www.thecommunitypressfla.org / OCTOBER 2020 / Volume 6 - No. 10

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The October 2020 Edition Of  The Community Press Is Now Available!
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The I Will Mentorship Foundation Offers  Internationally Competitive Robotics  Program in Southwest Florida

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In March 2020, the world and education as we knew it was turned upside down! A mandate from the Governor’s office that should still be our guide is to act with “Grace and Compassion.”  Grace means kindness, and compassion means sympathy or, at best, empathy and understanding. Difficult decisions have and are being made daily to educate our students and maintain a safe environment for them to work and learn.  

Grace and compassion in dealing with choice of academic models is a job for all of us.  We ask that parents act with grace and compassion when making changes in their child’s choice because they believe “it’s not working.” I empathize as I listen to parents in tears not knowing what to do. Keep in mind that 87,000 families chose a model for their student. Right now there are 43,562 Face-to-Face, 35,066 Home Connect and 5,531 Lee Virtual.  

Moving one student from a digital model to face-to-face means providing resources we may not have right now such as changing schedules, creating space in the classroom, and having an available teacher while we face a national teacher shortage.  We continue to ask educators and staff to have grace and compassion as they go above and beyond their traditional roles. Now we are asking our families to do the same as more students prepare to return for the second quarter. You will be notified of the opportunity, if you choose, to change models for the second quarter between October 5-16th. Watch for the notice.

Parents, our students are facing many challenges currently, and anxiety is high. It may not be the right time to threaten the loss of a phone or favorite activity if their grades are not A’s and B’s. Give them the first quarter to settle in to their new normal.  Reduce the anxiety and support and encourage them to do their best with grace and compassion.

The month of October is Anti-Bullying Month and Wednesday, October 21, 2020 is Unity Day.  I challenge adults to join with and encourage our students as they participate in promoting Kindness, Acceptance and Inclusion.  It has been proven many times over that children are more apt to react based on what they see than rather than what they are told.  W.E.B. Dubois said, “Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”  The 95,000 students we educate each year come to us already educated in many ways. I often tell parents that you would be surprised to know what your child has shared with a trusted educator.

It is sad at best that we have to have an Anti-Bullying Month at all. Forty-one percent of our students who report being bullied expect it to happen again. In addition, 26% of students reported being a victim of cyberbullying.  I empathize with the frustration of cyberbullying victims, especially when you may never face your bully.  

The three words used for Unity Day; Kindness, Acceptance and Inclusion are very important to healing the hearts and minds of bullies. Many bullies feel that no one showed them kindness or accepted them, so why should they be kind to others?

The most difficult word to comprehend is Inclusion.  The true test is not lip service but whether the individual truly feels included. Inclusion takes a conscious desire and focused effort to share thoughts and knowledge with someone else. If we all have the same knowledge and resources, we are equal.

You have the entire month to focus on bullying and what you can do about it.  You can personally define Kindness, Acceptance and Inclusion and how you can demonstrate these ideals, each and every day. Wear orange on Unity Day October 21st to remind our students we join with them against bullying.

Finally, please do not forget to exercise your right and privilege to REGISTER AND VOTE!

Gwynetta Gittens

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The Lesson Plan OCTOBER 2020 Gwynetta Gittens, Lee County School Board “Grace and Compassion”

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Lehigh Acres Middle School (LAMS) will be moving to a new location next school year.  The 31-acre State-of-the-Art school site (561 Sunrise Blvd, Lehigh Acres, FL 33936) will keep the LAMS in name, staff, and students.  This building will provide my students, staff, and community with a structure to grow and continue the best academic and social best practices currently taking place at LAMS today.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve this community and our students at the new Lehigh Acres Middle School.  Born and raised in Lee County, I am truly a product of the Lee County School System; in this community, I learned to be an educator and a leader, and I learned about the power of relationships.

The opportunity to serve as your principal of the new Lehigh Acres Middle School will help me continue to build upon a solid foundation of excellence for the children and families in this community.

My commitment to you, our future students, and this community is to make this school one you are proud to be part of for both the students and community.

Regardless of whether you are a student in AVID, Cambridge, the Gifted program, or a STEAM scholar, Lehigh Acres Middle School will be the place for students to learn, grow, risk, and reach their highest personal potential.  As a National AVID Demonstration School and a Premier STEAM Magnet School, Lehigh Acres Middle School will provide one of the best educational experiences for children in our community.

Students will be challenged through rigorous course work, express themselves through peer collaboration, utilize technology for innovative design and creation, and grow as learners and leaders. They will develop their own identities while immersed in a culture of learning, achievement, and acceptance.

It is a Great Time to be a LAMS Bruin!!!  Dr. Brian L. Gibson, Extremely Proud Principal

Photos by Jacquie Matthews Williams.

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Local Resident Jerry Benjamin Says  “Get Out And Vote” Roseline Bellevue Is Another Success  Story from Dunbar High School The Virtual Clergy Symposium and Millennials

If you are ever driving on Ballard Road in East Fort Myers and you see a gentleman sitting by the side of the road with a “Take your protest to the polls” sign, and you are wondering, who is that guy?, Then wonder no more.  His name is Jerry Benjamin.

Mr. Benjamin, who along with his wife Fleta, wants everyone to exercise their right to vote.  Even though he has a decided preference on who should win, he still says, “Just Vote!”

Roseline Bellevue graduated from Dunbar High School at the top of her class in 2020.  

Throughout high school, she played on the high school's volleyball, soccer, and track teams, was a member of the National Honor Society and participated in the ROTC program.

Upon graduation from high school, she received the Lee County Black Society Scholarship, the Haitian American Scholarship and the Richard Hagy Memorial Scholarship.

Roseline was accepted to Emory Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Florida where she is presently pursuing a career in Aviation Busines Administration.  

Roseline Bellevue is truly another success story from Dunbar High School!

By Chantel Rhodes

Black Lives Matter, police brutality, peaceful protesting and and the role of the church in the fight for social justice were among the topics discussed at the latest Virtual Clergy Symposium presented by Mount Hermon Ministries.

Millennials and the Peaceful Protest Movement’ finally gained the spotlight in a series of discussions on systemic justice and race relations lead by Rev. Dr. William L. Glover, Senior Pastor of Mount Hermon Ministries. The panel featured a diverse group of millennials who are all involved locally in the fight for racial justice and equality, each in their own way.

The panel discussion was moderated by Ms. Brittney Murray and featured some of Southwest Florida’s leading activist including, Anselm Webber, Rachel Brown, Chantel Rhodes, Preston Daymon III, Vasha Tolbert and William Glover II.

The team of advocates highlighted the sentiments of millennials, those between the ages of 22-38 years of age who are faced with tough concepts surrounding racism here in the United States of America. Like generations previously, millennials recognize their role in creating an energy that will lead to change through meaningful discussions, protesting, and challenging the established systems that have historically kept Black people from realizing their full potential. The group unpacked the reasons why many millennials, especially people of color struggle to embrace patriotism and devotion to the United States of America. Matters such as defunding the police, ending qualified immunity, homelessness, mass incarceration and even mental health concerns made their way into the conversation on the symposium platform that evening.

Covid-19 restrictions were no barrier as participants were able to leave comments and ask panel members questions from the safety of their own homes. The panel ended the evening by encouraging participants to remain committed to the resistance movement through peaceful protest and resistance. Gaining knowledge, challenging the status quo, voting and staying involved with local government were all recommendations that panel members believe will aid us as we’re challenged with an ongoing racial divide in this nation.

The team responded to the call of patriotism by committing themselves to making sure that America upholds its values and lives up to its creed of life, liberty and justice for all.

Photos by Jacquie Matthews Williams.

Lehigh Acres Middle School  Will Move To New Location

Local robotics program designed to expose students to scientific research methods and engineering principles in an interactive, hands-on way, and enables them to compete for recognition, scholarships, and awards.

The I WILL Mentorship Foundation (IWMF) is a local non-profit working in the SWFL community to introduce STEM early on in students‘ education. IWMF empowers youth to make positive life choices through E-STEM-based learning and evidence-based mentoring programs focused on increasing academic achievement, strengthening community, and providing exposure to opportunities to improve socioeconomic mobility. Currently, IWMF is seeking students for their community based robotics program. Students thatjoin the robotics program have the opportunity to compete in international competitions, network with top universities with the potential for scholarships, discover their interests in engineering, FRC robot design, CAD design, welding, entrepreneurship and more.

The robotics team meets every Thursday from 2pm-5pm at the IWMF warehouse and is open to all students in grades 9 through 12 in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties. This program instills independence and confidence in students and offers them the ability to explore engineering through mentorship. If students are interested in joining, they can contact IWMF founder and director Dr. Jesse Bryson via email at jlbryson@iwmf2.org.

"Students will cultivate skills to help them improve their ability to explore available career options, make a positive impression on potential employers, and land the job they want." says Dr. Jesse Bryson, IWMF Founder and Director, in regards to the unique robotics program.

Students and guardians can learn more about the program here: https:// www.iwmf2.org/robotics

About I Will Mentorship Foundation

The I Will Mentorship Foundation empowers youth to make positive life choice through E-STEM based learning and evidence-based mentoring programs focused on increasing academic achievement, strengthening community, and providing exposure to opportunities to improve socioeconomic mobility.

The I Will Mentorship Foundation is located at 3903 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Bvd, Unit 2, Fort Myers, FL 33916.

Dr. Brian L. Gibson, Principal and members of the Lee County School Board Rev. Dr. William L. Glover and First Lady Cheryl Glover; Members of the symposium