www.thecommunitypressfla.org / DECEMBER 2020 / Volume 6 - No. 12

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The December 2020 Edition Of  The Community Press Is Now Available!
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Story - Posted by The Community Press of Florida

“Lee Pitts Live” Turns 30!

Story - Posted by The Community Press of Florida

What resolutions and promises did you make for the year 2000?  Perhaps you were not even born yet, but parents made resolutions for your life…”You will be Smart, Kind and Happy and Blessed.”

Let’s look at some resolutions for 2021!  1. Read More!   2. Learn More!    3. Teach More!

Resolution 1: Read More!

Read Something every day; a book, a magazine, instructions. Reading is exercise for the mind and spirit. Reading can stir many emotions. It may make you laugh or cry or make you want to do something about what you read. Reading is a habit you have to build up.  Parents, reading should not be a “Do as I say Do and not as I Do” activity.  You, not the teacher must be the first example of the importance of reading. When children see adults read it is more powerful than arguing with them to “finish reading your book and do that assignment”.

If you don’t love reading, start your 2021 resolution with a smaller book about something you like. Read a magazine article; its short and easily available even digitally.  You can always read the Instructions for that new toy or household item; it will have many positive outcomes.  Your children, friends and relatives will think you are very smart; don’t just look at the pictures. Read an opposing view, it may upset you at times, but it will help you understand others.

Resolution 2:  Learn More!

Reading IS learning.  You can learn a new word, a new idea, how to do something different, how to accept an idea or thought, who you really are, how you affect others, how to deal with a difficult situation, how to make a good situation better.  You may also learn what you want to do in your life and what you don’t want to do. It can be as simple as reading the warning label about poison. Through reading you can learn “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Just imagine how reading could help heal our world.

When you are reading don’t skip the information about the author. It will help you understand why someone wrote something the way they did if you understand who they are.  The best writers write from deep inside their life experience. Our students are taught when reading to find out “the authors purpose.”  What life experience led someone to write about this topic? Do I share their experience?  How can I use their words to help me help others?

Resolution 3: Teach More!

Learning without teaching is wasted knowledge. Remember, teaching is not the same as preaching.  You can teach others in many ways.  You can speak, listen or as a result of your reading YOU can walk, look, think different and others will learn from your example.  Teach our students by example that reading is important. Read together; take turns picking what you will read.  You can learn a lot about a child by what they like to read and how they interpret things.  Don’t just read picture books, however, discuss the pictures in the books, and develop their imagination.  Ask questions like: how would you have drawn this picture?

Education of our children is a group effort. The Lee County School System is working to teach our children through programs and initiatives during this difficult time. Thank you to all of our educators. Many students have gone back to Face to Face learning and many will probably return second semester. While many students are still at home, if you need help making sure your child is learning at home go to “Parent University” on www.leeschools.net, contact their teacher or their school.  Several parents have formed groups online to help each other. Follow your child’s school digital updates and the district website for important information about second semester deadlines and instructions. The ultimate goal is to make sure every student achieves.  

Let’s make our 2021 resolutions NOW; buy books for gifts, read a book or article between Netflix, read the instructions. Read, Learn and teach others, especially our students, how to have a happier, more fulfilled and blessed 2021!

Have a Happy and Blessed Holidays Season!

Story - Posted by The Community Press of Florida

The Lesson Plan DECEMBER 2020 Gwynetta Gittens, Lee County School Board “Resolutions”

Story - Posted by The Community Press of Florida

The Lee County Black History Society, Inc. evolved from attorney and educator Janice Cass’ (first photo, second row) desire to commemorate Black History Month on a countywide basis.

Ms. Cass and a group of like-minded community members worked to bring this vision to reality. The dream was finally realized in November 1994, when the Lee County Black History Society, Inc. (LCBHS) became incorporated as a 501c (3) non-profit corporation. This non-profit organization maintains and administers the Williams Academy Black History Museum.

During a period of research on the Black community, historical documents  revealed that the building currently housing the  Williams Academy Black History Museum was the 1942 addition to the original Williams Academy school building, the first government-funded school for Black students in Lee County.

Williams Academy was part of the Dunbar High School campus (Blount Street) and served the community in many ways. In November 1993 however, the Lee County School Board slated the building for demolition. Having learned of this intention, Ms. Cass and others set out to acquire the property as office space for LCBHS and a location to house a black history museum. After all negotiations concluded, LCBHS was given the building with the stipulation that it be moved from the Dunbar campus. So, in February 1995, the LCBHS with community support moved the 1942 addition of the Williams Academy building to Roberto Clemente Park where the local, state and national preservation and restoration standards began. Restoration of the building would continue for the next six years.

On Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday in 2001, the doors of the Williams Academy Black History Museum were opened to the public.

Lee County Black History Society, Inc. worked tirelessly to commemorate Black History Month county-wide, then worked to secure a historical building to house so many of the Black histories, cultural artifacts and educational experiences of the often-non-recognized Dunbar community and surrounding areas.

Early this year, the State Historical Marker Council approved Williams Academy for a historical marker. November 6, 2020, Lee County Black History Society Board members and a few invited guests witnessed the unveiling of said marker, placed in front of the Museum. Guest included Janice Cass, founder of LCBHS, newly elected Mayor Kevin Anderson, Saeed Kazemi, City Manager, Councilwoman Teresa Watkins-Brown, CRA Executive Director Michele Hylton-Terry, City Parks Manager, JB Schueltz and other community leaders.

Photos by Jacquie Matthews Williams.

Story - Posted by The Community Press of Florida

Veronica Young Featured  in FGCU 360 Magazine Amelia Bell-Hawkins Earns  Doctorate In Nursing Education Come Celebrate Song with the  Symphonic Chorale and Benefit The  Harry Chapin Food Bank at City of Palms Stadium

Veronica Young, an assistant principal at Lehigh Senior High School, was recently featured in the Fall 2020 issue of FGCU 360 Magazine, a publication of Florida Gulf Coast University.

After Ms. Young graduated from Florida A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Education, she later went to FGCU and earned two master’s degrees.

To read more about Veronica Young, go to: https://fgcu360.com/.

Above photos come from the FGCU website: https://fgcu360.com/.

Williams Academy Given Historic  Status By The State of Florida

The “Lee Pitts Live” (LPL) show, which turns 30 in 2021, has performed over 20,000 interviews and put more people of color on TV in south Florida than anyone else in the world. It has been a proud focus as LPL shined a positive light on our community before the word diversity became the catch-all. It was around before social media, cell phones and computers were commonplace.

The original goal was to build a simple show with a table, a chair, and a conversation and it worked. At the start, it was simple; talk to the unheard people, hear their stories, give them the microphone for a change and get out of the way. Throughout this process, don't compromise on excellence, as everyone is watching even if they don’t say so.

Lee Pitts, a bank senior vice president and hall of fame swimming teacher at the time, would host the show with no teleprompter and would cover all topics on the show.

As the first African-American male to host a TV show in south Florida, he was on an island by himself, pioneering a new frontier. He would have to get this right for the next generation and he had to be taken seriously. Pitts slid into the hosting chair with absolutely no TV experience but he made it work. The key was that Pitts was a guy who grew up poor and rose from poverty with a single mom who raised seven children. Because of his upbringing, he was able to relate to all people from his now corner office at the bank. Moreover, he was in charge and made all the decisions for the show. Pitts could do as he pleased with the show; however he chose never to abandon his own people. Thirty years later, that philosophy is still the same.

Along the way the show has received over sixty (60) awards and provided a platform for others to have segments like Tasheekia Perry-Harris, host of “Girl Talk” and Attorney Joe North, host of “Closing Arguments”.

Pitts was inducted into numerous halls of fame including The Carver High Hall of Fame in Birmingham, Alabama and the Dr. Martin Luther King and Dunbar Hall of Fame in Fort Myers, Florida.

“Over the years interviewing all those game-changers has been enjoyable. However, the conversations with children will always be number one on my list,” states Lee Pitts, creator, host and executive producer of the award winning “Lee Pitts Live” on FOX 4. “I love their wonderment before and during the interviews. Love seeing them on TV in a positive manner. Moreover, I love seeing their parents see them in this space,” says Pitts.

QLC Dec 2020 Ad.pdf (L-R Photos) Lee with students from Quality Life Center in 2012 and Fort Myers Councilwoman  Teresa Watkins Brown in 2010

Congratulations to Dr. Amelia Bell-Hawkins on the achievement of her Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Education with a specialization in Nursing Education from Capella University. Dr. Bell-Hawkins worked tirelessly over the past eight years to achieve her goal. Despite many life changing circumstances, she persisted on. In requirements for completion of her PhD, she completed original research and wrote a dissertation on Discovering Socio-Cultural Influences on Nursing Students’ Voluntary Academic Withdrawal: Qualitative Study”. The research study is published and available on the ProQuest.com website.

Dr. Bell-Hawkins also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Coppin State College, and a Master’s degree in Nursing with specialization as Family Nurse Practitioner from Coppin State College. She has served many roles in nursing education, including Director of Nursing, Assistant Professor, Graduate Nursing Program Chair, Geriatric Nursing Program Coordinator, and Clinical Instructor. It was during her tenure as a professor that she embarked on her PhD journey. Additionally, her nursing career includes Family Nurse Practitioner, Dialysis nurse, Unit Manager, Acute and Long-term care nursing, as well as oncology nursing. Dr. Bell-Hawkins currently resides in the city of Fort Myers, Fl. and works as a Family Nurse Practitioner in the city of Immokalee, Fl. She has a goal of using the findings of her research to reduce minority nursing student withdrawal rates by creating resources to help students better understand course content, encourage deeper critical thinking and improve their clinical skill set.

Within her community of Fort Myers, Dr. Bell-Hawkins engages in many philanthropic endeavors as result of her membership in the Mu Delta Sigma Alumni Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., where she is the Vice President, and as the secretary for the National Pan-Hellenic Council of SWFL. Dr. Bell-Hawkins recently formed an organization called The Thanksgivers, a collaborative partnership whose mission is to provide a Thanksgiving meal to families within the Charter School System of Lee and Collier Counties. The Thanksgivers inaugural project was able to provide meals to 20 families from Fort Myers, Naples, Immokalee, and Cape Coral areas. Additionally, a sizable contribution was made to support the food pantry of an area community center. We wish Dr. Bell-Hawkins much success and once again, congratulations on achieving such an amazing goal.

The Symphonic Chorale invites the SWFL community to an uplifting and inspirational program of choral music at the City of Palms Stadium in Fort Myers on Sunday, Dec. 13th at 3 pm. This open-air event aims to celebrate our unity and resilient human spirit with song.  

The Chorale is proud to partner with the Harry Chapin Food Bank to benefit families facing food insecurities during the holiday season of giving. There is no admission charge for the concert, so we encourage our guests to pay it forward. Representatives from the Harry Chapin Food Bank will be on site to receive non-perishable food items or cash donations.

“We are very excited to provide this unifying opportunity for our community after months of shut down,” said Dr. Trent Brown (top picture, left), The Chorale’s Artistic Director.  “We missed each other and singing so much, we had to find a way to bring our community together again through song. An open-air venue like City of Palms provides the space for us and the audience to social distance and participate safely, and we are grateful to Lee County for supporting our effort to bring our community back together during the holiday season.”

The Stadium has seating capacity for over 6000, however attendance for this concert is limited to 1000. There will be plenty of room for families to sit together and socially distance from other attendees. The Chorale will perform well-known seasonal and inspirational Americana music accompanied by piano and brass ensemble.  An audience sing-along of Holiday favorites is planned, as well!  Sound and stage logistics are provided by Techtronics.

“This is a great opportunity for families to attend a concert where they can feel safe, support the arts and supplement the food needs of families in crisis within our community,” says Chorale Board Member and Chair of the event, John Phillips. “We anticipate a large crowd and this venue provides ample parking and seating, so everyone will be safe, secure, and comfortable.

Masks are mandatory for admission. Tickets are not required, and food donations should be non-perishable.”

Face-masks and social distancing required. 

To ensure the safety of all attendees, anyone experiencing symptoms of, or who has tested positive for COVID-19 should not attend.