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Sanibel School talent show, fun activities end the year on June 5

By Staff | Jun 3, 2015

Barbara Simmons (left), Barbara Von Harten, C.J. Gosselin and Christie Bassett celebrating the final days of class at the Sanibel School. Half days, a talent show, a school play and other activities mark the end of a big year. The last day is June 5. CRAIG GARRETT

Sanibel School dismisses for the summer on June 5. A talent show, swim party, other activities and half days June 3-5 will balance a year of strong progress, school principal Barbara Von Harten said. Parents, family and friends are invited to free events and fun activities.

The ending of the school year also places a punctuation mark on a couple of careers at the blue-ribbon school. Long-time educators C.J. Gosselin and Barbara Simmons are retiring with some 70 years of combined experience in education. And when school resumes in late August, 5th-8th graders will have new tools to help them with their studies. Laptops will be issued, eliminating heavy textbooks, notepads, even pencils, class tools that sufficed for decades. New technology in Sanibel is part of districtwide push to issue the Dell Chromebook devices to some 18,000 Lee County middle schoolers beginning in the fall. Lee County high schoolers will get the laptops in the 2016-2017 school year.

The school also performed well this spring in a foreign language fair in Fort Myers, finishing best in show in a couple of categories.

In all, it has been exciting year, Von Harten said, adding that teachers had met or exceeded performance goals set at the beginning of the year last August.

“Our teachers have done a wonderful job,” she said.

School teachers on May 26 got a special summer send off with a visit from Christie Bassett, the 2015 Florida Department of Education teacher of the year. She visited during a planning session, sharing her message. Bassett is an art teacher with Highlands Grove Elementary in Polk County. Her award allows time to visit Florida classrooms and teachers, she said.

On ending the school year, Bassett said a teacher is hopeful students grew academically and socially.

“Saying goodbye,” she said, “you hope you’ve left a lasting impression. It’s just an amazing job.”

Sanibel students in grades 5-8 returning in August will be handed a new laptop, part of the district’s $5.5 million push in technology. It complements state efforts to be paperless and into advanced learning quickly. Florida is two years into the paperless campaign and is already 50 percent digital. The new technology will allow instructors to more closely monitor each child’s progress, to shift quickly from one learning mode to another. Tests will only confirm what teachers have already documented. Teachers at Sanibel School will themselves be schooled by a cadre of other teachers undergoing intensive training in content, navigation and software.

Von Harten is excited to share the new devices with her kids. She’s also hearing good feedback from teachers. The children, she said, will absorb the technology quickly.

“This is their world,” she said. “It’s such a cool thing.”