Polk County Schools Begin a New School Year

The 2009-2010 school year began in Polk on August 24.  The last day of school for the year is Wednesday, June 9, 2010.

2009-2010 School District Facts:

· 91, 581 students expected for 09-10

· 161 school sites include traditional elementary, middle and high schools,  career centers, adult schools, alternative schools and charter schools.

· There are also 19 Head Start centers located on school campuses and three stand-alone Head Start centers in Frostproof, Haines City and Winter Haven. Head Start sites in Lakeland are at the following elementary schools: Crystal Lake, Dixieland, Jesse Keen, Socrum and Winston. There are also 52 schools throughout the county with pre-kindergarten programs.

· The school district is using a $1.3 million grant from the Helios Foundation to develop high-quality programs to transition middle school students to high school.  The grant was obtained through a partnership with the Florida Association of School Administrators and the objective is for Polk to develop a model that can be replicated in other Florida school districts

· The school district is also using a $600,000 Readiness And Emergency Management For Schools Program federal government grant. The grant will be used to improve plans that addresses all four phases of emergency management: prevention-mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

Polk has one new school opening in 2009-2010, Spessard L. Holland Elementary,  it has a physical address of Bartow but serves students in south Lakeland-north Bartow. It is located west of U.S. Highway 98 in the south Lakeland, Highland City, north Bartow area.

Spessard L. Holland Elementary Profile

Namesake: Spessard L. Holland, 1892-1971. Holland was a Florida governor (1941-1945) and four-term U.S. Senator (1946 – 1971). He was founder of the large Florida-based law firm, Holland & Knight.  The law school administration building at the University of Florida is also named for Holland. Holland’s University of Florida affiliation is also part of the school as the school’s nickname is the Gators. The gator-theme is prevalent throughout the school with gator photographs.  Mr. Holland’s portrait is also prevalent throughout the school. 

Physical address: 2342 E. F. Griffin Road, Bartow. Spessard L. Holland Elementary is the first large-scale and stand-alone public school opening with a  Bartow address since 1976.  

Principal: Melody Butler. She previously was an assistant principal at Lakeland’s Carlton Palmore Elementary.

School Construction Cost: $21.5 million

Square footage: 96, 486

Acreage: 22

Student Capacity: 832

Special Features: courtyard design for campus security, instructional areas and spaces include SmartBoards and sound enhancements


Service Industry Summer at Fantasy of Flight

Now through September 30, 2009, Fantasy of Flight in Polk City is offering a special deal to those who work in Polk County’s hospitality industries. The attraction is surprising- and not just fun for airplane enthusiasts! From the simulators to the hands-on multi-media exhibits, you certainly won’t be bored! And, by taking advantage of the “Service Industry Summer” special pricing, you’ll be able to share the news about area attractions with our visitors.


The “Service Industry Summer” offer is a buy one get one free admission, and you must have proof of employment. Visit the Fantasy of Flight web site for more details


First Friday Debuts on FOCUS TV!

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this video with our members! FOCUS Magazine (available here at the Chamber & in stands around town) has been producing FOCUS TV in the Plant City market for quite some time, and have made the leap to producing a monthly episode for the Lakeland area!

Now, some of you will read this post and think I’m just bragging since for a split second I’m in the video (with my adorable dog Forey)… Forey and I were downtown for the EMERGE Lakeland “Pound the Pavement” event sharing green tips for home & office as well as introducing the community to EMERGE and it’s mission. Not familiar with EMERGE Lakeland? We’re a young professionals organization that was created in partnership with the United Way of Central Florida & the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce. You can visit the Web site for more information on mission, events, etc.

OK, EMERGE tangent aside, let’s set the record straight: I am not bragging or sharing the video because I’d like some kudos for my literal 2 seconds of fame, but because it is too cool that we have a video magazine to showcase Lakeland! FOCUS Magazine is one of the few all-positive news sources out there, and we can’t appreciate them enough!


It’s about a five minute video- full of our friends and neighbors. See who you can spot and share it around! If there’s enough support from our community, FOCUS TV might just develop a weekly episode for Lakeland!


Marketing Mondays | Your Business is Small – So What?

Seth Godin knocks it out of the park again!

I was speaking with a social media-inclined friend about local SEO and how to respond to customers.  Here, Seth discusses how small businesses are at an advantage in these and several other areas.

Lessons from very tiny businesses:

1. Go where your customers are.

Jacquelyne runs a tiny juice company called Chakwave. I met her in Los Angeles, standing next to an organic lunch truck. Like the little birds that clean the teeth of the hippo, there’s synergy here. The kind of person that visits the truck for lunch is the sort of person that would happily pay for something as wonderfully weird as her juice. And the truck owners benefit from the rolling festival farmer’s market feel that comes from having a synergistic partner set up on a bridge table right next door.

2. Be micro-focused and the search engines will find you.

My friend Patti Jo is an extraordinary teacher and tutor. Her new business, The Scarsdale Tutor doesn’t need many clients in order to be successful. This permits her to focus obsessively and that gets rewarded with front page results on Google. Not because she’s tried to manipulate the seo (she hasn’t) but because this is exactly the page you’d hope to find if you typed “scarsdale tutor” into a search engine. Could she do this nationwide? Of course not. But she doesn’t want to or need to. Living on the long tail can be profitable.

3. Outlast the competition.

I was amazed at all the empty storefronts I saw in LA on my last visit. On one particular block, three or four of the ten lunch places were shut down. And the others? Doing great. That’s because the remaining office workers who used to eat lunch at the shuttered places had to eat somewhere, and so the survivors watched their business grow. A war of attrition is never pretty, but if you’re smart about overhead and scale, you’ll win it.

4. Leverage.

Rick Toone runs a tiny guitar-making operation. His lack of scale makes it easy for him to share. When others start using his designs, he doesn’t suffer (he can’t make any more guitars than he already is) he benefits, because as the originator of the design, his originals become more coveted, not less valuable. He leverages his insight and shares it as a free marketing device.

5. Respond.

This is the single biggest advantage you have over the big guys. Not only are you in charge, you also answer the phone and read your email and man the desk and set the prices.

So, don’t pretend you have a policy. Just be human.