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News Story
Updated: 08/27/2014 08:00:02AM

Rays Foundation awards $5,000 to Polk Education Foundation

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Christine Roslow

PHOTO PROVIDED

From left is Susan Copeland, Executive Director; Ray’s Mascot; Shannan Combee, Teacher to Teacher Program Director.

PHOTO PROVIDED

Focus student Owen Forbes.

PHOTO PROVIDED

Focus student Ariel Brant.

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Polk Education Foundation got $5,000 from Rays Foundation for the 2014-2015 school year and the money will be used to provide mini grants through the Teacher to Teacher Connection program. This program is a layered network of teachers sharing Best Practices. Grants will focus on the areas of increasing literacy, low-performers and STEM education.

The first phase of the Teacher to Teacher program is the Developer phase. Teachers who have developed and implemented a program in their classroom are invited to apply for a Developer grant worth $600-$1,000. Once chosen they work with PEF to produce the current year’s Catalog of Excellence. In the fall of each year, current developers join with past developers to present their programs at the IDEA Expo. All PreK-8 teachers across Polk and Hardee are invited to attend this drop-in style event. Teachers who wish to replicate a developer’s program have the opportunity to apply for an adapter grant worth $400-$800.

Developers also serve as mentors for the adapters replicating their specific programs. Grant funds allow teachers to purchase materials necessary to implement the program in their classroom.

Students show improvement in algebra through summer program

Polk County students who enrolled in a summer program to receive extra help with algebra experienced significant improvement in their mathematical skills, according to testing data from the Polk County School District.

More than 200 students participated in six weeks of instruction. They were tested using Florida’s end-of-course assessment for Algebra 1, which measures students’ proficiency in algebra and must be passed in order for students to graduate.

Testing figures show that 47.4 percent of students in the algebra summer program who previously scored in the two lowest categories on this assessment improved to a passing score and are considered proficient in the subject matter. This compares to a state average of 31 percent pass rate for students retaking the end-of-course assessment for Algebra 1.

In fact, 13 of the students in the summer learning program scored an Achievement Level 4. This indicates that these students went beyond a passing score and are considered high achieving.

Head Start centers serving free meals

Head Start centers at more than 20 locations, including public schools throughout Polk County, are serving nutritious meals and snacks at no charge to eligible children.

These centers are taking part in the Child Care Food Program, which is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The meals are available at no charge to all participants enrolled at the Head Start centers in these area schools:

Eagle Lake Elementary, Frostproof Elementary, Gause Academy Head Start, Gibbons Street Elementary, Laurel Elementary, Lewis Anna Woodbury Elementary, McLaughlin Middle & Fine Arts Academy, Sleepy Hill Elementary, Spook Hill Elementary.

PSC to host photography exhibit

Polk State College has a reception planned for the photography of Thomas K. Mack from 5:30-7 p.m. on Sept. 4, at the Polk State Winter Haven Fine Arts Gallery which is free and open to the public.

It is to kick off the exhibit that will be on display Sept. 2-25 at the Polk State Winter Haven Fine Arts Gallery, 999 Ave. H N.E. in Winter Haven.

Mack’s interest in photography goes back to his childhood, but he has been shooting professionally since 1999. Last year, he put on the biggest exhibit of his career, “Have Lens Will Travel” at the Polk Museum of Art.

“I travel to photograph and I photograph to travel,” said Mack, 56, who earned his Associate in Arts degree from Polk State College

Given his always-on-the-go lifestyle, attendees of his Polk State exhibit will see images captured from far-flung locations such as Italy, Scotland and Vancouver.

Mack will display nearly 40 images. There’s no real theme to the subjects — they include animals, people and buildings. What catches his eye as an artist, he said, is lighting.

“If the subject is well lit, I’ll shoot it,” he said.

Mack said he also shoots many of his images using a fisheye lens, which gives viewers a sense of the space surrounding his subjects.

“It feels closer, more intimate,” he said.

Admission to the gallery is free. For information, call 863-297-1051.

Acoustic Gangster to play lunch

Polk State Lake Wales will present a lunchtime concert by Minneapolis-based singer and guitarist Brian Alexander, aka The Acoustic Gangster.

The event will take place from 1-3 p.m. on Aug. 26 at the Polk State JD Alexander Center, 152 E. Central Ave.

The concert is free and open to the public.

Alexander uses his six-string to cover hits by The Smashing Pumpkins, Live, Blind Melon, and the Presidents of the United States, putting mellow spins on rock hits of the 1990s.

The stop in Lake Wales is part of his Ruff Around the Edges tour, which benefits the ASPCA.

Alexander’s concert is part of the Polk State Lake Wales Arts Center’s Downtown Concert Series and Arts Incubator Series, both of which have brought a wide variety of musicians, actors and visual artists to the area.

Lakeland Fire Department opportunity and career for underprivileged students

The Lakeland Fire Department has developed and implemented a scholarship program to help homeless Polk County seniors in high school and recent graduates.

The program is intended and designed to provide the opportunity at a successful adult life through a career in the fire service. It is the hope that through this program the same can be afforded to a deserving young person.

The scholarship program was born from the department’s desire to help those in need in its community while at the same time addressing desires to develop a workforce that is more representative of its community.

In its inaugural year, several compelling applicants came to the selection committee’s attention, and two candidates were selected: Ariel Brant, 18, and Owen Forbes Nieves, 19, both Polk County School’s graduates who began classes Aug. 21.

LFD became affiliated with Polk County Public Schools’ Homeless Education Advocates Restoring the Hope (HEARTH) project approximately two years ago. The HEARTH project is a special division within the school system to provide support for students that meet the school boards’ definition of homelessness.

The program is not a guarantee for employment. Although they are encouraged to apply with LFD upon their successful completion of fire standards and meeting all necessary requirements, they are in no way guaranteed employment and must be hired on their own merit.


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