Earlier this month, the Manatee County School Board released 27 name nominations for a new middle school slated to open in east Manatee County in August 2019.
And on Tuesday night, after public input, the board unanimously voted on the winning name – and it wasn’t “Dave Watchdog Miner” or “Trump Middle.”
No, after six people addressed the school board to recommend her, the new school will officially be called Dr. Mona Jain Middle School.
Ex-students and colleagues, fellow teachers, business leaders, doctors and more all echoed one another in their description of Jain.
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Speakers talked about her inspirational nature and the constant attention she paid to struggling students.
Ex-colleagues along with current teachers praised her inclusive and welcoming nature at work, even when she was one of the only minority teachers in the district several decades ago. Almost all made it a point to mention her inspiration to young girls.
One person came up to recommend the school be named after Barbara Harvey, who came in second on Tuesday’s list.
Harvey, who held a school board seat for 16 years before leaving in 2014, had also taught at multiple schools in the district and was an assistant principal at Palmetto Elementary School and principal at Miller Elementary.
Though school board member John Colon said his first pick was Harvey, with Jain coming in second, he voted for Jain after hearing the public testimonies.
“My vote will be Dr. Mona Jain to go along with the will of the people,” Colon said. “But on the condition that the next school is named after Barbara Harvey.”
A new elementary school is next in line for the district and is expected to be built in Parrish.
Dr. Mona Jain Middle School will be located just east of Gullett Elementary School on 44th Avenue East.
The name nomination process began during a community meeting held at Gullett on Dec. 18. The district’s Communications, Family and Community Engagement Department collected the nominations from the public up until Jan. 31.
Prior to the meeting the list had narrowed down from the 27 nominations to a handful of names. Jain had the most votes from the board, with Harvey coming in second. Bill O’ Brien, Lakewood Ranch and East Manatee Middle also received votes.