Right here in North Florida, we have a school that has earned a reputation for quality education at its highest level. The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) was founded in 1885 in St. Augustine, Florida. It has students enrolled from all parts of Florida. Currently, the school has approximately 600 students comprising of approximately 400 deaf / hard of hearing students and 200 blind / visually impaired students. Of this student population, approximately 400 students reside in dormitories during the week and return home every weekend to spend time with their families. Roughly 200 day students reside in St. Johns County and nearby counties. The school also has parent advisors who work with nearly 400 infants, toddlers and their families throughout the State of Florida. All in all, FSDB serves roughly 1000 pre-school, high school, and continuing education students.
The Good Deed Brigade recently visited the school and was lucky to have Rick Coleman as the tour guide. It was truly the experience of a lifetime entering through the gates of FSDB and getting a glimpse of this awesome campus.
At the beginning of the tour, Coleman stated, "You are about to see the best school in the State of Florida for the deaf and the blind. In fact, you are about to see the best public school in the State of Florida all around."
With that statement of both pride and confidence, Coleman began the tour. He briefly introduced himself as a 26-year State of Florida employee as a parent specialist with the FSDB Parent Services department, a 22-year veteran of the Navy (he was a sonar technician), and, most importantly, a proud parent of a graduate of FSDB.
At the school, the campus includes 45 major buildings, such as administration buildings, music hall, a full service police / security building, health car center, a cafeteria, chapel, three gymnasiums, 850-capacity auditorium, dormitories, football / track field, baseball field, classrooms, library and media centers, and a number of common areas for the students and staff to use and enjoy. The classrooms and the libraries were the highlights of the tour. It was a campus full of learning, joy, and support.
Coleman, in a soft spoken and humble manner, recounted all of the wonderful times and milestones for his daughter who graduated from FSDB in 1997. She was a four-year varsity volleyball player, a prom queen, and an honor student. His daughter went on to college and graduated with a degree in education.
During the tour, Coleman provided a brief history of the school and noted the changes that have taken place during the year. It was interesting to see one of the libraries that housed many braille text and reference books. One set of books was located on the top shelf - it was a series that had 72 volumes and looked like a full encyclopedia set. In actuality, this was the 72-volume braille version of a one-volume standard print dictionary. The other library had an abundance of videos in American Sign Language format. There are just two examples of many of the resources for the students at FSDB.
After the tour of the school, it was clear to me that Coleman's initial statements were absolutely accurate. The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is the best school in the State of Florida. It is something that we as Floridians should be proud of in every respect. Visit the FSDB website at www.fsdb.k12.fl.us/ to find out about upcoming events. Located in the heart of historic St. Augustine, it would be well worth the time and effort to experience the events at the school, some of which are open to the public (such as the annual Holiday Concert). The wonderful staff members at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind certainly help promote the school's overall mission and its motto as posted on the website: Do More. Be More. Achieve More.
The Good Deed Brigade salutes Rick Coleman for his dedication and support of FSDB. Follow his lead and example and do your share of good deeds in the community.