Jim Jones' Eastword column: East Manatee education very much in the news

February 3, 2013 

Lots shaking in the East Manatee world, not the least of which is that the Herald now has a reporter who grew up and lives in Lakewood Ranch.

Erica Earl, a member of the Lakewood Ranch High School class of 2010, has joined the Herald as education reporter. She is a Magna Cum Laude grad of Southeastern University in Lakeland, where she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism.

Do the math, and you can see she wasted no time. While at Lakewood Ranch High School, she was dual-enrolled at State College of Florida.

Congratulations to Erica, and to her mom and dad, Janet and Arthur Earl.

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Fascinating discussion at the SCF trustees' meeting at the Lakewood Ranch campus this week.

Our Richard Dymond, a former East Manatee reporter who now covers public safety and just about anything else we can throw at him, reports that new SCF President Carol Probstfeld asked a weighty question: "Where will the next campus be?"

SCF should begin planning its future 30 years out, she said.

With Manatee Technical Institute recently opening its new main campus in East Manatee, could SCF eventually be heading east as well?

Some of the same rationale for the MTI move also applies to SCF. The west Bradenton campus is surrounded by urban development. It's not necessarily in the most central location for the diverse student population it serves in Manatee and Sarasota.

After the meeting, trustee Dr. Craig Trigueiro told Richard he envisions a 125- to 150-acre East Manatee campus.

Anticipate a robust discussion of this issue. At least it's on the table, unlike the hasty decision to change the name of the college.

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Pleasant surprise to see representatives of six Manatee high schools -- Bayshore, Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Manatee, Palmetto and Southeast -- at the Manatee School Board meeting recently, taking home their share of a $385,000 pot of money earned through their career academies.

For each student who gets a certificate through a career academy, the school gets additional money, under a 2008 bill approved by the Florida Legislature.

It's all part of an effort to get students prepared for the real world.

It's practical, rather than a purely philosophical approach to getting ready for the workplace.

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Kudos to Nathalie Kabongo-Chavez, a ninth-grader at Lakewood Ranch High School, and Alex Kumar, a sixth-grader at Nolan Middle School. They are winners of the Martin Luther King Jr. speech contest.

Very impressed to hear Nathalie's speech recently before the Manatee School Board. Delivered from the heart and with remarkable precision and phrasing.

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And finally, McNeal Elementary School is really missing Nancy Newby, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma shortly after the school year started.

Efforts are under way to find a genetic match to allow a life-saving bone marrow transplants.

It takes a lot of cheek swabs to find the elusive match, maybe one person in 100,000 or more.

Get your cheek swabbed this week at:

n Bradenton Urgent Care, 4647 ManateeAve. W., Bradenton, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday

n Lakewood RanchUrgent Care, 9908 State Road 64 E., East Manatee, 3-7 p.m. Wednesday

n Sarasota Urgent Care 6272 Lake Osprey Drive, Lakewood Ranch, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021 or tweet @jajones1.

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