The future of the U.S. education system is the next hot topic for panel discussion at the blossoming Friends of Boca Grande Film Forum.
An engaging panel of experts will be on hand, including a Harvard-trained education wizard, the principal of L.A. Ainger Middle School, a top official of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, a 40-year veteran of national labor relations, the top island real estate developer and education supporter and a recent education graduate who cut her professional teeth in New Orleans, one of the hardest places to teach in America.
The first panel on energy production nearly filled the Boca Grande Community. The Jan. 20 education panel is populated with top experts and should be even more successful than the energy topic because of its intimate familiarity for the island audience, said moderator Rosemary Bowler.
"Everyone has gone to school," Bowler said.
The Friends of Boca Grande declared the first discussion panel a great success and not just because of the crowd size.
"Those in attendance were very enthusiastic about this new program," said publicist Denise Searle in a release.
What: Film Forum education series
Jan. 17 - "Waiting for Superman," 7:30 p.m. at the Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium.
Jan. 19 - "American Teacher," 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium.
Jan. 20 - 'Waiting for Superman' movie/discussion. "Waiting for Superman" showing, 10 a.m. at the Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium followed by 2 p.m. panel discussion.
Focus: Education - its purposes, practices, successes and failures. What are the lessons of the charter school movement and what roles should high-stakes testing and teachers unions play in the future?
Bowler will coordinate the following panelists:
Carolyn Cowen earned a master's degree in education from Harvard in reading and reading disabilities. Her programs help people with learning differences, particularly those with dyslexia.
As executive director of Carroll School's Center for Innovative Education, she oversees various outreach and professional-development programs, coordinates the Dyslexia Leadership Summit and spearheads the Dyslexia Geno-Phenotyping Initiative.
Formerly, she was executive director of nonprofit The Learning Disabilities Network she co-founded and operated for 20 years. In a 35-year career, Cowen has been a teacher, reading therapist, speaker, author, editor, consultant, professional-development planner, executive director, think-tank convener, fundraiser and funder.
Marcia Louden, principal of L.A. Ainger Middle School in Englewood, received a master's degree in administration and supervision from Nova University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado. She has special interest in transforming education for the digital age, model schools, and studies based business models developed by Steven Covey. She is vice chair of the board of the Englewood Hospital and sits on the boards of the Charlotte County United Way and YMCA.
Mark Pritchett is senior vice president for community investment at Gulf Coast Community Foundation. The vice president of Enterprise Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Kentucky and his Ph.D. from Florida State University. He was staff director for Gov. Jeb Bush's election reform task force after the controversial 2000 presidential election and oversaw the nation's largest insurance mediation service after the 2004 hurricane season.
Chuck Richards has worked in public sector labor management for nearly 40 years. He and his wife, Gale, moved to Ft. Myers in 2003 where he was manager of employee relations in Charlotte County Public Schools until retirement in June 2010. He is executive director of the Charlotte County School Employee Unions.
His journey started as a teacher in Woodbridge, N.J., where he was president of the American Federation of Teachers. He was later hired as a national representative by AFT and was an assistant to President Albert Shanker for eight years. He helped create the Public Employee Department at the AFL-CIO in Washington, then moved to the political arena serving as deputy campaign manager and national labor coordinator for the Clinton-Gore campaign. After the election he was named deputy assistant secretary of labor.
Emily Steffan graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2008 with a degree in history and global studies and a minor in Spanish. She joined Teach for America in 2008 and was placed at Drew Elementary, the lowest-performing elementary school in New Orleans. Two years later, she joined Renew Schools, a charter management organization that does whole-school turnaround. Last summer, she became assistant principal overseeing social and academic growth of 200 students and 15 teachers.
Bayne Stevenson is a well-known businessman and developer who chairs The Island School Foundation. His numerous services to the Boca Grande community include chairing the Community Planning Panel and unwavering support of island nonprofit organizations.