Catherine Atria
Principal, PK Yonge Developmental Research School at UF

In 1978, fresh out of a New Jersey high school, I came to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida. I haven’t left.

So, why Gainesville? Because Gainesville has:

  • The feeling of a small town – safe, personal, friendly, comfortable, easy
  • Vast educational opportunities and experiences offered by the University of Florida and Santa Fe College
  • Natural beauty – springs, rivers, parks, trails
  • The vibrancy of a college town
  • Proximity to larger cities without the congestion and noise
  • Easy coastal access – both east and west
  • Outstanding cultural events –  festivals, concerts, art shows, plays, athletic competitions
  • A diverse populace
  • Amazing local eateries
  • Access to dialog with government and educational leaders
  • Opportunities for building a successful career and a better life
  • A caring community dedicated to the democratic ideals of the nation
  • Parental voice and choice in K-12 education for their children

The last bullet, in my opinion, is a defining quality of Alachua County, and where I have spent over two decades working with Alachua County Public Schools, St. Leo University, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School and the College of Education at the University of Florida.

What I have learned in this time as a teacher, a district office supervisor, an adjunct professor in a teacher preparation program, an assistant principal and principal is how fortunate we are to have so many institutions within our reach who focus on improving educational experiences and opportunities for each and every student. The richness of ideas, the diversity of strategies, the designing and testing of curricula are taking place around us, among us, and with us. Our students – no matter where they go to public school – are directly and immediately impacted by the most current research-based practices.

Expert researchers in various areas of education are at our fingertips and invite partnerships to know more and do better for students. We have the ability to put current trends into practice, now. We don’t have to wait for the community to ‘catch up’ because our community is among the leaders in the pack! We are not perfect – no educational institutions are. But we do have local capacity to identify an issue, and design and implement an action plan. We have a diverse, educated populace willing to engage in discourse about sensitive topics and utilize key resources in our community to solve problems.

Why Gainesville? Because education is fundamental to a prosperous life. And if you desire choice in educational programs for your children from committed educators with knowledge of current best instructional practices, this is where you want to live.

I was just blessed with my first grandchild. My daughter and her husband do not live in Alachua County. It is unlikely my grandchild will attend school here. I assured them that in five years, some of Alachua County and Gainesville will be coming to them. They asked me to bring it.

About The Author

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.