Seven National Blue Ribbon Schools Named in Manatee County


Every year the U. S. Department of Education seeks out and celebrates great American schools, schools demonstrating that all students can achieve to high levels. The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content.

Photo: Williams Elementary School


The School District of Manatee County is proud to announce the following Blue Ribbon Schools: Points of Light schools – Bashaw Elementary School, Braden River Middle School, Lee Middle School and Palmetto Elementary School; Beacon schools – Haile Middle School and Tara Elementary School; Lighthouse school – Williams Elementary School. Only 31 schools in the United States were awarded the highest honor, Lighthouse status.


Administrators from Manatee County’s Blue Ribbon Schools receive recognition during a School Board Meeting


To achieve Blue Ribbon status, schools are evaluated in the following areas of school performance:

  • Student Focus and Support
  • School Organization and Culture
  • Challenging Standards and Curriculum
  • Active Teaching and Learning
  • Technology Integration
  • Professional Community
  • Leadership and Educational Vitality
  • School, Family, and Community Partnerships
  • Indicators of Success


Administrators and staff from Bashaw Elementary School


According to the U.S. Department of Education, National Blue Ribbon Schools are an inspiration and a model for schools still striving for excellence. This is the 37th year for the program and the coveted award has been bestowed to 9,000 schools nationwide.


Haile Middle School administrators


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.

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.

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.

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.

Fifth Graders Explore at Nature’s Academy


Picture yourself immersed in nature’s classroom. There are mangroves to explore, sea creatures to capture and superheroes who are learning how to save our environment. This adventure is made possible by Nature’s Academy, a non-profit environmental education company focusing on educational field trips.



We recently spent the day exploring Leffis Key with students from Daughtrey Elementary School. The preserve is within Coquina Beach in Manatee County. Staff from Nature’s Academy walk the fifth graders through the mangroves in search of ecological discoveries. They will gasp at schools of fish, view sea birds through a pair of binoculars and learn that those mangroves grow from a tiny seed pod. Students will be serving as citizen scientists and provide their data to an online database that will help to benefit the Gulf of Mexico.



The mission of Nature’s Academy is to enhance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) literacy and foster environmental stewardship. After eating lunch, students gear up for a trek into Sarasota Bay. They are provided with water shoes for wading, and a net for collecting small marine life through an activity called dip-netting. They drag the net through the sea grass in hopes of finding shrimp, crab or tiny fish.



After collecting specimens, the excited young scientists learn a fascinating lesson about the creatures they’ve discovered. They have removed the sea life from their home – only temporarily – in order to learn more about each species. The students from Daughtrey will take their new knowledge with them – and a reusable water bottle to get them thinking about STEM and environmental literacy. Nearby, another group of students are learning about how the removal of litter through coastal cleanups can better sustain the well-being of local waterways.



Nature’s Academy uses grants and donations to provide amazing outdoor educational field trip programs to every fifth grade student in Manatee County, at no cost to them or their schools. For more information, visit their website. Congratulations to its founder, Dana Pounds, who recently received a First Place Gulf Guardian Award from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency.)

#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.


Excellence in Education Awards Finalists


Eight exceptionally devoted and talented employees of the Manatee County School District were recently surprised by a visit from Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene, Board Chair Dr. Scott Hopes, representatives of the Manatee Education Foundation, members of the District Leadership Team, Marty the Marauder and a TV Production crew from Manatee Technical College; as they learned they have been named finalists for this year’s Excellence In Education Awards.

The Excellence In Education Awards celebrate excellence in education in Manatee County by selecting an “Educator of the Year” and a “Support Employee of the Year.”

The four finalists in each category are:




Heather Anderson, Language Arts Teacher, King Middle



Richard Daenell, Business Education Teacher, Lee Middle



Carrie Ling, 4th Grade Teacher, Braden River Elementary



Mallorie Ray, 5th Grade Teacher, Mills Elementary





Colette Matthews, Junior Accountant, Matzke Complex



Pam Miller, Office Manager, Matzke Complex



Marie Mueller, Computer Manager, Oneco Elementary



Aaron Weicht, Student Support Specialist, Palmetto Elementary


The finalists will be honored, and the “Educator of the Year” and “Support Employee of the Year” will be announced at the Excellence In Education Awards ceremony to be held on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, beginning at 7 p.m. at Manatee Technical College’s main campus.

The Educator representative will advance to the Florida Department of Education Macy’s Teacher of the Year competition, while the Support representative will advance to the Florida School Related Employee of the Year competition.

“The finalists that are being announced today are great examples of the kind of caring and committed employees we have in this school district,” said Superintendent Greene. “I look forward to celebrating the work these employees have done for our students and schools at the Excellence in Education Awards on March 7th.”

District employees, parents and students were given the opportunity to nominate employees for the award categories. A total of 242 work site representatives were initially nominated with 65 representatives qualifying for review by a panel of judges. Two committees comprised of the following individuals selected the eight finalists announced today.

Congratulations to all of the well-deserving finalists — and good luck to them moving forward!

#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.

Church Women United Event Serves Migrant Community


On November 17, 2017, dozens of women from the community came together at Manatee United Methodist Church in Bradenton, Florida for a heartwarming event called the Migrant Tea Celebration.



Manatee Church Women United is a cross-denominational group that represents more than 40 churches. The women spend a year planning and making beautiful things by hand.



The Migrant Tea is an opportunity for the group to provide local migrant families with donations of hand-made goods such as blankets, quilts, baby clothes, and other items that families may need.



Speakers at the program included Elena Garcia, Director of Federal Programs of the School District of Manatee County; Michael Escorcia, Coordinator of Migrant Education; and Jose Moreno Hernandez, a former migrant student in Manatee County. Hernandez is the first from his family to attend college.


Elena Garcia
Michael Escorcia and Kelly Flynn
Jose Moreno Hernandez


Kindergarten migrant students from McNeal Elementary School earned cheers, and a few laughs, following their performance at the event.


Kindergarten migrant students from @mcnealelementaryschool perform at the annual Church Women United Migrant Tea

A post shared by School District of Manatee Co. (@manateeschools) on


Afterwards, members of Church Women United presented the children with handmade gifts. The students were proud of their new dolls.




Church Women United then enjoyed refreshments and each other’s company.



The women now start sewing and crocheting blankets and sweaters for next year’s event. Every single item that goes to families of migrant students is donated or made with love.



#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.