21 Aug 2019 Glades County Supports Cradle to Career Preparation
By Laura Perry, President, Glades Education Foundation, Inc.
There were many local students joyously crossing the stage in late spring, entering the next formative phase of their lives, with proud families looking on. To get a child to that life milestone, so many factors have to fall into place to prepare a child for graduation and beyond. Graduation from high school is a primary goal for many students and their families, and the Glades County School District (GCSD) has recognized that preparation and support begin even before a child goes to kindergarten.
As Florida’s 2019 legislature embraced greater support for preschool education and teachers in Florida (HB 1027), the GCSD has modified their approach to preschool as well. Beginning this fall, 3 year-old children will receive preschool services on the Moore Haven Elementary campus, as well as 4 year-olds. Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) classes will continue to be offered as well. VPK not only prepares children for kindergarten, but also provides family support and education to help students excel academically with home-based activities. Scott Bass, GCSD Superintendent stated, “If they’re not starting at a kindergarten readiness level at the beginning, they are already behind,” further supporting the need for strong preschool preparation prior to entering school.
The GCSD has also embraced AVID, which stands for “Advancement Via Individual Determination.” AVID’s K-12 program teaches students to become more organized learners by organizing their school binder and notes to be better prepared for class. They are taught a set of note-taking methods that gives them an advantage when learning new material. They eventually train to use Cornell notes, a proven method of identifying essential information and retaining it. Students are also taught how to collaborate on classroom projects, boosting their communication skills and teamwork. Once AVID students are in middle and high school, post-secondary planning plays a big role in classroom instruction. Students learn how to fill out a college application, complete financial aid applications, as well as how to apply and study for college entrance exams. The AVID program has been funded in its fourth year by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s 2019 Community Impact Grant.
Preparation doesn’t end after high school graduation, however. The GCSD is in the planning stages of offering vocational/technical programs at the Glades Regional Training Center in Moore Haven. Working in partnership with Collier County Public Schools through Superintendent Dr. Kamala Patton and Director Dorin Oxender, the GCSD is planning to bring Immokalee Technical Center programs to the lake-area region by 2021. With an expansion of classroom space and a cafeteria, the Glades County Regional Training Center will be able to provide programs in HVAC, culinary arts, diesel mechanics, business education with a focus on legal, accounting, and medical assisting, nursing (partnering with LaBelle High School and Immokalee Technical), CDL training, and heavy equipment operating.
Florida SouthWestern State College has finished plans to offer 2 dual enrollment classes on the high school campus during the school day beginning in the fall of 2019. A collegiate high school is in preparation for fall of 2020 to offer Moore Haven Middle High School Students the opportunity to complete credits towards an Associate in Arts degree at the same time as completing high school graduation requirements. This will allow more Glades County students to realize their dream of post-secondary education without the hardship of travelling great distances.
The Glades Education Foundation, recipients of Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s Community Impact Grant to assist with AVID program implementation, supports the use of AVID to prepare students in grades K-12 to be successful after graduation. The Glades Education Foundation as well as the GCSD joins regional FutureMakers Coalition members in their commitment to increase graduation rates and post-secondary attainment in Glades County. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, as well as other regional partners such as Collier County Public Schools and Florida SouthWestern State College have been instrumental in assuring student success in Glades County.
This summer, Florida Weekly has graciously allowed us, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, to spotlight the nonprofit organizations funded through the Foundation’s 2019 competitive grant cycle. Funds made available for these grants are graciously given by donors through Field of Interest Funds. Many of these donors are deceased and have left instructions to the Foundation on the causes they care about and then rely on the Foundation team to address the communities’ greatest needs within the established criteria by the donor. We have asked these grantees to share their stories. We are pleased to partner with these change-makers.