Barancik Foundation Awards $100,000 to Support Early Childhood Education at SCF

The Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to State College of Florida Foundation (SCFF) to start the Barancik Early Education Pilot Program at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF). The program is designed to ensure more people working with children ages three to five have bachelor’s degrees.

SCF has been working diligently to help reset the image of early childhood education. About 80 percent of brain development occurs before a child reaches the age of six, making it important to provide young children with a strong educational beginning. There are new legislative requirements for early childhood educators to increase their level of education, so that they will be equipped to ensure student success. Having classroom teachers with Bachelor of Science degrees will provide three- to five-year-old students with a solid educational foundation, boosting their chances for continued success.

This grant aligns with Barancik Foundation’s Teacher Recruitment/Retention and First 1,000 Days Sarasota County initiatives. “We are pleased to partner with State College of Florida to educate and help employ those who will nurture the minds of our young children,” said Teri A Hansen, President and CEO of Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation.

To help quickly increase the number of early childhood educators with bachelor’s degrees, SCF will begin accepting applications immediately for the Barancik Early Educators Pilot Program. Anyone interested in the program should contact April Fleming, director of educational programs, at or 941-363-7265.

State College of Florida Foundation Presents 2018-19 Sundays at Neel

Now in its 17th year, the State College of Florida Foundation will host the 2018-19 Sundays at Neel entertainment series at the SCF Neel Performing Arts Center, 5840 26th St. W. Six shows will take place between Dec. 9 and March 24. All concerts begin at 2 p.m.

Sundays at Neel is a series of fundraising concerts that benefit State College of Florida Foundation scholarships. The series kicks off Dec. 9 with “The Nowhere Band,” a Florida-based band using historically accurate equipment to recreate the Beatles’ Feb. 9, 1964, performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Other performances will include:

  • Sun. Jan. 13, The Kingston Trio – Mike Marvin, Tim Gorelangton and Bob Haworth, have intrinsic links to and experience with the original group. Many of their personal memories recall the iconic trio’s performances as folk music made its extraordinary ascent to the top of the music charts.
  • Sun. Jan. 20, Simply Streisand – Carla Del Villaggio, an award-winning tribute artist, has the look and sound of Barbara Streisand.
  • Sun. Feb. 17, Alter Eagles – Considered to be the most authentic representation of the Eagles in their prime. Eagles fans will recognize the subtle complexities of instruments and vocals.
  • Sun. Feb. 24, Broadway at the Movies – Broadway stars Kirsten Scott and Josh Young take the audience on a musical journey through the 80-year union of cinema and musical theater.
  • Sun. March 24, Jay White – He played Neil Diamond in the Academy Award nominated film, “Frost/Nixon.” He has performed 8,000 shows, re-creating the look sound and mannerisms of the rock icon.

For more information and to view preview videos of each group, visit

Single tickets are $40. Discounted season subscriptions also are available. To order tickets, visit or contact SCF’s Neel box office at 941-752-5252

SCF Students Receive Scholarships from Sertoma Club of Bradenton

Sertoma Club of Bradenton presented scholarships to two State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) students. The scholarship committee for the Sertoma Club participated in scholarship essay reading in August and was impressed with the need for scholarships at SCF. As a result, the club gave a total of $7,000.

Brooke Jones and Yavonne Bain thanked the Sertoma Club during a luncheon Oct. 24 where they were presented with the scholarships. Jones, a full-time student, works at Publix 20 hours a week while studying to earn an Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree. She is a first-generation college student and has worked at Publix since she was 14-years-old. She plans to apply to the nursing program.

Bain, who works full-time at NEUROInternational and is working toward her AA degree, also plans to apply to the nursing program. NEUROInternational works with clients who have sustained brain injuries. Bain went to work with them to gain experience in the health care industry.

Sertoma, which also awards academic and community achievement scholarships to students graduating from Manatee County public schools, awarded the SCF students $3,500 each. This year, more than 2,400 SCF students submitted scholarship applications. The Foundation awarded 1,151 scholarships totaling $1.63 million.

For more information, contact Allison Nash at or 941-752-5390.

Robyn Bell Takes Helm of SCF’s Music Program

A powerhouse pair of women have been working for nearly a decade at SCF to elevate the music program and promote students who shine. The pair have switched roles this year as Robyn Bell has taken over the duties of program director for the college’s music department.

Melodie Dickerson, director of vocal studies, helped hire Bell, director of instrumental studies, nearly 10 years ago. Since then they have worked together to help music students flourish. Over the summer, Dickerson passed the baton as music program director over to Bell, who also is the director of SCF’s Bradenton Symphony Orchestra and the SCF Symphonic Band.

As director of instrumental studies, Bell, who holds a doctor of musical arts degree, works to connect student musicians to professional and community musicians.

The two are part of a thriving music program at SCF where Pete Carney serves as director of jazz studies, Don Bryn serves as director of keyboard and theory studies, and Rex Willis is director of guitar and composition studies. The music program at SCF prepares students who want to transfer to a four-year university and continue with their music studies.

“This superb team of dedicated individuals provide the area’s best and most comprehensive music education for students looking to further their skills,” Bell said. “With talented faculty and staff, state-of-the-art performance facilities, scholarship opportunities, and a vibrant, receptive and enthusiastic audience to attend performances, students who enroll in the SCF Music Program are guaranteed the highest level of experience, support and success.”

Dickerson served as the program director for a dozen years. During her tenure, thousands of students have come through the program, and she has had a hand in awarding hundreds of scholarships. Many of those students also have gone on to perform professionally or returned to Manatee and Sarasota counties to teach the next generation of musicians.

As the new program director, Bell will work with Dickerson to ensure the program’s trajectory will continue to rise. They have worked together on plans for the new Studio for the Performing Arts and are promoting the benefits throughout the community. Producing high quality performances for students, staff and the larger community to enjoy is the ultimate thrill for the pair. They are working to ensure SCF has the resources and support to build an accessible recital hall that offers more intimate performances for the performers and audiences.

For more information, contact Bell at or 941-752-5579.

SCF Foundation Set to Highlight Health Care at Scholarship Luncheon

In response to a shortage of local health care workers, the State College of Florida Foundation will showcase health care programs at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) during its annual scholarship luncheon to be held 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at Michael’s On East, 1212 S. East Ave., Sarasota.

Manatee, Sarasota and surrounding counties are facing a critical shortage of health care workers, including nurses, physical therapist assistants, radiography technologists, occupational therapy assistants and dental hygienists. The Foundation provides scholarships for SCF students in those disciplines, as well as biotechnology, business, criminal justice, early childhood education and associate in arts transfer programs.

The annual scholarship luncheon allows donors to meet the students they help, showcases SCF’s academic programs and creates an opportunity to raise more money for all scholarship needs. While the spotlight this year is on the critical need for health care workers, the Foundation continues to fund scholarships which have a huge impact on students’ ability to attend college across SCF’s programs.

About 2,400 students applied for scholarships for this school year. The Foundation awarded scholarships averaging about $1,400 each to 1,151 students. Buying tickets to the scholarship luncheon helps the Foundation serve even more students. The fundraising goal for the event is $60,000. Those who want to help, but can’t attend, can participate by sponsoring a health care student or any other scholar for a year or a semester.

For the 17th year, Suncoast Credit Union is the title sponsor for this important event. Sponsorships and underwriting opportunities are still available. Reservations for a table of eight are $750. Individual tickets are $100 each.

For more information on scholarships, contact Allison Nash at or 941-752-5653. To purchase tickets, visit

SCF Nursing in Top 5 Percent of State Programs

The Registered Nursing Program at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) is in the top 5 percent of the state’s 160 Associate in Science in nursing (ASN) programs after graduates achieved a 98.94 percent pass rate on the nursing licensure exam for 2017. SCF graduates ranked eighth in passing rates among the ASN programs in Florida.

SCF graduates performed well above the national average of 84 percent and the state average of 70 percent on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The NCLEX-RN exam is used by all state boards of nursing across the country to help assess a student’s competency and is required for licensure. Many state boards use the total overall NCLEX-RN pass rates to analyze a school’s ability to provide a nursing education.

SCF’s health care programs have long been successful. Graduates from SCF’s Radiography Program earned a 100 percent pass rate on their first attempt in taking the exam for five consecutive years. Graduates of SCF’s health sciences programs – physical therapist assistant, occupational therapy assistant, dental hygiene and radiography – have an annual pass rate above 90 percent on their licensure exams.

For information on SCF’s nursing program, visit

Physical Therapist Assistant Graduates from SCF Gather to Celebrate Success

It was 19-years in the making: More than 70 alumni from the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) gathered in the Together Manatee room at SCF’s Library & Learning Center to celebrate the relationships they made. About 300 PTAs have graduated from the program since 1999.

The reunion included both faculty and alumni. Four recent graduates – Derrick Hawkins, Jose Sanchez, Victoria Kolbach and Joanna Hennessey – decided to put together an alumni reunion as their community service project. The group was reluctant at first, offering other community service ideas, but when they saw their success, they realized it was a worthwhile project. The group exceeded their own expectations by bringing in dozens of alumni and raising money for scholarships. They also realized it was the perfect warmup to next year’s reunion when the program will be celebrating 20 years of graduates.

Vicky Duquette, who graduated from the first PTA class in 1999, brought her daughter Kourtney Spekko with her to the reunion. Spekko is a student at SCF who plans to apply to the PTA program once she completes her prerequisites. The 2018 graduates celebrated earning their PTA licenses after all 18 graduates passed the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for PTAs on their first attempt.

Because the program is rigorous, students study together and learn from one another, and become a tight-knit group, so it was no surprise to the instructors that so many alumni showed up. They expect an even bigger gathering for the reunion of all the classes of the past 20 years.

The Saturday event included lunch catered by Sonny’s BBQ. Del Carr, the PTA professor who approved the community service project, welcomed the group and Matt Connell, PTA program director, awarded prizes during the afternoon. But mostly the event was about getting together and renewing connections.

For more information on the PTA program, visit To learn about alumni events and opportunities, contact Erica Wuorio, alumni coordinator, at or 941-752-5391.

Music Scholarships Help SCF Students Meet Their Goals

Beverly Wright saw exactly what she was looking for in Devon Chiodo, a bright music student heading to State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF). Wright, who created a memorial music scholarship in her husband’s memory, looks for students with a positive attitude, a lifelong commitment to music and, of course, talent.

For the third time in the seven years the scholarship has been awarded, it will go to an SCF student. Chiodo, a percussionist, instrumentalist and singer who plans to devote her career to students with disabilities, won the scholarship based not only on her talent, but also on her positive attitude and her plans to continue in music once she graduates from college. Scholarship winners do not have to teach music or become performers to win, but they do have to have a commitment to stay involved in music.

 The Music Program at SCF offers a solid music foundation for a student to successfully transition to a four-year college music program. It is more affordable than other music programs and offers a full array of music credits, including music theory, music history, music therapy, music composition, vocal studies, jazz studies and ensemble.

The Andy Wright Scholarship goes to one student each year who demonstrates outstanding academic achievement and intends to continue using their musical talents during college. A graduate of Juilliard and Columbia University, Andy Wright taught music at Sarasota High School for 35 years. He was inducted into the Florida Music Education Association (FMEA) Hall of Fame and was named the FMEA Teacher of the Year. He also was Sarasota County Schools’ Teacher of the Year twice. He took music students to Europe, including Switzerland and Austria, to perform. He retired from Sarasota High School in 1991.

His father wanted him to be a doctor, but after serving in Europe’s Battle of the Bulge during World War II, the last major Nazi offensive in World War II, he decided to pursue music when he came home from the war. Wright’s skills on the piano and trombone led to him touring the country for more than two years with the Shep Fields Band and landing on the same bill as Bob Hope, Marilyn Maxwell and the Ink Spots.

He met his wife of 58 years, Beverly, in Virginia Beach, Virginia during his time touring and they made plans to move to Florida where they could put roots down together. Wright started teaching in Fort Walton Beach in 1952 and four years later came to Sarasota.

In addition to his teaching career, which included a stint as an adjunct jazz professor at SCF after he retired from teaching high school, Wright was also a member of the Florida West Coast Symphony for 25 years, a member of the Sarasota Concert Band and was a charter member of the Sarasota Jazz Club. He died in 2011 at the age of 86.

“He came as close to doing what he wanted his entire life as anyone I know. He was a happy camper,” Beverly Wright said. “He woke up looking forward to going to work every day.”

Beverly and her son, Andy Wright III, created the scholarship application with an emphasis on work ethic, as well as musical talent. Other scholarship recipients from SCF are Camden McLean, who won in 2014 and Ricardo Zamarripi, who won in 2015.

“Andy believed that you can have talent, but if you don’t work it, it doesn’t go anywhere,” Beverly Wright said. “We want music to remain important to them for the rest of their lives.”

For more information on SCF’s music programs, visit

Dental Hygiene Program Receives Grant for Equipment

The Dental Hygiene Program and Clinic at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) recently purchased two VELscopes, which help detect oral cancer early, with a grant from the Arthur T. Esslinger Memorial Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

The two VELscopes, purchased with the $3,990 grant, will help students learn how to use the equipment integral to many dentist offices and will be a critical tool in patient screenings at the dental clinic.

The Dental Hygiene Clinic at SCF provides teeth cleanings, oral examinations, dental X-rays, fluoride and sealants to patients ages 6 and older. Clinic hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Friday. Clinic appointments during the spring semester are available Monday through Friday. Care is provided by SCF students under the supervision of licensed dental hygiene instructors and dentists. The cost ranges from $10 per quadrant for sealants to $52 for adult complex cleanings with x-rays. No insurance is required.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the SCF Dental Hygiene Clinic at 941-752-5353. To support equipment purchases for SCF’s health programs, call Barbara Bourgoin, development director, at 941-752-5398 or

Foundation Awards $20,000 for SCF Studio for the Performing Arts

The Ralph S. French Charitable Foundation has awarded a $20,000 grant to the State College of Florida Foundation for an acoustically correct music practice studio in the new Studio for the Performing Arts at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF).

The practice studios, which allow for one-on-one tutoring as well as individual practice time, are essential for students to meet their coursework requirements. Plans for the new building include a total of 10 practice studios. The 13,400-square-foot building at SCF Bradenton will support the growth of music, art and theatre programs in Sarasota and Manatee counties. It also will provide an outreach to all populations, including those with limited access to such amenities, meeting a critical need for SCF and the community.

The French Foundation was established to support organizations that educate and empower individuals to help themselves and others in need. Ralph S. French was a doctor who owned a home on Anna Maria Island. He believed not only in helping people, but also empowering them to help themselves.

The building where music students currently practice is more than 50 years old and will be demolished once the new Studio for the Performing Arts is complete. The older facility was originally designed for classrooms only, offers minimal functionality and has poor acoustics. In 2010 the Department of Education performed a facilities study, and based on the results, determined it was not suitable for college music program needs. The college received state approval for replacement, but without funding.

The $3.5 million Studio for the Performing Arts is designed to be an educationally sound and inviting space for both students and the community. SCF offers the only open-door access higher education music program in the region. It serves approximately 500 general education students annually taking music classes, including 80 music majors.

To donate to the Studio for the Performing Arts or other programs, or for more information, contact Barbara Bourgoin, development director, at or (941) 752-5398