Helios Education Foundation and the Education Foundation of Sarastoa County Partner on Middle School Excellence Initiative

Posted on: August 29, 2014

The funding will support a two-year project to address the precarious fall-off in academic achievement and motivation that often occurs when students reach grades 6, 7 and 8.  Over the two-year grant period, more than 145 teachers from all eight middle schools will receive in-depth training to use technology-enhanced classrooms, present a more challenging curriculum, and deploy instructional strategies to engage all students as active learners.  The funding will also provide tools to track and assess changes in student behavior and achievement. 

Transformation of the classroom, teacher preparation, and the delivery of classroom instruction are three elements within the larger change framework taking place in Sarasota County. Classrooms are being redesigned to foster small learning communities where students learn from each other as well as from the teacher, scientific tools and manipulatives are available to each student in order to connect learning to life and integration of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) principles are igniting each student’s passion for learning. Funding for these systemic changes is provided by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Sarasota County Schools, the Education Foundation, and other community-based individuals, businesses and organizations. 

“Our goal is to keep students on track through those middle grades, when so many lose ground,” said Susan Scott, Executive Director of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County.  “We want every child to find their passion and a path to the future, and to stay on course for college and career.  Thanks to Helios Education Foundation, our teachers and families will now have the tools they need to create an environment of high expectations that will benefit every student.”

In the near term, the project will serve more than 9,500 pupils attending Booker, Brookside, Heron Creek, Laurel Nokomis, McIntosh, Sarasota, Venice and Woodland Middle Schools in Sarasota County.  “Dr. Page Dettmann, Executive Director of Middle Schools and our project leader, has designed the professional development component so that change will reach every corner of the school district and become a firmly embedded practice for years to come,” according to Scott.

“Helios Education Foundation is proud to partner with the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and local schools to ensure that our students graduate high school ready for college and career,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO, Helios Education Foundation. “Helios Education Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that every student in Florida and Arizona has the opportunity to succeed in postsecondary education, and we are  confident that this partnership with the Education Foundation of Sarasota County will not only engage students during their middle school years but will also encourage their pursuit and completion of a postsecondary certificate or degree.”

About the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County, founded in 1988 as an independent 501(c)(3) organization, serves more than 41,000 students in 58 elementary, middle and high schools.

As the leading advocate for Sarasota County public schools, the foundation engages the community in support of a quality education for all children, producing and funding innovative initiatives that go beyond what tax dollars can provide.  Since its inception, the foundation has provided over $16 million in direct support to Sarasota County Schools.

Through the generosity of our community, the foundation invests in every child’s success in the classroom and their preparation for the 21st century workplace.  With outcomes that reflect sustainable and fundamental change, the foundation’s projects and programs advance student academic achievement and attainment of skills needed to excel in the 21st century, and enhance teacher expertise.

The foundation encourages donors with a passion for education to express their imagination in finding solutions, to make an investment in providing new opportunities for student learning, and to share the inspiration their generosity sparks in young people whose lives are forever changed.  For more information, visit or call 941.927.0965

Category: College and Career Readiness

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