Freedom and Responsibility

Guest Correspondence

Image courtesy Pixabay

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless, yet be determined to make them otherwise.”

Such is a paradox — two things that appear to be opposites yet are inextricably linked. Can you have light without darkness, for example?

The United States of America was founded on the principle of freedom, and a paradox of freedom of responsibility. This means that freedom and responsibility co-exist, and you can’t have one without the other. It is not an either/or proposition. You cannot declare and enjoy the benefits of your freedoms without exercising your responsibility. 

As we prepare to celebrate the 246th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the concept of freedom has been on the forefront of my mind. 

Many Americans who came before us sacrificed much--often their lives--to give us this incredible gift. Like many, I will spend this weekend celebrating our freedom and giving thanks to those who paid it forward to “let freedom ring.” 

As we view freedom and responsibility through the lens of education, at the Education Foundation we believe we have an incumbent responsibility to support students as they develop their plans beyond high school so they are prepared to exercise their freedom of choice. 

By expanding student options, leveraging their potential, and helping them plan to go further, in turn they will be more poised to have the freedom of choice and freedom of opportunity to seize for their betterment.

We see the spirit of responsibility alive and well with community and school leaders’ partnerships and with donors’ incredible generosity. We have seen firsthand the difference made at our Student Success Centers established in high schools in North Port, Riverview, Sarasota and Sarasota Polytechnical, and at the community-wide LaunchPad4U located in Downtown Sarasota. 

We are excited that the district has recognized the value of Student Success Centers as the district continues to lean into its strategic plan using federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds. 

The Student Success Centers have been privately managed and staffed by Education Foundation employees, and over the summer our four campus-based Student Success Centers will be transitioning to the school district for their ongoing operations.

As such, they will continue to fulfill our and the district’s responsibility to prepare students for life after school. Meanwhile, the Education Foundation will continue offering services at LaunchPad4U, and we will open a new Student Success Center at Sarasota Military Academy as we also connect with students directly in the community. 

Freedom and responsibility go hand-in-hand. It’s a duality that expands possibilities and teaches us to say, “yes, and…” Now, what will you do with your freedom?

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

Image courtesy Pixabay

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