News and Events

  • October 20, 2021

    UWCK Launches Marine Science Resource Guide

    Balancing the fun and adventure of the Florida Keys with marine stewardship and sustainability is no easy task. The United Way of Collier and the Keys has taken a big step in bringing both of those worlds together. As part of the partnership with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), UWCK has launched a comprehensive Marine Science Resource Guide. Found at it is a free online portal for residents and visitors- a place to find excursions, educational opportunities, and careers centered around marine science in the Florida Keys.

    “This is a one-stop guide to over one hundred opportunities available right here in the Florida Keys,” said Leah Stockton, Florida Keys Area President. “Residents and visitors are often unaware of how much our community has to offer for educational and experiential options to explore the wonders available right in our backyards. The importance of building that connection engaging residents with the marine environment is critical to the future of restoration and conservation efforts.”

    The Marine Science Resource Guide is part of UWCK’s broader initiative of revitalizing the Florida Keys through reef restoration and complementary educational efforts. It is the only guide that offers Keys residents and visitors a listing of educational opportunities throughout Monroe County including camps, school programs, and educational facilities focused on marine stewardship and sustainability. Additionally, there are links to a variety of excursions to experience the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary such as eco-tours and scuba trips, as well as local volunteer and career opportunities.

    “This resource guide and the larger effort of UWCK with the UAE underscores our obligation to inspire community engagement through education,” said Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Sarah Fangman. “It is complementary to sustainability programs like our Blue Star operators, who educate their guests on how to recreate responsibly in the Keys.”

    Offerings in the guide are available for both children and adults and are intended to foster engagement and inspire conservation efforts. Marine science and community organizations are encouraged to add the guide’s link to their own websites. For revisions or additions to the guide, please contact UWCK at

  • May 27, 2021      

    <Monroe /> COMPUTE$ AWARDS $56,000 to MCSD STUDENTS in 2020-2021

     More Certifications Expected During Summer Programs!                                                                            

    “Monroe County School District IT and Computer Science students earned over 500 industry certifications during the 2020-2021 school year ,” according to Theresa Axford, MCSD Superintendent.  “Students earned $56,000 in <Monroe /> COMPUTE$ prizes during the regular school year, with more expected during the district’s many summer programs.  This is an impressive showing by our students in such a difficult year.”

    “Monroe County students continue to set the standard for excellence in industry certifications,” explained Sibba Mira, MCSD Career and Technical Education Coordinator.  “In a year when students continue to face unprecedented challenges, our Computer Science and Internet Technology students continue to rise to the occasion by earning hundreds of national industry certifications.”

    MCSD students are highly motivated, thanks in large part to the incentives provided by <Monroe /> COMPUTE$, which rewards students with cash prizes for earning certifications.  The prizes range from $50 to $500 depending on the difficulty of the certification exam.  In addition to the industry certification exam incentives, <Monroe /> COMPUTE$ also awards students with $250 incentives for passing Advance Placement Computer Science end of course exams.

    <Monroe /> COMPUTES will continue partnering with MCSD through June 2022, by pledging over $100,000 in incentives to students earning CompTIA, CIW, Microsoft, Adobe, Autodesk, QuickBooks, and Digital Literacy certifications in grades 4-12.  

    Students will have even more options to choose from, as district schools continue to add new industry certification opportunities to meet student interest and workplace demand.  “Students can earn hundreds of dollars, while learning valuable computer skills necessary to compete in today’s global economy,” said John Padget, co-founder of the Golden Fleece Foundation which funds <Monroe /> COMPUTES. 

  • May 3, 2021

    Schools, Health Department work together to vaccinate students

    Vaccines will be offered for students

    The Monroe County Health Department can procure adequate does of the Pfizer vaccine to vaccinate all Monroe County youth ages 16 and up.  If you are interested in receiving the vaccine for your student, please fill out the survey below.  We will be making appointments and announcing sites based on your needs.  Parents must be present for students under 18.  We are excited about providing this opportunity to students!

  • April 24 2021


    $26,350 in <Monroe /> COMPUTE$ Incentive Checks Presented to MCSD Students. 

         Over two hundred Monroe County School District students received incentive checks, totaling $26,350, from <Monroe /> COMPUTE$ this week, according to Superintendent Theresa Axford.  The students, in grades 4-12, each received between $50 and $500 for earning an industry computer science certification in Microsoft, Adobe, AutoCAD, and IC3 Digital Literacy during the second and third marking periods. 

         This brings the total prize money to $34,300 with plenty of incentive opportunities left before the end of the school year.  “<Monroe /> COMPUTE$ continues to be a positive, motivational program for our students during these challenging times,” said Superintendent Theresa Axford.  “The incentives provided by John Padget and <Monroe /> COMPUTE$, continue to motivate our students to earn industry certifications, while learning valuable computer skills that will help them in school and in their future college and career endeavors.”

         Coral Shores High School led the way with forty-eight students earning the highly coveted industry certifications, many of which are worth three college credits, in addition to the cash incentives from <Monroe /> COMPUTE$.  Sugarloaf School led all district middle schools with twenty-eight industry certifications.

        <Monroe />COMPUTE$ recently increased the cash incentive for Microsoft Office Specialist completers from $250 to $500 to help students struggling with financial hardships during Covid-19.<Monroe /> COMPUTES has pledged over $100,000 in incentives to students earning <Microsoft, Adobe, Autodesk, QuickBooks, and Digital Literacy certifications in grades 4-12.  The program has contributed to the exponential growth of students taking computer science courses in Monroe County.   “Students can earn while they learn if they sign up now,” said John Padget, co-founder of the Golden Fleece Foundation which funds <Monroe /> COMPUTES.

  • April 20, 2021

    Monroe County School Students Earn Awards at State Science Competition

         Monroe County School District (MCSD) students participated in the virtual State Science and Engineering Fair (SSEF) this year and five entries earned state level recognition.  Sebastian McCoy, from Key Largo School, placed third in the junior division for his “Lighting Up the Sky” experiment and received a nomination to Broadcom Masters Middle School Science Competition. Special award designations at the state level were earned by Robert Aleman of Key Largo School, the duo of Kevin Nguyen and Nathaniel Cabrera from Sigsbee Charter School and the trio of Laira Gomer, Diana Diaz and Brook Barrow of Coral Shores High School. 

         Eight projects were submitted for the state fair competition based on the results of the MCSD Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Fair held earlier this year.  Participation at the MCSD fair included 189 students who submitted individual or team projects to be judged in the 8th annual showcase. The unique online judging platform used for this year’s virtual fairs created a shift in format of the traditional entry style.  Students had to create videos or slideshows to showcase their projects.

         “Teachers and students took on the challenge of virtual participation and flourished,” said MCSD Science Coordinator Melissa Alsobrooks.  “They produced some of the best projects we have ever had and the judges were very impressed.”

         Judges for the MCSD STEM fair were from Florida International University, the Dolphin Research Center, College of the Florida Key, National Weather Service, Reef Relief, Coral Restoration Foundation and Key West Botanical Garden.  Evaluation criteria included research methods and procedures, data analysis, and communication/presentation skills. The district STEM fair yielded three grand award winners at the elementary level, and four grand award winners in both the middle school and high school levels.  The grand award winners from middle and high school had the opportunity to enter the next level of competition after refining their projects and preparing them for state guidelines.

    MCSD high school grand award winners:
    Aidan Austin – Coral Shores High School. Topic: How did the Keys closing affect our oceans?
    Ryann Castle – Coral Shores High School. Topic: The true definition of green buildings.
    Nina Bowen – Key West High School. Topic: The effects of high concentrations of nitrates and phosphates in runoff.
    Laira Gomer, Brooke Barrow, Diana Diaz – Coral Shores High School. Topic: Rockin’ Rocket experiments.

    MCSD middle school grand award winners:
    Robert Aleman – Key Largo School. Topic: Does Bisphenol A leach into soil after being heated?
    Sebastian Jeanpierre – Horace O’Bryant School. Topic: Which mask is the safest?
    Sebastian McCoy – Key Largo School. Topic: Lighting up the sky
    Nathanial Cabrera and Kevin Nguyen – Sigsbee Charter School. Topic:  Sound barriers!

    MCSD elementary school grand award winners:
    Alex Rudolph - Ocean Studies Charter School. Topic: Fertilizer in the ocean
    Sawyer Hill – Poinciana Elementary Topic: Water rocket
    Autumn Dawn Bodziak – Ocean Studies Charter School. Topic: Dissolving fish hooks

    The full listing of science fair participants and projects, including the winners at the state and local level can be found at