By Susan M. Scott, Executive Director, Education Foundation of Sarasota County
The seeds planted in a child's mind today can lead to an entirely new world of experience. Sarasota County offers a diversity of cultural experiences - art, music, theater - and a distinctive environment to explore on land and underwater.
It is difficult to imagine that there are children attending our schools who have never been to the beach or seen live theater. Hear from teachers and students on the power of experiences:
Patricia Varley, a teacher at Emma E. Booker Elementary, knows that with 95 percent of the school's students on free or reduced lunch programs, it is unlikely that their parents can afford family outings and admission fees. When she saw the exploration opportunities posted on the EdExploresSRQ website, she was eager to apply for an Exploration funding to open this community’s treasures to her students.
After being selected for funding in December 2011, the entire 2nd grade of Emma E. Booker Elementary explored the world outside their classrooms through the Live, Love, Learn Sarasota Expanded Exploration. Their adventures began with a trolley tour of Sarasota, where they were introduced to Main Street, the Sarasota Opera House, crossed the bridge to St. Armand’s Circle and stopped to step onto the beach. For many of these young students, this was the first time they had seen the Gulf of Mexico.
Throughout the school year, these children also experienced scientific exploration hands-on at Mote Marine Laboratory and danced with the professional dancers of Fuzion. There were also visits from Circus Sarasota, a look at the skies at the Riverview Planetarium, and finally, a tour of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.
Dawn Clayton, principal of Booker Elementary, stresses the importance of classroom experiences in the community.
“The students are not just learning vicariously." Clayton said. "They are learning by doing and seeing things for themselves. Then they can form their own opinions.”
Both principal and teacher agree that the children would not have had these life-changing experiences without the Exploration funding made possible by generous donors through the Education Foundation of Sarasota County.
The Exploration Program springs from The Patterson Foundation’s EdExplore Initative. The innovative website EdExploreSRQ.com was launched by a community cultural task force in the summer of 2011. The site's searchable database is packed with opportunities for students to explore the world beyond their classrooms in ways that directly support curriculum goals. Teachers are invited to create Exploration projects based on ExExploreSRQ offerings, then submit applications for funding to the Education Foundation. In the program’s inaugural year, 42 teachers and teacher teams received Exploration funding, touching the lives of hundreds of students.
To offer these life-changing experiences to children for years to come, the Education Foundation is raising contributions from individuals, families and businesses for Exploration Grants.
The Patterson Foundation will match every new or increased gift, dollar for dollar, that donors pledge and then pay over one, two or three years – up to $500,000! For more information, contact Laura Breeze at 941-927-0965 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To give online, go to http://www.EdFoundation.net.
Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.
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