January is School Choice Month
January 2011 is Florida School Choice Month and is designed to increase awareness among all Florida parents about their school choice options. School choice strengthens the availability, accessibility, and equity of educational options for parents to secure a high quality education for their children. As part of the month-long celebration, the Florida School Choice Expo will be held on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011, at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. The Expo will feature School Choice Information Sessions for parents, school performances from charter, magnet, and other public schools, and a wide variety of schools, school district and service providers ready to connect with parents about the choice opportunities available. For more information about the School Choice Expo, visit http://www.floridaschoolchoiceexpo.com/index.php.
Race to the Top Funds Awarded to Districts
Florida school districts whose applications are approved have begun receiving more than $25 million in Race to the Top funds. The Florida Department of Education began notifying districts earlier this week that they were eligible to access the funds with more approvals occurring as the process continues. All remaining award notices are expected by the end of the month. The approved districts will be able to draw down a percentage of their funds each quarter for the next four years and will use the money to meet specific deliverables in their grant application. For more information about Race to the Top, including a continuously updated list of each approved school district or to sign up to receive update notifications, visit the Race to the Top website at http://www.fldoe.org/ARRA/RacetotheTop.asp.
Dr. Carlo Rodriguez Champion of School Choice Award Winners Recognized
The State Board of Education recognized the winners of the Dr. Carlo Rodriguez Champion of School Choice award on Dec. 16, 2010, at its meeting in Miami. Steven L. Hicks and Kevin Forehand are the recipients of a half scholarship at the Nova Southeastern Fischler School of Education – one in the doctoral program and the other in the master’s program. Hicks is President of the Coalition of McKay Scholarship Schools and Vice President of Operations for Center Academy, a company that helps schools meet the academic needs of learning disabled students. Forehand is principal of Crossroad Academy Charter School of Business, a Gadsden County charter school named as a Distinguished Title I School in May 2010 for meeting rigorous state and federal accountability measures for five consecutive years. The award is conferred annually through a partnership between the Florida Public School Choice Consortium and Nova Southeastern University.
C-SPAN’s StudentCam 2011
Students in grades six through 12 are invited to participate in C-SPAN StudentCam competition to earn cash awards up to $5,000. The contest is an annual video competition that encourages students to think seriously about issues that affect our communities and nation. Students should create a short (five to eight minute) video documentary on the StudentCam topic, “Washington, DC – Through My Lens” and must include C-SPAN footage related to the topic. The deadline to submit an entry is Jan. 20, 2011. Visit http://www.studentcam.org/ for complete information.
Students Encouraged to Enter Manatee Art Contest
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) invites home-schooled students and public and private high school art students in grades nine through 12 across the state to participate in a contest to create artwork for the 2011-12 Save the Manatee decal. Entries must be the sole original work of the artist and show a realistic or abstract image of a manatee. Art teachers can submit up to five entries per school and home education parents may submit one entry per homeschool group. The decal is sold in county tax collectors’ offices to support manatee protection efforts such as rehabilitation, rescue, research, enforcement and public education. The deadline for entries is Jan. 28, 2011. For more information, contact Bonnie Abellera at bonnie.abellera@MyFWC.com or (850) 617-6052. To learn more about Florida’s manatee program and to view previous manatee decals, visit the FWC website at http://www.myfwc.com/WILDLIFEHABITATS/Manatee_index.htm.
Literacy League Questions Due
Middle school students have until Jan. 31, 2011, to submit questions to Patrick Smith, author of “A Land Remembered,” as part of the Department of Education’s interactive book club called Literacy League. Each quarter a book is selected and students can submit questions via e-mail or video for the author to answer through a recorded podcast. Students interested in submitting questions for “A Land Remembered” should send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Podcasts from previous books, including “Crossing Jordan” author Adrian Fogelin, are archived on the Literacy League website at www.fldoe.org/literacyleague.
Deadline Looms for the 2011 Severe Weather Awareness Week Poster and Video Contests
There is still time for students across the state to enter the 2011 Severe Weather Awareness Week Poster and Video Contests. The Florida Division of Emergency Management and the American Red Cross encourage Florida students to submit an entry for the poster and video public service announcement contests by Jan. 10, 2011, that shows how to be prepared for the natural hazards that affect the Sunshine State. The winning entries will be featured during the 2011 Severe Weather Awareness Week campaign and students will win tickets to Disney World, weather radios and other great prizes. Complete contest rules and information for both contests can be found at www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW/2011.
Still Time to Enter the Volunteer USA Foundation “Behind the Cupboard Door” Contest
Florida students in grades four through seven in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties are encouraged to enter the Behind the Cupboard Door contest sponsored by the Volunteer USA Foundation. Students should write an original poem or essay based on one of the cupboards left unexplored in the book “100 Cupboards” by N.D. Wilson. The entry must be typed and able to be read aloud in three minutes or less. Fifteen winners will have the opportunity to be honored at the Celebration of Reading Children’s Breakfast with the book’s author. The contest deadline is Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011. Full contest details can be found on the Volunteer USA Foundation website at www.volunteerusafoundation.org. If you have questions, contact Carolyn Vega-Melendez at (850) 559-2208 or via e-mail at Contest@VolunteerUSAFund.org.
Congress-Bundestag Vocational Exchange Scholarship
High school students are invited to apply for the Congress-Bundestag Vocational Exchange Scholarship for an opportunity to spend one year in Germany exploring their career interests. Each high school can nominate up to three students who possess the maturity and commitment necessary to be successful in an international exchange program. Previous study of German is preferred but not required for selection to the scholarship/exchange program, which is administered by Nacel Open Door. The application must be submitted by Jan. 31, 2011, and can be downloaded from http://www.fldoe.org/workforce/programs/CP_BUNDESTAG.asp. For more information, contact Patrick Wright with the Florida Department of Education at (800) 342-9271 or Patrick.email@example.com.
Dialog of Civilizations Youth Platform Essay Contest
High school students in grades nine through 12 are invited to submit an essay for the Dialog of Civilizations Youth Platform Essay Contest given by the Gulen Institute at the University of Houston in collaboration with the Rumi Forum. Students should write an essay addressing the topic, “The use of military means as a solution to today’s international political issues: Diplomacy or war, democracy or military coup?” and submit it by Jan. 31, 2011, for a chance to win one of four scholarships ranging from $300 up to $4,000. More information can be found at www.gulenyouthplatform.org.
Arts for Life! Scholarship
Students graduating from public, private or home schools in 2011 are eligible to apply for the Arts for Life! Scholarship. Interested high school seniors who demonstrate excellence in visual art, music, dance, drama or creative writing may submit a completed application, a brief essay explaining “How the arts have positively influenced my life,” and a portfolio of work by Feb. 1, 2011. Twenty-five graduating students will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship. If you have questions, contact Lisa Kammel Raguso, Arts for Life! Program Director, at (850) 391-4090 or Lisa@ExcelinEd.org. For complete scholarship details, visit the Foundation for Excellence in Education website at http://excelined.org/Pages/Programs/Arts_For_Life.aspx.
Nominations Sought for National History Teacher of the Year
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is seeking nominations for the annual $10,000 National History Teacher of the Year award. Nominations can be made by a student, parent, colleague, supervisor, or other education professional familiar with the educator’s work. The nomination deadline is Feb. 1, 2011. To nominate a teacher and to learn more about the award, visit the Gilder Lehrman Institute website at www.gilderlehrman.org/nhtoy.
DEVELOP Program by NASA – 2011 Summer Session
Students in grades nine through 12 are encouraged to apply to attend the summer session of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) DEVELOP Applied Sciences training and development program. DEVELOP fosters the training and development of students in the sciences, extending the practical application and benefit of NASA's Earth science research to society. Students work on Earth science research projects that demonstrate how NASA science measures and predictions can be utilized by local communities and organizations to address local policies. The projects are monitored by science advisors from NASA and partner agencies. The deadline to apply for the Summer 2011 session is Feb. 28, 2011. For more information, visit the DEVELOP web page at http://develop.larc.nasa.gov/.
Florida Council for the Blind Scholarships
The Florida Council for the Blind is offering four scholarships to outstanding blind students who are residents of Florida and are enrolled in academic education, professional or technical training beyond high school. Applicants must have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 and be considered legally blind. In addition, the Florida Council of Citizens with Low Vision will award one $750 scholarship to a student who shows academic excellence or potential in his or her field. The deadline for applications is March 31, 2011. More information about the scholarships including amounts and criteria can be found at www.fcb.org. Contact Barbara Grill at (941) 966-7056 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional questions.
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