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Manatee Elementary School, located near Marco Island, is a prime example of an “underserved” school. Many students at Manatee are children of our hard-working migrant farm workers.

At its September meeting, the Democratic Women’s Club of Marco reached out to the school to learn how the club can enhance some of its programs. Deborah Eby, school counselor at Manatee, spoke to the group. Eby taught at several other Collier County schools before arriving at Manatee where she has been a counselor for five years.

Eby said that working at Manatee Elementary is the “most rewarding place I have ever taught.” Six-hundred students attend the school, all are served breakfast every school morning and 93 percent of Manatee students receive a free or reduced lunch.

Such statistics not-withstanding, Manatee Elementary boasts a 97 percent attendance rate. The students love coming to school because of the terrific teachers and the positive attitude of everyone at the school.  Manatee Elementary is a “Leader in Me” school where students are “supported in their personal leadership development and life skills.” 

Teachers and volunteers work with students and their families to develop safe, respectful, and responsible lifelong habits. All adults at Manatee Elementary post that mission statement on their doors. 

Students learn that there are seven habits that connect with real world situations, but they begin in the classroom.  Be proactive; Begin with the end in mind; Put first things first; Think “Win-Win”; Seek first to understand then be understood; Synergize; and Sharpen the Saw.  Staff have a Synergy Studio to help synergize them to find a better way to connect with students. Ms. Eby concluded with, “Manatee Elementary has the best students ever. It is a great place to be.”

Manatee Elementary needs volunteers to help implement this very successful program.  Counselor Eby asked everyone to “help us light the way for our future leaders.” Because their parents often work two jobs or work late into the evening, many students don’t get much adult conversation. Volunteers are needed to engage in conversation with the children once or twice a week. Students need to know that they are “valuable, awesome, and great.”

The goal is to have every one of the 600 students at Manatee Elementary feel valued.  At Manatee Elementary, volunteers have a choice of how they wish to help and there are many opportunities.

There are Family Literacy nights, spaghetti dinners, etc. that need the help. Some teachers like volunteers in their classrooms.

Volunteers also are needed to help chaperone field trips, help in the garden, help students with homework, etc. You can also volunteer in the media center.

The Reading Counts program could use volunteers to help the children read. Call Eby at Manatee at 239-377-760 or email her at ebyd@collierschools.com if you wish to volunteer. There are so many opportunities available. “Children are respectful, and their parents appreciate it.”

The books and money for books collected at the September meeting were given to Eby.   If you wish to donate books or money to help promote reading at Manatee Elementary, you can go online at FirstBook.org to make your donation.

The DWCM will have a silent auction fundraising event with part of the proceeds going to support its enrichment program for Manatee Elementary School. It will take place during the holiday open house social on Saturday, Dec. 7 (time and location to be announced). The silent auction will have a diverse assortment of quality items donated by DWCM members and local businesses.

Monthly meetings are normally on the second Tuesday of the month. In observance of the Jewish Holiday Yom Kippur, the next meeting of the Democratic Women’s Club of Marco will be on Monday, Oct. 7 at Mackle Park Community Center, 1361 Andalusia Terrace. Guest speakers will be Eric Carter, Board Member of Collier County Public Schools and Vincent Keys of the NAACP of Collier County. Topics will include the Educational STEM Programs and the upcoming Florida Legislative Session. For more information contact us at DWCMarco@gmail.com.

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