies.

Born in the United States but inextricably tied to far off and forbidden China, Manford Lum finds his home on the basketball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown. As fast-talking as he is athletically skilled, Lum wisecracks and dazzles his way onto a college team headed for a 'friendly' exhibition game in Beijing. As the story bounces between 1989 and 1971, past relationships collide with present day revelations right up to the final buzzer. Smart, feisty, and hilarious,  The Great Leap is about family, history, and learning that every game is a second chance. Contains mature language. Recommended for age 16+. The Great Leap will show February 9–April 2, 2022.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Van Wezel: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul , February 9, 8pm

Musician, vocalist and composer Damien Sneed toured with Aretha Franklin, developing a strong mentee relationship with the soul legend. In A TRIBUTE TO ARETHA FRANKLIN: THE QUEEN OF SOUL, Sneed pays homage to the icon with fresh renditions of the beloved hits including “Respect,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Think,” “Until You Come Back To Me,” “Daydreaming,” “Natural Woman” and more. Featuring an all-star cast of jazz, gospel and soul musicians and vocalists, Sneed’s multi-media tribute will honor the life of an iconic industry titan on February 9 at 8pm. Four-time Grammy® winner, gospel music legend and multiple Stellar and GMA Dove Award winner Karen Clark Sheard joins the tour with her signature, multi-octave vocal range.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sarasota Concert Association: Music Matinees: Sun-Young Gemma Shin and Avis Romm , February 9, 1pm

A longstanding community outreach program, Music Matinees feature accomplished area-based musicians who perform an array of musical styles. Concerts take place on Wednesdays from noon to 1 pm in David Cohen Hall, Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center. Sun-Young Gemma Shin, violin, and Avis Romm, piano will take place on February 9. Dr. Shin is an internationally sought-after performer on both baroque and modern violin as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra leader. She is the concertmaster of the Chamber Orchestra of Sarasota. Avis Romm dazzles audiences as a soloist, chamber musician, and collaborative pianist. She has worked extensively with the Sarasota Opera, both as a musical/vocal coach and pianist/conductor and she performs regularly with internationally renowned soloists.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Van Wezel: Reza: Edge of Illusion , February 10, 7pm

REZA has taken the art of illusion to a new level, delivering his rock concert style magic show to audiences across the globe. Young and fresh, Reza's new show, Edge of Illusion, has earned various awards including “Magician of the Year.” Don’t miss this Sarasota premiere — LIVE on the Van Wezel stage. A world-class entertainer, Reza's unique brand of illusion has landed him on popular reality shows across 31 countries, including recent US TV appearances on A&E’s Duck Dynasty and The CW’s Penn & Teller: Fool Us. Audiences can expect to witness such mega illusions as passing through the spinning blades of an industrial fan, a record-breaking recreation of Houdini’s most famous stunt and the appearance of a real helicopter, live on stage on February 10 at 7pm. More than a magic show, Reza infuses state of the art production elements, masterful comedic timing and numerous interactive and inspirational moments, allowing the audience to experience the magic first hand.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: The Ringling: ROAR! , February 10 – April 29, 2:30pm and 10:30am

ROAR! is The Ringling's free storytime program that connects art with early literacy. Every week we read together, make art, and learn about an object in the museum. This program is designed for preschoolers and toddlers, but all ages are welcome. ROAR! will take place from February 10, 2022 to April 29, 2022 at 2:30pm and 10:30am in the Museum of Art.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Thunder By The Bay Rocks The Runway Fashion Show , February 10, 6pm-9pm

On Thursday, February 10 the Thunder By The Bay "Rocks The Runway" Fashion Show will take place at the Sarasota Yacht Club from 6pm to 9pm. Special guest models from the local community will be wearing fashions provided by Rossiter's Harley-Davidson and Darci located downtown Sarasota. We will be raffling off two $500 shopping sprees and a Thunder By The Bay Festival VIP Weekend Experience Basket. Tickets are $125 per person and include: Full Open Bar, Hors D'Oeuvres Stations. All Ticket Proceeds Benefit: Suncoast Charities for Children. 

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: American Littoral Society: Eco-Tours Aboard the Carefree Learner , February 10 – April 14, 1pm-3pm

Enjoy wildlife and a hands on experience around Sarasota Bay from 1pm to 3pm. Departing from Bayfront Park near the LeBarge. Cost: Adults $20, Members $15, Children 10 and under $10. For reservations for February 10, March 3, March 24 and April 7 call John 941-966-7308. For reservations for February 24, March 10, March 31 and April 14 call Linda 607-423-9027.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Chef Paul Mattison's 1st Wine Dinner of the New Year , February 11, 6:30pm

Join St. Supéry Estate Vineyards Regional Director, Elizabeth Parenteau and Chef Paul Mattison on Friday, February 11th at 6:30pm as they present an exclusive 5-course wine pairing dinner featuring the 100% Sustainable, 100% Estate, and 100% Napa Green Certified wines of the St. Supéry portfolio. The event will be held at Mattison’s Forty-One in their private event space, The Galleria. Reservations are required. Call 941-921-3400 to reserve your seat for this special event. Perfectly paired and perfectly timed for Valentine’s Day. Make it a special Valentine’s Day for you and your special someone.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Van Wezel: Audra McDonald , February 11, 8pm

Audra McDonald is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry as both a singer and an actor. The winner of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, and an Emmy Award, she received a 2015 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama and was also named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people that year. Tony-winning performances include Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill — which served as the vehicle for her Olivier-nominated 2017 West End debut. This performance will take place on Friday, February 11 at 8pm.  

[SOON]  SEMINAR: The Hermitage Artist Retreat: Pen to Paper with Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Paula Vogel , February 11, 5pm

“Pen to Paper with Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Paula Vogel” A “Hermitage @ Booker” program is Presented in Partnership with Booker High School and Florida Studio Theatre. It will take place on Friday, February 11 at 5pm at Booker High School, outdoor courtyard (Entrance at: Building 1, 3201 N Orange Ave.) Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, American Theater Hall of Fame Honoree, and Hermitage Fellow Paula Vogel offers an exploration of playwriting in which Paula and members of the audience will write a short play and work on writing exercises together. Culminating in an event Vogel lovingly calls a “bake-off” in which writers create and design a short play, there are no critiques during the workshop; rather, all writing prompts are seen as gifts to everyone in the room. No knowledge of theater or playwriting required – just an open mind and a willingness to explore the theatrical voice.

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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