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Blue Lake Elementary School in DeLand welcomes families and the community with open arms, as the school works toward adding resources paid for by the Turnaround Option Plan (TOP 3) federal grant. 

The grant, acquired by Volusia County Schools, will assist Blue Lake families and its community in various areas.

Among the planned enhancements are after-school tutoring during the school year and a family center that will open in the fall to offer game nights, family fitness days and field days, and other programs in the areas of social services, mental health and child fitness.

The family center will have a student-services facilitator who will coordinate with the school district’s exceptional-student education (ESE) offices, Child Find, social workers and mental-health counselors to connect students with services. The facilitator will also organize Read With Me at Laurel Villas to increase the number of parent volunteers.

“As a school, we are in support for communities to build better lives,” Leticia Policke said. 

Policke, a 20-year educator, recently accepted the position of bilingual community engagement facilitator, and will oversee many of the new opportunities. 

She credits the Ron Clark Academy philosophy for many of the planned changes at Blue Lake. The Ron Clark Academy is a nonprofit middle school in Atlanta that specializes in educational innovation. The academy’s mission is “to deliver the highest quality educational experience where global citizens are born through advanced rigor, engaging teaching methods, and a passionate climate and culture.”

The “House System,” for example, a character-education program, is a Ron Clark initiative.    

Blue Lake Elementary has also partnered with Daytona State College to offer GED, ESOL and Fresh Start courses for parents, along with warm meals and transportation to and from the DeLand DSC campus Monday through Thursday.

Policke said child care will also be provided for parents attending classes. It is currently a 15-day program, and if the interest is met, it will be extended.

Starting May 15, Blue Lake parents and other adult student learners have been able to qualify for vouchers valued at $450 for use at the college. The vouchers will cover GED and/or ESOL fees.

“I was just speaking with my husband, telling him I wanted to go back to get my GED, when my son came in the door and asked me if I wanted the flier about Getting My GED for Free. I knew it was time,” parent Candice Watts said. 

There are already 15 adult student learners signed up (35 including adults and children), and the number is increasing each day.

If you are interested in knowing more about the program, email Policke at lpolicke@volusia.k12.fl.us or Matthew Davids at Matthew.davids@daytonastate.edu.

— Cameron, a longtime educator, lives in Orange City. Send email to cameronchronicleslive@gmail.com.

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