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SRQ DAILY Jun 4, 2022

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"It's difficult, if not impossible, to discuss ideas that lead to productive change when invested parties are on either side of a widening chasm and shouting accusations at each other. "

- Jennifer Vigne, Education Foundation of Sarasota County

[Education]  When the status quo stops working, recreate it
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

Hard as it is to believe, many Americans in the early 1900s viewed automobiles suspiciously. After all, those new contraptions were no match for horses.

It can take major disruptions to alter entrenched perspectives, but necessity is a powerful change agent. 

This was the case in San Francisco in 1906 when a magnitude 7.9 earthquake and subsequent fire devastated the city. With horses injured or unwilling to venture down cracked streets lined with burning buildings, the power of automobiles to reach injured people—to help save lives—came into focus. Views changed. 

It's an old story: Innovators and early adopters of change sometimes face ridicule, or worse. Yet, as we know well, history tends to vindicate—even celebrate—the nimble thinkers, risk takers and dreamers.   

Two-plus years into a pandemic, our nation has been jolted by the stark realization the pandemic didn’t cause seismic shifts in our culture and demographics so much as reveal widespread underlying fault lines occurring, albeit less visibly, over a generation or longer. No segment of our society is more sensitive to or reflective of these fast-moving changes than education. 

Just as people must embrace agility and adaptability to succeed in a landscape that seems to shift at whiplash speed, so must the larger systems that support our society. 

That includes K-12 education, which presents a pressing need for an innovative that is model-focused, yet flexible, to effectively and productively manage today’s serious challenges. 

We face a mental health crisis among K-12 students. We face persistent achievement gaps. We face a teacher shortage. (A January 2022 poll by the National Education Association finds 55% of teachers intend to leave the profession earlier than they planned.) 

We face a changing economy that requires young people to graduate with new skill sets and ways of thinking. We face shifting perceptions that sometimes lead to contentious debates over institutional authority versus individual rights in educational settings.

Today, the traditional status quo isn’t working. 

Needed are innovative thinkers willing to take risks and symbolically drive down unhospitable streets to reach struggling students and teachers, families and school leaders.  

One avenue to initiate necessary change is the education foundation model, which connects innovative thought leaders, invested stakeholders and philanthropists, and school districts to support students and teachers—and to test new ideas, innovate education and take risks. 

I see innovation in action through my roles as president and CEO of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and as membership chair of the Florida Consortium of Education Foundations. The most effective foundations have the ability to power innovation and address urgent needs so students and teachers can thrive. 

One of our state’s education foundations did trail-blazing work to close the literacy gap between elementary school girls and boys. Abandoning a one-size-fits-all approach, educators adopted different strategies in teaching boys and girls. The successful pilot program now reaches 10 schools. 

In Sarasota County, the Education Foundation, recognizing the urgent need to prepare high school students for college, career and life, in 2018 collaborated to open our first two Student Success Centers. Since then, we’ve opened three more. The yearly increases in visitors at the centers and the level of preparedness with which many underserved students graduate is a testament to our innovative solution to an issue of access and a need to foster relationships that make a difference.   

Education foundations understand the challenges that face local school districts and communities without losing sight of nationwide issues. They can mobilize quickly and test new ideas. Sometimes these tests don’t go as expected, but much innovation has sprung from so-called failed ideas. 

Unfortunately, as demands of some groups and individuals grow louder and more vitriolic, the pressing needs and valid core reasons for change can be drowned out. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to discuss ideas that lead to productive change when invested parties are on either side of a widening chasm and shouting accusations at each other. 

To bring about extensive innovation and change, all participants need a forum where ideas can be presented, challenges and barriers can be identified, and solutions can be devised in a respectful environment. 

I’m not naive enough to believe that any single organization can find the perfect solution to the confrontational atmosphere that has developed in education, but I am convinced we can achieve more productive change if we join in unity to improve the educational model, as opposed to tearing down people who work every day in education. 

In the automobile industry, hybrid and electric vehicles are helping to address fuel and climate crises. Skeptics scoff, just as in 1906 right before the ground began to shake in San Francisco. Yet, new ideas continue to emerge that create solutions and hope. I have faith in the power of education innovators to catalyze change and create solutions that best meet the needs of students and teachers. 

To our neighbors, friends and all community members who believe in the power of innovation and recognize the dynamic effect when innovation and education intersect: We are looking for people who want to make productive change. If that describes you, we invite you to contact us. 

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

[Community]  Speed of Trust
Kirsten Russell

Most leaders know of Stephen Covey’s maxim that “change happens at the speed of trust.” The award-winning author wrote the book titled “Speed of Trust” to help transform business teams. Much of that best-selling book positions trust improvements with cost savings. In my experience, however, trust gained in small groups of social networks not only improves savings but also helps develop long-term stability through access to higher incomes and individual agency.

For more than a decade, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has been building trust among small cohorts of parents to improve the lives of their children and grandchildren. We strive to help children by supporting adults in their lives, enriching our entire community. Through intentional partnerships among local preschools, public schools, nonprofit organizations, parents and state colleges, we are seeing measurable growth in credential attainment, increased wages and household incomes and a reduction in poverty rates. This is the core of our 2Gen approach and the foundation’s impact strategy.  

I recently had the honor to share successes from our community foundation’s focus on parents as students at the statewide Florida College Access Network Summit, an initiative to increase postsecondary completion rates in Florida. Two important partners joined me to share their stories: Mary Tucker, parent education navigator at Alta Vista Elementary School and Rokia Ramos, the parent of Alta Vista students who recently completed her LPN. Their perspective deepened the audiences’ understanding of the unique needs of student parents, a demographic that most post-secondary programs are just beginning to recognize.

We were invited to share these stories because our intentional focus on parents as students has shown concrete results and since 2013: 

• Some 80% of adults we work with completed their college programs

• Of those, 85% received wage increases

• The average annual wage increase has been $7,100

This work didn’t happen through any one individual organization or program. With local 2Gen partners such as the Women’s Resource Center, Horizon’s Unlimited Preschool, Sarasota County Schools, Literacy Council of Sarasota County, UnidosNow and State College of Florida, parents are receiving holistic support that benefits them, their children and, ultimately, our community overall. 

One unmeasurable, but critical component of this success was built from within the group of parents we have gotten to know. Now known as the “Parent Advisory Council,” trusted bonds have been built by this group of mothers sharing challenges of being a parent, achievements of academic success and questions about how to continue moving forward with huge life changes. 

This is vital to enhancing our community; when parents possess the agency and social capital that allow them to move through the world with more confidence, their children reap the reward of access to sustaining success. Through these parents, the work of the Community Foundation is being improved as well; Several parents take part in reviewing grant applications, offering insights about how the work of our nonprofit partners can make a difference in the lives of their families and neighborhoods.

None of this happens without trust. The trust built among parents seeking a better life for themselves and their children, along with the trust built in these different relationships between people and organizations help bring about a better tomorrow.

So, while Stephen Covey is focused on quarterly improvements to profit and loss statements – all very important goals – our speed of trust is taking a longer-view of building trust to change the trajectory of individual lives, families, and our community.

Kirsten Russell is vice president of Community Impact for the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.


[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Sarasota Opera to Host National Finals of Schmidt Vocal Competition , June 3 – June 5, Varies.

Sarasota Opera is pleased to host the finals for Schmidt Vocal Arts (SVA) national Schmidt Vocal Competition at Sarasota Opera House June 3-5, 2022. The top three winners from each of 13 regional competitions will compete for the first national prize in the competition’s 25-year history. Seven Floridians have qualified after competing in four different regional locations. Distinguished judges for this competition are bass-baritone Eric Owens, Sarasota Opera General Director Richard Russell, and soprano Tamara Wilson. There will also be an alumni concert on June 4 that will feature SVA alumni Virginia Mims (from West Palm Beach, FL) and Aaron Crouch with pianist Brent Funderburk. Tickets are available to various events of the Schmidt Vocal Competition on June 4 for $15 (Students: $10) and on June 5 for $25 (Students: $10) at SarasotaOpera.org or (941) 328-1300. Sarasota Opera is a participant in #SafeArtsSarasota and will be following appropriate health and safety guidelines. At the present time the wearing of a N95, KN95, or KF94 mask is recommended when attending events at the Sarasota Opera House. Health and Safety guidelines will be adjusted should conditions change. Visit SarasotaOpera.org for more information.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Hermitage to Launch Ruby E. Crosby Alumni Music Initiative with Soulful Strings: An Evening of Harp Music featuring Celebrated Harpist Ashley Jackson , June 7, 8pm

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce the launch of the new Ruby E. Crosby Alumni Music Series at the Hermitage. The premiere event, "Soulful Strings: An Evening of Harp Music,” will be presented on Tuesday, June 7 at 8pm at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, featuring acclaimed harpist and returning Hermitage Fellow Ashley Jackson. The outdoor event is free and open to the public with a $5/person registration fee.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Urbanite Theatre: Athena , June 10 – July 10, Varies.

Athena by Gracie Gardner Directed by Summer Wallace will run from June 10 to July 10, 2022. Mary Wallace and Athena are brave young fencers training for the Junior Olympics. They practice together, they compete against each other, they spend their lives together. They just wish they were friends.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Circus Arts Conservatory & The Ringling: Summer Circus Spectacular , June 10 – August 13, Varies.

Circus fans of all ages, from near and far, can beat the heat at reasonable prices while experiencing the best of the circus arts. Some of the circus world’s most exciting acts have signed on for the annual show - a longtime partnership of the Circus Arts Academy and The Ringling - with performances presented over nine weeks this summer. The lineup for the Summer Circus Spectacular includes a wide range of acts, including duo lyra, adagio, hand balancing/contortion, rolla bolla, and more. Show times are 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Tickets are $18/adults, $12/children 12 and under. To complete their circus experience, Summer Circus Spectacular patrons can enjoy access to the Circus Museum on the day they attend a show for just an additional $5 – an incredible value for a full day’s entertainment. Go to Ringling.org or call the Box Office at 941-360-7399.

Historic Asolo Theater at The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Selby Gardens: Seeing the Invisible , September 25 – August 31, 10am-5pm

The most ambitious and expansive exhibition to date of contemporary artworks created with augmented reality (AR) technology will premiere at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, opening on September 25, 2021 and ongoing through August 31 2022, as one of 12 participating gardens across six countries. Seeing the Invisible features works by more than a dozen international artists such as Ai Weiwei, Refik Anadol, El Anatsui, Isaac Julien CBE, Mohammed Kazem, Sigalit Landau, Sarah Meyohas, Pamela Rosenkranz, and Timur Si-Qin—including several artists’ first work in AR. Visitors will engage with Seeing the Invisible via an app designed for the exhibition downloadable to smartphones and tablets. Forging new links between botanical gardens located in diverse biomes around the globe, the exhibition fosters collaboration between institutions, artists, and audiences, highlighting the power of art to connect people around the world.

[SOON]  GALLERY: As long as there is sun, as long as there is light: Selections from the Bring Gift and The Ringling Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art , November 21 – August 13, Museum hours.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is pleased to announce the opening of As long as there is sun, as long as there is light. Selections from the Bring Gift and The Ringling Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. The exhibition will run Nov. 21, 2021 – Aug. 13, 2023, in the museum’s Searing Wing. In 2020, The Ringling received a significant gift of art from Murray Bring and Kay Delaney Bring, in support of the modern and contemporary collection. Highlights from the gift include an important minimalist work by Anne Truitt and a monumental work on canvas by Gene Davis, both artists affiliated with the Washington Color School, an art movement during the 1950s to 1970s in Washington D.C., made up of abstract expressionist artists Additional works in the gift represent a generation of prominent artists who work, or have worked, in abstraction, including Clement Meadmore, Jules Olitski, Beverly Pepper, Rebecca Salter, Kenneth Snelson, and Yuriko Yamaguchi, among others. Also on view are sculptures and paintings by distinguished African American and Latin American artists from The Ringling collection, including William Edmondson, Eduardo Mac Entyre, Omar Rayo, Baruj Salinas, and Joyce de Guatemala.  

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Farmers' Market at Lakewood Ranch , January 2 – December 25, 10am-2pm

The Farmers’ Market at Lakewood Ranch is home to more than 90 curated vendors of the region’s best food and flavors, located at Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch. It takes place every Sunday from 10am to 2pm at Waterside Place. It’s your weekend destination for organic produce, meat, poultry, seafood, bread, pasta, juices and prepared foods. Stay up to date on vendors and events by visiting TheMarketLWR.com.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sarasota Art Museum: Jazz Thursdays , January 13 – January 12, 5:30pm-8:30pm

Jazz Thursdays at Sarasota Art Museum will runs through January 12, 2023 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. FREE for Members, $20 for Not-Yet Members. Sarasota Art Museum invites you to be our guest at our first Jazz Thursday at SAM, featuring Hot Club of SRQ. Sarasota Art Museum is partnering with the Jazz Club of Sarasota for Jazz Thursdays. Join us for our special late-night performances on the Marcy & Michael Klein Plaza. Jazz Thursdays will occur on the second Thursday of each month until January 12, 2023. Galleries + Bistro + Shop will be open.

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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