Manatee Middle School has a motto. ROAR It is not just a sports chant. These letters define an attitude, a commitment across all aspects of the Manatee philosophy and it applies to the entire school, students, parents, teachers, administrators and support staff.
ROAR = respectful, organized, accomplished, responsible. These qualities are nurtured, modeled and instilled in all of Manatee’s 780 students. Mrs. Peggy Aune, Principal of Manatee Middle School, escorted this writer throughout the school, indoors and outdoors. We encountered students in the hallways, on the stairs, as we crossed the large courtyard.
Every student was courteous, walking not rushing, neatly attired in the school uniform of white polo shirts, khaki pants and shorts. The look was smart, clean, uncluttered and their clothes fit well. “Every student has a responsibility to ‘Dress for Success’ at Manatee during the school day and at sponsored events and activities.”
Mrs. Aune described an all inclusive model at Manatee which means there are students at every level of academic achievement. The school follows a co-teach strategy with four core subjects, English, Social Studies, Math and Sciences.
Elective courses include physical education, full band program with a one year commitment, a semester of art, business keyboarding information technology and a Spanish high school elective credit course for 8th graders. “Typically, our students who take band stay with it for their middle school career.”
There are 55 instructional staff and 15 support staff. “Parents are considered partners in the educational process and are always welcome on campus,” commented Mrs. Aune.
Mrs. Aune described Manatee’s total commitment to the student and the family in order to promote learning as a privilege and a right which needs to be recognized by the entire family. All students are looked at individually and a course of study developed for each one based on his or her academic needs and skills. “Meetings and trainings are offered every month that parents are invited to attend. It is vital to have parental involvement in the school life of their children in order for the students to receive the support they need at home and in school. This cooperative environment promotes interest and learning becomes a positive experience.”
One of its most attractive programs is AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination. There are three schools in the district offering AVID, Manatee, Golden Gate and Immokalee Middle Schools. Lisa Garby, Golden Apple winner in 2010, is the AVID teacher at Manatee. The program provides encouragement and motivation to students who are preparing for high school. “The majority of our students go to one of three high schools, Lely, Golden Gate or Immokalee. They take a course in AVID which helps them advance in all their classes.”
There is zero tolerance for bullying at Manatee and throughout the Collier County School System. Last year, Mrs. Lisa Garby and her 8th grade students developed a non bullying project which was implemented throughout the school and won an award for Mrs. Garby, presented by the Jewish Federation of Collier County.
By the time students reach 8th grade, they are ready to take responsibility for their actions. The current class of 8th graders has assumed the task of carrying out the non bullying program, refining its parameters and setting an example for the rest of the student body. The program is about educating and reinforcing the students, their families, the teaching and support staff of Manatee about how they are to treat one another. It is central to the philosophy of Manatee and the entire Collier County School District.
On February 16, the Manatee Middle School Band performed a concert under the direction of Band Director, Ashley Crosby. The students were preparing for a Music Performance Assessment Concert. The young musicians played the Activity March, a ballad and a collection of familiar, patriotic, American compositions. Among the audience were several representatives of Fidelity Investments of Naples, one of the largest providers of financial services in the world. Fidelity surprised the students with a gift of 26 new band instruments worth more than $26,000.
Amy Godwin, vice president and branch manager of Fidelity Investments’ Naples Investor Center, announced the surprise gift. “Learning to play an instrument can be a valuable learning experience, teaching many life-long skills. We hope these new instruments will help Manatee Middle School bring more music into their classrooms and help ensure a bright future for students here for years to come.”
Fidelity, in association with Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, selected Manatee Middle School for this year’s donation. Ashley Crosby accepted the gift on behalf of the band. “We couldn’t be more grateful. For me, as a teacher, I am so pleased. We want to make music a real part of the school experience and this wonderful gift makes it happen.”
Mr. Brown, from the Collier County School District, represented Dr. Kamela Patton, Superintendent of Schools. “Congratulations to Ms. Crosby and the band for their efforts in the upcoming competition. Dr. Patton is a great believer in working with community businesses to enhance education and arts in our school system. Thank you to Fidelity Investments for providing this gift of musical instruments and for supporting the arts in our schools here in Collier County and across the entire country.”
Mrs. Aune added her praise for the fine performance by the band and expressed her deep appreciation for the amazingly generous gift to the school by Fidelity Investments.
Ashley Crosby, Manatee Band Director, informed CBN that the Manatee Band received the first SUPERIOR rating in school history at the Music Performance Assessment held on March 1st.