Last spring, The Patterson Foundation surveyed Sarasota County teachers and 36 local science and cultural organizations to learn how connections among classrooms and community organizations support student learning.
Teachers told us they were unaware of many programs and often found the logistics too time consuming. Organizations also reported frustration on how to disseminate their program information and work with teachers and schools so the most students can benefit in the best ways possible. These findings led to the idea of creating an “eHarmony” type platform that could become a meeting place for teachers and organizations.
The space, EDExploreSRQ, is the result. In other words, it’s a place for “explorations.” Jake Hartvigsen, New College of Florida Director of Public Affairs and Pine View graduate, came up with the platform name. (Thank you, Jake, for your creative help!)
The platform is being developed through a partnership with Sarasota County Schools, the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, and the Science and Environment Council of Sarasota County as well as with teacher and organization input. The website will be maintained by the School District. Todd Alexander is the talented technologist putting our ideas into action, and Angela Hartvigsen is the Project Manager (and District Fine Arts Program Specialist. Angela can be reached: Angela_Hartvigsen@sarasota.k12.fl.us)
Our partners concluded that EDExploreSRQ offered opportunities to improve curriculum connections with “explorations.” Through the surveys last spring, teachers and organizations told us this was important, and implementation of new state and national standards and benchmarks makes this realignment timely.
Our criteria committee includes the following:
- Wendy Hopkins, vice president of grants and program services at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County
- Penelope Bodry-Sanders, founder of Lemur Conservation Foundation
- Susan Burke, executive director of the Florida Alliance for Arts Education
- Nancy Roberts, curriculum director of Sarasota County Schools
- Angela Hartvigsen, fine arts specialist, Sarasota County Schools
- Cindy Balistreri, Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County
The committee developed criteria for organizations and the explorations. These were later distributed for comment and are being used for submissions. A special thank you to these “thinkers” for coming up with the criteria that facilitates alignment.
What are the goals for EDExploreSRQ? It’s a tool for teachers and a central repository of explorations offered by community organizations that connect with classroom goals. It’s a tool for cultural and science organizations to promote their outstanding educational programs. As a shared resource, EdExploreSRQ also offers a process for planning and improving new and existing explorations.
Dozens of teachers have already volunteered to help test the platform and give us their feedback. Through that review, we’ll get more ideas on how to improve it. We will continue to test and make revisions this summer, as we work toward the 2011 academic year.
The Patterson Foundation is about building connective tissue and innovation, and EDExploreSRQ exemplifies this work. TPF is also about learning, so we will build in opportunities for continuous improvement. Lastly, TPF is about “thrivability” and sustainability. The School District’s ownership and community organization collaboration can assure that EDExploreSRQ becomes the way we “connect” in Sarasota County.