Groundbreaking | Barbara A. Harvey Elementary School


(Parrish, FL – July 31, 2018) Despite damp conditions, the groundbreaking ceremony for Barbara A. Harvey Elementary School in Parrish felt sunny and bright. Family and friends of the longtime educator gathered together wearing pink and green on the 20-acre site, set to open in August 2019 at Moccasin Wallow Road and 115th Avenue East.


Barbara A. Harvey Elementary School is scheduled to open August 2019


Construction has already begun on the two-story brick building that will be built for approximately 820 students. NDC Construction Company is building the school – and Hepner Architects, Inc. designed the structure. The $28 million project is being built using bond proceeds purchased with the help of Manatee County citizens’ approval of a half-cent sales tax for district capital needs.


The grandson of Barbara A. Harvey joined in the festivities with his own toy shovel


Joining Mrs. Harvey at the groundbreaking were several members of her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha; Rev. Terry Cary, Sr. of Harvest Field Community Church in Parrish; Rev. Fletcher Lawson, Sr. of St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church in Parrish; Superintendent Cynthia Saunders; School Board Members: Dr. Scott Hopes – Chair, Gina Messenger – Vice-Chair, John Colon, Charlie Kennedy and Dave “Watchdog” Miner. Community members, school district officials and media also attended.


The groundbreaking was broadcast live on the school district’s Facebook page.



Born in Sanford, Florida, Mrs. Harvey is a former educator, administrator and School Board Member for the School District of Manatee County. Mrs. Harvey began her career in education in Manatee County as a teacher at Palmetto’s former Memorial Elementary School in 1961. She also taught at Palma Sola Elementary, served as Assistant Principal at Palmetto Elementary and served as Principal at Miller Elementary School.


School Board Member Barbara Harvey at the groundbreaking for Rogers Garden Elementary


Mrs. Harvey retired as Director of Elementary Education in 1995 but her work in education didn’t end there. She served as a School Board Member for 16 years. Mrs. Harvey later founded Educational Consortium Consultants Inc. in Palmetto, a center offering students’ academic and enrichment classes after-school.


Aerial photo of Harvey Elementary construction site, July 2018


Barbara A. Harvey Elementary School is the first new elementary school in Manatee County since G.D. Rogers Garden (-Bullock) Elementary School opened in 2009. Two other schools are under construction in Manatee County including Jain Middle School in Lakewood Ranch and North River High School in Parrish.

#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.




Manatee County Students Compete in National STAR Event

More than 7,500 Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) members, advisers, alumni, and guests from across the country gathered in Atlanta for the 2018 National Leadership Conference from June 28-July 2, 2018. The meeting provided Manatee County members with the opportunity to attend leadership and program training, hear national speakers, meet the National Executive Council, explore colleges and careers, and be Inspired with FCCLA. Advisors: Jill Bergeron from Braden River Middle, Elaine Bowling from Lakewood Ranch High and Farrol Thomas from Manatee High School were in attendance with their students. Ten students from Braden River Middle, 14 from Lakewood Ranch High and two from Manatee High School were among the members who took part in STAR Event competitions at the conference.

FCCLA’s STAR Events (Students Taking Action with Recognition) are competitive events in which members are recognized for proficiency and achievement in chapter and individual projects, leadership skills and career preparation. Youth and adults work together to manage the events and serve as evaluators of the participants. Throughout the year, FCCLA members tackle issues such as teen violence prevention, traffic safety, family issues, career exploration and much more. FCCLA programs and competitions support students’ development of knowledge and skills by enhancing the classroom experience and career pathway initiatives, while participating in work-based learning and developing college and career-ready skills.

FCCLA offers over 30 STAR Events. These events, which include Early Childhood Education, Entrepreneurship and Sports Nutrition, among others, represent college and career readiness skills taught in Family and Consumer Sciences classrooms. Members compete at the District, State and National level. This year, there were more than 4,200 STAR Event participants who competed in Atlanta.

Manatee County Results

Braden River Middle School:

Gold medal: Elayna Andrews and Taylore Keesler for the event, Interpersonal Communications
Gold medal: Sheri Benson and Mallory Tyler for the event, Chapter in Review Portfolio
Gold medal: LibbyAnn Ling and Devin Vancil for the event, Advocacy
Gold medal: Lily Vazquez for the event, Career Investigation
Bronze medal: Mason Kaufman and Josh Schwab for the event, Illustrated Talk
Bronze medal: Alexandria Williams for the event, Chapter Service Project Portfolio

Lakewood Ranch High School:

Gold Medal: Ella DeRosa and Samantha DeRosa for the event, Food Innovations
Gold Medal: Kelly Kisida and Audrey Mahoney for the event, Chapter Service Project Portfolio
Silver Medal: Ta’nya Bell, Gyvalia Henry and Arianna Kelly for the event, Chapter in Review Display
Silver Medal: Morgan Kirchman for the event, Leadership
Silver Medal: Giana Dreger and Cori Lunsford for the event, Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation
Bronze Medal: Christopher Holmes for the event Job Interview

Manatee High School:

Gold Medal: Caroline Chasteen and Noah Quillan for the event, Food Innovations

Thank you to Jill Bergeron, Teacher & FCCLA Advisor at Braden River Middle School for submitting this article.

Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) is a dynamic and effective national student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address important personal, family, work, and societal issues through Family and Consumer Sciences education. FCCLA has more than 160,000 members and more than 5,300 chapters from 49 state associations, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

FCCLA: The Ultimate Leadership Experience is unique among youth organizations because its programs are planned and run by members, and it’s the only career and technical in-school student organization with a central focus on careers that support families. Participation in national FCCLA programs and chapter activities helps members become strong leaders in their families, careers, and communities.

#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.

Education Day is a Home Run at LECOM Park


It was a beautiful day at the ballpark for thousands of Manatee County students. The annual Education Day event took place at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida on May 16th. Approximately 2,000 students plus chaperones, joined The Marauders for a day filled with baseball, learning and fun!



The Bradenton Marauders/Pittsburgh Pirates are a valued community business partner and offer this opportunity to schools throughout the district. Students take a field trip to the game at a discounted rate and their ticket includes lunch. Many public schools opted to participate this year, including Prine, Wakeland, Moody, Palma Sola, McNeal, Williams, Willis, Samoset, Palm View, Stewart, Kinnan, Braden River, Rogers Garden-Bullock and Abel Elementary Schools. Charter schools, Rowlett Academy and SCF Collegiate participated too.



“The business partnership between the School District of Manatee County and the Bradenton Marauders allows our students to enjoy Education Day, in addition to other initiatives throughout the school year,” said Deborah Perry-Gambino, the district’s Community Engagement Specialist. “We are so grateful for this continued partnership and look forward to the 2018/19 school year!”



The experience is interactive. There are contests, giveaways and booths with learning opportunities from community organizations such as Manatee County Libraries and Mote Marine Laboratory. Marty the Marauder was available for photo ops – and a team of Marauders staff cooled down the crowd with water guns.



You can tell by the smiles on both the kids’ and the adults’ faces that a great time was had by all. Go Marauders!



The entire community is invited to join The Marauders for their ‘End of School’ Night celebration. The game is taking place on Saturday, May 26th at 6:30 p.m.; gates open at 5 p.m. There will be post-game fireworks – and the purchase of each ticket comes with a FREE Marauders hat and souvenir fountain drink. Order tickets online here.



#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.


Volunteers Thanked with Song and Dance at Rogers Garden-Bullock Elementary


Community members gathered today at Rogers Garden-Bullock Elementary School in Bradenton. A breakfast was provided for some of the volunteers who spend their valuable time helping students and staff at the school.



Principal Pat Stream and GET (Graduation Enhancement Tech) Carolyn Wilson opened the event with words of praise for the parents, church members and law enforcement officers attending the event.



Volunteers were served a delicious breakfast of grits, sausage, eggs, hash browns and toast to the thankful crowd. Many of the attendees were members of Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Bradenton Police Department and Palmetto Police Departments.



One group of students performed on the xylophones and other musical instruments. A second group of young women had a wonderful dance routine for the crowd, which included splits and kicks.



After the breakfast program, Assistant Principals Toni Schroer and Andrea Keezer, asked volunteers to join them to receive a plaque and a flower as a “thank you” from the school. Recipients included parents, several community churches, a representative from the Pirates/Marauders, a participant from United Way Suncoast’s ReadingPals, members of a local Moose Lodge and more.


“Only a life lived for others is worth living.” — Albert Einstein



#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.

Groundbreaking | Dr. Mona Jain Middle School


Friday the 13th is a lucky day for Dr. Mona Jain.

On the same day she was hired by the school district more than 50 years ago, she attended the groundbreaking of a brand new school which will bear her name.



Dr. Mona Jain Middle School is located on a 27-acre site adjacent to Gullett Elementary School, near 44th Avenue East and White Eagle Blvd. in Lakewood Ranch.

Born in India, Dr. Jain is both a medical doctor and an educator. She came to America in 1964 and taught at Bayshore Middle School and Bayshore High School in Manatee County.


(L-to-R) Dr. Anila Jain and her mother, Dr. Mona Jain


“She was a mentor to students, teachers and staff members,” said Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene, “She is a strong advocate for inspiring young women to be interested in science and math.”

Florida Governor Lawton Chiles appointed her to serve on the Florida Commission on the Status of Women and after leaving education, she served as the Director of Family Health Services for Manatee County’s Head Start program.

Dr. Jain is a Fulbright scholar and a winner of the University of South Florida’s Distinguished Alumna Award.



“This school is not dedicated to one person,” said Dr. Mona Jain during the ceremony, “I am dedicating to everybody who believes in education and especially to the educators of the past, present and future.”

Other guest speakers spoke on behalf of Dr. Mona Jain, including School Board Chairman, Dr. Scott Hopes. “When the students of this soon-to-be built middle school go through orientation and learn the story of Dr. Mona Jain,” Hopes said. “They will know that they too can achieve great things through knowledge attainment and the American dream can be achieved through the doors of Dr. Mona Jain Middle School.”


(L-to-R) Daryl Dillow, Nate Carr, Cynthia Saunders, Dr. Scott Hopes, Dr. Mona Jain, Dr. Diana Greene, John Colon, Ron Ciranna, Stephen Johnson, Dave “Watchdog” Miner


One of the project’s architects also spoke to how it will benefit the community. “Not only is this school going to be a safe and secure environment for students, parents and the community at-large,” said Stephen Johnson of Harvard Jolly Architecture. “It will also be a gleaming, 21st-century modern, technology-rich environment for all of these students over the years to enjoy.”

Dr. Jain Middle School is being built to house approximately 1,100 students and is expected to open in August 2019.

A woman from India is serving as the Project Manager for the new school.


Willis Smith Construction team along with Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene (center)


“We’re particularly honored to be building this school in Dr. Jain’s name,” said Nate Carr, Vice President of Willis Smith Construction. “What resonates most with us is her attention to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects and careers and how she’s helped young ladies reach higher in their careers and lives.”

Dr. Mona Jain Middle School will alleviate overcrowding at other east county middle schools such as Haile, Nolan, Buffalo Creek and Braden River – and will be the first new middle school opened by the district since 2007.

The total projected budget for Dr. Mona Jain Middle is $45 million.



#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.

Celebrating Black History at Samoset Elementary School


In February, schools in Manatee County celebrated Black History Month – including Samoset Elementary.




Teachers, students and staff worked hard on a door decorating contest, recognizing important leaders in U.S. History.



The winning door celebrated Ruby Bridges, an American Civil Rights activist. Mrs. Gilmer’s Kindergarten class will receive free backpacks for each student in the class.



Ice cream parties will also be given to Mrs. Gilmer’s class, as well as Ms. Salvitti and Mrs. Potter’s third grade class, and Ms. Rodgers’ third grade class.



Special guests were recently invited to view the doors and attend a luncheon at the school.



A wonderful meal was served by volunteers and faculty.


(L-to-R) Tawanda Means, Graduation Enhancement Tech for Samoset Elementary with Dr. Greene


Those attendees included Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene; Deputy Superintendent Cynthia Saunders; Executive Director of Elementary Schools, Mike Rio; School Board Member, Charlie Kennedy and several others.



Fredd Atkins, the first African American Mayor of Sarasota, also attended the event.



Follow Samoset Elementary School on Instagram to see all the great things happening at their school!



#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.

Florida’s First Lady Celebrates Literacy in Manatee County


Florida’s First Lady Ann Scott made stops at three Manatee County Schools on Tuesday, January 23, 2018. She visited Willis Elementary, McNeal Elementary and Tara Elementary, as part of a statewide tour for Celebrate Literacy Week.



While at Willis Elementary in Lakewood Ranch, Mrs. Scott met Savannah Adams, a fifth-grade student who wrote a letter to Governor Scott last year as part of a social studies project. Adams was thrilled to escort Florida’s First Lady into the school’s media center, where she read to Keli Geogas’ and Karen Nikla’s fourth and fifth grade classes. Mrs. Scott also watched first-grade students working in a STEM Lab – and listened in during a music class, where students were learning to play the xylophone.



Students holding signs lined the walkway at McNeal Elementary School, welcoming Florida’s First Lady. She was also given a tour by students, as they made their way to the media center. Mrs. Scott read to the two third-grade classes of Amber Manfredi and Elizabeth Smith. Then, she made her way to a fifth-grade classroom.



“It was such a pleasure to have Mrs. Scott in our classroom today,” said teacher Olivia Mayer. “My students and I are so grateful that she chose our school to visit.” Mrs. Scott read a chapter from one of Mayer’s favorite books, “The Talented Clementine.”



Two Safety Patrol Captains, Jimmy Daley and Kayleigh Lollar, greeted Mrs. Scott at Tara Elementary. During each visit, Florida’s First Lady shared photos of the Governors’ Mansion in Tallahassee – as well as photos of her family and six grandchildren. Second-grade teacher, Tina Backhus, was excited to give flowers to Mrs. Scott and share with her that she too, has grandchildren – 11 to be exact.



The last visit was to Angie Willett’s classroom, where Mrs. Scott read to an enthusiastic group of first graders. After finishing “Dragons Love Tacos,” the children asked her to keep reading. She gladly obliged, finishing their visit with “The Rainbow Fish.”



The First Lady’s new book is called “Ally & Jordi’s Adventures Through Florida,” which was inspired by her daughters. It describes the people and historical places across the state, including Fort DeSoto and Nik Wallenda, a famous high wire performer who lives in our community. Mrs. Scott spoke in detail about her family – and read a passage from the book to every class that she visited today in Manatee County.



Each school received a gift from Mrs. Scott, including their own copy of her new book for their library. She told all of the students that during this last year of the Governor’s term in office, she will continue to focus on reading and literacy by visiting schools across the state.




Special guests who joined Florida’s First Lady at the schools include Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene, Board Chairman Dr. Scott Hopes, Board Member Charlie Kennedy, Executive Directors of Elementary Education Annette Codelia and Mike Rio, along with many valued school administrators, staff members and 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.

Toys for Tots, Others Provide Holiday Cheer at Manatee Elementary


Christmas came early for students at Manatee Elementary School in Bradenton, Florida. Thanks to generous donations from the community, Santa’s elves set up shop in the historic auditorium at the school. Every single student received a gift of their choice.



Among the toys were dolls, puzzles, trains and crafts, bringing smiles to the faces of each boy and girl. Students were dressed in pajamas, which is a familiar practice for some schools on the last day before winter break.



Teachers, dressed in festive sweaters, loved seeing each of their students receive a special gift. Some were handmade by a member of the local Lion’s Club. The wooden toys including cars, trains, banks, baby cradles and tiny chairs that double as step stools.



The rest of the toys came from Toys for Tots! Each class was brought into the auditorium by grade level. The gifts ranged from LEGO sets to jewelry making kits; something for every student. As each group left to return to class, they said a grateful “Thank You” to Santa’s elves.



Manatee Elementary School’s guidance counselor, school psychologist and staff made the event possible. They worked hard to ensure that the toys were restocked – and helped students decide on the perfect toy. They also made the atmosphere joyous, by singing, dancing and playing holiday music.



Today’s toy giveaway was also made possible by the Bradenton Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, who collected many of the toys that were donated to Toys for Tots. It’s one of several schools where they are spreading holiday cheer. Mrs. Lynette Edwards is a member of the sorority – and longtime educator in Manatee County. The former teacher and Asst. Superintendent retired in 2011, after working for the School District for 32 years. She treated each student to a candy cane.



We wish all of our families and staff a safe and happy holiday season! Remember the reason for the season – and cherish the memories. We’ll share more amazing stories from our community in 2018. Happy New Year!



#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.

Haile Holiday Performance Takes Flight


Haile Middle School’s Chamber Orchestra played their annual concert at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on Wednesday. The sweet sounds of violins, violas and cellos playing holiday tunes could be heard throughout SRQ’s corridor.



Travelers flying out of Sarasota took out their cell phones to capture a quick video before going through airport security.



Haile Middle School’s Orchestra Director, Valerie Terry, keeps an eye on the flight arrival times too. She makes sure that the students are playing – as arriving travelers make their way to baggage claim.



The student musicians perform arrangements such as ‘Holiday on the Housetop’ and ‘A Christmas Symphony’ for approximately three hours.



The audience loves to see the students’ instrument bows dressed in beautiful holiday colors.



Enjoy a short clip of their performance… and Happy Holidays, whether you’re traveling near or far.


Haile Middle School Chamber Orchestra playing music for holiday travelers at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport

Posted by School District of Manatee County on Wednesday, December 13, 2017


#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: Horizons Academy


This week’s ManaTeach video comes from Horizons Academy. “As the Business Partner Coordinator for Horizons Academy, I recruited Fit Crew, Inside and Out and Fifth Third Bank to become our new business partners. I arranged for the partners to tour the campus, meet the administration, staff, and students,” said Theresa Kern, Horizons Academy Testing Administrator.

They also shared their school mission, vision and academic goals for the school year with the special guests. The outcome? A wellness assembly for students that focused on the BIG 3: Attendance, Discipline and Grades.



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.