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Communication is an essential life skill. Good communication skills provide the opportunity for learning, jobs, and success. The English-Speaking Union strives to improve communication and understanding through the use of the English language. The English-Speaking Union has been providing financial support to The Education Foundation of Collier County for ten years, funding over $55,000 in classroom grants. Herb and Ann Rowe are active members of this organization and are the reason that this group began to provide this support.
The philosophy of Herb and Ann Rowe is to educate the educators so they in turn can pass on their knowledge to others. They learned from teachers that the resources they needed for the classroom were not available from state funded programs. The English-Speaking Union helps teachers meet their needs to be able to teach children and they do this through the use of five main programs: Connect With a Classroom grant program, the Shakespeare Competition, Summer School Abroad, the Reading is Fundamental program at Naples High School, and the Adaptation of Shakespearean Plays.
Connect With a Classroom is the support and funding of the teacher requested grants. All grants submitted must be approved by the school principal before it is eligible for funding. The teacher has to explain how this grant will enhance the process of education in that school. The English-Speaking Union selects proposals based on promotion of the English language and will fund $5000 this coming year. Past projects have included funding for students to publish their own hard cover books. Ann Rowe fondly recalls how proud the students were to become published authors.
The second program is the Shakespeare Competition which is a regional performance contest in Collier, Charlotte and Lee counties. The winner of these competitions go on to compete in the state and national competition held in New York City. The winner of the national competition gets to attend summer school at the Globe Theater in London, England.
The third program is Summer School Abroad scholarship for teachers at their choice of either Oxford University or The Globe Theater in London. Teachers are selected by a committee based on whether they are likely to bring back what they have learned to benefit the teachers in Collier County. Several tours through Stratford-upon-Avon and other historical places in England are also included with the scholarship. Dr. Maria Torres, who is now the Executive Director of Federal and State Grants & English Language Learner Programs, was the recipient of the first grant. Dr. Torres explained that her scholarship, “… has been the highlight of my English-teaching career. I want to thank the English-Speaking Union for affording me such an opportunity. That experience allowed me to grow educationally and professionally and I am positive it has been the same for other teachers who were as fortunate as I was by attending Oxford University.”
The fourth means of support is the Reading is Fundamental program held in the library at Naples High School. This program supports about 100 students per year and each student is allowed to select 3 books a year to keep for their own.
Finally, the latest program that began this past school year is the Adaptation of Shakespearean Plays. This program will be presented by local actors who will perform a Shakespearean play to all public high school students in Collier County.
“We appreciate the fact that The Education Foundation has a program that we can participate in to promote the use of the English language,” remarked Herb Rowe. The dedication of Herb and Ann Rowe and The English-Speaking Union is another remarkable example of how to “Get on the Bus” to help Collier students. The result – students who are well-prepared for success.