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UCF Honors State Senator for Championing Community Schools

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By Karen Guin

UCF's Center for Community Schools and Child Welfare Innovation recently honored Sen. David Simmons as a champion of community schools for the state of Florida.

Leaders from the center and College of Health and Public Affairs recognized Simmons at the Sept. 25 board meeting of the Children's Home Society of Florida in Orlando. CHSF and UCF partnered to help establish Evans High School in Pine Hills as the first community school of its kind the state.

Center Director David Bundy, former president of CHSF, thanked Simmons for his support of proposals in 2014 and 2015 to establish the center and award the state's first community-school planning grants. The Legislature funded both proposals.

Simmons' interest in community schools grew out of a 2013 meeting with Bundy and college Dean Michael Frumkin. After their meeting the senator requested a binder filled with information about community schools to review.

"The community-school concept was very much in keeping with his educational philosophy," said Bundy. "He liked that community schools are an efficient use of resources and that they bring people together and remove barriers to student success."

At the Sept. 25 meeting, Simmons received a black and gold recognition plate from Marklyne Joachim, an Evans' graduate who benefitted from the community school programs. She is now a sophomore at UCF.

Simmons later wrote of his joy in working with the partners and appreciation of the recognition. He also made note of his pleasure in meeting Joachim.

"Marklyne did such a great job sharing," he wrote. "[It] made it really special that she was there too."

In addition to being recognized by the center, Simmons was honored as the Legislator of the Year by the CHSF.

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