IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Sandi Firtion

Sandi is one of many volunteers who dedicate their time to helping out at the Lighthouse and at other Barrier Island Parks Service facilities. At the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse these volunteers help visitors learn all about the workings of the Lighthouse, the history connected with it, the creatures who live in the area, and the workings and mission of BIPS.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Lauren Ringeisen

While she and her family only moved to the Boca Grande area about a year ago, Lauren has many years of history on and near the Island. Her parents retired to Rotonda many years ago, and Lauren and her own family have vacationed here for years.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: A new season of learning, music and much more in our area …

October programming continues with returning Hermitage Fellow and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael R. Jackson, following his acclaimed Broadway debut with A Strange Loop, which won the 2022 Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical. In a conversation moderated by Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg, Jackson will delve into the inspiration and influences that have shaped his work thus far and what is on the horizon for him, including his fascination with iconic soap operas and the way they have shaped our cultural narrative. Presented on the Hermitage Beach as the sun sets on October 21st, don’t miss your chance to hear from one of the most exciting minds writing for the American theater today. Audience members are invited to come early and experience an open studio with acclaimed visual artist ektor garcia whose multifaceted work explores materials such as leather, ceramic, metal, and found objects. 

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Tonya Huber

Teaching encompasses lots of other things Tonya loves: children of all ages, books, working with small groups, making learning fun, helping students love to read. The list goes on. For Tonya, teaching is not limited to what she does at school. This love of teaching is part of how she approaches life, with its many and varied opportunities to interact with others.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: RON BOLTON

on came to GIWA at the beginning of this year, abandoning his plan of retiring after working nearly four decades in the utilities industry. Southeast Florida had been his home most of his life, coming to Hollywood with his parents when he was only seven years old. After high school graduation he joined the Air Force, serving in active duty for a year, and then six years in the Air Force Reserves. 

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Ray Ledon

Ray grew up in Cuba in the 1950s and early 60s but was forced to flee the country as his father became more and more involved in the fight to bring freedom and prosperity to all the people of Cuba. Initially, this put him and his family in the crosshairs of Fulgencio Batista, and eventually in those of Fidel Castro, as well.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: R.N. Lindsay Dalton 

Originally from Ohio, Lindsay and her husband Tyler have been Floridians for the last eight years. They have three children, all born in the state: Shiloh is 6, Hart is 3 and Charlie is 2. Working full time and having three young children does not leave a lot of time for hobbies, but the family enjoys spending time at the playground, camping and going to the beach, especially the beach at Boca Grande.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Teacher Susan McKenzie eager to start her first year at TIS

There is a special place in Susan McKenzie’s heart for second-graders. She loves teaching all elementary grades, but second-graders have a “special wonderment” about them. “There is an excitement to learn and the ability to stretch themselves. I love to watch them grow.” This is what second-graders bring to this teacher, and she is happy to be starting her connection with The Island School by teaching second grade. She will have 14 students in her class.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: A new TIS teacher for the ‘littlest’ students has arrived in a big way

“I am an outside-the-box thinker,” Gretchen declared, and she backs it up with evidence. She has received multiple grants to create unusual learning experiences with her students, including creating and performing a musical with her second-grade students not too long ago. The musical is called “Squirm” – which sounds appropriate for second graders. 

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Kelly Carpenter

“Children really learn through play. Their play is their work. What we do as teachers is find ways to scaffold and add learning to that play. Kids may be just playing with Clay-Doh, but what they’re doing with it, and the conversations that take place while they’re doing it are important. They might be learning how to count or creating sets of things that go together. They don’t realize what they’re learning at the time. You should fill a child’s day with their interests, and then you can incorporate all these other areas of development. If you’re playing dinosaurs outside, you’re learning gross motor skills.  If you’re painting or drawing dinosaurs, that works on fine motor skills. That’s what a quality preschool strives to do – the teachers see what the kids are interested in and build upon it.”