I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A.A. Dixon-A Leap of Faith and the Reasons Why

The school board voted last night to allow A.A. Dixon to remain open despite the fact that Dixon's state FCAT grade may come back as an F for the second year in a row.  State school grades will be released any day.

Last Thursday during the workshop, the idea of an amendment to the previous agreement was not even on the horizon.  Three board members of five expressed an inclination to allow the charter contract "sudden death" clause to remain intact, even though the charters' finances had apparently stabilized and many community partners had stepped up to pledge support.  

Friday, superintendent Thomas sent all board members this document--clearly illustrating that this school is making progress and these students are making significant learning gains.

Then Linda Moultrie requested an amendment to the charter be added to the Board's agenda on Monday.

Adding to these developments, new state law that speaks to the appeals process for a double F charter was brought to the attention of the board in the eleventh hour on Tuesday. All of this led to a finalized draft amendment for board consideration to be presented at the table during the regular meeting.

Blend in to this commotion  a sizable crowd of supporters gathered to advocate for Dixon--and what you end up with is a temporary reprieve for this charter school;  their fate, more than likely, will be decided by the Florida State Board of Education at some point over the next 6 months.

But the school is intact for the near term, on tenuous footing.  More is certainly to come on this school......

Friday, June 8, 2012

Take Stock in Children Senior Graduation 2012

The Take Stock in Children Graduating class of 2012 was honored last night at a banquet held at the Wright Place in downtown Pensacola.
13 Students completed the 6 year mentoring program which qualified them for a four year, up to $11,000 dollar scholarship. 
As a bonus, each graduate was also presented with a brand new laptop computer.  The laptop computer presentation is a relatively new component of the ceremony.  Three years ago, brothers Nick and Nate Gupta began a laptop program for the Take Stock Graduates in Santa Rosa County.  With the assistance and encouragement of their parents, Nate and Nick Gupta solicited donations from the community to pay for the laptops.
Last year, the Gupta brothers procured enough money via community donations to extend their take-stock laptop program to both Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties.
Last night, Nick Gupta announced to the assembled crowd of roughly three hundred that he and his brothers have now this year expanded their program to Okaloosa County as well—they’ll now be donating laptops to all the Take Stock graduates in a three county area!
A fantastic initiative by great young men to help others—what an outstanding service they are providing!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Touching Story from Yesterday's Graduation

In the intermission between the West Florida High and Pine Forest High School graduations, a young man came by the green room to meet with the school board and to say hello.  Immediately it became apparent that this young man had some disabilities that he was confronting; however,  his personality and demeanor were upbeat as he proceeded to work the room and pose for photographs with the assembled district personnel.
My colleague Gerald Boone gave me the back story on Cody—he was supposed to graduate last year with his fraternal twin in the class of 2011—however brain cancer and the treatments he had been receiving for this condition led to his graduation being postponed a year.  Cody had overcome some tough family circumstances as well, and he was a promising athlete in his freshman year.
Emotions became difficult for Mr. Boone to contain as he showed me a picture of Cody playing tennis in ninth grade—a happy and smiling ninth grader!
But then came the Brain cancer diagnosis. And athletics fell by the wayside.  And next came the doctor’s prognosis that Cody would not walk again and may not live to see his own high school graduation. 
 Cody did not give up though--  he worked through and fought back against his medical condition.  His school family at Pine Forest rallied around him—electing him homecoming king by an overwhelming majority vote!
Cody channeled this support and his own inner-strength and proved those doctors wrong yesterday and not only lived to see his graduation—he walked across the stage unassisted to a huge standing ovation!  It was an awe-inspiring moment that left me numb.
Meeting inspiring young people like Cody make me feel fortunate and thankful for the things I have and for the life I lead.  Most peoples’ lives (mine especially) are a cake walk compared to what Cody has to deal with—and yet there he is, smiling and living his life to his fullest!
Many of us could take a life lesson from Cody’s example.
Meeting this young man yesterday and hearing his story made the day one I won’t soon forget.