School District of Manatee County TSA teams shine at national conference.
| 7:36 p.m. June 27, 2017
Manatee County schools had another impressive showing June 24-25 at the 2017 National Technology Student Association Conference in Orlando.
“We are the powerhouse of the nation,” said Maureen Hudson, the lead adviser of Carlos E. Haile Middle School’s Technology Student Association.
For the 11th year in a row, Manatee County School District’s Technology Student Association competitors brought home more Top 10 trophies than any other school district in the nation — a whopping 78.
Braden River Middle School students, led by advisers Angela Marshall and Kristen Cunningham, earned nine Top 10 finishes. R. Dan Nolan Middle School students with advisers Justin Devine and Donna Sollars captured six Top 10 finishes.
Braden River High School students, under the wing of advisers Gil Burlew, John Frank and Kyle Holbrook, had a record showing with 20 trophies.
It was Braden River High School’s sixth consecutive year earning the top overall performance at the national conference. Burlew was not surprised, even though this year’s event had a record 8,000 students competing.
After 12 years as a Braden River High teacher, Burlew is leaving for a teaching job at Manatee Technical College.
Burlew said a lot of the students wanted to “go out with a bang” in his final year.
“They were still coming to me personalizing everything that I’ve done for them,” he said. “But truth is, they’ve done more for me than I’ve ever done for them.”
Carlos E. Haile Middle School — middle school and high school students have separate competitions — brought home 23 top 10 awards while also winning first place overall at the conference for the third year in a row.
Hudson is now three out of three as Haile’s adviser.
“Every year before we leave, my team has a meeting, and I explain to them how it is a lot easier to be on the bottom than being on top,” Hudson said. “When you are the best, everyone knows who you are and expectations are high. ”
Doug Wagner, the director of adult, career and technical education for the school district, said the district prides itself on starting its students early in TSA studies.
The Inspiring Elementary Engineering program has been in place 10 years and allows students grades K-5 the introduction to problem solving through engineering labs, Wagner said.
“This is a jump start on most schools in the nation, giving them experiences with problem solving and working in groups at a young age,” Wagner said.
Burlew said district TSA programs won’t let up.
“We have teachers who care, who go the extra mile for the kids,” he said. “Braden River High has advisers who all put our time in. Knowing that you’re at the top and that everyone has got the crosshairs on you, we were not about to give in and let that happen.”