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Know of any youth who have won an award or have a recent accomplishment? Send in your news on youth to Shephali J. Rele, Khaas Baat, 18313 Cypress Stand Circle, Tampa, FL 33647 or e-mail Be sure to include school name, grade and age.
Youth Highlight         Send your youth highlight
Jenny Gajera, 16, an 11th-grader at Hillsborough High School, placed second in her division of the Regional Latin Forum. She will be going on to the state competition to be held in Orlando in April.

Neal A. Patel, 17, an 11th-grader at Tampa Bay Technical High School magnet program, plays mid-field on the school’s soccer team. The team recently played in the regional competition. Neal is an Honor Roll student and has been named in the “Who’s Who Among American High School Students” as well as “Who’s Who Among American High School Students Sports Edition.”


Dr. Judy Johnson
Every parent wants the best possible education and life for their child, but often we turn to others to define what we mean by “best.” We all have experienced school so we have some perspective on this topic, but do we give our own opinions their due? Do we ask ourselves whether schools reflect our vision of the day-to-day activities of children and have we clearly thought about what it is we want for them? What is education and what should it do for our children? How can we best provide our children with the opportunity to experience our vision?

Purvi Patel
Certainly, most people could agree with broad goals for good education. Education is growing in our knowledge of the world and learning to live well in it. Education should give us the tools to become competent and successful members of our culture, our society and the world. To the degree it does this, it enables us to find respect for ourselves and for others. It gives us the energy to be productive in positive ways that bring personal satisfaction while also benefiting our society. At it’s very best, education nurtures natural talents and interests of every individual while providing better ways of communicating and a better understanding of our place in time.

Beyond these broad visions, there are many specifics that are important. But different views should be voiced so that we can all find common ground to grow the best environment for our children in the future. Your voice in your child's education needs to start with thinking about and expressing your expectations. List all of the things that you want your children to have and to learn. Things that come to mind might be health, happiness, confidence, humor, empathy, excitement, initiative ... and the list goes on!

As parents, we must play a primary role in molding our children's experiences. No single entity, such as a school, can provide the nurturing and intellectual stimulation our children need. But, our expectation should include that schooling does not include anything that would negate our efforts or contradict the outcomes we envision. To ensure the quality of care for our most precious, parents must play a strong part in guiding educational improvement and helping to set standards. They also need to be part of the process in defining how outcomes are measured. Is it all about achievement scores? Is that what we mean by an “A” school, the “best school,” the “best education?” Or do we have something else in mind?

Contribute your thoughts. What do you want education to do for your children? How would you measure growth, not only in achievement, but responsibility, initiative, honor, reliability, honesty, esteem and all the other important changes that occur with maturation. Voice your praise and concerns for current educational practices, standards and methods of evaluating our children. Finding a common ground of concern is the first step in having your voice acknowledged in building a better educational foundation for the future.

Dr. Judy Johnson, a Ph.D. in Special Education and regional director of Sylvan Learning Centers in north Hillsborough and Pasco counties, and Purvi Patel, center director of Sylvan Learning Center in Zephyrhills, can be reached at (813) 968-4497 or 813-782-8219.

Know of any youth who have won an award or have a recent accomplishment? Send in your news on youth to Shephali J. Rele, Khaas Baat, 18313 Cypress Stand Circle, Tampa, FL 33647 or e-mail Be sure to include school name, grade and age.

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