Rising To Meet The Challenge
President Doug Tuthill
I have spent my professional life working to improve public education, and I saw more change in 2020 than in my previous 43 years combined. Tragically, the driver of these changes is a horrific global pandemic that has disrupted all aspects of our lives.
Like most organizations, Step Up For Students had to adjust quickly to our new reality last spring. We closed our offices, and our IT team did an amazing job helping everyone quickly transition to working from home. Our families, donors, schools, and students also helped. Families patiently worked with our staff to understand which educational options might work best for their students and their family situation, and our donors did everything possible to ensure we would have sufficient scholarship funds for the fall of 2020. And they succeeded. Incredibly, as the pandemic stretches into the upcoming 2020-21, we are forecasting that the combined enrollment in the Florida Tax Credit and Family Empowerment Scholarship programs will grow by at least 20,000 students. An extraordinary accomplishment for our donors and families.
Our schools have also performed amazing feats. With sparse resources, our schools quickly shifted to virtual instruction in the spring and provided safe and effective on-campus instruction in the fall as well as maintaining their high-quality virtual programs. Moving forward, many of the innovations our schools and families have implemented to adjust to the pandemic will become permanent improvements. High-quality virtual instruction will become more normative, as will hybrid instructional models that integrate online, on-campus, and homeschooling. The more flexible and customized teaching and learning strategies that have emerged during this pandemic are here to stay.
Moving forward, many of the innovations our schools and families have implemented to adjust to the pandemic will become permanent improvements. In this year’s Annual Report, you will read about some of the ways students, families, and schools turned challenges into improvement opportunities. At Step Up, we believe every event is an improvement opportunity. Apparently, our donors, families, and schools do, too.