News Slices Governor Crist, Education Commissioner Smith Welcome New School Year Governor Charlie Crist and Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith wish to welcome Florida students and teachers back to what promises to be another successful school year. As educators throughout the state prepare for another year filled with learning, the Governor and Commissioner extend their appreciation to the teachers, principals, and district staff who remain committed to supporting an education system that helps all students excel. With the focus on ensuring every student has the best possible educational experience that fosters academic growth and success, our state has emerged as a national leader in student achievement. With the help of Florida’s parents, educators, and business and community leaders, our students will continue to achieve at the highest levels. Thank you educators and welcome back!
Florida Well Positioned to Receive Race to the Top Funds According to a report by The New Teacher Project, Florida is one of two states considered “Highly Competitive” to receive Race to the Top (R2T) funds. The U.S. Department of Education will award $4.3 billion in R2T grants to states through a competitive application process. To apply, states must meet specific application and eligibility requirements and be able to show progress toward meeting education reform goals.
Race to the Top Web Site Launched The Department of Education has established a new Web site for school districts and others to provide their innovative ideas for consideration in Florida’s Race to the Top application. Individuals are encouraged to submit suggestions focused on one or more of the following assurances: Standards, Assessment, Data Systems, Great Teachers and Leaders or Struggling Schools. For more information about these assurances or the 19 selection criteria outlined by the U.S. Department of Education, interested parties can access the draft application posted on The Federal Register at http://www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/proprule/2009-3/072909d.pdf(PDF).
Now is the Time to Enroll in Florida KidCare Uninsured families throughout the state are encouraged to apply for Florida KidCare in preparation for back-to-school. Florida KidCare, the state’s low-cost health insurance program for children under age 19, is designed to provide low-cost healthcare benefits to families regardless of their income. Coverage includes doctor visits, check-ups and shots, prescriptions, vision and hearing screenings, dental care, emergency services, surgical care and more. Florida KidCare enrollment is open year-round and monthly premiums depend on household size and income.
For more information or to apply for Florida KidCare, visit www.floridakidcare.org. Families can also call 1-888-540-5437 to receive an application by mail.
Florida’s Chancellor of Public Schools Recognized Dr. Frances Haithcock, the Florida Department of Education Public Schools Chancellor, was honored for her invaluable service to public education earlier this month by Florida Atlantic University president Frank Brogan. Dr. Haithcock was awarded the Presidential Medallion Award from her alma mater during the Aug. 4 commencement ceremonies in recognition of her unwavering commitment to elevating achievement in school systems throughout the country during her 40 year career.
Dr. Haithcock joined the Department of Education in 2008 and since that time has spearheaded several successful initiatives, including the development and implementation of Florida’s new school improvement model and launching a groundbreaking reading diagnostic technology. She currently oversees the state’s educator quality, curriculum, instruction, school improvement, early learning and reading programs. Dr. Haithcock earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina Greensboro, a Master of Education from Florida Atlantic University, and a Doctorate of Education from the University of Miami. Congratulations Dr. Haithcock!
Division of Community Colleges Takes New Name The Department of Education’s Division of Community Colleges officially assumed a new name on Aug. 4 becoming the Division of Florida Colleges. Senate Bill 2682, signed by Governor Crist last month, renames the Division but the Division of Florida Colleges will continue its mission of providing Floridians with open access to higher education and retraining opportunities. The bill also authorized name changes for many of Florida’s 28 community colleges.
The new name is a continuation of changes that began in 2008 when the Legislature redesignated the Community College System as The Florida College System. The system includes all community colleges, junior colleges, colleges and state colleges under the governance of the State Board of Education. The Division of Florida Colleges works with the state’s 28 community colleges to stimulate the economy through a broad spectrum of high need, high demand career education programs.
ePEP Helps High School Students Prepare for the Future Incoming high school freshmen are more prepared than ever for postsecondary education or a career thanks in part to the state’s Career and Education Planning course taken in middle school. The state-required course, taken in either the seventh or eighth grade, helps students explore their interests and research careers. Once students choose a career goal and learn what level of education they need to achieve it, they create an electronic Personal Education Plan (ePEP) through Florida’s online student advising system at FACTS.org. The ePEP is flexible and can easily be modified as a student’s interests and goals may change. FACTS.org also features other tools to allow students to search postsecondary institutions and programs in Florida, apply for colleges online or find financial aid resources.
To learn more about college preparation and planning or the ePEP, visit www.FACTS.org.
New Online Resource Available for Teachers A new online digital learning platform containing thousands of educational resources is now available through a $60,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation. Through Verizon Thinkfinity.org, Florida teachers can access free standards-based, grade-specific K-12 lesson plans, interactive educational games and activities, videos and other materials provided in partnership with some of the nation’s leading educational and literacy organizations. The Department of Education has teamed up with the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, housed at the University of South Florida’s College of Education, to raise awareness of Verizon Thinkfinity.org and schedule online and in-person professional development opportunities throughout the state to help Florida teachers make the most of these free resources. Verizon Thinkfinity.org also offers program activities and ideas, online learning games and homework help for parents, students and afterschool programs.
For more information about Verizon Thinkfinity.org, including a schedule of professional development activities, visit www.thinkfinity.org.
Lights On Afterschool Mini-Grants Available The Florida Afterschool Network announces the 3rd annual Lights on Afterschool mini-grants. Local afterschool programs are invited to submit a request for funds to plan events celebrating National Lights on Afterschool Oct. 22, 2009. The Florida Afterschool Network has allocated $10,000 to be used for competitive grants open to all schools and afterschool provider agencies. Lights on Afterschool is a nationwide event to recognize the importance of quality afterschool programs in the lives of children, their families and the community.
Nominations Sought for 2010 Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy The Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy gives parents, students and communities the opportunity to nominate the best teachers for a little schooling of their own by logging on to www.sendmyteacher.com. During the all-expense paid professional development program, educators learn fresh and engaging ways to teach math and science in an effort to spark students’ interest and retain their attention. Selected teachers will spend five days learning hands-on experiments to deepen their understanding of math and science concepts. The Academy is a partnership between ExxonMobil and PGA golfer Phil Mickelson and his wife Amy, and hosted by the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J., using a curriculum developed by the National Science Teachers Association and Math Solutions. The deadline to submit nominations is Oct. 31, 2009; interested teachers are also encouraged to apply.
For more information about the 2010 Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy and to nominate third through fifth grade teachers, visit www.sendmyteacher.com.
Seeds of Success
Florida Wins Big at National Career and Technical Competition Florida schools won more than 100 awards this year at the 45th Annual SkillsUSA Championships in Kansas City, Mo., making the Sunshine State the lead medal winning state in the nation. The SkillsUSA Championships are a showcase for the best career and technical education students from across the country.
The SkillsUSA Championships began in 1967 and has grown to more than 5,000 students competing in 93 different skill, technical and leadership fields. Students work against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations like building maintenance, entrepreneurship, fire fighting, and Web design.
For the sixth consecutive year, Manatee Technical Institute in Bradenton, Fla. won more awards than any other school, technical center, college or university in the nation, receiving 62 medals.
Congratulations to all nine Florida schools receiving SkillsUSA medals, Manatee Technical Institute, Pinellas Technical Education Center Clearwater Campus, Pinellas Technical Education Center Saint Petersburg Campus, Robert Morgan Educational Center, Sarasota County Technical Institute, Southeast High School, South Broward High School, South Technical Education Center, and Treasure Coast High School.
Chipola College ACE Lab Recertified Chipola College’s Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) has received a three-year renewal on tutoring certification through the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA). Chipola’s ACE is a full-service lab offering individual tutoring, test-prep sessions for nearly all courses, study group organization, study skills development and high-speed computers with course software. Students can take advantage of free tutoring and test reviews by Chipola faculty and peer tutors to assist in developing the necessary skills for success in class. The College Reading and Learning Association is an association of more than 1,200 postsecondary learning assistance professionals active in the fields of reading, developmental education, tutoring and mentoring at the college and adult levels.
Seminole Community College Students Sweep Phi Beta Lambda National Conference Twelve students from Seminole Community College (SCC) placed in the top 10 in competitions at the national Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL) National Conference in Anaheim, Calif., June 20-23, 2009. Eighteen SCC students competed against two- and four year schools from across the nation, finishing top among community colleges in four areas. FBLA-PBL is the largest collegiate business student organization in the world.
Florida Students Recognized at National Leadership Conference During the 2009-10 academic year, Edison State College will participate in a national higher education project, “Foundations of Excellence® in the First College Year.” The project, sponsored by the Policy Center on the First Year of College, will utilize a model of excellence that can be used by colleges and universities to develop and refine their overall approach to educating first-year students.
The Florida Reading Association’s 47th Annual Conference, Reading Rockets You to the Future, will be held Sept. 10 –13, 2009, at the Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla. Topic areas will span PreK-12 grade and will cover all aspects of literacy. Literacy leaders Dr. Janet Allen, Dr. Richard Gentry, Dr. Judith Irvin, and Dr. Dorothy Strickland will be presenting sessions. To learn more, visit www.flreads.org.
The annual Florida Association for Staff Development (FASD) Leadership Conference will be held at the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla., Sept. 21 – 23, 2009. Educational personnel who have an interest in receiving, delivering or supporting high-quality professional development are invited to join FASD members to participate in activities related to implementing professional development; teacher and school leadership principles which align with high quality professional development; and structures for supporting new educators. The conference will offer a blend of learning opportunities from experts as well as school-based practitioners. For more information, please visit www.fasdonline.org.
The Florida Council for the Social Studies' 52nd Annual Conference, Go For Broke!, will be held Sept. 24 – 27, 2009, at the PGA Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Supervisors’ meetings will be held September 24 – 25. Pre-conferences will be held September 25, and will focus on literacy, economic and financial literacy, technology, and civic education. To learn more, visit www.fcss.org.
The 37th Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME) Annual Conference is a professional development opportunity for those in the education field. Participants will experience the worthwhile opportunity to freely exchange educational information and ideas. Media specialists, teachers, reading coaches, administrators, public librarians, and support staff are encouraged to attend. To learn more about the conference, please contact the FAME Offices at
or call (850) 531-8351.
The 2009 Florida Council of Teachers of English Annual Professional Development Conference, “Balancing Reading and the Language Arts,” will be held Oct. 15 – 17, 2009, in Orlando. This year’s theme will inspire educators and help them explore ways of balancing the curriculum to meet the diverse needs of their students. For more information or to register, visit www.fcte.org.
The Florida Center for Research in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (FCR-STEM) has teamed up with the Duval County School District to host a three-day, statewide conference for district instructional leaders, school principals/assistant principals, and district mathematics/science coordinators. To learn more, or to register, visit www.lsi.fsu.edu.
The 2009 Florida School Counselor Association Convention will include leaders from Florida and throughout the United States. Topics in student academic advancement, career and vocational awareness, as well as counselor education and development will be explored by industry advocates, state officials, counselor educators and professional school counselors. To learn more or to reserve your hotel, visit www.fla-schoolcounselor.org/.
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