The 2013-2014 academic school year is history. But during the summer, many Polk County Public Schools’ teachers prepared for next year by taking advantage of professional development opportunities.
George Bartuska (Kathleen High) is one of 24 teachers in the nation invited to attend the 21st annual session of the Maury Project Workshop hosted by the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The course covers meteorology, oceanography, astronomy and geology. The Maury Project is an initiative of the American Meteorological Society and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Melanie Tucker (Daniel Jenkins Academy of Technology) joined educators from across the globe in June for a workshop exploring energy conservation and sustainability. More than 450 teachers applied for the “Green Boot Camp” in San Diego. Tucker was one of 70 teachers selected from 12 countries to participate. The workshop spanned a wide range of topics from solar cars to water conservation. Energy experts led activities to demonstrate concepts in action. Tucker and other teachers took part in hands-on exercises and discussed how to apply the ideas in their classrooms.
Bridget Gilmore (George Jenkins High School) served as an advisor and conference volunteer for Florida HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America.) Bridget worked at the National Leadership Conference and assisted with other conference events as well.
Dixieland Elementary attended the Exceeding Expectations conference for ECTAC (East Coast Technical Assistance Conference). At the conference in May, Dixieland Elementary was recognized as one of the 17 schools selected as Award Schools. Dixieland’s 2012-13 leadership team presented their successful strategies of instructional rigor, embedded professional development, relationship building, and shared leadership during conference breakout sessions.
Christie Bassett (Highlands Grove Elementary) attended the Florida Humanities Council’s Teaching Florida teacher workshop. Each spring and summer, the Teaching Florida program invites educators to examine exciting topics in an experiential, collegial and lively way. The summer workshops offer teachers the unique opportunity to engage in an intensive exploration of a curriculum-relevant humanities topic through field trips, readings, lectures, discussions, films, and cultural experiences.
Beth Cummings (Director of Fine Arts) will present at Florida’s Performing Fine Arts Assessment Project in Baltimore at the end of the July as a part of SEADAE’s (State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education) National Arts Assessment Institute.
Tenoroc High’s Shing Palagano (Chorus Teacher) attended AP Human Geography, Sherry Ross (Art Teacher) attended AP Art, and Tomeka Thompson (Science Coach) attended AP Science. Bonnie Ley (Language Arts Teacher) will attend the IBIS training and Amy Glenn (Agri Science Teacher) will attending the Forestry training.
The Kindergarten Learn to Swim Program experienced its biggest year yet with more than 1,470 students participating from 16 Lakeland area elementary schools.
The success is significant when considering the program began in 2010 with about 250 students participating from three elementary schools.
The Kindergarten Learn to Swim Program teaches kindergarten students the basics of swimming as well as emphasizes the importance of swim safety education to the children and their family members.
The Lakeland Rotary Club recently sent a flood of support to the Kindergarten Learn to Swim Program. The club’s generous donation of $70,000 was instrumental in helping to increase the number of schools participating in the program and is expected to help sustain the program for the next five years. The club raised the donation through the proceeds of its annual Child of the Sun Music Festival.
“The Lakeland Rotary has provided us with an incredible opportunity to touch the lives of so many children and families here in our district,” said Kathleen Wright, physical education specialist for the Polk County School District. “The financial support not only allows us to double the number of students we touch with the program, but provides sustainability and a foundation for which we can hopefully expand the program to all of our elementary schools.”
The Kindergarten Learn to Swim Program is a joint effort between Polk County Public Schools and the YMCA of West Central Florida. GiveWell Community Foundation (formerly Community Foundation of Greater Lakeland) also provides funding for the program.
The City of Lakeland has also been a vital part of the program’s success, providing facilities and instructors to increase the number of students served.
Students attend lessons for one week about 45 minutes each day. The lessons are conducted at the Lakeland YMCA, Fontaine Gills YMCA, or the Gandy Pool at the Kelly Recreation Complex. Children are taught basic swimming techniques, such as independently entering and exiting the water, floating, and swimming for 5 to 10 feet. Students who enter the program with some swimming ability are taught at an appropriate level to improve their skills. Participants classified as “non-swimmers” are those students entering the program who do not have at least basic swimming skills.
During the 2013-2014 school year, 77 percent of the kindergarteners entering the program were classified as non-swimmers, and 23 percent were classified as swimmers. Eighty-nine percent of all the students who completed the program achieved a level of at least basic swimming skills. Sixty-six percent of the students identified as non-swimmers coming into the program became swimmers upon completion of its lessons.
The Lakeland Rotary Club presented its $70,000 donation to the Kindergarten Learn to Swim Program at the June 24 meeting of the Polk County School Board. From left to right: Kirk Eich, CEO YMCA of West Central Florida, John Griffin, former president of The Lakeland Rotary Club, Kathleen Wright, Curriculum Specialist Physical Education with Polk County Public Schools, and School Board Member Hazel Sellers are pictured below.
Photos Below: A child dives into his swimming lesson in the Gandy Pool at the Kelly Recreation Complex as part of the Kindergarten Learn to Swim Program. Lessons are also conducted at the Lakeland YMCA and Fontaine Gills YMCA.
Children receive swimming instruction in the Gandy Pool at the Kelly Recreation Complex as part of the Kindergarten Learn to Swim Program. Lessons are also conducted at the Lakeland YMCA and Fontaine Gills YMCA.
Superintendent Will Host “State of the Schools” Community Meetings Across Polk County
Kathryn M. LeRoy, Superintendent of Polk County Public Schools, will conduct eight community meetings in the coming weeks to present school-related issues and educational goals for the School District.
These hour-long “State of the Schools” meetings will be held in each of the seven districts across the county. The superintendent will present key achievements and future objectives for the School District followed by a brief question-and-answer session.
Below is the schedule of the community meetings. All meetings will take place from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Date: Monday, July 28, 2014
Location: Summerlin Academy
Address: 1500 S. Jackson Ave., Bartow
School Board Member: Hazel Sellers (District 3)
Date: Monday, August 4, 2014
Location: Lake Gibson Middle
Address: 6901 N. Socrum Loop Road, Lakeland
School Board Member: Tim Harris (District 7)
Date: Monday, August 11, 2014
Location: Spook Hill Elementary
Address: 321 Dr. J A Wiltshire Ave. E, Lake Wales
School Board Member: School Board Vice-Chair Debra Wright (District 6)
Date: Thursday, August 14, 2014
Location: Frostproof Middle-Senior High
Address: 1000 N. Palm Ave., Frostproof
School Board Member: School Board Vice-Chair Debra Wright (District 6)
Date: Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Location: Elbert Elementary
Address: 205 15th St. NE, Winter Haven
School Board Member: School Board Chair Dick Mullenax (District 4)
Date: Thursday, August 21, 2014
Location: Davenport School of the Arts - Frank Howes Auditorium
Address: 4751 County Road 547 N., Davenport
School Board Member: Lori Cunningham (District 2)
Date: Monday, August 25, 2014
Location: Highlands Grove Elementary
Address: 4510 Lakeland Highlands Road, Lakeland
School Board Member: Hunt Berryman (District 1)
Date: Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014
Location: Griffin Elementary
Address: 3315 Kathleen Road, Lakeland
School Board Member: Kay Fields (District 5)
Polk County Public Schools to Open New Parent Resource Centers
Open house TODAY! The open house will give parents a glimpse of what types of information, courses and assistance will be available at these resource centers.
Today, Wednesday, July 16 from 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. at Frostproof Elementary (118 W. 3rd St., Frostproof, 33843)
Other resource centers are located at Combee Elementary, Sleepy Hill Elementary and Garner Elementary.
Twenty-nine elementary and middle schools in Polk County, or 25 percent, achieved either A or B grades, and others made significant gains in performance compared to last year, according to preliminary data released Friday by the state Department of Education.
Sixteen of Polk County’s schools earned an A grade – an increase from 12 schools last year. The county is among 41 districts across the state to experience a rise in A schools.
Polk County School District maintained an overall C grade, which has been consistent for the past three years.
School grades are based on results from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The data released Friday shows some schools dropped from B grades to C grades as well as C grades to D grades.
“We reviewed the FCAT scores,” said Superintendent Kathryn M. LeRoy. “We knew some school grades would be lower. We will continue to work diligently to change them.”
Seven schools received an F grade, which is an increase from six in 2013. The number of D grade schools increased from 23 in 2013 to 41 schools this year.
LeRoy, who recently completed her first year as superintendent, acknowledged more work is necessary and her staff knows some schools will require more support.
Some schools experienced promising hikes in their points when compared to last year’s data. LeRoy said these schools were specifically targeted with additional resources to help them increase achievement.
For instance, Gibbons Street Elementary’s improvement is considerable. They improved by 132 points. The school was given a D grade last year, but a “safety net” feature from the State of Florida prevented the school from dropping more than one letter grade. The actual grade based on points earned would have been an F grade.
This year, the school improved to a C grade with 491 points, which is four points shy of being a B grade.
Stambaugh Middle School received a D grade last year with 454 points. This year, the school continued to have a D grade but improved to 485 points – five points away from a C grade.
McLaughlin Middle School received an F grade last year with 359 points. The school’s performance jumped to 481 points this year, which is a 122 point gain. This means the school is only nine points away from a C grade.
Fred G. Garner Elementary improved from an F grade to a D grade, moving from 351 points to 408. The gain of 57 points places the school only 27 points away from earning a C grade.
Loughman Oaks Elementary went from 399 points, a D grade, to 475 points, a C grade. The gain of 76 points means the school is only 20 points away from a B grade.
Lewis Anna Woodbury Elementary received a D grade again this year but rose 65 points to a total of 412 points. This means the school is 23 points away from receiving a C grade.
“We are proud of the hard work from our students, teachers and staff members,” LeRoy said. “What the school grades show me is that there is still much more work to be done. A hands-on approach to addressing a situation doesn’t mean change will happen quickly. You must roll up your sleeves, get in there and fix what you find.”
Since taking on her role as superintendent, LeRoy has put in place a variety of methods to increase student performance and teacher effectiveness.
She established a regional system of support with four regional assistant superintendents and a coaching staff to help teachers in their classrooms to improve student performance.
She created a Summer Learning Program for 4,500 students to help them with reading, mathematics and science. She rolled out a comprehensive literacy series in all elementary schools and a district-wide campaign supporting literacy.
LeRoy said she was very excited to have one of our own outstanding Polk teachers, Christie Bassett, who teaches art at Highlands Grove Elementary School in Lakeland, to be named Thursday night as Florida’s Teacher of the Year.
Parents looking for ways to enrich their children’s education will soon be able to visit four new resource centers in Polk County.
Title I Regional Parent Informational Resource Centers will feature cozy décors and provide parents access to educational tools.
A series of open houses are planned in July to give visitors a glimpse of what types of information, courses and assistance will be available at these resource centers.
Open House Schedule:
Date: Time: Campus Location:
July 14 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. Sleepy Hill Elementary
July 15 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. Combee Elementary
July 15 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. Garner Elementary
July 16 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. Frostproof Elementary
Parents can begin making use of these centers’ services on Aug. 14. On that day, bilingual assistance and a notary will also be available from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. to help parents complete paperwork, including Kindergarten registration and emergency cards.
Each center will be stocked with two computers for parents to use as well as resource books. There will also be reading, writing, math and science materials to help at home for grades K-12. All materials will be available in English and most in Spanish. Haitian Creole will be offered if available.
Workshops and classes will also be held at the centers.
Badcock Furniture donated about $1,000 worth of furnishings for each center, including sofas, chairs, tables and lamps. Carol Grimsley, a parent from Medulla Elementary, volunteered more than 60 hours to paint murals at each of the centers.
A mural painted at the parent resource center at Combee Elementary.
A mural painted at the parent resource center at Frostproof Elementary.
A mural painted at the parent resource center at Garner Elementary.
A mural painted at the parent resource center at Sleepy Hill Elementary.
Melanie Tucker, a teacher at Daniel Jenkins Academy of Technology, joined educators from across the globe this week for a workshop exploring energy conservation and sustainability.
More than 450 teachers applied for the “Green Boot Camp” in San Diego. Tucker was one of 70 teachers selected from 12 countries to participate.
The workshop spanned a wide range of topics from solar cars to water conservation. Energy experts led activities to demonstrate concepts in action. Tucker and other teachers took part in hands-on exercises, and discussed how to apply the ideas in their classrooms.
Telay Kendrick, principal at Daniel Jenkins Academy of Technology, said Tucker is a “tremendous positive influence” for the school’s students and staff members.
“She is dedicated, thoughtful and on the cutting edge of the environmental science field,” said Kendrick. “We are proud that Melanie was selected to attend the 2014 Green Boot Camp in San Diego. Melanie hopes to bring back more information on current technologies that will promote energy sustainability and green life.”
The sixth-annual event was made possible by an initiative of Honeywell, a technology and manufacturing company based in Morris Township, N.J. Teachers received scholarships to cover travel and accommodations.
Educators from 12 countries attended the workshop exploring energy conservation and sustainability.
Polk County Public Schools News
Ridge Community High Among the Top 100 High Schools in Florida
Ridge Community High is ranked #66 on the list of top high schools in Florida, according to the 2014 U.S. News and World Report. The school is also recognized as a Silver Medal Award School, becoming one of only 52 schools across the state recognized as a silver medal winner.
Each year, U.S. News teams up with the Washington, D.C.-based American Institutes for Research, one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world, to produce a listing of the best high schools in Florida and around the nation. U.S. News analyzed more than 31,200 public high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, evaluating the schools in three phases. Phases one and two looked at overall student performance on state-mandated assessments, and the quality of education of minority and economically disadvantaged students. The third phase, evaluated college-readiness among the student populations, using Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate test data as benchmarks.
Students at Ridge Community High, boasts an Advanced Placement participation rate of 62 percent with students taking advantage of the opportunity to take Advanced Placement work and exams. The student body makeup is split down the middle when it comes to gender, with a student population of 50 percent males and 50 percent females. The total minority enrollment is 70 percent. Of this achievement, Ridge Community High Principal Sherry Wells says, “I couldn’t be more excited about the ranking. I’ve always known how gifted our students are and how talented our teaching staff is. Now the world knows. It’s an honor to be ranked among the top 100 high schools in Florida. It’s also a nice reminder that great things are happening in classrooms across the state. ”
Among the 2014 U.S. News Best High Schools, there are 29 Florida high schools which received gold medals, 52 received silver medals and 35 received bronze medals.
Male and Minority Teachers Mark Completion of Degree Funded by Project PRIDE at Graduation Gala
On Friday, April 25, nearly two dozen students from the University of South Florida’s College of Education who were participants in the Project PRIDE program celebrated their graduation from the university when they attend the Project PRIDE Graduation GALA: New Beginnings. Project PRIDE is a collaborative project between USF and the Polk County School Board, funded by a $1.2 million Race to the Top Grant. The program is aimed at recruiting and providing financial support and development opportunities for qualified males and minorities who are interested in becoming elementary school teachers at Polk County Public Schools. The program participants are specifically recruited to enrich the lives of students and serve as diverse role models for their students.
Dorina Sackman, the 2014 Florida Teacher of the Year, (photo below) was the keynote speaker during the Project PRIDE Graduation GALA: New Beginnings. She provided enthusiastic and motivational remarks regarding the current and graduating teachers’ “new beginnings.” Mrs. Sackman is an English for Speakers of Other Languages instructor at Westridge Middle School in Orange County. For the past 15 years, she’s used her world travels, proficiency in five languages and unique teaching style to educate English Language Learners from all around the globe, to build relationships with her students and to touch the lives of countless others. From third graders to seniors in high school, she treats her classroom as a stage for children to celebrate their diverse backgrounds while still learning English and the necessary skills to become lifelong learners.
The Florida Department of Education’s (FLDOE) Deputy Chancellor for Educator Quality Brian Dassler, FLDOE’s Language Acquisition Bureau Chief Chane Eplin and other dignities from the Florida Department of Education, Polk County School Board members and staff, USF and Polk State College faculty, staff and program mentors were in attendance.
2014 Polk County All-Star Academic Team Shines at the Commissioner’s Academic Challenge
The 2014 Polk County All-Star academic team placed 4th in the Division I state championship at the 29th Commissioner’s Academic Challenge held Thursday, April 10 through Saturday, April 12 at Walt Disney World.
The Commissioner’s Academic Challenge is a highly academic statewide high school tournament in which districts teams compete for the titleof state champion. Each team consists of six members and a coach. Players are asked questions from the areas of language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, the fine arts, world languages (French and Spanish) and technology.
Competing districts are placed in three divisions (Division I, II, III), based on the Fall Full-Time Equivalent Enrollment (FTE) summary provided by the Florida Department of Education.As a member of Division I, students from Polk County competed against students from the following counties: Brevard, Collier, Escambia, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Seminole and Volusia.
This year’s keynote speaker was Pam Stewart, Florida’s Commissioner of Education.
The 2014 Polk County All-Staracademic team included: Kade F. (All Saints’ Academy), Amanda F. (Lakeland Christian School), Josue G. (Bartow High), Michael J. (Harrison School for the Arts),
Allison P. (Fort Meade Middle-Senior) and Andrew R. (Haines City High).
Geoff Freebern served as the team coach. Mandy Leach served as assistant coach.
For additional information about the tournament visit: www.academic-challenge.org
Other notable achievements:
7th Grade team members included: Sarah B., Timothy B., Israel B., Christopher D., Arti M. and Jay P.
7th Grade Coach: Carole Williams
8th Grade team members included: Jacob B., Mandi C., Justin Dal C., Breanna G., Guriel K. and Alexander M.
8th Grade Coach: James Winters
Coach: Sharon Nance
Co-Coach: Gloria Poe
Photo take at the Commissioner’s Academic Challenge at Walt Disney World. Pictured from left to right: Dr. Jackie Speake (Senior Director of K-12 Science and Accelerated Programs at Polk County Public Schools), Geoff Freebern (Coach), Andrew R., Allison P., Amanda F., Josue G., Michael J., Pam Stewart (Florida’s Commissioner of Education), and Mandy Leach (Assistant Coach)
Students Celebrate Earth Day by Participating in Green Celebration
Earth Day ia a day intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment. On Friday, April 18 the City of Lakeland played host to its annual Green Celebration held at the Lake Mirror Promenade. The event is held ahead of Earth Day, to honor the momentous day.
As part of the festivities, students from Polk County Public Schools created exhibits for a “green fair.” The audience along with a panel of judges gave awards to the most innovative projects that promote a cleaner, greener environment.
This year, eight schools competed for cash prizes. The Judge’s Choice Awards for first, second and third place is awarded to the students who create displays that educate and inform, as well as show a partnership between staff and students in designing and building the display. The People’s Choice Awards for first, second and third place is given to encourage staff, students and parents to come out and vote in support of schools. The school with the most voting ballots cast wins. (View photos from past years at: http://www.polk-fl.net/community/greeninitiatives/default.htm)
Below are this year’s winners:
People’s Choice Award (Elementary Level)
1st Place Lincoln Avenue Academy $200.00
2nd Place Cleveland Court Elementary $100.00
3rd Place Highlands Grove Elementary $50.00
Judge’s Choice Award (Elementary Level)
1st Place Eastside Elementary $750.00
2nd Place Highlands Grove Elementary $300.00
3rd Place Cleveland Court Elementary $100.00
People’s Choice Award (Middle/Senior Level)
1st Place Lake Gibson Middle $200.00
2nd Place Blake Academy $100.00
3rd Place Lake Gibson Senior $50.00
Judge’s Choice Award (Middle/Senior Level)
1st Place Lake Gibson Senior $750.00
2nd Place Lake Gibson Middle $300.00
3rd Place Blake Academy $100.00
Other Good News Stories about Polk's Students: http://polk-fl-net.campuspack.net/Groups/PCSB_Good_News/Organization_Blog