What’s going on in our world
Reading Recovery: A Playbook to Improve Literacy in First-Grade
Reading Recovery helps struggling first-grade students achieve grade-level reading in just 12 to 21 weeks. The internationally acclaimed literacy intervention program is in its third year in Sarasota County and over 400 students have completed Reading Recovery.
Thanks to a rapid growth plan funded by the district and philanthropy, all 23 elementary schools have a trained Reading Recovery teacher who serves as the literacy expert at their school. The literacy expert also trains teachers to increase literacy education understanding and skill sets across the entire school. We are strong believers in Reading Recovery’s impact and created a playbook in hopes this life-changing program will spread to other school districts.
Why teachers are celebrating the complete transformation of Sarasota County’s middle school classrooms
“The biggest thrill is to hear kids say things like ‘learning is fun,’ and ‘I like finding information and doing something with it,’ ” reports a 6th grade science teacher. This teacher’s excitement joins a choir of praise for the impact of an initiative that has transformed Sarasota County middle schools.
The vision was hatched in 2009, when philanthropic and school district leaders realized middle schools classrooms were not preparing students for jobs of the future. What transpired can only be described as monumental and completely transformative. Teachers have changed the way they prepare and deliver instruction, students collaborate in teams to complete assignments and technology is at the center of learning.
The initiative to re-design middle schools is called 21st Century Schools and was led by Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Sarasota County Schools and many community partners. These partners invested $18-million over nine years to reshape instruction and learning in all 300+ middle school classrooms.
The teachers who made this all possible were recently honored at a celebration marking the culmination of the classroom transformation. Go here to see photos from the event.
The impacts on student achievement and teacher satisfaction are documented in the report, “Who Hates Leaving Middle School.” Practical lessons learned are also shared in the hopes other districts will replicate this successful initiative.
Vote YES on March 20 for Sarasota School Tax Referendum
The following op-ed by Teri A Hansen ran in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on February 11, 2018
I will never forget the way that Mrs. Beck, my eighth-grade English teacher, made words come to life. She piqued my curiosity, sparked my imagination and inspired me to study journalism in college.
While I did not pursue journalism as a career, the academic and emotional impacts Mrs. Beck had on me were immeasurable.
At the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, we believe that every student deserves a “Mrs. Beck” and that’s one of the reasons we enthusiastically support extending the Sarasota County School District’s 1-mill tax through the March referendum.
Meet your future doctor
The Florida State College of Medicine Science Students Reaching Instructional Diversity and Excellence (SSTRIDE) prepares students for careers in science and medicine. The program began last year at McIntosh Middle and leads rising 8th and 9th grade students on an science-focused academic path through high school. Barancik Foundation helped launch this program because our region needs more trained medical professionals. The SSTRIDE program is 20+ years old with a proven record of influencing the rate student’s graduate from high school and go one to earn STEM college degrees.
Crisis Text Line
We hosted Nancy Lublin, the founder of Crisis Text Line, who shared her organization’s story about using data and technology to help individuals in crisis. Crisis Text Line is the world’s largest mental health database and its crisis intervention volunteers are assisted by an algorithm able to gauge the texter’s true level of need. For example, if a texter names any over-the-counter pain relief pill, they are 16 times more likely to attempt suicide than a texter who uses the word “suicide.” We are in discussions with Nancy to establish a keyword for our region that will allow us to get data dashboards about the issues and frequency our residents text for help. Leaders at Sarasota County Schools are ramping up efforts to make teens more aware of this life-saving resource. Thanks to Nancy, we will all be smarter about how we do our work. Go here to see a photos from the event.