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Volume 20 Issue 1 April 15, 2021 A message from the Director, Bette Heins

Nina B. Hollis Institute for Education Reform Newsletter 2020 has tested our creative skills adapting to the challenges of Covid-19 and I am amazed and proud for the work that has been accomplished this past year. Everyone has gone above and beyond to ensure that their programs and projects have progressed. I’d also like to take a moment to thank everyone who has dedicated time serving on the Institute’s Steering Committee or has led our various programs and projects as a director, editor, or principal investor. I am truly blessed and grateful for the opportunity to work with so many wonderful colleagues. We’ve been busy with five full Impact Grants and four planning grant applications under review. Three of the five Impact Grant initiatives, Garden Based Learning, Foster Care/Law School project, and the Cybersecurity Pre-College Computer Technology Camp are in the middle of their third year of funding. In their first year of funding are AAUW Tech Trek summer camp for girls and the Stetson Young Scholars/HATS. Due to the limitations of this past year, the Institute is offering these five projects the opportunity to rollover any unused funding into a fourth year. We hope this will provide them the added support needed to accomplish their goals for the year. We have received four planning grant applications this fall. These new projects provide even more diversity with a unique array of interest. The projects include two from the creative arts department, Still Life with Fresh as Fruit Gallery, and the Collaboration with the African American Museum of the Arts, as well as The Sustainable Educational Equity Development (SEED) Certification and Symposium, and the Learning Incredible Skills for Everyday Activities. Although the Leadership Center’s Restorative Practices (RP) training has been stalled temporarily due to the inability to provide face-to-face training, we have been able to provide fidelity checks to evaluate the success of the training and further implementation. This relationship building training has been taking place in Seminole County Public Schools since 2017. The Leadership Symposium “Exceptional Education Law” remains on hold until we can provide a face-to-face experience. Based on the articles below, our Professional Development School partners provided very engaging activities for the students in their respective schools. Despite Covid requirements, students seemed to adapt well to the new conditions. Congratulations to everyone for your passion about education and for providing children an engaged learning environment.

Professional Development Schools Update

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PDS Partner Schools Virtually Persevere Not even a pandemic can stop the work of our Professional Development School (PDS) partners, Citrus Grove, Blue Lake, and Woodward Elementary schools! Our partners persevered to continue to provide the highest quality educational services for their students in both face-toface classrooms and virtual learning environments. The work of supporting our future educators continued as well with our Stetson students completing field work in virtual and school-based classrooms. Our partners wanted to continue the exemplary family involvement activities that students and families look forward to each year. As always, our partners found creative ways to continue these traditions!


Citrus Grove Elementary held its 9th annual Virtual 5K last week! This year, the event that is so beloved by families, staff, and the community was held virtually. Citrus Grove Elementary’s Groovin’ at the Grove Virtual 5K had roughly 260 participants join in on the fun! Participants were encouraged to race in any location they'd like at any time they'd like on any day between February 27 and March 7, 2021. Participants recorded their results with a real time, interactive app called RaceJoy. Every year, Citrus Grove's 5K helps raise funds for the school and its various needs, such as technology, classroom supplies and student or staff recognition. Citrus Grove would like to thank the following sponsors of this year's 5K: Trinity United Methodist Church, Stetson Baptist Church, Family Health Source, Walmart, Countryside Animal Clinic, Mainstreet Community Bank, Solar Fit, Gallery Homes of DeLand, Publix, Double C Roofing, Security First Insurance, Circle of Life Wellness Chiropractor, Aldi, Hangar 15, and Chick-fil-A. Citrus Grove would also like to thank every student, parent, family member, staff, and community member who participated in the 2021 virtual race. We are excited to be back in person next year! We also hosted our annual Not so Scary family event virtually. Families were invited to watch an hour-long presentation with our usual story time, plus a play, songs from music, an art project, crafts, and yoga. We used PTA funding to send home bags with supplies for every family who preregistered. We kept the presentation up on YouTube all weekend to give every child a chance to watch the program. The event was watched 356 times. One Book, One School, our annual school wide literacy event kick off was conducted utilizing Zoom. Community readers came from across the district to read the first chapter of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane to all the students (in person and LIVE) in our school at the same time. We did have technical difficulties, but every class had a reader. The classes continued reading the book over the month and it was a huge success! The classes finished the project by completing some sort-of a project (bulletin board, craft, writing, etc.)

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Blue Lake Elementary has always hosted fun family events throughout the school year to help foster a sense of community within our school. Despite the COVID 19 Pandemic, we felt that, more than ever, we needed to continue this family engagement tradition. In response, we created a Drive Thru night to celebrate Literacy Week. Over 100 families drove through the Blue Lake bus loop to participate in the Celebrate Dr. Suess event. Families, students, faculty, and staff celebrated literacy with Dr. Suess activities and receiving free books! Music, popcorn and Cat in the Hat “hats” and smiles were plentiful during our wonderful literacy event. Because the drive-throughs have been so successful, we have also hosted Trunk or Treat and a Polar Express themed night.

Woodward Elementary faculty and staff have come together to continue Family Engagement activities that promote awareness, normalcy, and a sense of community. This was evident as Woodward hosted our Snow Day event before Winter Break. Snow Day is a school tradition that consists of teachers working together to spread holiday cheer for our students and families. There were lights, food, gifts, snow, and even Santa showed up. Snow Day proved to our students, staff, and community that no obstacle or pandemic is bigger than a community’s ability to flourish when all work together with a common goal. More than 300 families drove their vehicles through the three loops at our school. What an amazing evening of fun and laughter.

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DaVinci and DaVinci Club Jr.

Coming together at DaVinci Club 2020 and 2021 will certainly have an unforgettable legacy. After almost a year of the pandemic, many people have begun to wonder if the world will ever go back to normal. For a few lucky students in DeLand’s Citrus Grove Elementary School (CGE), that normalcy is beginning to resurface in the form of the after school DaVinci Club, which has opened its doors and rekindled friendships through the power of literacy. While this club looks different than it has in years past, it has adapted to the times to give students a place where they can be among friends… and books! In the words of one of our DaVinci scholars, “... usually I don’t like reading, but when I come to DaVinci, the projects bring the book to life.” To provide the students with a safe environment to celebrate and explore literature, several changes were made to DaVinci Club, which is currently the only club at CGE. Masks, social distancing, assigned seats, and rigorous sanitizing have become a normal part of our club’s routine. Further, with only a select number of students from specific fourth and fifth grade classrooms, contact tracing remains possible in the event of a COVID-19 case. Despite these barriers to student collaboration, donations made by several local benefactors, such as Stetson University’s Hollis Institute, have made student interaction possible through the digital world. Through a variety of tech-based projects (such as Minecraft and robotics), students have been able to meet in the digital world and work together in a way that is impossible in most classrooms today. The club continues to touch the lives of all its members and staff. It has created a safe space of learning and collaboration in a time when the reality of many children’s lives consists of only being at home and school. Through this club, we seek to bring back a sense of normalcy in the lives of our young scholars and give them the skills they need to manage whatever the world throws at them. In the words of one of our scholars, “You really can’t see your friends after school anymore, but with DaVinci Club, you get to see your friends.”

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Leadership Center

Working to improve Relationships While the Nina B Hollis Leadership Center’s Restorative Practice initiative continues to be impacted by the Covid 19 pandemic, the Leadership Center was able to reinstate our work with Seminole County Public Schools in the fall of 2020. In May 2020, the Leadership Center and Seminole County Public Schools expanded services and support for Restorative Practice (RP) through the 2021-2022 academic year. Training sessions for new teachers in RP began in the fall of 2020. In addition, the Center provided Fidelity Checks at five schools in the district providing support in their efforts to fully implement RP. The Center’s 2nd annual leadership symposium, Exceptional Student Education and the Law, scheduled for June 2020 remains on hold pending our ability to safely hold large scale conference events on Stetson’s campus.

Voices of Reform

Voices of Reform Publishes 2nd Issue Articles in the latest issue examine inequities in school systems, student achievement, exception student education as well as how students of color with and without disabilities do not have successful academic achievements in the public-school system. The Voices of Reform Journal offers applications for school systems, whether it be at the district level or directly at the school-based level. There are connections in almost every article that address under-represented populations and ways we can make changes to improve their performance and experiences in school.

Nina B. Hollis Institute for Educational Reform Steering Committee

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Executive Committee Members Elizabeth Heins, Ph.D., Nina B. Hollis Endowed Chair, Education Department Christopher Colwell, Ed.D., Chair of the Education Department Leila F. Roach, Ph.D., Chair, Counseling Department Steering Committee Camille Tessitore King, Ph.D., College of Arts and Sciences, Psychology Department Jason Palmer, J.D., College of Law Douglas Phillips, D.M.A, School of Music Kathy Jo Piechura-Couture, Ph.D., Education Department Rajni Shankar-Brown, Ph.D., Jessie Ball DuPont Chair of Social Justice Education, Education Department John Tichenor, Ph.D., School of Business Mercedes Tichenor, Ed.D., Education Department Debra Touchton, Ph.D., Education Department


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