Archive for ‘School News’

November 20, 2012

Motorola Solutions and Dillard High School’s Emerging Technology Magnet Program

Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale is grateful and privileged to work with Motorola Solutions and the Motorola engineers who mentor students in the Emerging Technology Magnet Program. This 15-year partnership is not only rewarding and inspirational for students, but also for the engineers involved.

Through Motorola’s participation with the robotics and technology program, engineers share their knowledge of science and technology, impart on-the-spot problem solving skills, and show students ways to apply their class work to real life situations.

Dillard High’s Emerging Technology students
pose with the robot.

As part of the FIRST Robotics Competition Program, students work side-by-side with Motorola engineers in the 6-week program each year. They collaborate to understand the annual published robotics game challenge, devise a large-scale robot that accomplishes the teams’ goals, and fabricate a fully functional 5’ tall robot. Students then travel the country with the 120-pound robotic creation to compete against other high school/corporation partnerships.  Besides being a very engaging method to show students the basics of engineering and design, the program teaches students how to work in a multi-disciplinary team, practice “gracious professionalism” towards others, and accept that winning is not always the end-all goal of competition.

Motorola has stated the following about their participation, “We hope that through our involvement over the years we have inspired students and sparked an interest in pursuing careers in high-tech industries.  We look forward to each year that we are able to guide the students with hands-on, real-life, STEM oriented projects and hope to continue our relationship for years to come.”

May 25, 2012

Wheelabrator Symposium encourages students to go green

If there’s a future where the environment benefits from balanced decision-making and active community involvement, it starts with today’s students. And the path to that future has been embraced by the company Wheelabrator Technologies, a waste-to-energy business that has truly supported the next generation.

For the last 20 years, Wheelabrator has been a strong partner with Broward County Public Schools through Partners In Education (PIE), a non-profit organization that connects local businesses with local schools to encourage future economic success by investing in students. In Broward and also other school systems state and nation-wide, Wheelabrator regularly sponsors activities and sends staff to work with students on environmentally-related projects.

One of the largest examples of the company’s school partnerships is the annual Environmental Symposium which brings over 100 middle school students from across the eastern U.S. to Broward County, including five Florida schools, to present environmental projects the students have worked on the entire school year. The slideshow below is from the symposium and also photos from Sawgrass Springs Middle School, one of three Broward schools to participate.

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May 15, 2012

Broward Schools recognizes business partners in ceremony at Parker Playhouse

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This year, Broward County Public Schools celebrated and thanked its partners in an awards ceremony in early May.At Broward Partners we have so many business partners we would like to thank that we can’t name them all. Five partnerships of the many nominated for our annual partnership awards were recognized during the event.

West Broward High and Condee Farm have been working together since the school opened to provide hands-on experience for students in the Veterinary Assistance Program.  Students completing the program graduate with 300 hours on on-site training in addition to 200 hours in the classroom, and are eligible for industry certification. Condee farm also hosts Farm Days and brings animals onto campus for the school’s early childhood program.  Last school year, 36 students received their certification as Veterinary Assistants.  Forty-one are expected to receive it this year.

Sunset School and ArtServe worked together to create an art experience for the students, many of whom have emotional and behavioral disabilities and live in group or foster homes. The project was designed as a six-day eco-art experience, encouraging the students to learn about the animals and natural resources of South Florida and encouraging them to express what they learned in Masks, Dance, Clay, Drama and Poetry.  Most of these students have never been exposed to hands-on art program or to the local environment. This transformative experience left 42 students of all ages feeling much more connected to the world around them.

Tradewinds Elementary with Share-A-Pet are using certified therapy dogs to improve the reading skills of struggling second grade students. The dogs go to classes and listen to the children read. They animals are patient and do not rush or judge the children. The dogs reward the reader by shaking paws or allowing the reader to pet them. The teachers report that this program boosts the self-confidence of their young readers, and the Share-A-Pet volunteers work closely with the teachers to meet the needs of the students.

Lauderdale Manors Elementary School, Target and Heart of America worked together on the Library Make-Over. New books and new technology were featured in the new library. Target, collaborating with a local food pantry, also sent volunteers in every month for the entire year and brought dried food and fresh vegetables to every student in the school. Target Corporation works with approximately 25 schools  in the district.

April 30, 2012

Environmental challenge by local company culminates in annual student symposium May 1 with guest speaker Fabian Cousteau

When given a challenge, many of south Florida’s youth rise to the occasion and students in Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) are no exception. After Wheelabrator Technologies asked three local schools to create a solution to an environmental or public challenge in their community, each school stepped to the plate to research and then conduct a year-long project. Their projects culminate in the Wheelabrator Symposium for Environment and Education to be held on May 1, 2012 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Sunrise. This is an annual event that finds its roots in a relationship with Partners In Education, a non-profit that focuses on getting businesses involved in education. Wheelabrator first partnered with BCPS 20 years ago and it was through this partnership that the symposium was developed.

“This year celebrates 20 years of our partnership with Wheelabrator, so I am really excited to be a judge at the symposium,” said Nina Randall, executive director with Partners In Education. “I am always amazed at the depth of the students’ research. This year, I am especially excited that students will have the opportunity to meet Fabien Cousteau, grandson of the famed oceanographer Jacuqes Cousteau.”

The Symposium brings more than 100 students to Sunrise from 10 middle schools representing districts from New Hampshire to south Florida. This year, three Broward County schools are presenting creative and flexible solutions to resource management.

Three local schools participating worked on diverse environmental projects:

  • Westglades Middles School has been certified by the National Wildlife Foundation as a School Yard Habitat.  This year the after-school Environmental  Club joined forces with the South Florida Audubon Society, the Institute of Wildlife Sciences and the Sawgrass Nature Center and Wildlife Hospital to improve the habitat of and include new homes for Screech Owls.
  • Thirty-four million tons of food is thrown away annually in the United States [and] less than 3% of the food waste is ever recovered or recycled. After further study, students at Sawgrass Springs Middle School learned that one alternative to throwing away food, which will ultimately end up in landfills, would be to compost.  In an effort to test the theory, a composting program started at school in conjunction with the Youth Environmental Alliance under the guidance of Kristin Hoss.
  • This year the students’ goal at New River Middle School is to promote sustainability.  Spring-boarding off of their 2011 project, the team will plant an additional 25 Sabal palm trees at John U. Lloyd State Park to increase the canopy buffer zone between the lighting of Port Everglades and the beach to decrease the mortality rate of the hatching sea turtles. They will also continue to grow mangrove seedlings for replanting to provide nurseries for juvenile fish. In addition, the team will increase recycling on the school campus. New programs: The student team is growing live rock (a $4M business in Florida) since live rock naturally filters water, especially in aquarium tanks.  The will also be creating PSAs/podcasts on environmental issues.

“We are an environmental company and it’s absolutely our culture to educate and work in the community,” said Linda Sapienza, Director of Community Relations with Wheelabrator. “I wouldn’t have been able to maintain a relationship with PIE as long as we have if not backed by the company. They encourage everyone to get involved– it’s their core value.”

April 20, 2012

West Broward Bar Association becomes business partner to Seminole Middle School; Golf tournament May 12 helps fund school law program

An accidental conversation was the spark for a solid business partnership and a May 12 charity golf fundraiser between the West Broward Bar Association (WBBA) and Seminole Middle School in Plantation.

“I was in the school, telling someone my goals to [grow the law program] and said I would love to get in touch with the Broward Bar when a nearby mother, who happened to be a lawyer overheard me,” said Mell Rupp, law teacher and department head at Seminole Middle explaining how the parent got him involved with the Bar. “At the time the West Broward Bar was just forming, so I went to a luncheon and met a lot of local judges.”

That luncheon led a strong partnership with the association, with Mr. Rupp focused on creating interactive learning opportunities for students in the Seminole Middle law program.

“Building a partnership like this takes a lot of hard work and I commend Mr. Rupp for his focus on finding this opportunity for students,” said Nina Randall, executive director of Partners In Education (PIE), a local non-profit that has helped develop thousands of school/business partnership. “At PIE we strive every day to help Broward County Public Schools learn how to develop these important relationships with the community and I am proud to see Seminole Middle take the initiative in creating this partnership with the West Broward Bar.”

The Department of Enhanced Communications and Law program, or DECAL, at Seminole Middle, gives students opportunities to push themselves to earn early high school credits in addition to taking advanced languages, math and communications such as Spanish, Speech, Debate as well as law classes.

Through the West Broward Bar Association, students have had tours of the courthouse, conducted mock trials and have spoken with local members of the legal community. Howard Finklestein with Channel 7’s Help Me Howard, Michael Satz, Broward state attorney and juvenile judge Elijah Williams, among others, have all taught the middle school students simple legal procedures.

“The West Broward Bar partnership is really a great fit, and this year, the West Broward Bar Association approached Seminole Middle about (expanding our relationship by) having a charity event that benefited the school,” added Rupp. “The Bar Association usually does charity events and they decide to do it for the school since they knew we were struggling with cuts.”

The West Broward Bar Inaugural Golf Classic will be held May 12 at the Plantation Preserve Golf Course and Club  (7050 W Broward Blvd., Plantation). The Classic will raise funds to buy computers and materials for the law students at Seminole Middle School.

The Seminole Middle School DECAL program is the only active non-magnet school government and law program in Broward County. WBBA President Michael Rajtar said that the legal organization is partnering with the law program to benefit the next generation.

The tournament is open to the public and will begin with registration and lunch at 11:30 a.m. followed by shotgun start at 1 p.m. After the event, cocktails will be served from 5 – 6 p.m. followed by an awards dinner, silent auction and a raffle. Players will include attorneys, judges, and parents of Seminole Middle School students.

Tickets are $100 per golfer and several sponsorship levels are available starting at $250. For more information or to register online, go to (

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March 6, 2012

Tesla visits McNicol Middle School

Sometimes the only way to change the future is through the kids, and Tesla Motors is working with Broward Schools to do just that. Tesla, the maker of top-notch, stylish all-electric cars has partnered with McNicol Middle School in Hollywood to do just that. The magnet middle school with a heavy emphasis on STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) recently began an Alternative Energy program at the school for students. As part of that program, McNicol Middle School and Partners In Education put together a partnership with Tesla Motors. The company, most recently noted for its new Model X, an all electric SUV whose doors open like wings and is supposed to be faster than a Porsche, will be actively engaged in teaching the kids about alternative technologies for automobiles. Tesla started the partnership with a seminar held at the school to discuss the company’s all electric automobiles.
“I am just thrilled that Tesla Motors is involved with one of our magnet schools–the children are drawn to the sports car,” said Nina Randall, executive director of Broward Partners in Education (, about Tesla partnering with the alternative energy magnet school. “And it’s a great opportunity to learn about the environment and alternative energy at the same time.”

March 5, 2012

Local businesses in Coral Springs invest time and money helping students

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At Park Springs Elementary, it’s the local business partners that really help the school raise the bar for students. Whether it’s integrated activities or incentives, Assistant Principal Katie Policastro said she relies on her business partners to bring that extra level of support.

“We had a lot of parents involved, which we love too, but when I became the school liaison for Partners In Education, I really developed a relationship with our businesses,” said Policastro.

For students at the Coral Springs school, business partners such as Winn Dixie help teachers create a richer experience such as during “Go Math Night” where students get real world problems to solve at the store.

“They hosted 160 families when they came out for math enrichment activities,” said Policastro adding Winn Dixie helps with treats, incentives and treasure box goodies on a regular basis, helping reward students for good work.

Another Partner In Education that Policastro has successfully embraced at the school is PNC Bank who is highly active in creating a student banking program that teaches them how to save, how to count, how to manage money and set financial goals for themselves.

Recently, PNC Bank, along with Winn Dixie participated in Career Day at the school as a part of their partnership.

“Tangible, hands-on demonstrations and projects by businesses bring meaning to classroom learning,” said Nina Randall, Partners In Education, executive director. “They help answer the age old question, ‘Why do I need to learn that?’ and can help students explore different career paths.” Someone once said, ‘You can only be what you know,’ and these Career Day programs expand the possibilities for our students.”

Winn Dixie sent a cake decorator to second grade for some sugary fun and PNC spoke about the different types of money, even showing examples of bills from as far back as 1928.

Whole Foods also participated in the school’s Career Day on February 17, teaching about eating healthy.

“We have a great partnership with Whole Foods and they teach about eating healthy—what it looks like, and how to eat healthy,” added Policastro. “Last time they did a class—they made this green smoothie that was a hit.”

Policastro says she extremely grateful for the support of her business Partners In Education.

“They are all so wonderful and giving—and Career Day is only a part of it,” said Policastro.”We have a great relationship with our business partners and would love others to get involved too.”

About Partners In Education (PIE): Partners In Education improves student achievement by cultivating and integrating business, community and school resources for all students in Broward County Public Schools. All Broward County Schools are available for new partnerships. Businesses may make commitments of time, financial resources or other support, based on the need of the school and the type of business. In the 2010/2011 school year there were more than 2700 school partnerships that contributed $3.14 million in added resources to schools through cash and in-kind donations and the value of volunteer services.

For information about the program, please contact Nina A. Randall, APR, Executive Director at 754-321-1974 or or visit the PIE website at