Noticing the urgent need for more qualified teachers around the state and country, science teacher Hali Flahavan founded Pine View’s chapter of Florida Future Educators of America (FFEA) this past December. FFEA springs from the nation-wide organization Future Teachers of America, which sets out to encourage and equip those wanting to pursue a career in education.
With other Sarasota County Schools having had FFEA chapters consolidated for a couple of years, Pine View’s lack of a chapter was becoming a critical concern. Beginning Pine View’s chapter was not only imperative to meet a state demand, but also because it creates opportunities for students to learn about the education field in the interactive way FFEA provides. The club’s vice president, eleventh-grader Kemper Bernstein said, “The state of Florida asked for all the schools to have this. So, it’s kind of mandatory, but Mrs. Flahavan took it on and we’re glad it exists.”
What makes FFEA different from other clubs, is that they are instilling a passion for education in not only the present participants but also their future students. This passion for education is evident among Pine View students and teachers alike, as eight teachers who currently teach previously attended Pine View. FFEA president, twelfth-grader Annie Sutherland said, “I know I want to be a teacher because the only reason I have been able to succeed is because I’ve had those crucial teachers who’ve helped me. Like, in first grade, when I was younger than everyone else, my one teacher really helped and believed in me, and that really resonated with me.”
The primary purpose of FFEA is to send participating students, both in high school and college, to the Florida Future Educators of America Conference (FFEAC) that the chapters meet at each January. At the conference, students compete in several activities, as well as attend seminars. This year, the FFEAC was held at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Fla., from Jan. 25-27. While the conference charged $120 per person, the Pine View students that attended received funding from the county, so they were able to attend for free.
“One competition is a speech competition. One of [the topics] that won this year was the inclusion of social media usage in the classroom. Then, at the end, whoever wins first place presents it to everyone,” Sutherland said, explaining one of the competitive events. There are five competitive events ranging from analysis of education research to lesson plans, helping to prepare the participants for all sorts of situations they will face as teachers.
Because it was the Pine View chapter’s first year attending, they chose to sit out of the competitions but still attended the seminars and observe other schools compete. “We’re very much just building, but next year it will be more fleshed out,” Sutherland said, expanding on the future growth of Pine View’s chapter.
During the club’s biweekly meetings, involved students learn what it means to be a teacher by participating in education-based, community service activities. Flahavan touched on the uniqueness of Pine View when it comes the to community service aspect and said, “Their community service has to be directed at doing something within a school. We’re really fortunate because we have high schoolers that can work with middle schoolers or elementary schoolers during their school day, right here on their own campus, so we don’t have to go other places for that.”
“We are building, and we’d love to have new members, and you don’t have to know that you want to be a teacher. Come, see what we do, it really does lead to a lot of opportunities,” Flahavan said.
FFEA meets on Tuesdays, biweekly at 1 p.m. in Room 121. Applications to join are located in the front office.