Manatee schools, USF join forces

BRADENTON — Not only will G.D. Rogers Garden Elementary be Manatee County’s first green school, it will also be the district’s first professional development school for University of South Florida teaching students.

After months of talks, Manatee schools and USF officials are ready to seal a deal that would allow teaching students to observe classes, take classes and perform their internships at the new school in central Bradenton.

Through the partnership, officials hope to prepare new teachers, train existing teachers and raise student achievement.

There will be more people to help out in a classroom, said Wendy Herrera, Rogers Garden Elementary’s new principal.

And the research and skills USF professors bring with them to the school will hopefully pass on to students, said Lynette Edwards, Manatee school’s assistant superintendent of academics.

“If we have USF professors who really are doing the research, who have the most up-to-date information and best practices, and they are working one-on-one with the teachers in the school, the teachers carry forth the best practices,” she said. “That will increase student achievement.”

The movement of teaching students in and out of classrooms will be coordinated by the principal, Edwards said.

The idea of such partnership is not new. Other elementary schools, such as Ballard, Rowlett and Daughtrey, already have USF students interning there.

What will be different is that USF students at different stages of their college careers will be at Rogers Garden to either observe or teach, Edwards said. There will be interns and observers at every grade level, but not in every classroom.

The Herald could not reach a USF official for comment this week because of spring break.

Rogers Garden Elementary is under construction, and will open this fall.

The school is designed to be environmentally friendly, and is the district’s first “green” school built to guidelines from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The school, with an estimated price tag of $17.3 million and a capacity for 580 students, is also an all-choice school. So far, only 80 students have signed up to attend, Herrera said.

Sylvia Lim, education reporter, can be reached at 745-7041.