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SRQ DAILY Jul 16, 2022

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"Looking back, it is hard to believe that everything I did since a child led me to Gulf Coast Community Foundation in 2008."

- Mark Pritchett, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[Gulf Coast]  Lessons learned along the way
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

There are milestones that mark the beginning and end of eras in our lives.  Births, deaths, new careers, children and retirement. They all represent some type of marker in our life journey that signify an impending change.

This week, I reached one of those milestones. I had the good fortune to announce that after 14-plus years at an amazing organization, I will retire in 2023 as President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. It has been an incredible journey.

Work has never seemed like “work” no matter what I job I was doing.  My credo was “whatever I am doing, do it well for at least one year.”  I was often surprised how sticking with a job through ups and downs could turn into an adventure that led me to new skill sets and incredible opportunities.

Looking back, it is hard to believe that everything I did since a child led me to Gulf Coast Community Foundation in 2008.  It all started when I began working as a paperboy at the age of 14 years.  From there I worked as a cook, restaurant manager, steel mill worker, tutor, counselor, dean of students, researcher, lobbyist, and many more occupations that could easily fill this column.

My career introduced me to working with customers, clients, custodians, union members, scholars, business leaders, nonprofit leaders, Governors, Presidents, philanthropists, elected officials and ambassadors to name a few.

And some skills stay with you.  I can still fold a paper newspaper (if they still exist), tap a molten steel furnace, cook or prep in a kitchen, work the front line with customers, prepare a research proposal, analyze a bill or law, compose a book, scrutinize a P/L or balance sheet, raise money for great causes or lead a team of high performing professionals.  

But what lessons have I learned along the way of this wide-ranging career?

Well, here are my top three lessons plus one bonus insight.  These lessons don’t represent everything I’ve learned, but they have been essential for me to achieve a fulfilling work experience.

First, no matter what the job is, knowing how to navigate relationships has been the foundational skill for achieving success. If you positively nurture authentic relationships, then work is a fulfilling experience.  The keys to positive relationships are treating everyone with dignity, assuming the best, actively listening, empathizing, and respecting differences.

Second, it is okay to admit that you don’t know it all.  It’s a big, complex world.  One of my favorite lines from the bluegrass group Nickel Creek is, “only the curious have something to find.”  So be curious, acknowledge that you need to learn more, and you will probably make some great discoveries in everything you do.

Third, assume 100% responsibility in all that you do.  When you hold yourself accountable for a result, you empower yourself to do everything ethically possible to succeed.  Don’t build in “escape hatches” or pre-planned excuses so that it is easy to blame someone else when things go awry. That’s a lose-lose scenario which sows the seeds of mistrust within your team, organization and customers. 

Finally, a bonus from the actor turned philosopher Mickey Rooney: You always pass failure on the way to success.Fear can be debilitating.  Fear of failing can thwart innovation and future success. We will all fail sometime during our careers.  The sooner we accept failure is part of the journey, the better chance we have to succeed.

I invite you to work with our team at Gulf Coast now and into the future.  You can count on us to treat you with dignity.  You can count on us to be curious. We will always be accountable.  And together we will learn from our failures on the road to success for you and our community. 

Mark Pritchett is President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

[Argus]  Schools shine, must address bottom quartile, grad rates
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

Florida District and School grades have been published by the Florida Department of Education for the 2021-2022 school year. We have great news and some areas that will need improvement, but overall, our teachers should be congratulated for their work and the community should be proud of the result of the investment in our kids.

Sarasota Schools have maintained their coveted ‘A’ rating. This is an important sense of pride in our community, and it should be. A community that cares about its kids, cares about its future. We have moved up one spot in the School District rankings and are in a three-way tie for 5th with Gilchrist and Collier Counties. Ahead of us in first through fourth place are St. John’s County, Nassau County, Lafayette County and Walton County. 

According to the FLDOE website, there are up to 11 components measured in a District Grade. This column will break down those components and compare the scores to the rest of the state.

Sarasota Schools rank fourth in English Language Arts Achievement and have an “A” in that area. English Language Arts Learning Gains are a low “B.” Every district appears to be having problems in this area, no one got an “A” in the state in this category. Sarasota Schools are in a four-way tie for 4th in the state in this category. 

The English Language Arts learning gains of the lowest 25% reveal a low “C” for Sarasota County. We are 10th in the state in this area. There is a lot of work to be done for the bottom quartile of students in English.

Math Achievement scores were stronger than English in Sarasota Schools, but so were many of the counties in the top five. Math was an “A” for Sarasota Schools. We are in a three-way tie for 5th for Math Achievement. We just missed an “A” in Math Learning Gains by one point. We rank 7th in Math Learning Gains. 

Our bottom quartile in math is a problem. We rank 21st in the state for Math Learning Gains of the Lowest 25%. We have a “C” in this component.

The bottom quartile of students needs to be a focus for the School District in the upcoming year in English and Math. There should be specific goals for the Superintendent, the Board, and every school.

Science and Social Studies were both strong for the district. Both areas received “A” grades. Sarasota ranked 7th for Science Achievement and is in a very strong tie for 3rd in Social Studies Achievement. 

Sarasota Schools ranked 15th in the state in Middle School Acceleration. According to the FLDOE website, “This component is based on the percentage of eligible students who passed a high school level EOC assessment or industry certification.” 

There are some categories that are reported yearly, but lag behind a year in reporting due to timing. They are still factored into the District grade. Those are Graduation Rates and College and Career Acceleration. 

The Graduation Rate dropped a point from 92 to 91. We are in a twelve-way tie for 20th in the state with our Graduation Rate. Addressing this mediocrity should also be a specific goal for the District.

We rank 8th in the state for College and Career Acceleration. According to FLDOE, “This component is based on the percentage of graduates from the graduation cohort who earned a score on an acceleration examination (AP, IB, AICE) or a grade in a dual enrollment or clock-hour dual enrollment course that qualified students for college credit or earned an industry certification.”

More subgroup details will come with future breakdowns from FLDOE. In the meantime, the District should, in a very public way, incorporate the areas that need improvement into every measurement and goal they are able. The Argus Foundation congratulates our teachers, students, and community on maintaining an “A” District grade. 

Christine Robinson is Executive Director of The Argus Foundation. 

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Lobster and Wine...Oooooh La La , July 14 – July 17

Bonjour Sarasota! Come Join Us and Cafe LEurope for some French fun. Celebrate Bastille Day July 14th-17th. Feast on lobster and other French favorites. Sample a flight of French wines or enjoy your selection by the glass or bottle. Make your reservations Today. 941-388-4415.

[SOON]  SPORTS: International Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew World Championships , July 18 – July 24

The 13th CCWC will be held from July 18 to 24, 2022 at Nathan Benderson Park (NBP), located in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida. Held in alternate years, these championships are for entire boats from individual clubs around the world. Dragon boat races are water sport activity in which teams race in a canoe-like vessel.

Nathan Benderson Park

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Florida Studio Theatre: The Jersey Tenors: Part II , July 19 – September 11, Varies.

Back with a new show, this opera/rock mash-up sensation blends iconic opera classics with Rock & Roll hits from artists like Queen, Journey, and Elton John, along with the songs from Jersey’s finest—Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons and Bon Jovi. From Frank Sinatra to Figaro, hear The Tenors’ original arrangements of songs celebrating artists from the stage to the screen, including “Walk Like A Man,” “Your Song,” “That’s Life,” “Eye of the Tiger,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and many more. The Jersey Tenors: Part II, created and conceived by Brian Noonan, will play beginning July 19, 2022 in FST's Goldstein Cabaret. Run Time is 70 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.

Florida Studio Theatre's Goldstein Cabaret

[SOON]  GALLERY: The Ringling: Eleanor Merritt: Remembrance , February 18 – August 21, Museum hours.

The Ringling is pleased to present an exhibition that celebrates the life and artwork of Eleanor Merritt from February 18, 2022 to August 21, 2022. Eleanor was a dedicated volunteer at The Ringling for many years as a docent and Board member. She also served as president of the Venice Art Center and was active in other arts organizations as well. Eleanor passed away in 2019 leaving a legacy of art and public service. This exhibition is dedicated to her spirit and creativity and represents a small sample of a significant body of work the artist created over her long career. Beginning with an early work from the 1950s Untitled (Seated Figure) and concluding with her last painting Blue Embrace of 2018, the exhibition highlights her creative use of materials, movement between figuration and abstraction, and her commitment to women’s rights. The works in the exhibition come from the artist’s estate and from a few prestigious private collections. The artist’s daughter, Lisa, and artist Mike Solomon were critical guides in the development of this exhibition. 

[SOON]  BUSINESS: The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime: Limelight Market , April 23 – December 17, 10am-3pm

Every 3rd Saturday from 10-3 The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime opens their outdoor space for guest vendors, dog rescues, and live music. Check out the 40 local creators and curators inside The Bazaar every Thursday - Saturday. Enjoy a delicious lunch and support local. Free, until you buy something amazing! 

[SOON]  FILM: Summer Movies at Sarasota Opera House , May 22 – September 23, Varies.

Sarasota Opera is pleased to announce the lineup for the 2022 summer movie series: HD at the Opera House and Classic Movies at the Opera House. HD at the Opera House featuring filmed performances of opera and ballet from around the world will open on Sunday, May 22nd at 1:30 p.m. with Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London, with tickets at $22, and $20 for Sarasota Opera subscribers. The Classic Movies at the Opera House series will open with In the Heat of the Night on Friday, July 8th at 7:30 p.m. with tickets at $12. (Tickets will go on sale starting Monday, May 2nd.)

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Van Wezel: Friday Fest 2022 , June 17 – September 16, 5pm

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall Friday Fest events are our outdoor concert series that provide the community with 4 entertaining and FREE events from June to September, showcasing the best of local bands from Sarasota and Bradenton. Friday Fest brings together a wide variety of talented artists along with food trucks and drink stations on the Van Wezel lawn along the beautiful Sarasota Bayfront. Our Friday Fest lineup includes: Yesterdayze - June 17, Kettle of Fish - July 15, Big Night Out - August 12, and Jah Movement - September 16 at 5pm. 

Van Wezel

[SOON]  GALLERY: Art Uptown Gallery: Moxie , June 25 – July 30
The July Gallery for Art Uptown will exhibit "MOXIE by Rita Rust." Rust's watercolor action portraits capture the feeling of joy that can be found even in the darkest times.

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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