Nashville, FL – Since 1996, charter schools in Florida have been helping students make academic gains and working to reduce the learning gap between minority and non-minority students. During a reception held at the National Charter Schools Conference, the Florida charter school movement marked its 20th anniversary with a celebration honoring those who started the state’s first charter schools and those who have played a vital role in developing high quality education programs that have helped thousands of students thrive.
The celebration, Florida Charter School Hero Awards 2016, was hosted by the Florida Charter School Alliance (FCSA) and held at the Music City Center during National Charter Schools Conference in Nashville on June 28th. More than twenty individuals were recognized at the first 2016 Florida Charter School Hero Award ceremony, sponsored by AXA.
The FCSA also presented the Rebel with a Cause award to State Representative Erik Fresen for his support of education during his tenure in the House. “I cannot think of a more appropriate person who reflects the rebel and the undying fighting spirit for education than Representative Erik Fresen,” said Jim Horne, FCSA chair and former Florida Senator. “A champion among champions, he is a true warrior for the cause of educational choice. He has dedicated his entire political life to ensuring that Florida families have access to quality education.”
The 2016 honorees:
Former state representative Ralph Arza
Dr. Emma Banks
Kim Guilarte Gil, Mater Academy founding principal and teacher
Governor Jeb Bush
Neil Drake, One Room School House founder
Katrina Wilson Davis
Sonia Esposito, Osceola Public Schools
Willard Fair, former member of the State Board of Education and charter school founder
Emilia Fanjul, founder Everglades Preparatory
Jonathan & Sherry Hage, Charter Schools USA
Jim Horne, former Senator and first appointed Commissioner of Education in Florida
Dr. Ruth Jacoby, founding principal & teacher at Somerset Neighborhood School
Senator John Legg
Tiffanie Pauline, Miami Dade County Public Schools
Jody Perry, Broward County Public Schools
Dr. Carlo Rodriguez, post-mortem, Florida Dept of Education
Rod Sasse, former Broward County Public School charter school director
Dr. Judith Stein, charter school / choice advocate
Dr. Angie Su, Somerset Academy founding board member
Jeffrey S. Wood / Charter School of Excellence
Maggie and Fernando Zulueta, Academica
“We cannot celebrate the movement’s 20 years without recognizing the individuals whose dedication and vision created the innovative educational programs that are the models of charter school excellence and success today, and the contribution of those that have been a vital part of the movement’s first two decades…the Charter School Heroes who have pushed the envelop on student achievement, dedicated themselves to helping underserved and historically underperforming community, and lead the fight for parental choice in education,” said Lynn Norman-Teck, executive director, FCSA.
The FCSA surveyed member schools and the charter school community to come up with a list of honorees.