SEPTEMBER 2019
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Florida News

DR. MONA JAIN’S NAMESAKE SCHOOL OPENS IN BRADENTON AMID PRAISE

By NITISH S. RELE, editor@khaasbaat.com

Named to honor a longtime Manatee County educator, the Dr. Mona Jain Middle School in Bradenton ceremoniously opened in early August. The $45 million facility can hold 1,100 students.

About 250 people attended the Aug. 8 opening where Mona Jain, 82, credited the community and school system for her namesake school. She spoke of moving to Manatee County 54 years ago and called its educational system “very progressive, innovative. One person can change one thing but all of us can change everything in a positive way if we all work together. This school is not (here just) because my name is there. I feel each one of us are equal contributors.”

As she dedicated the school to all members of the community, Mona Jain described education as a journey, not a destination. “We live in a multicultural society and my motto is ‘unity in diversity’,” she said. “There should be respect for human beings and for diversity since it is important to live in harmony.”

Jain put own sincerity, personal integrity, humility, courtesy, wisdom and charity on full display as she passed the baton to the next generation. “I am always learning from them,” she said.

David Miner, chairman of Manatee County School Board, echoed Jain’s thoughts. “Our strength comes from all of us coming together,” he said. “Dr. Jain brings the best of Indian culture that enriches our culture.”

Mona Jain has a Bachelor of Education degree in Biological and Health Sciences, and a bachelor’s in Biology, Chemistry and History of Sciences, both from Delhi University. At the university, she met her husband, Kailash. In 1964, the family immigrated to the Sarasota/Bradenton area to follow a Fulbright Scholarship she had won. Their daughter Anila was 5 years old at the time.

While Kailash ran import-export and jewelry businesses, his wife taught biology at Bayshore Middle and High schools before she became director of family health services for Manatee County’s Head Start program.

The busy mother then earned a Master of Science in Science Education from Florida State University. In 1984, she received a doctorate in interdisciplinary and educational leadership from the University of South Florida. Before that degree, she had earned a medical degree from Spartan Health Sciences University School of Medicine in Saint Lucia and an Education Specialist degree in Administration and Supervision from NOVA University. However, instead of pursuing a lucrative career in medicine, she chose to educate young minds.

The list of accolades and praises for Mona Jain would take pages. Briefly, though, she has won USF’s Distinguished Alumna Award and USFSM’s Distinguished Professional Achievement Award, and the Edgar H. Price Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award, shared with daughter Anila and several others.

She lives in Bradenton with husband Kailash and daughter Anila, a physician/medical consultant.  


TAMPA’S NEW PATEL HIGH SCHOOL PLEDGES A GOOGLE STATE OF MIND

By NITISH S. RELE, editor@khaasbaat.com

After eight months of construction, the Dr. Kiran C. Patel High School in Tampa has begun its “futuristic” programs designed to teach students how to discover rather than to just absorb information.

The two-story, nearly 58,000-square-foot school built on 32 acres in northeast Tampa has enrolled “a notch under 300 students (grade nine) and just a handful of seats are open,” school co-founder Ashok Bagdy said. He and his wife Kavita Jain conceived the idea. Other grades will be added each year.

“The parent feedback has been phenomenal,” he said. He shared one email: “Every evening, our son has lots of things to share on how he is discovering new ideas and learning new concepts. Traditional education method is about remembering concepts. Patel School teachers are enabling children to ‘discover’ new ideas & ‘develop’ new competency … Kids are learning by doing, discovering and developing.”

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran attended the Aug. 5 dedication ceremony, along with Hillsborough County School Superintendent Jeff Eakins and other dignitaries. At the event for his namesake school, Patel lauded family, friends, community leaders, businesses, parents and students. 

“I appreciate all of you for taking the time to come and celebrate,” he said. “A fundamental requirement for society to flourish is proper education of our kids, whether academic or technical. Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel. It is a process that encourages a child’s natural curiosity. At Patel High School, a teacher’s purpose is far greater than simply (to) deliver information. Our project-based teaching method, collaboration with peers and management of time give students the opportunity to participate at every level.”

Patel described the school as a place of inclusivity and opportunity for all to light a fire for learning. 

“Each and every one of you has a choice; you can take the path of least resistance, live a predictable life or take a trailblazer path, one less traveled,” he told the students in attendance. “Be from ordinary to extraordinary. You can do it if you choose it for you, awaken the artist within you. Become an innovator, a groundbreaker and blaze a trail for others to follow.”

Learning changes and transforms your community, Education Commissioner Corcoran said. “PHS isn’t just a high school, but it is also delivering hope and dignity.”

While students sat at round tables surrounded by the latest in technology, Bagdy described as unique the atmosphere and environment in the $20-million school: “We have an innovative curriculum, and leadership development and mentorship programs. We have a power hour, i.e., an hour of lunchtime, when all teachers are available, for tutoring also. PHS is an E-school, so there are no textbooks or lockers, all Chrome books. (It’s) what we call a Google school, very futuristic.”

PHS Principal Marlee Strawn seconded him. “We offer 21st-century skills for the workforce,” she said. “It’s a personalized-style education with project-based learning. We have a passionate and dedicated group of educators and students with a lifelong passion for learning.”

For more information about the school, located at 10721 Raulerson Ranch Road, visit patelhighschool.org. 


USF Announces $10 Million Gift FROM TANEJA FAMILY FOUNDATION

Story provided by USF

Jugal and Manju Taneja with USF President Steve Currall.

The University of South Florida has received a $10 million gift from Taneja Family Foundation to name the USF Health Taneja College of Pharmacy. The donation, made through the USF Foundation, is the largest philanthropic gift to a pharmacy school in Florida.

As result of the gift, the Taneja College of Pharmacy will move into the new USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute facility under construction in downtown Tampa.  The building is scheduled to open in late 2019, with pharmacy students tentatively expected to start classes there in fall of 2021.

“This is a thrilling moment and it is an honor to be here to celebrate another important milestone for USF, one of the fastest-rising universities in the country,” said USF President Steve Currall. “Jugal and Manju Taneja share a passion for education, for giving back to their community, and for transforming the health care system for future generations. This gift will do so much for the trajectory of USF’s success — advancing innovation at our College of Pharmacy and elevating the academic stature of the entire university. Therefore, I am pleased to announce that in recognition of this transformational gift, the USF Health College of Pharmacy will now be known as the Taneja College of Pharmacy.”

The USF Health College of Pharmacy was established by the Florida Board of Governors in 2009 and welcomed its charter class in August 2011. Today, the Taneja College of Pharmacy welcomes 100 new students each year for its PharmD program, and has expanded its offerings to include master’s degrees suited for students interested in pursuing a professional degree program, an advanced degree, a degree focused on research, or a degree for those interested in working in the pharmaceutical industry.

The gift marks a huge milestone for the young school and validates the innovative education experience offered to USF pharmacy students, said Kevin B. Sneed, PharmD, dean of the Taneja College of Pharmacy and senior associate vice president for USF Health.

This drive to revolutionize how pharmacists are trained is what attracted the Tanejas to USF.

“The way that technology is changing, the old way of compounding, the old way of discovering medicines, are going to go away,” Jugal Taneja said. “Now, medicines are going to be targeted for a particular disease. And pharmacists are going to play a big, big role in this. And for that, you have to education 21st century pharmacists and clinicians. That’s what we come here today to do.

“Making money makes you happy but when you give money to a cause, to an institution, or to places where money is needed, you gain a special kind of satisfaction. We were much happier and we were $10 million less! But we didn’t feel that – we felt $10 million richer.”

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