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Foundation for Rural Education Excellence
Supporting Academic Achievement in
Rural Northeast Florida Communities
February 2018 Newsletter
The Foundation for Rural Education Excellence, a registered 501 (C)(3) organization, was founded in 1998 to facilitate philanthropic support for rural school districts of the   North East Florida Educational Consortium (NEFEC): Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Nassau, Putnam, Suwannee and Union Counties as well as Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind and PK Yonge Developmental Research School. Working collaboratively, our mission is to enhance academic success and career opportunities for rural students in northeast Florida.
Teen Summit - West
One hundred and thirty students from Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Gilchrist, and Hamilton counties gathered at the Florida National Guard Armory in Lake City for Teen Summit-West. The Teen Summit is designed to provide students with information and strategies for getting the most out of high school. Students heard presentations to help them increase their knowledge and resources to support them through a healthy and successful high school experience. The Summit was facilitated by NEFEC's Rural Partnership for Healthy Kids. Teen Summit-East was held at Amelia Island in Nassau County last December.
School Counselor Forum
NEFEC, in partnership with FREE, works very closely with school counselors in the region via two School Counselor Forums per year. Counselors from multiple districts network, share knowledge, and are provided with sessions from experts on topics the counselors themselves identify as areas of need.

Recent topics included:
       Working with Anxious Children and Teens: Strategies and Best Practices (Dr. Russell Sabella);
       Paving the way to Positive Attendance (FLDOE);
       Skyward Attendance Reports (NEFEC);
       LGBTQ Students’ Challenges and a Roadmap for their Safety and Well-Being in our Schools (Equality Florida);
       Clearing a Path for All Students to Own their Future (Florida College Board Partnership);

Dr. Patrick Wnek welcomes participants to the School Counselor Forum in Gainesville on January 30, 2018.
      Counseling with Poverty in Mind (Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resource System); and
      School Counselors: A Key Partner to Improving Student Engagement in Chronic Absenteeism & College/Career Planning (FLDOE).

FREE Board of Directors
Your FREE Board met on January 17, 2018, in Jacksonville at the offices of Foley & Lardner. The meeting was hosted by board member Kevin Hyde.

The meeting was very productive. Charles Hood was elected Chair of the FREE Board.
Each board member was provided a board manual that includes the expectations of each board member as well as an overview of NEFEC programs and services. Dr. Patrick Wnek presented data specific to where participating districts are in reading, math, and overall student achievement. This information helps FREE focus on the work that needs to be supported. Grant opportunities were discussed and action plans were developed and assigned.

The next board meeting will be hosted by Phillip Pritchett at Pritchett Trucking in Lake Butler, Florida on February 28, 2018, at 10 a.m.

We are actively recruiting a few "great" people to join our board. They must have a passion for rural education and willing to be an advocate for our board and its programs. If you are interested in learning more, please call Judy Boles @ (352) 538-5108 or email:
Upcoming Events
20th Annual Golf Tournament
FREE's annual golf tournament is scheduled for April 6, 2018, at The Palatka Golf Club. For more information or to register to play, click on the link below:

Summer Leadership Conference
NEFEC's Annual Summer Leadership Conference is scheduled for July 10-11, 2018, at the Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. For more information or to register, click on the link below:

Foundation for Rural Education Excellence
(352) 317-0621
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