By: Phil Poekert, Center Director
The UF Lastinger Center for Learning entered 2023 in celebration. The prior year was filled with great anticipation and, as hoped and planned, commemorations of our 20th anniversary of operations – a gala, Lastinger Legends awards, a documentary, and a podcast series to elevate the pioneers that inspired the original spirit of the Center. For the past 20 years, the Lastinger Center has worked to transform teaching and learning through creative, innovative approaches to education. Inspired by the vision and leadership of our founders, faculty, funders and friends, we’ve had the opportunity to support millions of people in their learning journeys. The look back at our past resulted in the first submission to the UF Archives from the Lastinger Center.
In addition to our celebrations, much was accomplished this past year. We launched our strategic plan for 2022-2025, rebooted our advisory board, and expanded our team. We connected with educators and hosted professional learning activities, delivered hundreds of thousands of books to children’s homes, developed and launched Florida’s first legislatively recognized literacy micro-credential, tested programming for mathematics professional learning, and shared interactive reading guides with educators and families. We improved our technology for course delivery to enhance others’ learning, built infrastructure to manage and analyze data to optimize learning, and shared our learning through published reports and scholarly papers.
The good work of the Lastinger Center team has resulted in a number of accolades, including members of our team taking on leadership roles in various associations, the Center itself taking on the role of a Goal Leader for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2030 goal for 8th grade mathematics, and me being recognized as the #1 Principal Investigator at the University of Florida.
We have achieved much, and there is still much to do to launch us into the next 20 years. In Allen and Delores Lastinger’s words, the Lastinger Center is for “helping teachers teach and students learn.” We plan to sustain that charge for generations to come.