Manatee County educator receives honors during college football game


It’s hard to miss Bernadette Pletcher’s bright smile in the end zone at Doak Cambell stadium. The longtime educator was posing for a photo in front of Seminoles’ mascots Chief Osceola, Renegade and more than 60,000 football fans in Tallahassee on Saturday.


Mrs. Pletcher, the Principal of Bayshore Elementary School, was invited to stand alongside Florida State University President John Thrasher to be honored as one of the state’s top educators. A special announcement was made during the halftime program at the FSU vs. NC State game.


Mrs. Pletcher is Florida’s 2019 Assistant Principal of the Year. She was serving students at Tillman Elementary School in Palmetto when the award was announced last year.

Bernadette Pletcher, Florida’s Assistant Principal of the Year (center); Courtesy: FSU College of Education


Saturday’s recognition was part of Florida State University College of Education’s launch of ElevatED – an initiative designed to bring attention to the teaching profession and to recognize those who work in schools every day. Mrs. Pletcher has worked for the School District of Manatee County for ten years.


Courtesy: FSU College of Education


Mrs. Pletcher joined Florida’s Teacher of the Year, Dr. Dakeyan Cha Dre Graham of Hillsborough County and others during an FSU Scholarship Awards breakfast and during halftime of the college football game.

Read more about the honor in the Tallahassee Democrat.



WeManatee celebrates the people in Manatee County who make a difference in public education – and those who benefit from it. Search #WeManatee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see the great things happening in our public schools.


Health students learn life-saving techniques at King Middle School


More than 150 students at King Middle School recently became certified to treat a severely bleeding victim. The students are members of the school’s health and HOSA classes. HOSA is a student organization for Future Health Professionals.



“Stop the Bleed” training was sponsored by the Manatee County School District’s S.T.A.N.D. program, which stands for “Students Against Negative Decisions.” It’s a program to reduce high-risk behaviors among our youth in an attempt to promote their success.



Health professionals from Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, along with volunteers from the Medical Reserve Corps, provided the training on September 18, 2019. Students learned how to call for help and apply a tourniquet for a severely injured victim.



Manatee High School’s Key Club, led by teacher Charlie Mills, initially led the training program. They will return to King Middle School in November to certify the entire staff.



“Thank you to the S.T.A.N.D. program for providing this opportunity for hands-on experience in our classroom that can save lives and protect safety,” said Jon Syre, Health and PE teacher at King Middle School.



WeManatee celebrates the people in Manatee County who make a difference in public education – and those who benefit from it. Search #WeManatee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see the great things happening in our public schools.

A powerful lesson in giving: Lee Middle School students provide relief for Bahamas


The 8th grade hallway at Lee Middle School is clear again, for now. Large boxes from The Home Depot have lined the walls outside of the school’s business classroom for the last few weeks. Written on the boxes in black marker are words like: kids clothes, toilet paper, diapers, bleach, canned fruit and veggies. For Richard Daenell and his students, this scenario is nothing new.



Mr. Daenell and his students, mostly members of FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), frequently jump into action following natural disasters. They have taken much-needed items to areas ravaged by storms including Key West and Florida’s Panhandle. This time, the students are collecting supplies for people impacted by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. Students have been busy, during and after-school, sorting and packing the donations.



After Mr. Daenell sent out a call-to-action, items came pouring in from local businesses, students and staff, community members and even other schools, like Miller Elementary. Last Friday, approximately 10,000 pounds of donations were loaded into Lee Middle School’s travel trailer and taken to a warehouse, set up as a hurricane relief staging area in Bradenton.



The effort is being spearheaded by Yellowfin Yachts and Haulin Grass Fishing Team. Mr. Daenell and his students delivered the items on Saturday morning, where they would be loaded onto a truck headed for South Florida. From there, the items will be flown to the Bahamas. Shallow water barges carrying the supplies could make it to the hardest hit islands this week, according to Daenell.



“This is only the beginning,” said Richard Daenell. “We will continue to collect donations as long as we have a direct connection to the people who need it most in the Bahamas.” They can be dropped off at Lee Middle School, located at 4000 53rd Avenue West in Bradenton, during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Monetary donations will be used to purchase items, such as generators.



WeManatee stands for “We are the School District of Manatee County” and celebrates people in our community who make a difference in public education – and those who benefit from it.

High school seniors earn honor as National Merit Semifinalists


Five Manatee District seniors have been named Semifinalists in the prestigious 65th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

These academically talented high school students have the opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next Spring.

The 2020 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists from School District of Manatee County’s traditional public schools include:

 Jacob Whiddon of Braden River High School

 Madigan Wilford of Braden River High School

 Claire Davidson of Lakewood Ranch High School

 Olivia Hansen of Manatee High School    

 Hailey Maurer of Southeast High School    

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition.

More than 1.5 million juniors, in more than 21,000 high schools, entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

The Semifinalists, representing less than one-percent of U.S. high school seniors, include the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the Spring of 2020: 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships; 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards; and 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards.

Winners will be announced beginning in April 2020 through July 2020. These scholarship recipients will join approx. 345,000 other students who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

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