Business Partner Kicks Off Community Outreach with New Shoes for Homeless Students


Hundreds of homeless students in Manatee County will receive a brand new pair of shoes and socks thanks to the generosity of Regions Bank and it’s customers. Bank associates delivered several boxes of donations to the District’s School Support Center on Thursday, as part of a community outreach program called Share the Good.



“Share the Good is about finding meaningful ways we can give back to the communities where we live and work,” said Marty Lanahan, West Florida Area President for Regions Bank. “The difference these donations make for students is truly incredible, and our goal is to build on this outreach and help even more students.” The program is in its eighth year.


(L-to-R) Dennise Berger, Jo Johnson, Melissa Brady, Dr. Diana Greene and Lissette Fernandez with donations


Bank associates presented 376 new pairs of shoes and 102 new pairs of socks to Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene and Lissette Fernandez, a school social worker, on behalf of Project HEART. Customers and employees of six different Regions Bank locations in Manatee County participated in the donation drive.

Project HEART is the School District of Manatee County’s Title X Homeless Education Program, providing education-related support services for students who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. According to Fernandez, there were more than 1,900 students who qualified for Project HEART during the 2016-17 school year. That’s an increase of 400 students from the previous school year.

Regions Bank associates also provided financial education to students at Southeast High School; and donated finance-related books to school libraries, as part of the Share the Good campaign. Together with our business partners… #WeManatee.

#WeManatee stands for We are the School District of Manatee County. No matter what challenges we face, we strengthen each other when we stand together.

Former Astronaut, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Spends Solar Eclipse at Buffalo Creek Middle School


The students and staff at Buffalo Creek Middle School in Palmetto won’t soon forget where they were for #SolarEclipse2017. While students from the School District of Manatee County were limited to watching the event safely indoors, this group had a guest speaker that was “out of this world!”


Florida Senator Bill Nelson thanking school nurses and the Cafeteria Manager for all they do at Buffalo Creek Middle


U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, made a stop at the school while visiting the area. He was joined by his son, Bill Nelson, Jr., staff and deputies from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene attended the event, along with School Board Chair Charlie Kennedy, Vice-Chair John Colon, and Board Member Scott Hopes. After greeting Buffalo Creek’s Cafeteria Manager and two school nurses in the hallway, the U.S. Senator made his way into the cafeteria amid cheers and clapping.


Photo: School District of Manatee County


With two giant screens playing out the historical event on television, the former astronaut used a lamp and a globe to teach a science lesson about the Solar Eclipse. Afterwards, he took questions from an audience of approximately 300 students, such as “How do you go to the bathroom in space?” “Very carefully,” joked the Florida Senator.


Photo: School District of Manatee County


In January 1986, Sen. Nelson became the first sitting member of the United States House of Representatives to fly in space. He flew as a Payload Specialist on the Space Shuttle Columbia. The Senator also shared his experiences eating in space, how it feels to be weightless, when he thinks an American will travel to Mars, and what tragic events led to the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia disasters.


An eighth grade student, who is a member of the yearbook staff, joins veteran reporters to capture the special event


About an hour after speaking to students and staff, Eleanor, an eighth grader, found herself in the middle of a press junket — surrounded by television, radio, and newspaper reporters.  When Sen. Nelson was finished answering questions, he looked around for the young woman. “I promised her a photo,” he said, “She mentioned that she was taking them for the school yearbook.”


Principal Dustin Dahlquist accepts a signed poster from Senator Bill Nelson, who flew in space aboard STS-61-C Columbia


Senator Nelson left a lasting impression on the Hawks. Students got a science lesson from a prominent figure on a day that will appear in future history books. The next time you’re at Buffalo Creek Middle School check out their newest gift, a signed poster from a former astronaut.



#WeManatee stands for We are the School District of Manatee County. No matter what challenges we face, we strengthen each other when we stand together.

First Day of School for the School District of Manatee County: By the Numbers


It was a busy morning throughout Manatee County. Alarm clocks rang out earlier than usual, children dressed in their favorite outfits, and school buses were back on the road. It’s the first day of school and the start of the 2017-2018 year for 49,500 students and 6,800 employees of the School District of Manatee County!


(L-to-R) School Board Chair Charlie Kennedy, Gina Messenger, Vice Chair John Colon & Dave “Watchdog” Miner


Before sunrise, School Board members joined Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene and other district staff, to send-off 144 school buses. Each person wore a t-shirt printed with #WeManatee as they waved goodbye to drivers leaving the Matzke Support Center. Their signs read, “Thank you.” Approximately 16,000 students were transported daily last year at 15,000 miles-per-day. That equals 427,287 gallons of fuel consumed by school buses last year.


PHOTO: School District of Manatee County


The district’s seven traditional public high schools are the first to welcome students back for the new year. Classes at most high schools begin at 7:30 a.m. Principal Rosa Faison greeted students this morning as they were dropped off. This is her second year as the leader of Southeast High School; she has worked for the School District since 2009.


PHOTO: School District of Manatee County


Dr. Diana Greene has a busy schedule on the first day of school. Her third stop for the day (during her third year as Superintendent) was Palma Sola Elementary School. That’s where she read “The Sandwich Swap” to Mrs. Burt’s third grade class. “The new year is off to a GREAT start! It’s our students, staff, parents, & community that make this School District so successful,” she wrote in a Tweet [@DrDianaGreene].


PHOTO: School District of Manatee County


Meanwhile at Wakeland Elementary School, the president of the PTO (Parent-Teacher Organization) gives an interview to Manatee Schools Television about the upcoming year. It’s the final “first day of school” for Stefano Biancardi. In December, after working more than 35 years in the School District — the MSTV Supervisor, and former teacher, will retire.


PHOTO: School District of Manatee County


The school day is underway at Bayshore Elementary School and students get to know their first grade teacher, Debbie Haggerty. She started the day with roll call – a familiar tradition since she started in her position in 1990. There are 32 traditional public elementary schools in Manatee County and approximately 2,900 teachers, which includes media specialists and guidance counselors.


PHOTO: School District of Manatee County


One of 10 traditional middle schools, Haile Middle, has a brand new principal at the helm. Kate Collis welcomed 447 new sixth graders today during an assembly. Students received handbooks and learned about their class schedules. More than 100 staff members from four administration sites also help out on the first day of school to ensure that students across the school district get the assistance they need to succeed!


#WeManatee stands for We are the School District of Manatee County. No matter what challenges we face, we strengthen each other when we stand together.





Community Volunteers Time, Gives Gift of ‘Christmas in August’


The temperature at LECOM Park was nearly 90 degrees, but that didn’t stop a large group of volunteers from showing up to help prepare for Bradenton Kiwanis Club’s ‘Christmas in August’. The Florida home to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Bradenton Marauders hosts the annual event for needy families. ‘Christmas in August’ serves those who qualify for Project HEART, a program which helps families who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless.


Linda Agresta joins fellow Bradenton Kiwanis members (PHOTO: School District of Manatee County)



It’s the last Friday before the new school year starts; and among the baseballs and batting cage nets are tubs filled with toiletries and school supplies — all donated by community partners and sponsors. That’s where we found retired educator and Bradenton Kiwanis member Linda Agresta. Her smile and enthusiasm lights up any room. She serves as the perfect co-chair of the 7th annual event, and is excited that Manatee County’s homeless students (and their families) will receive free vision, medical, and dental exams; haircuts; food from the Salvation Army; books from the Early Learning Coalition; and support services from United Way Suncoast and Manatee Technical College.


Alysha O’Dell (2nd from left) and teammates from SCF organizing supplies (PHOTO: School District of Manatee County)


Alysha O’Dell, a 2017 Manatee High School graduate, isn’t a stranger to helping those in need. “I was homeless and with the help of others,” said O’Dell, “We were able to turn our life around.” She came to help stuff backpacks with her fellow students from the State College of Florida volleyball team. O’Dell is a freshman in college and hopes to double major in Nursing and Health Services. Whether she’s feeding the homeless or donating clothing and school supplies for those in-need, she says that she is willing to do what it takes to make a difference in the community.


Volunteers representing Bank of America, including Jack, fill backpacks (PHOTO: School District of Manatee County)


One of the youngest volunteers was Jack, a 7th grader at Braden River Middle School. He was there alongside his mom and younger sister, helping fill backpacks with paper, pencils, scissors, and other school supplies. Approximately 500 students in Manatee County will take home one of the backpacks. He’s familiar with giving back, too. Jack and his family frequently visit the Pride Park neighborhood on Saturday’s with their church, serving food and playing with children who live there. About what he’s doing today, Jack’s mom said, “he has a big heart for this!”


Marquel Simmons (right) among volunteers forming an assembly line (PHOTO: School District of Manatee County)


As a senior at Palmetto High School in 2014, Marquel Simmons started a program which allows youth leaders to serve as “Teen Health Educators” to peers and parents. They visit homeless shelters to discuss everything from dating violence to substance abuse, with high-risk teens. “I’m trying to make an impact in my community,” said the State College of Florida student. His group will be among the people making a difference at the Christmas in August event, helping families and students get the new school year off to a great start!


For more information about this event, please visit


#WeManatee stands for We are the School District of Manatee County. No matter what challenges we face, we strengthen each other when we stand together.