Deb Barry celebrates final year at BRHS with pole barn opening; Kiddie Academy of Lakewood Ranch receives national credentials
+ Final crop for teacher
Watching things grow is part of Deb Barry's job description.
As the head of the Agriculture Department at Braden River High School, Barry has built her 11-year career from the soil up, by helping students learn the importance of farming and caring for livestock.
She has grown with a department that began with one teacher (Barry) and today has three teachers and more than 500 students.
Now that she has helped create the largest agriculture program in the state, Barry is moving. She has accepted an academic advisor position at the University of Florida's Gulf Coast Research and Education Center campus in Plant City.
On Jan. 6, Braden River opened its new pole barn, and Barry said that was her best going-away present. She is leaving the school in June.
"This is a celebration of our program and the students here," Barry said. "I'll be recruiting, so I'll still be around and checking in."
Barry said the new barn, which houses 10 cattle on the campus, will help the program grow even more over the years.
The barn cost $101,720 and has a concrete pathway through the center so agriculture teachers can drive a tractor or other equipment through the barn. Bleachers are located beside the barn for larger lectures.
"We made our lessons work before, without the barn, but we're so excited to fill the barn with animals and put it to use," Barry said.
+ Kiddie Academy honored
The Kiddie Academy of Lakewood Ranch is celebrating its eighth birthday with proof that its staff members are at the top of the class.
This month, the school received its national accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Kiddie Academy is now the only provider in Manatee County to hold the accreditation, which is valid for five years.
To earn the accreditation, the school had to measure its programs and services against 400 criteria spelled out by the national association's standards.
"A lot of schools have accreditations, but this is the Rolls Royce of them all," Schmidt said. "We went through a rigorous process in which each instructor had to show diversity and prove that our children understand what they're being taught, such as colors, counting and the alphabet."