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Johnson Scholars Program Helps 110 from Class of 2021 Go to College

The Johnson Scholars Program of the School District of Palm Beach County is celebrating its 110 graduates of the class of 2021 who earned scholarships as a jumpstart to their post-secondary careers.  This year 100 percent of the program’s seniors will graduate with a guaranteed 2-Year Florida Prepaid Scholarship.  Each also accomplished 100 percent completion of their College Readiness Portfolios, successfully earning their college readiness graduation cords.

Working with Take Stock in Children (TSIC) in providing more than 500 students with college readiness, mentorship, and social emotional support has exposed many of our students to further opportunities to ensure access to their post-secondary dreams of attending a college or university.  TSIC boasts providing this year’s class of graduates with nearly $1 million in scholarships. Many top scholars throughout Palm Beach County of the Johnson Scholars Program and Take Stock in Children collaboration earned prestigious scholarship awards, including the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholarship, George Snow Scholarship, FAU’s Kelly/Strul Scholarship, TeamWork Education Foundation, Leaders 4 Life, QuestBridge, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, and Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarships.  The Johnson Scholars Program and Take Stock in Children will continue to support these scholars as they work toward completion of their post-secondary education.

We congratulate all of our scholars from the Class of 2021!

Dustin LaPlatte

Florida Bright Futures recipients: Katherine Benedetti, Boca Raton High School, attending Valencia College; Chanelle Brown, John I. Leonard High School, attending Palm Beach State College; Daniel Dorvil, FAU High School, attending Florida Atlantic University; Ysabel Fierro, Santaluces High School, attending Florida International University; Antoine Garvey, Atlantic High School, attending Florida Atlantic University; Dustin LaPlatte, Jupiter High School, attending University of Florida; Melanie Rivera, Jupiter High School, attending Florida State University; Robertha Sainvil, Palm Beach Gardens High School, attending Florida International University; Varun Toot, Forest Hill High School, attending Nova Southeastern University; Valeria Urrego-Hernandez, Jupiter High School, attending University of Florida.

Hana Ali

Community Foundation Scholarship  recipients: Hana Ali, Lake Worth High School, attending University of Florida, Itzel Diez,  Glades Central High School, attending Florida State University; Annabelle Garcia, Lake Worth High School, attending Palm Beach State College; Osinachi Nwosu, Lake Worth High School, attending University of Chicago; Micaela Miguel Ramirez, Lake Worth High School, attending University of Florida; Khurram Shams, Lake Worth High School, attending University of Florida.

Machen Florida Opportunity Scholarship recipients of the University of Florida: Hana Ali, Lake Worth High School; Dustin LaPlatte, Jupiter High School; Khurram Shams, Lake Worth High School; Valeria Urrego-Hernandez, Jupiter High School.

George Snow Scholarship recipient: Rebecca Siverain, Pahokee High School, attending Lindenwood University.

Rebecca Siverain

Take Stock in Children Leaders 4 Life Scholarship and Quest Bridge Scholarship recipient: Jasmine Calderon, Pahokee High School, attending Emory University.

Team Work Education Foundation Scholarship recipients: Gerardo Albor, Glades Central High School, attending Palm Beach State College; Hana Ali, Lake Worth High School, attending University of Florida; Dustin LaPlatte, Jupiter High School, attending University of Florida; Macaela Miguel Rameriz, Lake Worth High School, attending Florida State University; Pamela Perez, Pahokee High School, attending Palm Beach State College; Jason Sargento-Guzman, Lake Worth High School, attending University of North Florida; Varun Toot, Forest Hill High School, attending Nova Southeastern University.

Victoria Armand

Florida Atlantic University Kelly/Strul Scholarship recipient: Victoria Armand, Santaluces High School, attending Florida Atlantic University.

 


Gbolade George is a Resource Teacher with the School District of Palm Beach County’s Johnson Scholars/Take Stock program.

College Tours Give Students a Taste of the Higher Education Experience

Recently, the Johnson Scholars Program of the School District of Palm Beach County in collaboration with Take Stock in Children of Palm Beach County (jointly known as the JSTSIC Program) facilitated college tours to three colleges. Students were able to choose one of two trips: A local tour and research presentation at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton or a trip to Orlando that included both Valencia College-East Campus and University of Central Florida.

Group of 6 students in front of I love FAU sign

College tours are one of several components of the JSTSIC program that serves more than 400 students throughout Palm Beach County each year. Students in the program are mentored from 9th grade through high school graduation by a community mentor. Each has access to college coaches throughout high school as well, and each receives a two-year Florida Prepaid scholarship.

The college tours help our students have tangible contact with the college experience, increasing their motivation toward achieving post-secondary success. On the recent tours, each school showcased programs and support services specific to each institution, and our students were able to see college life as they moved throughout the campuses.

Young man working at a computer

Florida Atlantic University showcased an engaging research initiative in which students learned how to research from their freshman year. They learned how to research areas of interest in which they would like to invest. They were able to see the campus during Homecoming as the campus was preparing for the night’s homecoming game.

University of Central Florida, also in the middle of their homecoming week, allowed our students to see college students participate in their annual “fountain run, known as Spirit Splash where students run into the Reflecting Pond and collect rubber duckies. Besides the fun they got an informative look at the overall campus, which included support systems and programs offered by UCF.

Large group of students holding Valencia College banners

Valencia College showcased a few unique programs offered to its students. Officials explained to our students that graduates of Valencia are automatically accepted into UCF. The two schools’ programs are linked, which helps students to transfer smoothly from state college into the university system. Valencia showcased its Fire and Rescue Department and Agricultural Science Department, and students saw a presentation in Graphic Interactive Design.

Gbolade George was educated in the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, and he has worked in the district for 21 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in behavioral disorders in education from the University of South Florida. He is in his third year as resource teacher and mentor facilitator for the Johnson Scholars Program.

King’s Legacy in Action

When most Americans think of the accomplishments of Black Americans in the United States, one individual instinctively comes to mind – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  You won’t find a corner of the United States that doesn’t recognize just how impactful Dr. King’s work was, and still is, to life in America.  

His legacy as a fighter for equality and a bridge builder is honored all over the world. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. truly believed in empowering people, bridging barriers, and creating solutions to social problems with hopes of moving society closer to his vision of all people having equality and access to opportunity.

The Johnson Scholars Program of the School District of Palm Beach County, in collaboration with Take Stock in Children of Palm Beach County (JTSP), prides itself on empowering individuals, removing barriers and creating solutions to a very serious social problem – getting our first-generation and low-income students into and successfully finishing a post-secondary institution.  

Johnson Scholars/Take Stock students explore campus life at Valencia College
Johnson Scholars/Take Stock students explore campus life at Valencia College.

JTSP aims to make students college-ready by equipping them with life skills, by providing health and wellness awareness, and by guiding them through the entire process of getting accepted into a post-secondary institution. JTSP students usually have their first contact with the college experience by going on one of our organized college tours. “[Helping first generation, low income students] is important to me, because as a first generation student myself, I want to give the same confidence and resources to our students that someone gave to me. I still remember the first time I went on a college tour to Florida A&M University; from that moment on I knew I was going to college,” says Wanda Thomas, guidance counselor and JSTP coordinator at Palm Beach Lakes High School.

Being a first-generation and low-income student comes with its share of obstacles – not just the obvious financial need, but also the lack of understanding about where to start and what to do to get to college. The JTSP staff, mentors, and coaches support students through this process. “Knowing how difficult it is for first generation students to go to college, mainly due to lack of support, inspires me to be that person who helps bridge that gap,” says Johnson Scholars AmeriCorps College Coach
Hannah Cheeks.

JTSP helps actualize the dream of college to a very diverse group of students. Of the 451 students presently served by this collaboration of Johnson Scholars and Take Stock in Children, 48 percent identify as Non-Hispanic/Black/African American and 37 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino. It is immensely rewarding to see the joy of each student as they share with pride which college or university they’ve been accepted to.

JTSP students  on one of the program's organized college tours
JTSP students usually have their first contact with the college experience by going on one of the program’s organized college tours.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will always be relevant, in that his drive to uplift American society lives on through millions of Americans each day. By creating educational opportunities for low-income and first-generation students, JSTP will continue striving to remove barriers and empower students as they achieve their post-secondary goals. “Our kids are resilient, smart and amazing,” says Sharmagne Solis, JSTP coordinator at Village Academy. “They simply need someone to invest in them and guide them, and they can truly meet their highest potential.”

Gbolade George was educated in the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, and he has worked in the district for 21 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in behavioral disorders in education from the University of South Florida. He is in his third year as resource teacher and mentor facilitator for the Johnson Scholars Program.