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.

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.

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.





North River High School Groundbreaking


It was a beautiful day for a groundbreaking. Board Members for the School District of Manatee County and other distinguished guests attended a ceremonial “moving of the dirt” at the site of North River High School in Parrish.




The new high school will be located on 98 acres at Martha Road and Erie Road. It is projected to open to students in August of 2019.






Guests were treated to a chocolate shovel – and a chance to be part of the first groundbreaking for the School District since Braden River High School, which opened in 2005.



North River High School will be able to accommodate 2,000 students – with the ability to expand to 2,400. The total project budget is $90 million, which was made possible with help from Manatee County citizens’ approval of the half-cent sales tax renewal for District capital needs.



SchenkelShultz Architecture designed the two-story brick school. Gilbane Building Company will manage its construction.



North River High School’s Auditorium will be able to seat more than 800 people. The high school will offer academic programs such as Automotive, Health, Agriculture and Engineering.



The vehicle queue will be longer than one-mile to insure that parents and students are safely away from public roadways during drop-off and pick-up times.



A football and soccer stadium will seat 3,000 home fans and 1,000 visitors. There will also be a rubber running track, which will presumably be the site of future state competitions.



Today’s ceremony was streamed live on Facebook. Mike Barber, Director of Communications, served as emcee.


North River High School Groundbreaking

Posted by School District of Manatee County on Tuesday, November 7, 2017


School Board Chair Charlie Kennedy


Afterwards, School Board members and other District officials dug into the earth with shovels to ceremoniously begin construction.


(L-to-R) Deputy Superintendents Ron Ciranna and Cynthia Saunders, Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene, Board Members Dave “Watchdog” Miner, Gina Messenger, Charlie Kennedy, Scott Hopes, John Colon, Ken Dean (SchenkelSchultz) and Tim Hensey (Gilbane)






We will continue to update the community on the progress of North River High School. Stay tuned!

#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.