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Futures Foundation for Volusia County Schools
                    News from FUTURES Foundation for Volusia County Public Schools

                        Celebrating 30 Years of Support for Volusia County Public Schools


Established in 1985 to increase business and community involvement in public schools and to provide programs and activities beyond the financial capabilities of the school district, the nonprofit foundation is the only organization that provides assistance to all public schools in Volusia County.

Upcoming Events

February 7 - ERAU TOTY Recognition

February 10 - TL Seminar-Criminal Justice

February 18 - FUTURES Board Meeting

For details, visit

Twitter:  @FUTURES_Inc.

FUTURES thanks our 

Teacher of the Year 2016 Sponsors

Presenting Sponsor


Gold Sponsor


Silver Sponsors









Bronze Sponsors



Dr. Fred & Linda Costello






Lacey Family Charitable Foundation, Inc.





Tomorrow's Leaders Program

FUTURES Tomorrow's Leaders enjoyed their experiences at their second seminar, "Economic Development." The day was filled with activities at Raydon Corporation and Command Medical Products.

Many thanks to Linda Lampman and Jayne Fifer who hosted a "Friendraiser" event in December raising $1,450 in donations to support the Take Stock in Children program.

January/February, 2015

Christopher Dowdell  

Volusia's Teacher of the Year 2016

Christopher J. Dowdell, a government/American economics teacher from DeLand High School, is Volusia County Schools' Teacher of the Year for 2016. He will serve as Volusia County's Teacher of the Year throughout this school year and next, representing all of Volusia's teachers.

Mr. Dowdell received his award before an audience of more than 900 friends of public education at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort on Friday, January 23, 2015. The announcement was made at a celebration presented by Halifax Health and co-hosted by FUTURES Foundation and Volusia County Schools.

"We are so proud of our teachers here in Volusia County, and we love to take any opportunity we can to highlight how amazing they are," said Brad Giles, FUTURES Foundation President. "Each year, they work so hard and continue to exceed the expectations set for them. It is a privilege and a pleasure to work with dedicated individuals throughout the county and witness first hand their impact on our students." 

"FUTURES Foundation's primary goal is to serve and to support these hard working education leaders. Our board feels very strongly that our teachers need to be praised, validated and celebrated as an incredible group of professionals. We are proud to have the opportunity to help host this special event."

Mr. Dowdell began his career with Volusia County Schools at Deltona High in 2000 where he taught social studies. In 2007, he moved to his alma mater, DeLand High, where he continues to teach social studies and coach the varsity boys soccer team and varsity girls flag football team. He holds a bachelors degree from the University of Central Florida.

Mr. Dowdell believes no strategy is as effective as providing hands-on, experiential learning. When students are active participants in their learning, it becomes easier to retain and apply the knowledge and concepts they are expected to master. This philosophy lead him to develop The Budget Project, a realistic simulation of an individual's financial life over a period of 15 years to include taxes, rent, utility bills, insurance, groceries and unexpected expenditures such as accidents and home repairs. Last spring, The Budget Project earned second place in the category of Financial Literacy at the annual Florida Council for Economic Education Governor's Award ceremony and is a copyrighted program that meets state requirements for teaching financial literacy standards.

A life-long learner, Mr. Dowdell collaborates with colleagues to improve himself as a teacher and contribute ideas to his peers. This is evidenced in the comment of a colleague who stated Mr. Dowdell "not is only a dedicated worker that handles individual responsibility, but he is an accomplished collaborator and leader."

In a letter of recommendation, Mitch Moyer, principal of DeLand High, wrote that Mr. Dowdell "is yet another example of a young man who grew up and went to school in his home community, worked for and secured his college degree and then returned home to give back and be a part of the pride and tradition that exists at Deland High School."

Described as "a primary example of what a teacher ought to be" by a colleague, Mr. Dowdell succeeds Grace Kellermeier, a French teacher from New Smyrna Beach High School, who was Volusia County's 2015 Teacher of the Year.

In addition to Mr. Dowdell, four other teachers received special recognition as finalists:

· Jennifer M. Lastowski, Algebra 2/Honors, University High

· Samantha Murray, Media Specialist, Spruce Creek High

· Sarah E. Sieg, Fourth Grade, Citrus Grove Elementary

· Margaret H. Williams, Art, Port Orange Elementary

Major sponsors of the Teacher of the Year celebration included presenting sponsor Halifax Health, Bank of America, Bright House Networks, Cobb Cole, Command Medical Products, Daytona International Speedway, Delta Dental, Florida Power & Light, Giles Electric Company, Rue Ziffra & Caldwell and University of Central Florida. Bronze sponsors included Aramark, Dr. Fred and Linda Costello, Florida Health Care Plan, Gateway Bank, Intracoastal Bank, Lacey Family Charitable Foundation, Reunion Bank, The Daytona Beach News-Journal and Volusia County Council of PTAs.

Leading the In-Kind sponsorships is Craig Conway at Diamond Motors who provides the use of a new automobile to the Teacher of the Year during his/her reign. This is Diamond Motors' fifth year in supplying a vehicle. Additional In-Kind sponsors included Dean Stewart Photography, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Express Printing, Jostens Inc., Mary's Flower Shoppe, Space Coast Credit Union, Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, Wet 'n Wild and Wishworks Media.

Dozens of businesses and organizations in Volusia County also contributed donations of goods and services to Volusia's Teacher of the Year program.


As the New Year arrives, Mini-Grant achievements are in high gear at schools all over Volusia County.  These projects and programs are funded by FUTURES, community sponsors and donors through FUTURES Find It Fund It Volusia.

Lorraine McLaughlin, Music Teacher at R.J. Longstreet Elementary informed that students have been learning techniques for playing the new percussion instruments obtained through the two mini-grant projects "Conga Cabana" and "Steam Roller" she received from FUTURES.  She stated that they have been experimenting with creating drum line style accompaniments using both traditional and nontraditional percussion instruments and have discovered a variety of different timbres they can create by using different parts of the percussion instruments.  She added they are learning and creating accompaniments for the song "Following the Drinking Gourd" and will use the skills they practice to create original compositions with their peers in the coming months. A school-wide drum circle is tentatively being planned for May.


Port Orange Elementary Art teacher Margaret Williams and Guidance Counselor Amy Otto are in the planning stage of creating a school patio garden with their grant "Fibonacci's Garden."  After completing some research on mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci fourth and fifth grade students were excited to design a garden where ART meets MATH and NATURE, just as Fibonacci had discovered hundreds of years ago.  Students began clearing the patio garden area and measured the concrete slab.  With assistance from their teachers, the students were able to figure out the square footage and cost of pavers for our Fibonacci inspired garden.  This month the real labor begins as the students assemble the pavers. 


Michelle Lindsey, teacher at Edgewater Public, shared that guest readers had read the first two chapters of The Tale of Despereaux to every classroom.  She stated that the entire school enjoyed reading the book together and watching the movie to compare and contrast with her grant project "Uniting Reading." Guests included Edgewater, Mayor Mike Ignasiak and Interim Superintendent Mr. James T. Russell.

2016 Teacher of the Year Chris Dowdell started the new Economics classes on his grant "The Budget Project" and stated that last semester was a smashing success and the students loved it. He added that he created pre- and post-tests as well as individual financial literacy topic quizzes to gauge mastery or targeted content so that he could have a better understanding of the project's impact on student learning by the end of this semester.  He was in the process of putting together project binders for other teachers and will be holding a workshop this month to introduce them to "The Budget Project." This mini-grant was funded by Thrivent Financial. 

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