Dax Gingras, a father with two young children, was a physical education teacher at McKeel Elementary Academy before he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer. He’s no longer teaching, but all month he’s been making the mornings fun for students arriving at the school by greeting them in different costumes.
On the eve of his retirement from Congress, Dennis Ross announces he will teach government and civics as Southeastern University launches its Center for Political Leadership.
Florida Southern College plans to buy the 2.1-acre grassy lot at the southwest corner of Ingraham and Palmetto from Grace Lutheran Church for an undisclosed amount. FSC did not comment on the pending sale, but the church’s interim pastor said college officials told her they plan to build apartments, which are allowed under current zoning.
A video combining drone footage and animation illustrates the vision for growth of Florida Polytechnic University and an adjacent research park contained in the school’s 2018-2023 strategic plan. Four-thousand undeveloped acres by the university “will be where private companies and academic researchers come together to commercialize innovation,” Poly President Randy Avent said. The video was produced by Indie Atlantic Films of Lakeland.
A new research center at Florida Poly University, the Advanced Mobility Institute, will focus on safety of autonomous vehicles. The university is working alongside Suntrax, the Florida Turnpike Enterprise’s test track being built nearby.
As Lakeland has grown, so has enrollment at the local campus of Polk State College, PSC President Angela Falconetti said in the Listen Lakeland podcast. “It used to be that the Winter Haven campus had more students than the Lakeland campus,” she told Lakeland Vision’s Ashley Troutman. “Now the Lakeland campus has a higher enrollment than the Winter Haven campus, so the potential is limitless.” For the 2017-18 academic year, FTE enrollment was 3,330 in Lakeland vs. 2,743 in Winter Haven, according to a college “fact book.” | Listen here.
NOTE: An earlier version of this summary included an incorrect higher number for Winter Haven enrollment. It was pointed out by a reader who noted that the Lakeland campus had higher enrollment “for years.”
LAWSUIT: Christine Drake (LinkedIn | Poly bio) filed a federal lawsuit against Florida Polytechnic; she alleges her free speech rights were violated when her contract as an assistant professor of engineering was not renewed after she publicly criticized the university. A Poly spokeswoman declined to comment but noted reporters were notified of the lawsuit before the university was.
MENTAL HEALTH: Poly President Randy Avent defended the university’s switch from a full-time mental health counselor to outsourced services when he appeared before a Board of Governors task force in Tallahassee. News Service of Florida’s Lloyd Dunkelberger reports Avent told the panel that BayCare services are available 24 hours a day, unlike a single employee, and the company offers a wider range of expertise.
Geneva Classical Academy, a Christian school that focuses on classical education for fourth through 12th graders, is renovating the 75,000-square-foot campus on 12 acres at 1736 New Jersey Road and plans to move in next fall. The auditorium is being leased to Grace City Church, which will use it as a second site for services | The Lakelander | Purchase price: $1.9 million
After minor repairs, water at Cleveland Court Elementary School has been declared safe again. At Winston Academy of Engineering, further repairs were made as testing of lead levels continues. Union Academy in Bartow is also undergoing more repairs and testing.