The goal of the Commissioner’s Business Recognition Awards is to recognize Florida’s business leaders and partners that have shown the most commitment in bringing positive change and implementing bold, innovative approaches to improve the academic performance of students in Florida’s education system and communities. These educational connections help Florida school districts gain a competitive edge in providing enhanced services to the students they serve.
Orange County Public Schools and the Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic has been working with the Orange County Public Schools for over thirty years. From their Magic Mentoring program, which provides students with job shadowing opportunities and a behind the scenes look into the NBA industry, to their partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation to teach young students the importance of traffic safety, the Orlando Magic has consistently shown their commitment to positively impacting students in Orange County.
The Citrus County School District and Sodium Fishing Gear
For the past three years, Sodium Fishing Gear has been a champion for education in Citrus County. With their unwavering support, Citrus County was able to continue one of its most impactful programs for 5th graders, Book, Line, & Thinker. This unique hands-on approach allows all 5th graders to experience a chartered fishing trip to learn about science and math while exploring Citrus County's waters.
The Escambia County School District and Fishbein Orthodontics
Fishbein Orthodontics in Escambia County not only provided water bottles and percussion instruments to local schools this year, they provided complimentary orthodontic treatment to school-age students who have overcome adversity in their lives or have shown significant acts of kindness. Not only have students and their families benefitted from Fishbein Orthodontics' generosity, so have the educators of Escambia County. Fishbein has given selflessly of their time, talents, and resources in an effort to support our educators in ensuring positive student outcomes.
Chemours has supported Bradford County Public Schools in a variety of ways that has allowed their students to have experiences in STEM that they would not have had otherwise. Their support includes a $30,000.00 grant to Lawtey Elementary for a STEM lab and Lego Robotics program awarded this year. Chemours is also sponsoring a $5,000 Future of Chemistry scholarship to a Bradford High School Senior who will pursue a career in a STEM field, has been a partner in their AT&T STEM grant applications and participates regularly in career days at Bradford county schools. Their support makes a significant difference to the schools and students in Bradford county!
Each summer since 2015, Duval County Public Schools has partnered with Emtec,Inc. to engage high school students from DCPS Technology Academies in a technology focused student intern program. To participate,students must be nominated by their school, submit a resume, and attend an in-person interview. Since the program began, these students have re-imaged and cleaned over 100,000 student laptops, cleaned 700 classroom projectors, replaced 5,000 damaged asset tags and identified over 2,000 student laptops that were in need of repair. The work that they do each summer plays a vital role in ensuring that classroom technology is ready on day one of each school year. Many students have returned year after year to participate in the program, even after their high school graduation, while on summer break from college. The knowledge and skills that these students have obtained from their experiences has had an incredibly positive impact on their ability to gain employment in the field of technology. Students from the program have gone on to work full-time for DCPS, Emtec and the City of Jacksonville, using the hands-on experience they gained through the program on a day-to-day basis in their careers.
Builders Plus consistently provides support for FAU Lab School A.D. Henderson for their STEM, STEAM and robotics programs. Recently, they designed, built and paved a new underwater robotics facility that has made a huge improvement on the overall safety of the program. Now over 100 additional students have access to practice at various times throughout the school day, allowing their SeaPerch and Mate teams to excel at local and state tournaments. Builders Plus strong support of the Parent Teacher Organization provides for several school community events including faculty appreciation days, STEM Nights, the Color Run and so much more. Mr. Jon Cipyak with Builders Plus has also been a leader in helping build the district's first Annual Fund. This funding supports academics, athletics, the arts, teacher training, technology and student life activities. This generosity ensures that each child in the district can participate in the full school experience, regardless of family income. Finally, Mr. Cipyak and Builders Plus are leading benefactors of the Let's Build This Together capital campaign to build a new school, which will enable them to highlight a unique educational model throughout the state and nation.
John and Amanda Horne of Anna Maria Oyster Bar founded and implemented the Dive into Reading summer program to support Manatee County Public Schools’ most vulnerable student population, which includes approximately 450 rising 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students. Their goal was to enhance reading skills, combat summer slide and mentor/model social emotional learning skills. The Hornes have helped in so many ways including opening each of their restaurants to classes of Title I children each week, providing a restaurant experience allowing children to order off a menu (sometimes for the first time in their lives), providing breakfast for children and their mentors, recruiting over 400 volunteers from their staffs and patrons who all agreed to participate in a mandatory training, training the volunteers in strategies for mentoring the children in reading, donating free books each week and backpacks full of school supplies for each child, compensating facilitators to oversee service, transportation, mentors and so much more. In 2018, the Hornes were awarded the National Restaurant Association’s Education Foundation Good Neighbor Award for Dive into Reading. They have also set up an account at the Manatee Community Foundation to grow the support and involve community members in funding this initiative, which is currently funded almost entirely by them, their friends and other private donations.
The mission of the St. Joe Community Foundation is to enrich the quality of life of people in Northwest Florida awarding grants for education, healthy communities and cultural arts in the Walton County community. This year, St. Joe granted approximately $227,000 for the opening of the Magnet Innovation Center (MIC) at St. Joe Watersound and provided the facilities where the program is housed. The vision of Superintendent A. Russell Hughes is that MIC is Walton County’s first Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEAM) school. Open in November 2019, MIC is a state-of-the-art program preparing students for the global workforce through experience and exploration. The inaugural class of 60 students engaged in Engineering, Computer Sciences and will receive industry certifications and apprenticeships in the future. St. Joe also invested $50,000 for books and technology to Walton County School District’s newest elementary school, Dune Lakes. The grant helped students place at Odyssey of the Mind and first Lego League competitions. The St. Joe Community Foundation has empowered WCSD to enhance the academic experiences of its 10,709 students by awarding numerous classroom grants providing them opportunities to meet tomorrow’s challenges with a cutting edge, world class education.