Monday, October 1, 2007 VOLUME 6 ISSUE 57  
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Playoff Bound – Orlando Magic
PRISM Awards A+ Recognition
Rollins College Presents: Entertainment Law & Legal Issues
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Issue 294
September 24, 2007
Vol. 6 Issue 56

PRISM Awards A+ Recognition

Twenty four outstanding science teachers representing elementary, middle and high schools throughout the eight-county Central Florida region were honored last week by The PRISM Project – an organization comprised of Central Florida business, government, and school leaders working to promote improvement in science and math throughout the region.  The first annual Teacher Awards Banquet hosted by SeaWorld’s Ports of Call focused specifically on the critical importance of science education for children today.

Following dinner, a dynamic presentation was made by Steve Spangler, who might be best known via the Internet as the Mentos Guy, helping to turn the Mentos Experiment of dropping the mint candies into soda pop into a pop culture phenomenon.  His presentation was as effervescent as his experiments.  Perfectly blending his energy, humor, scientific demonstrations and education references to Rubrics, standardized testing and his favorite kindergarten teacher, Spangler had these “cream of the crop” teachers, their principals, superintendents and other guests in the palm of his hand. 

With five of the eight Central Florida school superintendents in the audience lending a superlative vote of confidence, the region’s outstanding science teachers, who have exhibited excellence in science instruction and who have contributed to improving science education within their respective school districts, were the stars of the show.  Each was presented with a $500 unrestricted cash award to continue their creative work with the students in their charge.  Three teachers were nominated by each of the eight school districts and are listed here in alphabetical order:

Christy Aycock                       
Boone Middle                       
Polk County

Julie Ball
Coleman Middle
Hillsborough County

Catharine Colwell                       
Mainland High                      
Volusia County

Roxana Crosby                       
Windy Hill Middle                
Lake County

Richard Ellenburg                    
Camelot Elementary              
Orange County

Brian Innes                             
Galaxy Middle            
Volusia County

Kelly Jay                               
Newsom High                       
Hillsborough County

Yvonne Kochensparger           
Gateway High                                  
Osceola County

Susan Leeds                           
Howard Middle                    
Orange County

Sue Lourcey                           
Central Avenue Elementary           
Osceola County

Randy Milford                                  
Umatilla High                         
Lake County

Alina Mills                             
Jefferson High                                  
Hillsborough County

Raul Montes                          
Cocoa High                           
Brevard County

Kathleen Moreno                      
Jackson Heights Middle           
Seminole County

Wendy Norton                       
Bellalago Academy               
Osceola County

Cheryl Pierce                         
Lakeland Senior High            
Polk County

Joshua Platt                           
Spruce Creek High                 
Volusia County

Nancy Rehwoldt                   
Surfside Elementary              
Brevard County

Cynthia Rosenthal                   
Tavares Elementary              
Lake County

Lucy Smith                            
Lake Gibson Middle            
Polk County

Guytri Still                             
McNair Magnet Middle           
Brevard County

Mary Timmerman                
Sterling Park Elementary           
Seminole County

Betty Vail                              
Olympia High                        
Orange County

William Yucuis            
Lyman High                           
Seminole County

Selection Committee Chair, Steve Brown, President of DeVry University, Central Florida, thanked his team for their hours of dedicated service in reviewing extensive portfolios of the 24 teachers nominated by their respective school districts in order to select the top three for additional rewards and recognition.  The Committee included Dr. Steve Dutczak, NASA Education Services; Dr. Bob Keefer, Lake Sumter Community College; Dusty Maddox, DeVry University; Rob Moore, EA Sports; and Nirmala Ramlakhan, Workforce Central Florida.

“It was my pleasure to be chosen to represent Workforce Central Florida as a reader for the PRISM Science Teachers Recognition,” said Nirmala Ramlakhan.  “The portfolios presented were very comprehensive and by weight totaled to more than 20 lbs of reading.”  She also said she was excited reviewing the portfolios that gave insight into “the applicants’ zeal for teaching science, and the out of the box ideas utilized.”   For her, the experience confirmed that “these excellent teachers were molding a solid, well versed and dynamic future workforce for Central Florida.” 

The nominees ranged in age, years of teaching experience and grade levels taught.  There were physics teachers, Gifted Student teachers, elementary school teachers who are the Jacks-of-all-Trades, career changers that fell into teaching and the list goes on.  “These teachers were not just concerned about test averages or school grades, they were concerned with student achievement and enrichment,” Ramlakhan added. 

Each portfolio included resumes, letters of recommendations, samples of student work, lesson plans, examples of club or enrichment activities they sponsored and anything else that could paint a picture of how learning occurred in their classroom.  The applicants were judged on their use of inquiry science, classroom management techniques, use of technology in the classroom and their ability to ensure that their teaching was relevant to students.

Selected to receive an additional $2,000 cash award and a $2,500 voucher to be used for activities related to their professional development and work with students were:

Richard Ellenburg                    
Camelot Elementary              
Orange County

Nancy Rehwoldt                   
Surfside Elementary              
Brevard County

Guytri Still                             
McNair Magnet Middle           
Brevard County

In return, all teachers will be sharing their “best practices” with other teachers through PRISM sponsored seminars and workshops.  Richard Ellenburg is already doing that.  As Orange County’s Teacher of the Year, he was recently selected as the Florida Teacher of the Year and is traveling across the state sharing and learning as he represents all Florida teachers for the Department of Education.

“This was GREAT fun, and personally rewarding.  In fact, I am going to show some of my findings to our chemistry staff and suggest they incorporate some of what I observed in the middle school applicant's portfolios,” says Dr. Bob Keefer, a member of the 2007 PRISM Selection Committee.  “The PRISM recognition is an excellent thing to do that bodes well for Central Florida’s future.  I think it is going produce a significant change in how science is taught if we use the outcomes – the portfolios and nominees - well.”  Dr. Keefer is Physics Professor and Science Department Chair at Lake Sumter Community College. 

The event and recognition would not have been possible without its Corporate Sponsors:  Bank of America, DeVry University, Florida High Tech Corridor, JHT Incorporated, Orange County Government, SAIC, Sea World Adventure Park, Tampa Bay Technology Forum (TBTF), Tupperware Brands Corporation, WKMG Local 6, and Workforce Central Florida.

“As one of eight regional strategic priorities for the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce,” added Jacob V. Stuart, President of the Chamber and myregion.org, “We congratulate all those who worked so hard to make this important recognition happen – and most especially, we congratulate these outstanding teachers and the thousands of others who have devoted their lives and resources to educating all of the children in the Central Florida region.”

“The Central Florida School Boards Coalition and PRISM are proud of our partnership,” said Dr. Jim Schott, President of The PRISM Project.  “Our regional approach to address critical areas of educational need is an outstanding model of collaboration designed to assist school districts in Central Florida to become the nation’s leaders in pre-K to 12 math and science education.”

PRISM Chair, Mike Miller, noted that of the nearly 200 in attendance, all eight districts were represented at the dinner by top-level administrators and school board members.  The principals of all winners were also in attendance.  He said, “It was a great beginning to a year of projects designed to celebrate the achievement of our school districts and to support their efforts to improve.”


Founded in 2005, The PRISM Project (standing for promoting regional improvement in science and math) is an organization comprised of community partners, which strives to engage the business, civic and educational communities throughout Central Florida to enhance K-12 science and math education. For more information on PRISM or how you can contribute, please visit www.theprismproject.org or call (407) 478-1508.

The Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce is shaping our community’s future by focusing on what matters to the millions of people who call Central Florida home.  Strategic imperatives that include Medical School & Medical Community Development, Level One Trauma Center, Public Facilities & Venues, Workforce (Affordable) Housing, Transportation, Education (PRISM), Regional Growth Vision, and Chamber Enterprise provide clear focus to our 1,000-Day Agenda.

Your business.  Your community.  Your future.  Your chamber.  

For additional information, visit:

http://www.imakenews.com/eletra/gow.cfm?z=orcc%2C210261%2Cbr1qvgq%2C22020%2Cbblh7mG

 


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