The Winter Haven Public Education Partnership (WHPEP) is realigning their volunteers, board and resources to be very intentional about mission to support the needs in our Winter Haven schools. The WHPEP and the Chamber of Commerce are working closely with Polk County Public Schools and other educational institutions and programs to ensure that the community has clear pathways to get engaged in our schools.
As a part of that realignment, PEP has identified 8 areas of action that will be focused on for the next several years, and beyond, as needed. They have asked the school district for their support in identifying a district liaison to sit on the committee who has the authority to help make things happen. The collaboration from the district has been extremely positive and is ushering in a new era of community involvement in our schools.
PEP RALLY - April 18, 2018
WHPEP will do a full community roll-out of this alignment initiative at the “PEP Rally” on April 18, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. at Grove Roots Brewing Co.’s Packing House. The goal is to celebrate the new direction of PEP and activate the community to get involved in the effort. The long-term goal, having the Winter Haven community at large and business community actively engaged in supporting our area schools and to take pride and accountability for their performance.
Advanced Curriculums and Academy Pathways
This committee would focus on creating clearer pathways for students and their parents to understand getting into advanced curriculum programs, specific career academies etc. For example, in the short term out of the gates, this team would like to work with the District and the principals of Westwood/LRHS to assist them and the District develop an advance curriculum program, or the like, to attract and keep high performing students through their tenures from Westwood to LRHS. We want to assist Denison and WHHS in any way toward the opening of the Pre-Cambridge program at Denison which is already in the works. Also, there is much room to more deeply involve the business community into the current academies and pre-academies in both schools, which the team will address in working with the newly reconstituted Workforce Alliance program.
Middle School Athletics
Based on feedback from parents, administrators and teachers and several PEP board members who are coaches or have sports connected character-building programs, there is a desire to build middle school competitive sports programs.
Focusing on early childhood education, literacy and school readiness through community based programs and support. This committee is already hard at work on a Winter Haven Kindergarten Ready program. The objective of the program is to educate parents about the importance of reading to their children from birth and enrolling them in Voluntary Pre Kindergarten (VPK) through resources such as the Regency Women’s and Infants Hospital, the Winter Haven Library, pediatricians offices, the school system, the media, and others. The second objective is to assure Winter Haven has quality child care centers and homes to serve our children by encouraging childcare centers to participate in the Quality Counts initiative and make all directors aware of Winter Haven’s desire for quality centers.
This committee will be focused on developing community based or in-school programs focused on art, theatre, music etc. Current people signed on to help include Martha Roe Burke, Beth Cummings and Dan Chesnicka at Theatre Winter Haven. Whatever initiatives are developed by this alignment team could revolutionize the arts in our schools because of the depth of talent in our community.
This team would focus on developing the community resources that are needed to support our schools and their programs. This could be a community volunteer talent need, a monetary need, a materials need, etc. The core focus would be on helping the principal and district form business and civic partnerships.
On-level Reading Team (3rd Grade)
This team will focus on reading resources, parent education, teacher assistance, and classroom volunteers. The success of the The Learning Alliance organization in Indian River County has inspired this group. This team could partner with Polk Vision’s literacy team, United Way’s Reading Pals and other organizations that strive to enhance advancement in reading and literacy in the schools.
The focus of this team is the establishment of a community school or schools in Winter Haven, perhaps at Inwood/Westwood and Denison. This, like many of the other initiatives, will require considerable community financial support. With PSC, WH Hospital, Polk County Health Dept., Central Florida Health Care and many others, this team would work towards developing a community school so that when the district is ready to move on phase 2, we are ready to start. As you may recall, Inwood was the second choice of the committee that the District formed to research the viability of a community school in Polk County. For good reasons Crystal Lake Elementary was chosen, but we hope that we can facilitate the growth of a community school in Winter Haven.
As a 501(c)3 non-profit, the WHPEP needs assistance fundraising to support the above 7 initiatives as well as requests that come from our schools. WHPEP also operates the PEP Tutoring Center on Ave R in Florence Villa which offers after school and summer school programs.