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Santaluces High School proudly represented Palm Beach County this year in the Florida Marching Band Coalition’s (FMBC) State Marching Band Competition. The FMBC Finals Olympic Retreat was held November 17- with over 10,000 Florida students participating in Semi-Finals and Finals at four locations in Tampa and St. Petersberg. The Santaluces Marching Chiefs earned the “Best in Class Visual”Award in the 2A class and the title of 1st Runner Up out of twenty bands in this year’s state Finals. Alyssa Polny, four- year alto saxophone senior, was also announced as a Jon Kersten Memorial Scholarship Recipient and was honored in the Finals Olympic Retreat in front of a huge crowd of spectators in the Tropicana Dome in St. Petersburg.

For more information, contact Director Manuel Camacho, 561.642.6200 or email



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Spanish River High Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), staff, students, guests and parents made a donation of $ 1,050.84 to Shore Regional High School in West Long Branch, New Jersey, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

After the storm, the PTSA jumped quickly into action searching for a high school in need to support.

“We put out the word to our PTSA Board members that we were looking for a high school to support,” says PTSA President Sharyn Schneiderman. “The PTSA board members with the help of social media and email reached out to friends in the northeast and within a week Spanish River had the answer, Shore Regional High School through Shore Regional Relief Fund.”

“We just couldn’t sit by and watch others suffer,” continues Ms. Schneiderman. “Shore Regional was the school for us. It is just like Spanish River High School, except we’re the Sharks and they are the Devils. Same school colors too! We chose Shore Regional randomly, but soon found out that one of our parents went to school there.  It made the whole situation much more real to people.”

Once the school was chosen the PTSA sent out information and asked for cash donations that would be mailed to the Shore Regional Relief Fund.

Shore Regional High School is a public high school for grades 9-12. The student population is about 700.

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) established the first-ever National Urban Physical Education Leadership Coalition and has selected Eric Stern, K-12 Curriculum Administrator for the School District of Palm Beach county, as one of the twelve leading experts from across the United States. 

The purpose of the coalition is to develop a national research, professional development, and best practice agenda for urban physical education. The partner organizations include CDC, AAHPERD/NASPE, Action for Healthy Kids, The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and the New York City Department of Education’s Office of School Wellness Programs (OSWP). These organizations support the development of the coalition and have selected a dozen of the most pro-active and influential urban physical education professionals in the United States to guide the work that will shape urban physical education for our nation. Mr. Stern said “This is truly an honor and I am thrilled to represent the School District of Palm Beach County and all of the District’s physical education teachers.”

Mr. Stern and the eleven other coalition members will:

* identify effective practices for improving physical education in urban settings;

* advance urban physical education in the U.S.;

* communicate to decision makers, the school and broader community about the impact of high quality physical education on student learning and overall well-being;

* convey the value of effective physical education programs that address health and education disparities among urban youth; and

* collaborate in the development of ideas for improving the evaluation of urban physical education programs and practices.

Mr. Stern is currently serving his last year of a four-year commitment to the Florida Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance and Sports.  He served as the state president from October 2010 through October 2012.

The first coalition meeting will be held December 6-7, 2012 in Atlanta, GA.

For more information please contact Vickie Middlebrooks, Public Affairs, at 561-357-7661 or .

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The Teacher Academy at Palm Beach Lakes Community High School celebrated 20 years of excellence in education in a big and unique way.  The students in this academy work diligently to learn the art of teaching and history of education in our country.  On Monday, November 26 in the Palm Beach Lakes Gymnasium, for the first time ever, the academy hosted a Teacher Academy Education Affair. 

Teacher Academy students, from grades nine to twelve, displayed their class and individual research in education.  They reported on relevant, interesting, and even controversial topics educators face every day.  Some of the topics included the following: Learning Styles, Standardized Testing, Professionalism in Education, Technology in Education, Sex Education in Schools, etc.  Senior, Eeliyah Miller, not only won over her peers with her eye catching yet informative College Readiness research and presentation, but she also won a ticket to see rap star and TV sensation TI in concert, courtesy of radio celebrity Poet and 102.3. 

“We thank the many participants who made the event a success,” said the school’s Choice Coordinator Tera Hands.  “Nova Southeastern University, Florida Atlantic University, Palm Beach State College, MedVance, as well as Junior Achievement were in attendance, sharing with the students the opportunities in education.”  

Dr. Sylvia Tricarico, Department of Choice and Career Options Specialist, had this to say about the Education Affair, “The event was wonderful.  The students were knowledgeable regarding their presentations, acted in a professional manner, and were quite enthusiastic about their topics.  So many times we hear what we are ‘doing wrong’ with our students, in this case you all hit a ‘home run’ — you truly have a group of budding professional teachers in your midst.”  

The Teacher Academy achieved its twofold purpose—to bring awareness to the academy and the field of education and to celebrate a milestone…20 Years of Excellence in Education at Palm Beach Lakes Community High School.

For more information please contact Ms. Hands at 561-640-5014 or .





















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Palm Beach County is a great place to live and work and the School District wants people to know just how effective and high quality the schools are as well. An eight minute DVD titled “Palm Beach County Schools: We Mean Business” is being distributed to area businesses, community organizations and local municipalities.  The video produced by The Education Network (T.E.N.) is intended to be used as a promotional “expression of pride” in what the School District and business community have accomplished together.

In a letter to community partners included with the DVD, Superintendent Wayne Gent wrote, “As the 11th largest school district in the nation, we share great pride in our academic excellence and in being an Accredited district.  We are also an A-rated District for the past eight years.  Beyond the dedication of our employees, it is the community-driven support of our volunteers and business partners, which have contributed to this success.”

Businesses and community organizations are being encouraged to use the video to foster growth in the business community, to post on their websites or to assist in recruiting potential new businesses to our beautiful area.

The video can be viewed at

For more information please contact Nat Harrington, Public Affairs, at 561-434-8227 or

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Yinjie Qian Recognized as Top Chinese Language Teacher in the State of Florida by the Florida Foreign Language Association

Yinjie Qian, a Chinese language teacher at Olympic Heights Community High School in Boca Raton, has been named the 2012 “Teacher of the Year” by the Florida Foreign Language Association—Florida Chinese Teachers Association.

The award was bestowed on Qian last month at the 2012 Annual Conference of the Florida Foreign Language Association (FFLA) in Saint Augustine.

“It is a great honor to have been chosen as ‘Teacher of the Year,’” said Qian. “I appreciate the recognition and honor and will continue to do my best.”

Qian joined Olympic Heights in 2001 as a teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages. In 2006, she earned National Board Certification and then took on a leadership role to design and develop the school’s Chinese Language program. Since then, the program has grown from one level to multiple levels and now includes an Advanced Placement class in Chinese as well. Qian also founded the Chinese Club at Olympic Heights.

“We are thrilled that Yinjie has received this statewide honor,” said David Clark, Principal at Olympic Heights. “She is dedicated to her students and the teaching profession, and this recognition is well-deserved.”

The “Teacher of the Year” award is bestowed every year by the Florida Chinese Teachers Association, a member organization of the FFLA. FFLA is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the study and teaching of languages and cultures.

“Many teachers at our school are dedicated and hard-working,” said Qian. “To me, they are the unsung heroes and role models I often draw inspiration from. My students are also the source of my driving force. Their energy and enthusiasm for learning have always inspired me to better prepare them for their future.”

For more information contact Carla Blefary at 561-289-9726 or email

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Students and staff at Wellington Elementary know the importance of helping others.  Through their “Dollar for Denim Days”, students and staff paid $1 to wear jeans and the proceeds have benefited local charities.  Wellington Elementary School donated $397 to the Autism Speaks Foundation in October and $386 to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy victims in November. 

Students also participated in the WPTV Food for Families Drive and collected 2, 378 non-perishable goods for families in need. 

“We have worked hard to instill those core character values, with kindness being a priority, and the students have shown true kindness” said Dr. Eugina Smith Feaman, Principal. 

The School District of Palm Beach County supports the strengthening of school programs, family practices and student learning through the integration of community members and business organizations. Schools actively participate in programs and community partners join schools in their efforts to provide resources and materials to students, teachers and families.

For more information contact Dr. Smith Feaman at (561) 651-0600 or via email at






 Public Affairs Contact: Natalia Arenas – (561) 357-7662 –

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Benoist Farms Elementary School recently hosted a Thanksgiving food drive to assist families within their community.  The school was over whelmed with the support that was provided by students, staff and the community.  “Our original goal was to provide complete Thanksgiving meals to ten families.  With the out pour of assistance, we were able to feed TWENTY-FIVE families!” said Ms. Lauren Rogers, parent liaison and project sponsor. 

Each family received a large laundry basket that included a 14 lb. turkey, a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams and countless other items.  On November 17, 2012 staff members and students of the KC (kindness & compassion club) delivered these meals to the families at their homes in the community.  The response from the families was not only of pure appreciation, but also provided our students with a valuable lesson on the importance of helping others and working as a team.  

“We are thankful for all the donations and especially grateful for setting an example to our students about the importance helping others. The KC Club within our school focuses on showing kindness and compassion to other students, as well as, the community by involvement in activities and events,” added Ms. Rogers.



For more information contact Lauren Rogers at (561) 383-9735 or via email at






 Public Affairs Contact: Natalia Arenas – (561) 357-7662 –

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The Great Book Hunt features latest release of the Adventures of Charlie Pierce series

The Education Network’s newest production is a vodcast about The Great Book Hunt, set for Saturday, December 1, starting at 10:00 a.m. at the Arthur Marshall Loxahatchee National Refuge, and the John D. MacArthur Beach Park in Palm Beach County, and other state parks around Florida. The event is designed to promote The Last Calusa—the latest book released by area lawyer,  historian, and author, Harvey Oyer, III, who created The Adventures of Charlie Pierce series.

The District is one of several around the state that have partnered with state agencies to help launch the book in an intriguing, student-friendly manner. The first copies of The Last Calusa will not be available at bookstores. Instead, youngsters and their families are urged to visit State parks to look for clues that have been placed by the State Park Service and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission.  Their goal: for students and their families to spend time in the “great outdoors”, finding clues that will lead to The Last Calusa books, as well as other prizes, and along the way– learn more about Florida’s unique natural resources.

This is a program that the governor’s office is supporting as it promotes reading, literacy, andFlorida history while also encouraging Florida families to use our State Parks.  Park entrance fees will be waived on the day of the Great Book Hunt. Mr. Oyer said he’s delighted the state selected his newest book, which is about the people who occupied Florida prior to the arrival of the Spanish almost 500 years ago.” This book fits perfectly with the State’s planned Quincentennial celebration, which the Governor and his wife are intimately involved with,” he stated.

To view the vodcast, click on the following link.

To see a list of participating parks, click here.List of Parks, Great Florida book Hunt[1]

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Royal Palm Beach High School’s Choice Academy students have been working diligently to provide assistance to local charities and families in need during this holiday season. 

The Global Business Academy’s Interact Club, led by Darrell Schwartz,  in cooperation with the Royal Palm Beach PBSO and the Village of Royal Palm Beach, raised over 1000 pounds of non-perishable food items to help provide Thanksgiving Food Packages to families in need in Palm Beach County.                                                                                                    

Students and teachers throughout the school generously donated items to help reach this goal and ensure that needy families in our community will be able to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner. “Our school came in first place in the county food drive with the Sheriff’s office raising over 2000 pounds of food!” added Mr. Armas, principal. 

The Medical Academy’s HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) chapter raised over $800 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night Walk.  Over 80 students participated in the event, either as volunteers or walkers. This event brings help and hope to thousands of people battling blood cancers.  

Funds raised by teams and individual walkers provide:

  • Lifesaving blood cancer research
  • Free educational materials and events for patients and their families
  • Local programs such as Family Support Groups and First Connection, a peer-to-peer counseling program
  • Comprehensive, personalized assistance through our Information Resource Center 

In addition, the Medical Academy students, led by Janet Fabra and Michelle Ugalde, have adopted a family with eight children for Christmas.  Students will provide needed items along with items from the family’s wish list.  The children range in age from 13 years to 6 months.  Some of the needed items the students are supplying are shoes, clothes, school supplies, along with non-perishable food items, gift cards to local grocery stores so the family can purchase eggs, milk, meats, etc. Along with these items they are trying to fulfill the wish list of toys and books. 

Principal Jesus Armas is proud of the work the school has done. “Our students and staff are great examples of how Royal Palm Beach High School is the beacon of the community.” 

For additional information contact Jesus Armas, Principal at (561) 753-4002 or via e-mail to





 Public Affairs Contact: Natalia Arenas – (561) 357-7662 –

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The School District of Palm Beach County’s Public Affairs Department launched a Facebook fan page and Twitter account earlier this year with the purpose to enhance the district’s educational presence and public engagement. Parents, students, employees and community members are now invited to participate in a Social Media Survey, which will provide us with the opportunity to obtain feedback from our stakeholders.

The following link will take you to the 17 item survey that takes less than five minutes to complete. It will be available until January 14, 2013. All responses will remain anonymous and the information will be used for statistical analysis only.

Social Media Survey

This social media survey is part of a pilot program as the initial step toward creating a district-wide social networking policy. The Department of Public Affairs in collaboration with the Division of Information Technology, Educational Technology Department and the Legal Department will be evaluating the results of this initiative to determine guidelines and procedures that will be implemented in the future by all schools and departments. Click here to read more about the Social Media Pilot Program.

Survey participants should keep in mind that the main purpose of this survey is to obtain the reactions and suggestions of our social media efforts and other means of communication. We believe in the importance of including our community in our communication efforts to determine the best way possible to disseminate information about the District’s efforts, events, programs and activities.

Obtain information about schools, events, activities, scholarships, graduation and much more by “Liking” our Facebook Page under the name The School District of Palm Beach County or by “Following” us on Twitter  @PBCSD.

For more information contact Natalia Arenas at (561) 357-7662 or via email at






 Public Affairs Contact: Natalia Arenas – (561) 357-7662 –

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The School District of Palm Beach County and the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association (CTA) have reached Tentative Agreement on contract negotiations that includes a salary increase for all 12,578 teachers.   The new and improved salary schedule provides an average increase of 3.41% for all teachers retroactive to July 1, 2012.  The two sides concluded bargaining late Monday evening (11/26/12).  That meeting marked the eleventh bargaining session between the parties since negotiations began last May.   

The tentative salary agreement for Palm Beach County School District teachers is believed to be one of the highest, if not the highest, in the State of Florida for the 2012-13 school year. 
“We are very pleased that we have been able to reach this important agreement,” said Superintendent Wayne Gent. “The School Board values our teachers, and this tentative agreement demonstrates our commitment to provide the best salary proposal financially possible at this time.  We look forward to an ongoing collaborative relationship with our teachers that will ultimately benefit the students,” he said.
Some highlights of the agreement include: 
  • Teachers will receive a salary increase on an improved salary schedule retroactive to the start of the 2012-2013 school year.
  • Under the agreement, all teachers will receive an equitable increase averaging 3.41% for the entire employee group.
  • By improving the salary schedule, teachers eligible for a step will receive an increase ranging from $1,500 to $4,300. The average increase will be $1,786.
  • The cost to the District will be approximately $22.5 million
  • The beginning salary for teachers with no prior experience was increased from $37,322 to $38,000.  So, even newly-hired teachers will realize an increase of $678.
    • Teachers currently earning the longevity salary of $71,745, will see their base salary increase by $1,500 to $73,245 for the 2012-13 school year.  The longevity salary will revert back to $72,500 on July 1, 2013 unless the parties agree otherwise in future negotiations that are already scheduled to reopen in April of 2013.
    • Teachers with children in District-operated after school child care programs will be eligible for a 25% discount.    
The tentative agreement must now be ratified by teachers through a vote and then approved by the School Board.

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Thousands of people, united by a single cause, will walk on Sunday, March 3, 2013, starting at the Meyer Amphitheatre in Downtown West Palm Beach. Walk Now for Autism Speaks is a fun-filled and family friendly event. The goal is to help collect funds for vital research to answer many questions about this condition.

Participating walkers will help raise funds by getting sponsors involved. Besides supporting a walker, sponsors can also volunteer or host an event. Proceeds of the initiative will contribute to the funding for research on autism.

Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disorder in the U.S. Every eleven minutes, a family receives the devastating news that its child has an autism spectrum disorder.

“We need more volunteers to join our fight. Whether this is your first walk or the 10th, take the first step and register today. You will not only raise funds, but you will also become a part of a fun and supportive family-focused community initiative.  Start fundraising today. Whether you strive to join the new “Grand Club” (walkers that raise $1,000 or more) or sell lemonade to boost your total or create your own unique event, you become a part of the solution! Don’t wait another minute! Start a corporate, school or family team today,’ said Will Gordillo, Director of the Department of Exceptional Student Education at the School District of Palm Beach County.

This initiative is in line with the School District of Palm Beach County commitment to providing exceptional students a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in accordance with federal, state, and local mandates.

To register, please visit the site link below:

For more information, contact Jacquie Nicholson at 561-465-0053 or email

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First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach is partnering with the South Olive Elementary School family to provide support for hundreds of children whose families are economically challenged. The church is once again presenting Project Christmas-A Night of Joy–a concert that’s being offered as a way to celebrate the season with friends and neighbors while also partnering to make a difference in the lives of families in the community.

One hundred percent of the proceeds of concert ticket sales will benefit South Olive Elementary School with some of their targeted projects including teacher appreciation, student tutoring, and special projects. Concert performances are scheduled for Friday, December 7, Saturday, December 8, and Sunday, December 9 –all starting at 7:00 p.m.

Tickets  cost $12.00 each and are available on line at or at the First Baptist Church Welcome Center on Wednesdays, from 5:30-8:00 p.m., and Sundays, 9:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m. Guests are asked to bring an email confirmation as a receipt for online purchases when picking up tickets.  For more details, click here or call 561.650.7400.

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Strides for Education 5K Walk/Run throughout Florida aims at raising $1,000,000 for college scholarships for low-income and deserving students. Take Stock in Children helps break the cycle of poverty by providing college scholarships, caring volunteer mentors and hope for a better life.


WHEN:          Saturday, December, 8, 2012   –   9:00 AM

WHERE:       Florida Atlantic University (Boca Campus) – 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL

Take Stock in Children is Florida’s flagship and most successful mentoring program. Participants can walk, run, volunteer or raise fund as a virtual walker!

For event details and sponsorship opportunities, call 561-603-9780 or visit

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The School District of Palm Beach County, in partnership with Onehealth, United Healthcare, and Wells Fargo, has taken the expression, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” to a whole new level. Over the past five weeks, all district personnel have been encouraged to eat at least one apple every day. The event started October 3 and continued through November 6.

In its first year, this healthy and engaging initiative enjoyed overwhelming support. Thousands participated, at over 120 locations, submitting over 4,000 of pictures of responsible apple consumption. The 2012 Apple A Day Wellness Event was won by Intensive Transition South (Team Challenge) and Glenda Williams (Individual Challenge). 

Apple a Day was designed to encourage healthier lifestyles, focusing on seven specific areas of health and wellness. Each day, personnel took pictures of themselves eating apples or an approved nutritious equivalent (ideally, mid-consumption). Photos were sent to Onehealth via MMS text, e-mail, or via an online form to be recorded and scored. 

Each week bonus activities were featured that addressed each of the seven targeted objectives, including passing out apples on Halloween, exercising, and reading health and wellness articles online or in print. By promoting friendly competition and encouraging conscientious healthy eating habits, this event reflected exactly what The District’s wellness program is about. 

“I love this apple a day campaign! It such a simple concept, and can make a big difference!” said one District Wellness Champion. The competition turned out to be too much fun for the students to merely observe, and hundreds ended up participating. More than one cafeteria reported running out of apples just hours into the challenge. 

“This was an easy, fun program that offered competition and the motivation to be healthy. We know fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy diet and most of us don’t get enough of them. It was inspiring to see how the program benefited not only staff- but students, parents and the community” says Kim Sandmaier, the District’s wellness coordinator. 

This event was successful in allowing participants to take their health into their own hands. People were even excited about eating apples daily. As a school district, Palm Beach County is ahead of the curve in striving for employee wellness and doing so in engaging, fun ways. 


For more information please contact Kim Sandmaier at 561-434-8044 or via email at






 Public Affairs Contact: Natalia Arenas – (561) 357-7662 –

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Palm Beach County student photographers were selected to represent their schools at the 25th Anniversary of the Armory Art Center. They are celebrating all things artful and as part of this initiative invited middle and high school art teachers to select three great works from their school for the exhibit. 

Palm Beach Daily News is the sponsor of this exhibition and the bronze competition which also celebrates Armory’s 25th anniversary. On display are 52 works from 14 middle and high schools created in the theme of Art Deco or the Celebration of Art. 

"Collision" by Aquille Dukley (RPBHS)

The participating schools include: 

Christa McAuliffe Middle

Conniston Middle

Dreyfoos School of the Arts

John I Leonard High

Jupiter High

Olympic Heights High

Palm Beach Central High

Palm Beach Lakes High

Royal Palm Beach High

Seminole Ridge High

Suncoast Comm. High

Watson B Duncan Middle

Wellington High

Woodlands Middle 

The dates for the exhibition are from November 15 through December 7, 2012.  The Armory Art Center is located at 1700 Parker Ave. West Palm Beach.

"Hangin' Out" by Amara Kaboudan (RPBHS)


"Orange Osmosis" by Paulena Wermuth (RPBHS)


For more information contact Talya Lerman via email at






 Public Affairs Contact: Natalia Arenas – (561) 357-7662 –


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The Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition invites parents, teachers, social service providers and other community members to attend Bullying Prevention: Social Responsibility in the 21st Century, a special training aimed at arming the community with the skills needed to stop bullying. 

When? Friday, November 30, 2012 from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm 

Where? Santaluces High School: 6880 Lawrence Rd. Lantana, FL 33462 

Recent research and multiple studies have suggested that students who bully their classmates are more likely to use cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana than their non-bullying peers and, to no surprise, bully-victims reporting the greatest levels of substance use. 

The event will feature guest speaker, Dr. Debra J. Pepler, Ph.D, an internationally recognized expert on bullying and childhood aggression and an authority on school-based interventions. She speaks widely to professional and community audiences and publishes extensively. Her major research program examines the antisocial behavior of children and adolescents, particularly in the school and peer contexts. Debra J. Pepler, Ph. D. & Wendy Craig, Ph.D. have stated, “We believe that bullying, the combined use of power and aggression, is a problem throughout the lifespan.  Children do not “just grow out of it”.  On the contrary, we believe that children who learn how to acquire power through aggression on the playground may transfer these lessons to sexual harassment, date violence, gang attacks, marital abuse, child abuse, and elder abuse.” 

This training is an opportunity for the community to examine what they can change about their personal social environments that will benefit the community at large. CEUs will be available for professionals.  Please contact the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition for more details. 

Click here to RSVP By November 29, 2012.  

For more information contact Alexa Lee at (561) 844-5952 or via email at





 Public Affairs Contact: Natalia Arenas – (561) 357-7662 –

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Christian Marrero, a trumpet player from Boynton Beach, received the prestigious Berklee College of Music Presidential Scholarship, granting him a four-year education at no cost to him or his family. The scholarship’s total value over four years is approximately $225,000. Presidential Scholarships, awarded to the world’s best young musicians, cover all tuition, housing, and fees. While such awards are more common for student athletes, this program is unique for a music college.

Marrero started playing trumpet at 12 and took lessons with Gloria Estefan’s lead trumpet player from the Miami Sound Machine, Doug Michels. The trumpet he plays today is a gift from a woman who was so moved by a performance of his in middle school that she purchased him the instrument. Through the years, Marrero has participated in Florida’s all-state jazz, symphonic, and orchestral groups. He toured Europe with the Make a Wish Foundation Charity Band. He was selected among hundreds of trumpet players from the United States and Canada to participate in the Grammy Band Jazz Ensemble, the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, and the Jazz Band of America. Marrero has worked with Wynton and Jason Marsalis, Wycliffe Gotdon, and Ted Nash in various settings. He graduated from the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida. 

“Berklee offers me a lot of different options for starting my career. I am very interested in the professional music and performance degrees,” says Marrero. “The possibilities and opportunities are endless and I will make sure to take advantage of the prestigious scholarship I have been provided and pursue these degrees and, maybe, even more.”

Diversity and opportunity are the twin pillars of the Presidential Scholarship initiative. ”As a private college, we’re expensive for a family without a lot of income,” says Berklee President Roger H. Brown. “The added challenges in this difficult time might make higher education seem inaccessible to a student. If we want to continue to be the place where the finest contemporary musicians gather regardless of socioeconomic status, we have to work to make sure it’s possible for them to get here, and then stay here.”

Berklee College of Music, for over 65 years, has evolved to support its belief that the best way to prepare students for careers in music is through contemporary music education. The college was the first in the U.S. to teach jazz, the popular music of the time. It incorporated rock n’ roll in the 1960s, created the world’s first degree programs in film scoring, music synthesis, and songwriting, and, in recent years, added world music, hip-hop, electronica, and video game music to its curriculum. With a diverse student body representing over 80 countries, a music industry “who’s who” of alumni that have received 222 Grammy Awards, Berklee is the world’s premier learning lab for the music of today – and tomorrow.

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The educator panel at the Town Hall meeting with Guatemalan parents and students.

 About 35 parents, students, and advocates from the Guatemalan/Maya communities attended a town hall meeting convened by Dr. Debra Robinson, vice-chair of the Palm Beach County School Board, on a recent Thursday evening to voice issues and concerns about the academic success of Guatemalan students in District schools. Overcrowding on school buses with a high population of Guatemalan students; availability of full-time VPK programs; access to information about college entry and college scholarships; and a host of other topics were among those voiced by current and former students, their parents, and some former employees of the District who had served students and families from the Guatemalan communities.

Dr. Robinson was joined by a panel of educators who were on hand to listen to and help address the issues presented, Thursday, November 8, at the session hosted by Dr. George Lockhart at Lake Worth High School. Rod Montgomery, superintendent of Area 2 Schools, Margarita Pinkos, director of the Department of Multicultural Education, Tanya Daniel, principal of Lake Worth Middle School, Mike Riley, principal of South Grade Elementary, and Brian Killeen, principal of Highland Elementary, listened intently with some taking notes as a steady parade of people approached the microphone to express their concerns or ask questions.  Highland Bridges Director Jaime-Lee Brown joined District Mayan social services facilitator Sonia Cabrera Lopez in facilitating the session, time-keeping, and making sure the comments were recorded on chart paper.

Juana Domingo, a sophomore at Lake Worth High School, told the panel she’d like to know where to find more sources of financial assistance….not only as she prepares to apply to colleges soon, but also for opportunities such as a leadership program she was recently invited to participate in, but had to decline because her parents didn’t have the $2500 required for her to enroll. “We have to remember that it does begin with our parents but all parents don’t have the education necessary to help or the money for the extra programs,” she stated.  *At the end of the session, Dr. Robinson urged her colleagues to follow through on the issues that could be immediately addressed and to consider remedies for the other topics. “I think this was an excellent start, an opportunity for us to listen to the parents and students instead of us overwhelming them with a lot of our presentations,” she stated. 

The session was interpreted into Spanish, Q’anjob’al, and Mam for non-English-speakers by District staff Maria Lacobs, Dominga Manuel-Xuncax, and Maria Gaspar. The meeting got underway after dinner was provided for children and their parents. Dinner was sponsored by the Highland and Lake Worth Bridges community organizations. El Sol, and the Guatemalan/Maya Center also helped to recruit participants for the event. 

For more information, contact Sonia Cabrera-Lopez, 561.434.8684 or email

*To see a complete list of concerns expressed by parents and students, click here.PBSD Town Hall Meeting Minutes[1]

Juana Domingo, a sophomore at Lake Worth High School, addresses her concerns to Board Vice-Chair, Dr. Debra Robinson and the educator panel.

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Tom Tufts presents an International Baccalaureate unit to educators at the November 2nd session

Over 30 educators gathered on a recent Saturday for professional development training led by Conniston Middle School teacher and author Tom Tufts. The focus was the International Baccalaureate Unit that focuses on Florida’s 500th anniversary. The training was also connected to Mr. Tuft’s book, The Dynamite Days of Middle School,  where he describes in great detail the fun and adventures of several middle school students as they traipsed across the Everglades. In addition to receiving the novel, the educators from Connniston and Okeeheelee Middle schools also received other classroom resources to support the implementation of the International Baccalaureate unit with their students

The four-hour presentation and workshop activities included a slide show and presentation of the history of Florida, the Seminoles, and the major players involved in the draining of the Everglades from Florida’s Statehood in 1845 to the present. He also explained what needs to be done for restoration to take place and participants had the opportunity to play the vocabulary-teaching board game  themed to the Everglades and the book, which he created a few years ago

Participating educators had been advised to dress appropriately for the outdoors and to expect to spend a couple of additional hours for the professional development experience. Mr. Tufts said it’s accurate to say they were pretty taken aback to get to take an airboat ride into the Everglades. “There was silence as we navigated in the airboat and they experienced strong connections between the presentation and their experience riding through the sawgrass,” he stated.

 Conniston Choice Programs Coordinator Chris Wilkins said the experience was a great one.  “When teachers are able to collaborate and inspire one another, then wonderful things can happen in the classroom which ultimately ensures that the students receive the highest level of education possible…that’s what I saw happen during this training,” he stated.

The  free session will be repeated again on Saturday, January 26, 2013. For more details, contact Mr. Tufts, 561.802.5400 or email

Educators experienced the Everglades firsthand after the classroom portion of their professional development training.





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Twelve biology and chemistry teachers from high schools across Palm Beach County recently participated in an intensive three-day workshop at Scripps Florida, as part of a continuing professional development program developed to strengthen laboratory skills and build confidence with hands-on experiences led by Scripps Florida scientists. 

Dubbed “Scripps Florida InSPIRE” (Instructional Support Program for Innovative Research Education) was presented by Scripps Florida post-doctoral researchers along with fellow Palm Beach County science teachers who have previously taken part in Scripps Florida’s established summer internship program. 

The program was developed to meet Scripps Florida’s goal of addressing the needs of Palm Beach County high school science teachers by providing greater professional development opportunities in a supportive and engaging environment. 

“Ultimately, our objective is to foster an enduring partnership and ongoing dialogue between the research scientist and classroom science teacher,” said Deborah Leach-Scampavia, director of education outreach for Scripps Florida. “After teachers participate in the three-day workshop, they’ll have opportunities to further enhance their laboratory skills by attending special bimonthly seminars with Scripps Florida scientists and participating in weekly online exchanges with researchers via a Web-based interface.”           

The overall goals of Scripps Florida InSPIRE are to:

  • Enhance the pursuit of scholarship in the sciences for classroom teachers
  • Improve teacher access to contemporary scientific materials and methods, as well as state-of the-art laboratory techniques
  • Provide ongoing contact between scientists and classroom teachers for curriculum and subject support
  • Empower educators to bridge the performance gap in science. 

The following high school teachers from Palm Beach County participated in the 2nd annual Scripps Florida InSPIRE workshop: 

Antonio Loyd, Biology Teacher, Lake Worth High School

Melissa Varvarigos, Biology Teacher, Wellington High School

Cindy Bhebe, Biology Teacher, Santaluces High School

Tracy McCoey, Biology Teacher, West Boca Raton High School

Linda Kunf, Biology Teacher, Park Vista High School

Momodou Jobe, Biology Teacher, Glades Central High School

Dionne Lewis, Biology Teacher, Royal Palm Beach High School

Jacob Elvey, Chemistry Teacher, Boca Raton High School

Robert Frick, Chemistry Teacher, Seminole Ridge High School

Lynsey Bruce, Chemistry Teacher, Atlantic High School

Kathleen Leland, Chemistry Teacher, Jupiter High School

Ashley Spooner, Chemistry Teacher, Boynton Beach High School 

InSPIRE was developed by the Scripps Florida Office of Education Outreach and was made possible by the generous support of the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust. 

For more information, contact Greg Goebel, 6-12 Science Program Planner, at (561) 357-1128 or via email at







 Public Affairs Contact: Natalia Arenas – (561) 357-7662 –

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South Intensive Transition School, for the second time, converted its gymnasium into a showcase of academic achievement and behavioral recognition. The school held the final round of its Annual Science Fair on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 9:45 a.m. hosting eight contestants from grades 6 through 12 and between the ages of 13 and 18. Parents, faculty, staff and students gathered to see students focused on science, math and engineering issues and careers.

“I think it is a great thing for him to experience. He wants to change and make better grades, so I think this is a positive,” commented Ana Sebastian, parent of ninth grader Tomas Francisco.

The Science Fair this year has grown considerably in popularity and the school anticipates having five entries into the Palm Beach County Districtwide Science Fair. The skills that students attain by participating in hands-on engineering and scientific research will prepare them for higher education and future careers.

“We are creating a generation of innovators where students pursue degrees and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). This level of excellence was accomplished with hours of hard work by the students and teachers,” said Assistant Principal Terrence Narinesingh, who also served as a Science Fair judge.

Middle school Science Teacher and Science Fair Coordinator, Ronnie Suddith commented, “our Second Annual Science Fair was a huge success. Our students gained valuable hands-on experience working on their projects. We had a few students that had never participated in a Science Fair and they were excited to be a part of something. I am looking forward to entering our winning projects in the District Science Fair.”

The Science Fair was paired with the Honor Roll Assembly to ensure that academics were at the forefront of the school’s FY13 theme of “high expectations.”

“It’s great to see our students achieving success in their academic subjects as well as their behavior. Many of them have received a certain amount of negative attention at their comprehensive schools and in the community, and they come to us with the goal of transitioning back into a traditional educational environment.  Our staff meets the needs of our unique population on a daily basis, and we are proud to honor our students for their positive results in Science Projects, Honor Roll, and FAB Awards (School-wide Positive Behavior). These are all indicators that our students can and will be victorious over the obstacles they face if they focus on doing their best,” commented Principal Dr. Voncia Haywood.

Twenty-eight students made it on the Honor Roll. The Honor Roll Assembly is an opportunity for diligent students to receive recognition for their hard work and accolades for their academic success. “I feel good about making the Honor Roll because I had bad grades in my other schools so I feel good to accomplish something that I haven’t since fourth grade,” said ninth grader Griffin Napolitano.

Seven students received School-wide Positive Behavior Support (SwPBS) Awards. Every student at South Intensive is encouraged to follow the three universal guidelines for success: Follow directions, Avoid aggression and Be respectful. The SwPBS Team recognizes these students as being “FAB.” It is the ultimate goal for all students to become “FAB” so they can successfully transition back into their comprehensive schools.

According to Monique Lambrou, Middle School English Language Arts/Reading Teacher and SwPBS Coach, “implementing a positive approach to discipline at South Intensive has helped us reduce the number of referrals in FY13 by 48%, when compared to FY12. We plan to continue using a positive behavior support system in order to help our students experience success.”

For more information contact Dr. Voncia Haywood at 561-202-0600 or via e-mail at

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For Royal Palm Beach High School sophomore Shaquille Johnson, he credits his ability to read better and grasp a firmer understanding of complex ideas to his English II/Intensive Reading teacher, Brandon Gilbert.  It hasn’t been easy, given his lack of an affinity for reading, but Gilbert’s energetic style and ability to relate well with students are what makes him a superb educator.

“If you’re having a problem with a question, he simplifies it,” Johnson said. “He’ll meet you half way, where you are, and he’ll be straight with you.” 

Gilbert, 29, who is in his fifth year at Royal Palm Beach High School, has not gone unnoticed. Because of his commitment to students and his work as a youth pastor for In the Word Ministries in West Palm Beach, he was one of 25 leaders under the age of 40 featured in the November edition of Legacy Palm Beach, a Palm Beach Post supplement that spotlights the African American community. 

Although the November issue features leaders in engineering, financial services, government, real estate and law, Gilbert is the lone educator. And that distinction, he said, is what makes him even more humbled and honored by the recognition. 

“I feel very blessed to be recognized by a magazine like Legacy,” said Gilbert, who teaches six classes out of a seven-period day. “I just want to do all I can to teach, mentor and help kids improve their lives.” 

His way of improving lives is to not only give students the academic skills and knowledge they will need to pass the FCAT, but he also wants to impart the life skills of being a person of integrity and helping others to grow. Although the Bethune-Cookman University graduate is considering law school in the future, he said he will continue to work in some capacity with teaching and mentoring children. 

Jesus Armas, principal of Royal Palm Beach High School, said that Gilbert is an exemplary teacher who always has the students’ best interest at heart.  

“He is the consummate professional,” Armas said. “His fervor for the profession and his love for the students are what make him a great teacher and a definite asset to not only the school, but the greater community as well.” 

Legacy is a relatively new magazine that is published by the Mia Media and Communications Group and distributed within The Palm Beach Post. The next edition is slated for January, its Black History Month issue. 

For more information contact Brandon Gilbert at (561) 420-3644 or via email at






 Public Affairs Contact: Natalia Arenas – (561) 357-7662 –

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Librarians and Principals were welcomed to the stage on the opening night of the 40th FAME (Florida Association for Media in Education) annual conference to receive recognition in having achieved the status of Florida Power-Library Schools. Launched in the fall of 2008, by FAME and the Florida Department of Education’s Library Media Services, this statewide recognition is awarded to schools that involve their school faculty members in developing and implementing outstanding library media programs focused on student achievement.

Teacher/librarian collaboration, supportive administrations, and dynamic library media programs are hallmarks of winning Florida Power-Library Schools. After a rigorous review, including site visits, three schools were chosen as this year’s winners of the prestigious award. The designation as a Florida Power Library School is valid for three years; after which the school must reapply.

Of the twenty six schools that received the award in 2009 eleven completed the renewal evaluation process to retain their designation.

“We are proud to announce that Freedom Shores was among eleven schools who qualified to have their Florida Power Library Award renewed,” said K-12 Curriculum Director Liz Perlman. “Congratulations to Michelle Cates (media specialist), Valerie Haines (Principal Freedom Shores at the time of the award application) and Patricia Trejo (Principal Freedom Shores).”

When asked about the award Ms. Cates said, “The award program and aspiring to the details of the Exc3el document has communicated goals to the Literacy Council and administration, and directly resulted in Digital Citizenship and Research Madness programs.  Without this communication, I believe that our school-wide collaborative programs would not exist.  The award is also a sense of pride for our school, which keeps our students and staff positively viewing our initiatives.”

Throughout the next three years, Freedom Shores will serve as a mentor to other schools in the district and region. For further information on the Florida Power-Library Schools program please visit

For more information please contact Library Media Services Specialist Hollyanne Ruffner at 561-684-5227 or .