District Employee Named Florida School Counselor of the Year


When Larissa Bennett went to work on Halloween, she was expecting to start the day off with a costume parade. The School Counselor didn’t know that her family, friends, students, colleagues and District administrators were waiting for her in the media center at Mills Elementary School in Palmetto.



Then the Superintendent emerged from the crowd calling Mrs. Bennett’s name… Dr. Diana Greene had a surprise announcement.



Larissa Bennett is the recipient of the Florida Counselor of the Year Award. She will receive the award at the Florida School Counselor Association (FSCA) Convention, which is being held November 2-4, 2017 in Orlando. After receiving the news, she shared a hug with her sons and took photos with her school family.



The School Counselor of the Year Award honors school counselors who devote their careers to serving as advocates for the students and addressing their academic, social/developmental, college/career readiness and special needs. According to FSCA, The School Counselor of the Year Award honors the best of the best – counselors who are running a top-notch, comprehensive school counseling program at either the elementary, middle or high school level.


(L-to-R) Mills’ Assistant Principal Deb Riley, Larissa Bennett, Principal James Mennes


Larissa Bennett has worked for the School District of Manatee County for 16 years. The former teacher has been a School Counselor for 12 years – and has spent the last four years working at Mills Elementary. Education is a family business — her husband, Joshua, is the Principal of Bashaw Elementary School. Her sister, Kami Lake (pictured far right), is a School Social Worker for the School District of Manatee County — and their mother (pictured far left), a retired school social worker.


(L-to-R) Principal James Mennes, Larissa Bennett and Mike Rio, Executive Director of Elementary Education


Congratulations, Larissa… we’re so proud of your accomplishments and thank you for supporting our students!

#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.


Oneco Elementary Celebrates New Community Garden



The NUBS hosted a beautiful garden party on Friday, October 27, 2017 at Oneco Elementary School in Bradenton, Florida. NUBS stands for Never Underestimate Brave Students, a group focused on volunteerism. Their motto: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”



The garden is a community project. An old garden was torn out and re-planted by Enza Zaden – and new supplies including soil were donated by Manasota Elks #2734 and several local churches including Oneco United Methodist, Living Lord Lutheran and Woodland Community Church.



Some of those community members joined students for the luncheon, which included soup, salad, cobbler and ice cream. Other guests included representatives from Keep Manatee Beautiful, Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, and Annette Codelia, one of the District’s Executive Directors of Elementary Education.



Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene was the special guest speaker at the event. She spoke of the importance of working together to strengthen our community. Dr. Greene also praised the students for their hard work – and reminded them to be thankful to those who help them succeed.



Assistant Technology Teacher, Marie Mueller, is one of the NUBS’ co-advisors. She and fellow teacher, Gretchen Hatton, have led the NUBS throughout the growth of their garden project. Later this year, the NUBS will host a group of disabled veterans for an event called “Blankets for Veterans” in which they assemble no-sew blankets for residents of Bay Pines Healthcare System.



To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow. -Audrey Hepburn



New Principal Ronnie King thanked all of the NUBS and members of the school’s Garden Club for their hard work. He also showed his appreciation to volunteers who give their valued time to the school and his students. Oneco Elementary was recently named a “Green School” by Keep Manatee Beautiful for their environmental efforts.



After the luncheon, Dr. Greene, guests and students gathered together for an official ribbon cutting at Oneco Elementary’s new garden.



ABC 7 reporter Bobeth Yates also featured the new garden for a story which aired on the evening news. To watch, please click the photo below.



#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.


ManaTeach: Oneco Elementary School


This week’s ManaTeach video comes from Madeleine Lewis and her third grade students at Oneco Elementary School in Bradenton, Florida.


“We conducted a science experiment to close our unit on Physical and Chemical changes in Matter. The students helped to organize what information needed to be included in the video to thoroughly explain the process before and after. The experiment was similar to a typical volcano (baking soda and vinegar causing a chemical reaction) but with the addition of oil, the explosion stayed contained – basically creating a lava lamp.”


ManaTeach: Oneco Elementary

The juices are flowing in Ms. Lewis' third grade class at Oneco Elementary School! In this week's #ManaTeach video, the students are teaching us a lesson in physical and chemical changes in matter. The end result may look familiar to you.

Posted by School District of Manatee County on Monday, October 23, 2017



ManaTeach allows teachers, staff and students within the School District of Manatee County to share, “What I Taught. What I Learned.”


To watch more videos, search “ManaTeach” on YouTube.


Myakka City Elementary Gives Drugs the Boot!


It’s been an exciting week at Myakka City Elementary School in Myakka City, Florida. Students and staff are participating in Red Ribbon Week (October 23-31).



First grade teacher Nikki Yates has been posting photos of her class saying NO to drugs. Red Ribbon Week is a campaign to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities.





On Tuesday, staff and students dressed up in boots and camouflage for “Give Drugs the Boot Day.”


Photo: Jill Kramer, Guidance Clerk



Wednesday was “Be a Hero – Don’t Do Drugs Day”, so all of the Mustangs wore their favorite superhero clothes.



The real excitement came on Thursday when Elroy the Elk from Manasota Elks #2734 stopped by for a visit. He said hello to students, alongside Principal Kathy Price, on “Red Out! Wear Red Day.”


#WeManatee Myakka City Elementary

High above Myakka City Elementary School, their message is still clear… "Your future is key, so stay drug free." Elroy the Elk from Manasota Elks Lodge #2734 made a surprise visit for Red Ribbon Week and stayed for the school photo taken by a parent's drone #WeManatee

Posted by School District of Manatee County on Thursday, October 26, 2017


Then perhaps the most powerful message of all, students and staff posed for a photo in front of the school as a drone flew overhead. Their message: “Your Future is Key, so Stay Drug Free!”

Great job, Mustangs!

#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.


Unity Day at Manatee Elementary


How do you spell love, peace and U-N-I-T-Y?




Students at Manatee Elementary School in Bradenton gathered together on Wednesday, October 25th for Unity Day 2017.



Almost everyone at the school was proudly wearing orange, in the form of t-shirts or bead necklaces, to show they are “United for Kindness, Acceptance and Inclusion.”




School Guidance Counselor Cassandra D’Addeo (left) and School Psychologist Noelle DeLaCruz (center) directed the students as they formed the letters U-N-I-T-Y. Kindergarten through 4th grades each spelled out a different letter, 4th and 5th grade students formed a peace symbol and Manatee Elementary School’s staff gathered in the shape of a heart.



A drone operated by Media Specialist Jerry Jones caught the attention of many curious students while it captured photos high above their heads. Afterwards, teachers proudly stood with their students for a class photo.



October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Unity Day sends a unified message that we care about student’s physical and emotional health and that bullying will not be accepted in our community!



The weather was beautiful – as were the smiles of students and staff who linked arms, hugged and supported each other during an inspiring school-wide activity.



Unity Day will be held again on Wednesday, October 24, 2018. To learn more please visit www.pacer.org/bullying. Great job, Mustangs… way to take a stand against bullying!



#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.











Red Ribbon Week at Palm View Elementary


Schools across Manatee County are taking part in Red Ribbon Week, which is held October 23-31.



Elroy the Elk visited Palm View Elementary School in Palmetto with a message, “Say NO to Drugs!” Elroy met students, Pre-K to fifth grades, during lunch time.




Members of Manasota Elks #2734 bring Elroy the Elk to several schools during the annual drug-free campaign.





Monica Arreaga is Palm View Elementary’s Graduation Enhancement Tech, or GET. She placed a bracelet on the wrist of each student to promote Red Ribbon Week.






Staff members made a poster to hang in the Panthers’ cafeteria that reads, “Palm View Panthers PROMISE to keep their paws off drugs!” Older students each signed a paw which will proudly be displayed.





Elroy the Elk will visit five other schools including Daughtrey Elementary, Oneco Elementary, Myakka Elementary, Willis Elementary and Prine Elementary. For more information about Red Ribbon Week, visit www.redribbon.org.

#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.

Jobs for Florida’s Graduates at Bayshore High School


There is an inspiring quote on the front of Jobs for Florida’s Graduates (JFG) website:


That same sentiment was echoed at Bayshore High School this week.



An Installation and Induction Ceremony was held in the Media Center for 90 high school seniors, who will be exploring careers and post-secondary education as part of the school’s “Jobs for Florida’s Graduates” program.



Stacy Cummings, pictured above with a JFG student, is the Jobs for Florida’s Graduates Teacher at Bayshore High. She said their program recently received a grant, so students will be taking a field trip to explore the University of South Florida in Tampa.


JFG students celebrating a successful program, some dressed in costume for the high school’s Spirit Week


Many of the JFG students are members of other organizations such as Drug Free Manatee and SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco). They will be participating in several community service projects throughout this school year.


Pictured R-to-L: Dr. Diana Greene, Elizabeth Alvarado and husband


Several special guests attended the ceremony, including Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene, who was inspired after hearing the story of Elizabeth Alvarado. The Braden River High School graduate said despite the challenges in her life, she never gave up on her dreams. Alvarado received a full scholarship to Harvard University and graduated in 2015.



JFG students also heard from a retired educator, Mary Anne Kauffman, who said they should follow three C’s in life: CHOICE to take a CHANCE to make a CHANGE. The former Bayshore High School teacher also told the crowd that there’s one thing that could give them new, better opportunities – and it doesn’t cost a thing… SMILE; it could make a difference in your next job interview.



There were lots of smiles throughout the room following the ceremony. Light refreshments were served including bagels and pastries.


Principal Wendell Butler (left) and a JFG student at Bayshore High


Bayshore High School’s new Principal knows that a smile, along with hard work, can go a long way. This is Wendell Butler’s first year as a principal – and as a Bruin. He is a graduate from the School District of Manatee County, and worked for several years at his alma mater, Southeast High School.




Good luck to Bayshore High School’s JFG Class of 2017-2018. We look forward to following your successes!


#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.