A 27-acre site in Lakewood Ranch will soon pay tribute to the accomplished medical doctor and teacher whose name will mark Manatee County's newest middle school.
Manatee County school officials honored Dr. Mona Jain during a groundbreaking ceremony for the school on Friday afternoon. The construction site sits right next to B.D. Gullet Elementary School.
Though each speaker highlighted Jain's accomplishments, the doctor shifted focus to area teachers.
"This school is not dedicated to one person," she said. "I am dedicated to everybody who believes in education, and especially to educators of the past, present and future."
Dr. Mona Jain Middle School is expected to house about 1,100 students. The county hopes Jain — a Fulbright scholar and a recipient of the Edgar H. Price Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award — will inspire boys and girls who attend the new school after it opens in August 2019.
The middle school, which has a budget of $45 million, is the first to be constructed in Manatee County since Buffalo Creek Middle School opened in 2007.
Jain started as an educator after she came to the United States from India in 1964, Superintendent Diana Greene said. Jain worked at Bayshore Middle School, and she also served as director of family health services for Manatee County Head Start.
"She was a mentor to students, teachers and staff members," Greene said. "She was a strong advocate for inspiring young women to be interested in science and math."
The school will serve as a landmark in the growing community of Lakewood Ranch, said Nathan Carr, a vice president for Willis A. Smith Construction.
As someone who lives 5 miles from the construction site, Carr said he is especially excited about the project. Jain not only inspired students, he said, but also the people tasked with building Dr. Mona Jain Middle School.
"What resonates most with us is her attention to STEM subjects and careers, and how she's helped along young ladies reach higher in their careers and lives," he said. "We have several female project managers among our ranks and, actually, three of them are from India."