For A Better Us

July 6, 2017

Roaring with Pride

First Coast YMCA’s Tiger Academy Named a ‘B’ School

Tiger Academy, the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast charter school, was recently named a ‘B’ school by the Florida Department of Education. Additionally, Tiger Academy was within one percentage point of the Department’s grading scale of receiving an ‘A’ rating.

Average 2017 Florida Standard Assessment (FSA) scores for Tiger Academy students jumped from 40 points to 53 points in reading, representing a 75 percent increase from 2016. Math scores grew from 37 points to 58 points, a 63 percent increase.

“We are thrilled with Tiger Academy’s new rating as a ‘B’ school, which reflects our commitment to offering a high-quality education to our students,” said Tiger Academy Principal Charles McWhite. “This achievement is a joint effort of our staff, our board, community leaders and, most importantly, our parents and their scholars.”

Tiger Academy is a free public charter school located in Northwest Jacksonville. It is operated by the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. Through a unique partnership with the Johnson Family YMCA, Tiger Academy’s students enjoy enrichment opportunities and benefit from family support services.

“Tiger’s terrific ‘B’ grade is an external validation of a powerful internal school discipline and culture combining rigorous academics and nurturing teacher/student interaction that helps the children soar to the height of their ability,” said Peggy Bryan, Chair, First Coast YMCA Metropolitan Board of Directors. “It’s so exciting and wonderfully well earned!”

Tiger Academy Board Chairman Ted Baker also shared his gratification for the charter school’s significant accomplishment. “I would like to congratulate the Tiger students, parents and staff. It is great to see so much hard work rewarded.”

To learn more about the Y’s Tiger Academy, visit YMCATigerAcademy.org.

First Coast YMCA’s Tiger Academy Named a ‘B’ School Tiger Academy, the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast charter school, was recently named a ‘B’ school by the Florida Department of Education. Additionally, Tiger Academy was within one percentage point of the Department’s grading scale of receiving an ‘A’ rating. Average 2017 Florida Standard Assessment (FSA) scores for Tiger Academy students jumped from 40 points to 53 points in reading, representing a 75 percent increase from 2016. Math scores grew from 37 points to 58 points, a 63 percent increase. “We are thrilled with Tiger Academy’s new rating as a ‘B’ school, which reflects our commitment to offering a high-quality education to our students,” said Tiger Academy Principal Charles McWhite. “This achievement is a joint effort of our staff, our board, community leaders and, most importantly, our parents and their scholars.” Tiger Academy is a free public charter school located in Northwest Jacksonville. It is operated…


January 4, 2017

Robotics Program Launching at Brooks Family YMCA

In an effort to engage more children in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities, the Brooks Family YMCA officially announced a new engineering program—Robotics. The program is set to debut on Jan. 17 with free classes open to YMCA members and their children ages 6 to 14.

This program is part of the Y’s effort to create more experiences for children to explore opportunities through STEM that nurture their curiosity, inspire their creativity, help them develop critical-thinking skills and teach them how to succeed.

Two classes included in the program are the Junior First Lego League for children who are 6 to 9 years old and the First Lego League for those who are 10 to 14 years old. Classes will also be available to non-members with a $75 monthly fee.

Rajiv Gupta, former software developer with the City of Jacksonville and a First Coast resident since 2000, was recently named instructor of the robotics program.

“We are proud to have Rajiv Gupta lead our engineering and robotics program here at the Brooks Y,” said Brooks Family YMCA Executive Director Carl Simcox. “The Y aims to help all children reach their full potential by supporting their unique youth development journeys and we’re excited to see this new STEM initiative in action.”

Through a grant provided by the University of North Florida, Gupta has volunteered each weekend since 2008 with elementary and middle-age students, teaching the basics and fundamentals of science and engineering through a robotics curriculum. After nearly eight years of volunteering, Gupta will continue to dedicate his time and services as a proud employee of the YMCA.

“I want to inspire kids to become interested in science and technology through robotics,” Gupta said. “My philosophy—make science easy—motivates me to help our youth discover the fun and impact of this subject.”

With 11 years of robotics teaching experience, Gupta earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Jai Narain Vyas University in Rajasthan, India and an MBA from the University of Rajasthan. Gupta currently works for Landstar, a company that specializes in logistics and supply chain solutions.

To enroll your child in the Brooks Family YMCA Robotics program, please visit the Welcome Center or contact Deb Barley at dbarley@firstcoastymca.org. For more information about the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast, visit FirstCoastYMCA.org.

In an effort to engage more children in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities, the Brooks Family YMCA officially announced a new engineering program—Robotics. The program is set to debut on Jan. 17 with free classes open to YMCA members and their children ages 6 to 14. This program is part of the Y’s effort to create more experiences for children to explore opportunities through STEM that nurture their curiosity, inspire their creativity, help them develop critical-thinking skills and teach them how to succeed. Two classes included in the program are the Junior First Lego League for children who are 6 to 9 years old and the First Lego League for those who are 10 to 14 years old. Classes will also be available to non-members with a $75 monthly fee. Rajiv Gupta, former software developer with the City of Jacksonville and a First Coast resident since 2000, was recently named instructor of the…


April 22, 2016

A Passion Turned Payoff

Tiger Academy’s Susan Harper Receives a Big Surprise

Teaching for 42 years has taught Susan Harper many lessons, but none prepared her for the surprise she received this week at Tiger Academy. The kindergarten teacher learned she was one of four recipients of the 2016 Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching. Each recipient received $15,000.

“It was a big, big surprise,” said Harper with tear-filled eyes. Cheers filled her classroom as Harper held a bouquet of roses and received a hug
from principal Charles McWhite.

“I call them my kids,” said Harper of her students as they began to run up and hug her. Her dedication quickly became evident, as Harper swiftly resumed teaching her students despite the media presence, camera flashes, and applause.

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The Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence are among the largest monetary awards for teachers in the nation.

Gilchrist Berg, a Jacksonville-area businessman and longtime YMCA supporter, established the awards in 1998 to honor his 4th grade teacher, Gladys Prior. Teachers are nominated based on criteria including evidence of sustained inspiration to students, evidence of sustained teaching excellence and 10 or more years in the classroom.

Harper feels that part of her students’ success lies in her practice of never placing limits on them of what they can accomplish.

“Tiger Academy is delighted that Ms. Harper has been honored for her dedication,” said principal Charles McWhite. “She continues to push her students towards greater academic achievement, and we hope she will continue to develop young minds in our community for many more years to come.”

Through a unique partnership with the First Coast YMCA, Tiger Academy focuses on providing a nurturing learning environment while emphasizing rigorous learning academic standards, personal responsibility, character development, and strong family involvement.

The other recipients of this year’s Gladys Prior Awards are Scott Sowell, a science teacher at Darnell-Cookman Middle / High School; Judy Reppert, a social students and civics teacher at Martin J. Gottlieb Day School; and Mark McGiveron, a math teacher at Fletcher Middle School.

Tiger Academy’s Susan Harper Receives a Big Surprise Teaching for 42 years has taught Susan Harper many lessons, but none prepared her for the surprise she received this week at Tiger Academy. The kindergarten teacher learned she was one of four recipients of the 2016 Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching. Each recipient received $15,000. “It was a big, big surprise,” said Harper with tear-filled eyes. Cheers filled her classroom as Harper held a bouquet of roses and received a hug
from principal Charles McWhite. “I call them my kids,” said Harper of her students as they began to run up and hug her. Her dedication quickly became evident, as Harper swiftly resumed teaching her students despite the media presence, camera flashes, and applause. The Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence are among the largest monetary awards for teachers in the nation. Gilchrist Berg, a Jacksonville-area businessman and longtime YMCA supporter, established the awards in…


February 25, 2016

MEET ZOE: The Newest Presidential Candidate

YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) today launched Zoe for President, a campaign to elect a one-year-old girl as our nation’s Commander in Chief…in 2064. The campaign highlights the potential the Y sees in all kids to grow up and change the world if they’re nurtured properly and supported along the way. Through Y initiatives like childcare, academic enrichment, mentorship, college prep, job training, and more, kids have the opportunities to succeed, grow, and one day, maybe even become president. The Y aims to impart the values of what it means to achieve—how hard work, determination, perseverance and character can drive someone to success beyond what they thought possible.

Like all candidates, Zoe has her own campaign website, ZoeForPresident.net, where users can donate to her campaign, watch videos of her stance on issues and shop for swag. When users donate to Zoe’s campaign, they are donating to their local Y and supporting the programs and services that enable kids like Zoe to thrive from childhood to old age.

“While Zoe for President is a breath of fresh air during a heated campaign cycle, every child, regardless of background, needs support and guidance to reach their full potential,” said Kevin Washington, president and CEO, YMCA of the USA. “Our campaign will address actual issues that America’s communities are faced with each day like access to early childhood education, safe space, meal assistance, and the Y’s role in solving the challenges head on.”


Zoe In the News:
The Y Nominates Zoe for President
Move Over Clinton, Trump: YMCA Backs a Toddler for President
Still Looking for a Candidate That’s Truly Likable? Meet Zoe
One-Year-Old Girl Runs for President in Latest YMCA Campaign

YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) today launched Zoe for President, a campaign to elect a one-year-old girl as our nation’s Commander in Chief…in 2064. The campaign highlights the potential the Y sees in all kids to grow up and change the world if they’re nurtured properly and supported along the way. Through Y initiatives like childcare, academic enrichment, mentorship, college prep, job training, and more, kids have the opportunities to succeed, grow, and one day, maybe even become president. The Y aims to impart the values of what it means to achieve—how hard work, determination, perseverance and character can drive someone to success beyond what they thought possible. Like all candidates, Zoe has her own campaign website, ZoeForPresident.net, where users can donate to her campaign, watch videos of her stance on issues and shop for swag. When users donate to Zoe’s campaign, they are donating to their local Y and supporting the programs and services that enable…


October 29, 2015

We Believe in Endless Opportunity

We believe that all kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve. That’s why, through the Y, more youth today are cultivating the values, skills and relationships that lead to positive behaviors, better health and educational achievement.


BCB_WINNERS STAMP_BEST_SUMMER CAMP

Check out the REAL IMPACT we had on our youth across the First Coast during Summer Day Camp 2015. We’re also proud to have been named the 2015 winner for Bold City Best Summer Camp!

Details coming soon on our new summer day camp adventure that begins June 2016!

We believe that all kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve. That’s why, through the Y, more youth today are cultivating the values, skills and relationships that lead to positive behaviors, better health and educational achievement. Check out the REAL IMPACT we had on our youth across the First Coast during Summer Day Camp 2015. We’re also proud to have been named the 2015 winner for Bold City Best Summer Camp! Details coming soon on our new summer day camp adventure that begins June 2016!


September 26, 2015

YMCA of Florida’s First Coast Named Duval Health Hero

First Coast YMCA honored for efforts to prevent childhood obesity

Photo courtesy: Healthy Jacksonville Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition

Photo courtesy: Healthy Jacksonville Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Sept. 21, 2015 – The Healthy Jacksonville Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition (HJCOPC) honored the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast with the 2015 “Heart of the Community” Organizational Leadership Award. The First Coast YMCA joined 14 other local organizations recognized as Duval County Health Heroes at the “Celebrating Healthy Kids and Active Communities Awards Breakfast” hosted by the HJCOPC Friday, Sept. 11. The annual gathering commemorates National Childhood Obesity Prevention Awareness Month and provides a forum to honor 15 local organizations and individuals for their commitment to helping children grow up healthy throughout Duval County.

“Obesity puts our children at risk for heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions that they shouldn’t have to worry about.” said Eric Mann, President and CEO of the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. “In an effort to strengthen our community and help all children achieve and lead healthy lives, the Y is committed to providing direct services, adopting policies and standards, and creating environments that combat and prevent childhood obesity.”

The Y helps to prevent childhood obesity through its before and afterschool programs, which feature the evidence-based program designed to promote healthy eating and increased physical activity, Youth Fit For Life (YFFL). In partnership with Americorps members, the Y provides participants with a 12-week program that includes three weekly nutrition lessons and physical activity to more than 2,700 children ages 5-13 participate each year. In 2014, 66 percent of participants entered the program with a BMI indicating a healthy weight, while 18 percent were overweight and 16 percent of participants were considered obese. By the end of the program, participants considered to be at a healthy weight increased by 7 percent, while the number of overweight or obese participants decreased by 4 percent and 3 percent respectively.

“We are seeing measurable changes that add up to a better quality of life for the children and families in our community, said Jennifer Martin, Vice President of Healthy Living, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. “By integrating programs and standards that help to prevent childhood obesity into Y programs and services, we are effectively working towards our goal of building a healthier, stronger First Coast.”

Each year, more than 6,000 children benefit from Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards implemented in Y summer and after school programs as well as YMCA Kidzones, and Tiger Academy, the YMCA’s charter school. HEPA standards create a healthier environment by targeting areas including healthy eating, physical activity, role modeling and family engagement.

The First Coast YMCA creates an environment supportive of childhood obesity prevention through a variety of programs and events. Y vertical gardens projects, a program that served more than 70 youth at the 21st Century Summer Camp at Jacksonville Heights and continues to grow across Northeast Florida, teaches students about plant biology and nutrition as they build and engineer vertical tower gardens. Each year, thousands of local children participate in Y youth sports – a starting point for developing healthy habits. As the partner of the First Coast Kids Triathlon, the Y trained 255 young athletes at local branches to compete with more than 2,500 at this year’s event. Annual events including Healthy Kids Day, which reaches more than 5,000 local parents and youth, and the Back to School Bash, which provides families with services including sports physicals, nutrition education and other programs, offer resources to improve the health of the entire family.

First Coast YMCA honored for efforts to prevent childhood obesity JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Sept. 21, 2015 – The Healthy Jacksonville Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition (HJCOPC) honored the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast with the 2015 “Heart of the Community” Organizational Leadership Award. The First Coast YMCA joined 14 other local organizations recognized as Duval County Health Heroes at the “Celebrating Healthy Kids and Active Communities Awards Breakfast” hosted by the HJCOPC Friday, Sept. 11. The annual gathering commemorates National Childhood Obesity Prevention Awareness Month and provides a forum to honor 15 local organizations and individuals for their commitment to helping children grow up healthy throughout Duval County. “Obesity puts our children at risk for heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions that they shouldn’t have to worry about.” said Eric Mann, President and CEO of the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. “In an effort to strengthen our community and help all children achieve and lead healthy lives,…


Mission Statement: To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.