As an Educator for 40 years at all levels in the classroom, and as a former educational institution president and Board chair , Dr. Robert "Bob" Abene has always believed that the safety and well-being of students must take precedence . Thus during the COVID-19 pandemic, he would strongly insist that options be given to all students and their families which would include receiving their education entirely on-line if they so desire. With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing, Dr. Abene would strongly recommend Virtual learning. (He is also very familiar with the dangers of viral transmissions because as an undergraduate premed student, prior to his later switch to education, he accepted special training to become and work as a Respiratory Therapist which was needed for others at that time).
For families needing help with the needed Virtual equipment nd assistance in the oversight of their children, he also believes the School Board and the City Council should provide the needed resources. If a hybrid or full at school, in-person teaching is still absolutely required, Dr. Abene would strongly recommend and pursue :
Reducing the number of students in classrooms.
Except when eating lunch, requiring all students, teachers, and staff to wear masks.
Whenever possible, organizing teaching and lunches on the outside grounds of the school.
When possible, have students eat lunch in their classrooms at their desk.
Add additional temporary portable/modular teaching buildings to increase classroom space.
To further reduce health risks, change teachers when possible, not students.
Reduce class size
As stated above, the COVID-19 increasing infestation of our community is reason enough to reduce class sizes. But even prior to this horrible virus, the overcrowding of classrooms with 40 or more students especially in Duval High Schools was occurring even though the state maximum was stated to be 25. You can not expect an environment that promotes teaching and encourages students to be focused on truly learning with such a large number of students in a classroom, especially since many times classes include a number of individuals who experience some learning challenges.
Increase business internships and career training opportunities
As Dr. Abene learned from his experience in the past as well as a Substitute Teacher for the past two years at the Duval Public Schools (DCPS) not all students know what they want to do when they graduate , and these students (most;y high school juniors and seniors) tend to be disinterested, uninvolved, and unmotivated in their classes as a result. To help increase more student interest and involvement, and reduce potential school dropout, utilizing his experience, Dr. Abene proposes the following:
Greatly increase the development of partnerships between DCPS and business leaders and colleges to initiate cooperative professional and trade internships, training, and apprenticeship electives and programs for these high school students.
These programs will increase students' interest, involvement, and engagement in their education, and provide them with broader career opportunities. It will also help the Duval area to have graduates trained to help their families and the community
Upon high school graduation, provide the students who successfully pursue and complete these programs, a certificate of completion in their trade or professional program.
Minimize classroom interruptions
In his years being a teacher in a number of communities , Dr. Abene has noticed how many factors interrupt the important teaching/learning process between teachers and students. He believes that some of the situations he has noticed in the Duval Public Schools should be closely studied and altered if they are lending themselves to these interruptions. Several of these include:
Some interruptions appear to be the result of scheduling concerns. For example, the length of class time, especially in the high schools, of 1 hour and 4o minutes may be too long for many students to concentrate on a subject. When high schools elsewhere utilize a 1 hour class time, they appear to have more focused students, as well as have time during the class day for student organizations to meet with their advisers to plan activities for both their club and all the students.
Lunch time especially in the high schools, needs to studied and altered from the current disruption resulting from lunch punctuating class time. This may require the need to expand lunchrooms, changes in scheduling, etc.
Another factor that appears to interrupt classroom teaching/learning process is the reduction of Teacher Assistants for classes of students with disabilities and language concerns. When available, these Assistants are a very valuable and needed addition to the teaching/learning process.
Despite school policies prohibiting the personal use of cell phones by students, it appears that their increasing use is quite an interruption of the teaching/learning process and must be studied and evaluated by all concerned in initiating a more effective approach to reduce this increasing classroom interruption.
Listen to Bob's radio interview!
As an Educator at all levels from preschool through doctoral, and as both a public and private educational institution administrator, president, and Board chair, I have experienced meeting and working with many wonderful teachers , staff, students and their families. I have also appreciated the opportunity to develop needed educational programs and buildings, while also correcting some serious building, program, and financial challenges.
If you care to read more about my past and more current involvement as an Educator, the following blog information created about me follows.
Robert "Bob" Abene, Ed.D.
About Dr. Robert "Bob" Abene
"A Lifetime Devoted to Educational Excellence"
Prominent administrator and educator Dr. Bob Abene has spent nearly four decades in higher education. Evidencing an overarching commitment to students, Dr. Bob Abene entered his discipline assisting youth at a children’s hospital school and as a high school counselor and psychology instructor. Prior to many high schools providing AP classes, he obtained post-secondary credit for his students. He also initiated a special award winning after school volunteer program that he attended and directed with his students at a residential psychiatric facility. In addition, he initiated a volunteer organization of fellow graduate students who offered weekend activity and luncheon programs in a neighborhood as an alternative to the growing number of gang activities occurring there. Recognizing his ability to develop needed programs, he was asked by one large community college to organize, develop, and direct a support program for students with disabilities, and in addition began a professional state-wide organization for those college personnel serving disabled college students.
From that initial foray, Dr. Bob Abene would go on to assume ever-increasing responsibilities as both an educational executive and an experienced consultant to post-secondary institutions. With extensive experience in a wide variety of professional settings, Dr. Bob Abene has held senior-level positions at Ancilla College, Marian University, Cardinal Stritch University, the Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology, and Barat College, among other organizations. While employed as President of Valdosta Technical College, Dr. Bob Abene oversaw nearly 300 full- and part-time staff members while increasing community presence and raising funds. He also researched and promoted the initiating of program partnerships between his College and the community public high schools.
Furthermore, Dr. Bob Abene has shown similar adeptness at coordinating multiple endeavors by capturing funding and providing long-term executive guidance simultaneously. While President of Valdosta Technical College, Dr. Bob Abene reorganized the Development/Foundation Office, and gave students an increasing voice in campus decision-making. To help greatly reduce the increasing number of high school dropouts, he also partnered with local groups to research the positive impact of offering more trade programs, electives, and apprenticeships with business partnerships—to name but a few of his successful ventures.
In 2008, Dr. Bob Abene became Chief Executive Officer of the Colleges of Occupational Excellence, and he built the organization from the ground up. In that role, Dr. Bob Abene captured federal and private funding and continued to induce high performance in staff through leadership of the highest caliber.
Dr. Bob Abene also began to assist his former mentor, Dr. Tom Emmet, in helping to place interested international students in US Colleges and Universities. After Dr. Emmet passed away and Dr. Abene and his family moved to Jacksonville FL in 2015, he continued assisting these efforts as the American University Partnership professional assisting Litmus Ventures international student outreach and placement efforts.
Dr. Abene also became an Officer in the Floridians Advocating Insurance Reform, an organization which his wife Patricia was also lending her professional assistance. He also has been very involved in voter registration efforts, conservation education and efforts including running for Office, and has been lending his Educational background since 2018 to be a needed Teacher Substitute for the Duval Public Schools as well as a well-known private secondary school.
Dr. Bob Abene is currently a 2020 Candidate for the Duval County School Board (District 3) position, where if winning, plans to work hand in hand with fellow teachers, parents, the Jacksonville community, and the students, being served, and all levels of local, state, and federal government to further strengthen and advance the Duval Public Schools.
Dr. Bob Abene holds a number of degrees, including a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Loyola University, a Master of Arts from DePaul University’s Institute of Exceptional Children and Adults, a Master of Science in Psychology from the University of St. Francis, and a Doctor of Education from Loyola University. As a Teacher Assistant at Michigan State University’s Speech Pathology Doctoral Program, he supervised undergraduate students working with severely disabled children. He also received a Rehabilitation Counseling Certificate from the University of Tennessee for completing a special graduate program where he worked with both public high school students and workers throughout the South who were deaf or seriously hearing impaired.
He has served as a member or officer on a number of college, labor relations and development, and community boards, and was the former President of the Illinois College Personnel Association. Dr. Bob Abene has received noteworthy recognition for his work, including the Indiana Conference of Higher Education Service Award, and the Special Administrative Service Award from the American College Personnel Association.
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Thank You! Bob Abene, Ed.D.
To donate, please send your name, address, and donation (cash limit of $50.00) or (check limit of $1,000) to:
Dr. Robert "Bob" Abene, Candidate
Duval School Board (Dist. 3)
P.O. Box 10044
Jacksonville, FL 32247
Thank you! Any Amount Greatly Appreciated