Education

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Expansion plans are on the table for a faith-based school in Santa Rosa County, including a new location.

Former Pace High School principal Frank Lay founded LEAD Academy in 2013. “LEAD” is an acronym for “Leadership, Enthusiasm, Attitude, and Discipline." Currently Kindergarten through Grade-4, plans are to move from its present location on Berryhill road to a 30-acre site on Chumuckla Highway and expand to K-through-12.

Sandra Averhart

The demolition of the historic John Sunday House last summer meant the loss of a piece of Pensacola’s history.

While efforts to save it were unsuccessful, the public debate helped to inform today’s generation about this once very prominent African-American.

In observance of Black History Month, WUWF reached to a group of fifth-grade students from N.B. Cook Elementary School of the Arts, who took what they learned about the man and turned it into short play for this year’s History Fair.

Screengrab from YouTube: Secretary of Education Nominee Betsy DeVos Opening Statement (C-SPAN)

Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as U.S. Education Secretary is drawing praise from supporters and derision from opponents. Meanwhile, a couple of local school superintendents are watching what could happen next.

Vice President Mike Pence broke the 50-50 deadlock in the Senate on Tuesday to confirm DeVos. Two Republicans voted with Democrats against confirmation. Florida’s U.S. Senators split along party lines. Republican Marco Rubio voted for DeVos, Democrat Bill Nelson voted against.

Facing a proposed ten percent budget cut, Florida’s 12 state universities and their leaders are pledging to soften that blow as much as possible for students.

Rep. Larry Ahern, who chairs the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, says the 10 percent target reductions for each school are aimed at a projected $1.7 billion shortfall.

“Agencies are precluded from submitting across-the-board reductions,” said Ahern. “So what you will be listening for today is how each of these entities would make specific decisions to meet the target.”

University of West Florida

Martha Saunders has had a few weeks to settle in to her new position as President-Elect at the University of West Florida. She is currently serving as Provost and Executive Vice President at the school. She sat down with WUWF’s Bob Barrett.

Photo via unsplash// Ilya Pavlov

Students from ITT Tech looking to continue their education can get a helping hand from George Stone Technical Center in Pensacola. 

All 137 ITT campuses across 39 states have been closed, after the U.S. Department of Education barred the for-profit from enrolling new students who depend on federal aid. The sanctions came after ITT's accrediting agency threatened to withdraw accreditation

According to the Department of Education, ITT received an estimated $580 million in federal money last year.

Richard Termine

A pioneer in children’s television is coming to Pensacola to talk about the future of the medium, and share stories about life on one of the most famous streets on Earth. Sonia Manzano knows exactly how to get to Sesame Street. Beginning in 1971 she starred as the character Maria in the classic children’s series. She says the role defined her career. "I grew up on the show. I finally retired last July (after 44 years)."

Photo via Flickr// Cindy Schultz / https://flic.kr/p/a6ZeU7

  Families across Florida will save on school supplies, clothing and shoes during a three-day tax holiday beginning Friday. The watch phrase for this year is “Smaller and Shorter.”

Florida is among 19 states and the District of Columbia to offer tax-free school purchases. Merchandise totaling $60 or less, along with on school supplies worth $15 or less are eligible for the exemption.

UWF economist Rick Harper adds that shoppers need to be smart when making their choices.

Photo via Flickr// Bethany Petrik / https://flic.kr/p/ce4nkm

Without the bell-to-bell school schedule, days fill up with fun and leisure for students on vacation. Be aware that research shows that letting the proverbial lazy days of summer become too lazy can carry a heavy price.

All students need to keep learning over the summer, said Dara Murray, manager of program quality and evaluation for the National Summer Learning Association. If they don’t, they lose part of what they learn during the school year, and those losses add up year after year.

Pensacola State College

 The Veterans Upward Bound program, at Pensacola State College is helping area veterans go back to school. The mission of the VUB program is to provide eligible veterans with remedial coursework to prepare them to enroll in college. During a recent visit Project Director Rob Gregg provided a tour of their offices.

 In the computer lab where, we met Jarrell Diggs.  Diggs, an engineman, in the Navy, where he served for nine and a half years.
 

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

The highly invasive lionfish has been become a dominant predator since it was first documented in the Gulf off Pensacola in 2010.

Armed with venomous spines, a voracious appetite and no natural predator, it’s common to find 50 to 60 lionfish on just one reef, said Andy Ross with the Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition.
But what native species are these aggressive invaders eating?

“That’s what you guys are here to help us figure out,” University of West Florida professor Jeff Eble recently told students in a marine biology class at Gulf Breeze High School.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

About 200 people gathered at Sanders Beach-Corinne Jones Resource Center for breakfast Friday to celebrate accomplishments and set goals. The cause: ECARE, Every Child A Reader in Escambia.
 
State of Florida statistics gleaned from kindergarten readiness screening tests, indicate that about 1,200 Escambia County students arrive for the first day of kindergarten ill-prepared to learn. The ECARE membership, business leaders, educators, and volunteers have made it their mission to change this by building a strong foundation of early literacy skills in pre-school.

Photo via Flickr// Alberto G. / https://flic.kr/p/9UnRWS

On a 6-1 vote this week, the Florida Board of Education approved Education Commissioner Pam Stewart’s test score and school grade proposals. But other proposals are expected to be introduced in the upcoming legislative session.

Board members considered where to set two critical benchmarks of the state's education accountability system: "cut scores" that determine the levels of achievement students get based on their performances on standardized tests, and the school grades tied to how well students do on those tests. Stewart calls it the “right approach and right balance.”

National Writing Project

In 1974 The University of California Berkeley established a program for teachers called the Bay Area Writing Project. In just two years it expanded to 14 sites in six states. That was the beginning of the National Writing Project. Now the University of West Florida has become one of the Project’s newest sites.  

IHMC

Throughout my 30-year career at the Pensacola News Journal, a recurring theme of our coverage was poverty and its impact on education. Statistics clearly show that high rates of poverty are reflected by poor performance in schools, and Escambia County has been a prime example.

One of the more enduring themes about education in Escambia is how openly people talked about taking jobs there, but buying a home in Santa Rosa County because they believed the schools were better.

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