SARASOTA, FL – Hershorin Schiff Community Day School, a Sarasota private Jewish day school that serves children of all faiths in preschool through eighth grade, has received a gift of $500,000 from Barbara and Gary Rodkin in support of its “Owning Our Future” campaign. The contribution will name The Rodkin Family Lower School Building – the preschool – on the school’s new 8.8-acre campus, the former Suncoast School for Innovative Studies / Temple Baptist Church property at the corner of McIntosh and Wilkinson Roads. Community Day School plans to open at the new location for the 2021-2022 school year.
The campaign, which is being chaired by Darren and Rachel Saltzberg, has already brought in more than enough to purchase the property outright and get the school on its way to paying for construction on the site. The “Owning Our Future” goal currently is $8.8 million over the property cost, to be raised through a comprehensive five-year campaign.
Barbara Rodkin has worked in the areas of psychology, child development and education, with children and their families, in both clinical and educational settings in the cities she and her family have lived. Gary Rodkin is a past CEO of ConAgra Foods and Tropicana, and former CEO and president of the North America division of PepsiCo.
The Rodkins became aware of Community Day School years ago when their children were younger and attended private school in Bradenton; they report that around one-third of the school’s population was Jewish and that their kids would attend Hebrew school with a cohort of their school friends. Their son became bar mitzvah at Temple Beth Sholom and a number of their non-Jewish friends’ children attended the temple’s nursery school (now Community Day’s preschool). The Rodkins have long appreciated the diversity of the school population; the relationship with Community Day was cemented after a visit and tour in November.
Barbara is now a trustee on the Community Day School board and the couple are visionary donors to the school’s “Owning Our Future” campaign.
“You walk through this school and you say, ‘I want my kids to go here!’” said Barbara. “We want the Jewish community here to be successful and the school to be there for a long time. We encourage others to meet [the Head of School] Dan Ceaser and the teachers – they have an incredibly dedicated faculty that really cares about the students and their individual needs.”
Construction on the new school buildings is underway. The school held the “Beyond the Groundbreaking” celebration for its new facilities in late January.
Community Day School, which has attracted attention from communities across the country interested in learning more about its operations, is noted for its unique educational model that combines a global vision, religious and cultural diversity, project-based learning, small class sizes, service learning, and community partnerships.
“I believe the school can have a positive impact on the community with the values that are instilled in students: respect, inclusion and intellectual curiosity,” said Gary Rodkin. “The kids who go through Community Day School will figure out how to make the world a better place.”
For more about Community Day School or to learn how to get involved with the “Owning Our Future” campaign, go to communityday.org or call 941-552-2770.
About Hershorin Schiff Community Day School
The mission of the Hershorin Schiff Community Day School, which serves students in preschool through eighth grade, is to impact the world by creating a community where children of all faiths demonstrate integrity, academic excellence, and a desire to improve the world. Community Day offers a rigorous, project-based academic program in a diverse and vibrant learning environment rooted in the Jewish values of honesty, integrity, mutual trust and respect. For more information, visit the website at communityday.org or call (941) 552-2770.