News Slices:

Seeds of Success:
Southwest Elementary Adopts Marine Unit

Branching Out:


"Florida must move forward to implement higher and more rigorous standards for all subjects."
John L. Winn, Commissioner


February 9, 2007
Vol. 1, Issue 2

News Slices

New DVD Gives Insider’s Your Child, Your Public SchoolsView of Florida Education System
The Department of Education has recently released a new parent information DVD - “Your Child, Your Public Schools.” It’s a free DVD designed to help parents better understand Florida’s school system and to provide them with information to help them take an active role in their child’s education. The DVD covers such topics as FCAT Essentials, Inside School Grades, and so much more. To obtain your copy of the DVD, simply contact your local district volunteer coordinator or the Department of Education Bureau of Family and Community Outreach at (850) 245-0847. You may also view the DVD at

College Board Recognizes Florida High Schools for Outstanding AP Programs

Florida ranks number one in the nation for the largest percentage of public school students taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams. During 2006, 36.4 percent of Florida's public school students participated in AP compared to 32.9 percent in 2005 and 24.2 percent nationally. There were 13,221 more students who took an AP exam, the largest increase to date, for a total of 90,681 participating students.

Additionally, several public Florida high schools were recently recognized by the College Board for their exemplary AP programs. For the second year in a row, Florida has more schools recognized than any other state in the nation. Schools recognized include the following: Alex W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts, West Palm Beach; Barbara Goleman High School, Miami; Coral Reef Senior High, Miami; Cypress Bay High School, Weston; Design and Architecture Senior High School, Miami; Miami Coral Park Senior High School, Miami; Miami Killean Senior High School, Miami; Palmetto Senior High School, Miami; New World School of the Arts, Miami; School for Advanced Studies South, Miami; Stanton College Preparatory School, Jacksonville; and Stranahan High School, Ft. Lauderdale.

To learn more about Florida's unique partnership with the College Board go to

State Board of Education Meeting
The State Board of Education met in Tallahassee on January 25th. The Board, including re-appointed Chair T. Willard Fair and new member Dr. Akshay Desai, unanimously appointed Jeanine Blomberg – the Department Chief of Staff - as Interim Commissioner of Education effective March 1, 2007. John L. Winn will remain as Commissioner of Education until his retirement February 28. The Board also laid out its plans for hiring a permanent Commissioner, and aim to have the process completed by June. Other highlights from the meeting include the approval of teacher performance pay plans for various counties, discussion of legislative priorities, and approval of revised Sunshine State Standards for Reading and Language Arts, to name a few. For complete details of the Board of Education meeting, visit

Conference Promotes Education Careers and Florida’s Future
The Florida Future Educator’s of America (FFEA) Conference was recently held in Orlando to promote education as a career to students who are members of FFEA chapters in their high schools or colleges. The conference, sponsored by the Department of Education Bureau of Educator Recruitment, Development and Retention, offered competitions such as an Essay, Chapter PowerPoint, Speech, Lesson Plan and Spirit Award contest based on the student-selected theme, “Teaching - Not just a state of mind, but a way of life!” Nearly 300 participants attended the informative and hands-on sessions led by Florida Teachers of the Year and other award winning Florida educators. During the conference, members also elected Ginna Gonzalez as president-elect and Alexandra Roldan as vice-president elect. The newly elected officers are both student members at G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School in Miami. The annual conference is typically held in January of each year.

Commissioner Winn with students from Robert H. Jenkins Middle SchoolCommissioner Discusses Majors With Students
Eight-grade students from Robert H. Jenkins, Jr. Middle School in Palatka recently met with Education Commissioner John Winn to discuss selecting "majors" for their upcoming high school careers (pictured right). The Commissioner spoke candidly with the students, asking them what they would like to pursue as careers. The idea behind the “majors” is to not only keep students engaged and excited about high school, but to also help them begin planning their futures. A high school “major” isn’t the same thing as a college major, and isn’t a commitment to a lifelong or career decision. Students have the opportunity to change their “major area of interest” without penalty. Many students select a major by participating in a career academy. The Commissioner also recently met with students from Commissioner Winn with students from Suwannee Middle SchoolHamilton County High School, Suwannee Middle School, New Smyrna Beach High School and James Madison Middle School. During his visit to Suwannee Middle School, Commissioner Winn made a surprise visit to 2007 Teacher of the Year Finalist Melissa Brinson and her 7th grade Science class (pictured left). To view the list of major areas of interest, visit or contact Mary Jane Tappen at

Seeds of Success

Indian River County Teacher Named Teacher On the Trail
Thompson Elementary teacher Kim Slade has been named the 2007 Wells Fargo Teacher on the Trail (TOTT). The TOTT program began in 1999 and has become a nationally acclaimed teaching project. Each year, the TOTT selection committee chooses one teacher to come to Alaska and be part of the annual 1,150 mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The selected teacher spends approximately three weeks away from family and teaching responsibilities, learning how to handle sled dogs, writing lesson plans, and joining teen mushers on the trail of the Jr. Iditarod, as well as helping on the trail of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The TOTT shares his/her experience with students and educators around the nation, through the Internet, allowing them to integrate the experience of the Iditarod into every day classroom lessons. Mrs. Slade has been teaching at the elementary level for 17 years, and currently serves as a math coach and resource teacher throughout Indian River County. For Mrs. Slade’s lessons and newsletters, visit the TOTT Web site at

Osceola County School First In Florida To Earn National Honors From The Kennedy Center Alliance
The Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network has selected Cypress Elementary in Osceola County as one of only five schools in the nation to be named as a Creative Ticket National School of Distinction for 2005-2006 in honor of its outstanding school arts programs. This marks the first time in history any Florida school has received this award, which recognizes schools that have done an outstanding job of making the arts an essential part of the education of its students. Read more at

Southwest Elementary Adopts Marine Unit
Approximately 100 Marines stationed in Iraq have been adopted by students at Lakeland’s Southwest Elementary. Students have been given soldiers’ names and will be corresponding regularly over the coming months. The students will also be sending care packages and inspirational pieces of artwork they created. A personal connection between Southwest fourth grade teacher Katie Gill, organizer of the project, and a Marine major’s wife connected the school to Bravo Company 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion that is providing dam security in Iraq and the Euphrates River Valley. More on the story

Branching Out

Teacher Talk: An Inside Look at Florida Education
If you missed the new Teacher Talk television series, you still have the chance to tune in. Nicole Flesvig, FDOE Teacher Liaison, has a new series devoted to public education in Florida, “Teacher Talk: An Inside Look at Florida Education.” This monthly show is produced by the Florida Education Channel in collaboration with the Florida Department of Education. The show will feature a "Teacher Spotlight" segment, which focuses on Florida teachers and their innovations both in and out of the classroom. Viewers will also have the opportunity to learn about what Florida schools and school districts have to offer teachers and students alike. The first show aired on the Florida Education Channel Feb. 8, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. The show will be aired several times per week throughout the month. Currently, the Florida Education Channel is available 24 hours per day via the Internet as well as on DISH Network, channel 9418. Can’t catch it there? You can also see it on the Florida Knowledge Network, and it will be available to districts via ITV. To view the Florida Education Channel online, visit: Teachers, schools, and districts interested in being featured on Teacher Talk can complete the online contact form available on

Florida Master Digital Educators to Receive Online Professional Development
PBS TeacherLine, the Florida Digital Educator Program and the Florida Department of Education, Bureau of Instruction and Innovation, have partnered to provide online professional development courses to Master Digital Educators in the state. This joint effort is a part of a statewide program that aims to improve the integration of technology across the K-12 curricula for enhanced student learning. The courses will be offered locally by WLRN, PBS member station, and PBS TeacherLine provider in Miami. Veteran teachers from Florida who have earned a master's degree and have been trained in online course facilitation and community-building will lead participants through these courses. For more information about PBS TeacherLine, visit To learn more about the Florida Digital Educator Program, visit

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Editor’s Note: The Department of Education experienced a technical glitch on Tuesday, Jan. 30, when subscribers received an inadvertent message from the listserv. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

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