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State of our Schools: Instilling brains, heart and courage

May 29, 2019
By CJ HADDAD ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The Broadway Palm Dinner Theater was turned into the Land of Oz as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion walked down the yellow brick road, touting all the School District of Lee County has done over the calendar year.

The 28th annual "Partners in Education State of our Schools Breakfast," held May 17 and hosted by The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, saw school district principals attend the program with a business partner they feel has made an impact on their school.

The breakfast also gives an opportunity for Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins to address the businesses community on the progress, accomplishments and vision of the district.

Article Photos

Members of the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, dressed as characters from the Land of Oz, thank members of the business community for their efforts in education. The annual Partners in Education State of Our Schools breakfast was held at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater with a theme centered around the attributes of brains, heart and courage.


"I think it's critical," Adkins said of the relationship between Lee County businesses and schools. "The communities need to be invested in the education of our children. Having our local businesses be a part of that is critically important."

The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools is a private, 501c3 organization whose mission is "to enhance and enrich the quality of public education in Lee County for students and educators through programs, resources, and experiences made possible through corporate, individual, and educational partnerships."

"Welcome to over the rainbow," said Marshall Bower, president and CEO of the foundation to attendees.

He, along with Foundation Board Chairman Gary Griffin, dressed as the Scarecrow and Tin Man respectively, rolled through many of the programs made possible by the foundation over the school year, and what they do to enrich the educational experiences of the 94,000 students in the district.

"A big thank you to our businesses for supporting the district and foundation. We work with businesses like a well oiled machine," said Griffin, a play on his costume.

Programs and accomplishments touched upon included the Education Resource Center; classroom and school grants -- which totaled over $61,000; student focused programs such as "Take Stock in Children," "Strides for Education 5K" and "STAMP" -- which stands for student advocacy and mentoring program, where more than 2,000 mentoring hours were given to students; "LEAD like a girl," a female-centric leadership summit to help lead the next generation of empowered women; college and career centers, STEM@Work (science, technology, engineering,math), arts and education and countless others.

"When you're a student, often you don't know what's out there in terms of possibilities for careers and so forth, so some of the things we get here, is we get kids an opportunity to actually shadow, meet, speak to people, so they can really have their eyes open in terms of what the possibilities are," said Adkins.

"Our STEM@Work program has been really innovative in terms of bringing kids out into the community where our businesses do a hands-on type of program with the students. All of us learn best by doing," said Bower.

Adkins then delivered his "State of our Schools" speech, where he said that "brains, heart and courage is what we hope to instill in our students every day."

"I feel really good about the progress we've made," Adkins said about the most recent year in Lee County Schools. "If you look at our academic success over the last three years -- our trend data is going up in just about every single area."

He touted a 82.8 percent district graduation rate, with a 91.2 percent rate in traditional high schools. The class of 2019 graduated 5,300 students, 521 of them -- 10 percent -- with a weighted GPA of 5.0 or higher.

Adkins, in his speech, quoted Wizard of Oz author, L. Frank Baum, saying, "No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire."

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj



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