Education Trends

three Highschool students sitting on the lawnClass Act

For years, Indian River State College has been a beacon of higher learning providing quality, affordable education to students. In March 2022, the college launched the Promise Program, making the road to getting a two-year degree even more accessible for area high school graduates...


Game Changer

John Buck entertains, teaches and engages classrooms of middle school students for an hour with nary a screen in sight.

How is the miracle achieved? The feat is due to Lagoonology, the interactive, room-size board game he invented.

At the heart of the game is a map — a huge map — of the Indian River Lagoon. Teams of four to 24 students gather around the 35-by-120-inch board, with each team representing the real-life major lagoon disruptors of Agriculture, Community, Business and Recreation. As they go around the board, they pick up action cards that result in gaining or losing assets, determined by reading the impact cards.

Kendy Campusano, a registered nursing student

Nursing a Bright Future

In December 2020, renowned philanthropist MacKenzie Scott opened the door to life-changing opportunities when she pledged $45 million to Indian River State College. It was the largest individual donation in the college’s 60-year history.

The endowment was part of Scott’s commitment to donate the...

Laura Kauffmann


Kauffmann enjoys the diversity of her students who come from all backgrounds and have ranged in age from 14 to 89. Reaching students who are on so many different levels and have such a wide difference in experiences requires creativity, empathy and a wide range of tools and knowledge...

Jessica Urbay


Urbay’s special talent as a teacher has caught the attention of local school officials. In December, she was recognized as Martin County’s Teacher of the Year by the Martin County Education Foundation.

Born in Stuart, Urbay began her schooling at...

Getting an education

Lesson plans

In March of last year, local schools shut down for the remainder of the academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic, disrupting end-of-year plans. With school buses once more visible weekday mornings, it’s hard to tell how many students are actually attending area brick-and-mortar facilities.

Unlike some areas, Treasure Coast schools opened in the fall with changes that balanced bolstering students’ skills with safeguarding them from illness. Indian River County started...

John Millay

Connecting the dots

John Millay, Martin County’s new school superintendent, says he always planned to move to Florida at some point later in his life. After a 27-year career building academic success as a teacher, principal and school superintendent in Kentucky, Millay was ready to make the move, but not retire. When the position for superintendent in Martin County opened, the timing and the opportunity seemed just right.

“I love it here!” he says with enthusiasm. “The community is vibrant. The people are passionate about education which sometimes those passions run strong — and that is a good thing. I would rather see passion for education and values than the lack thereof. They believe in education, and they value it, and it’s a beautiful place to live.”

Ben Swalwell

Treasure Coast Personalities


Many people might say 2020 has been the worst year of their lives. Not so for Ben Swalwell. In 2020, he completed his bachelor’s degree, bought his first home, welcomed his first child and started his first teaching job. Pandemic aside, it was a good year for the Swalwell family.

Born and raised in a very small town near York, England, he has traveled...


Maggie Baker

Treasure Coast Personalities


Most students are reprimanded for making noise in class, but it’s just the opposite in Maggie Baker’s drama class at Saint Edward’s School in Vero Beach where she teaches the art of Foley sound effects. Children giddy with laughter learn to write their own scripts, act them out silently, then produce and edit the sound effects to match the action.

“This course is given to all sixth graders at Saint Edward’s Lower School,” Baker said. “And if you’ve had any experience with sixth graders you know that they are antsy and full of energy, so offering a class where they learn how to make new noises is just what they need to break up their day.”

Judge Darren Steele

Treasure Coast Personalities


Many in the legal community of the 19th Circuit know Darren Steele as a distinguished county court judge who serves in Martin County. Appointed to the bench by Gov. Crist in 2009, Steele oversees misdemeanor and juvenile cases.

Yet many may not be aware that in his spare time, Steele is an adjunct professor at Indian River State College. The judge, who joined the faculty in 2016, teaches courses in criminal justice and paralegal studies. A natural in the classroom, the college recognized him in 2019 as Adjunct Professor of the Year for public service education.


Shining bright for 60 years

Indian River State College this year is celebrating a milestone: 60 years of service to the Treasure Coast and Okeechobee County. The past six decades, marked by exceptional growth and significant progress, include the evolution of Indian River State College from a small junior college into a comprehensive community college, to one of Florida’s first four-year state colleges, to the Top College in the Nation.

In honor of its diamond anniversary, IRSC has events planned throughout 2020 that will recognize the leading role the college has played in the development of our region and the extraordinary impact IRSC has had on tens-of-thousands of students. Celebratory activities will highlight students, faculty members, employees, branch campuses, alumni and others.

The college invites community members to mark their calendars for the IRSC 60th Anniversary Block Party, taking place on Main Campus in Fort Pierce on Saturday, May 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This free event will feature live entertainment, food trucks, fun and educational activities for children and teens, as well as tours and tips for anyone interested in attending college. IRSC academic departments and student organizations will offer hands-on activities and interactive demonstrations designed to delight and dazzle.

Sixty years of milestones

The Florida Legislature establishes IRJC and Lincoln Junior College (LJC) to offer general education programs for university transfer.

The first 348 IRJC students take classes at 310 Preston Court behind Fort Pierce Elementary School. The first LJC students attend classes at Lincoln Park Academy, where Leroy C. Floyd Jr. is President.

Finding their voice

For 60 years, Indian River State College has enjoyed countless advancements, seen momentous change and experienced historic growth. Throughout it all, there has been no greater priority than student success.

The college’s diverse student population represents Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties, and varies widely in age, background, and circumstance. Their collective stories of accomplishment and perseverance is what drives and motivates IRSC faculty, staff and administrative employees each day.

The following vignettes highlight a selection of these extraordinary students and their successes.

Embracing the Treasure Coast’s workforce needs

For 60 years at Indian River State College, a top priority always has been serving the community. Nowhere is that mission more apparent than in the college’s efforts to train and develop a workforce for the needs of today and tomorrow.

Business owners in St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River and Okeechobee counties petitioned the Florida Legislature to create a junior college here, with their wish being fulfilled in 1960. Before the college, there was a complete dearth of job training opportunities unless students were willing and able to travel at least 100 miles to attend college.

architectural rendering

Building a workforce for the future

As it has done so many times in the past, Indian River State College is prepared to anticipate tomorrow’s needs in education and workforce training with a much-needed new facility to help our region advance and prosper. The new 55,000-square-foot Treasure Coast Advanced Manufacturing Center, which links advanced technology and leading-edge industry training, will fulfill employers’ requirements and meet key areas of workforce need.

The $23.3 million industrial technology center will offer programs that emphasize modern workforce training in the era of smart manufacturing, automation and industry. Planned for a site adjacent to the Tomeu Center on Main Campus in Fort Pierce, the TCAMC will create a strong synergy with the nearby Kight Center for Emerging Technologies and the Brown Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Enriching our culture

Indian River State College serves as a vital community resource that offers enrichment opportunities of all kinds for all ages. With performances, programs, and events that range from theater, to lectures on timely topics, to summer camps and activities for children, IRSC campuses welcome thousands of residents each year who enjoy all that the college offers.

Taking the lead role in more than 30 performances annually, IRSC students who major in theatre, dance or music demonstrate their talents in the McAlpin OnStage series, which fosters a comprehensive foundation for future educational and professional pursuits. Facilities utilized by the performing and visual arts programs — such as the Fee Dance Studio, art studio space, classrooms and rehearsal rooms — all emphasize the college’s commitment to the development of a well-rounded student.

IRSC President Dr. Edwin Massey

Mission accomplished

It was a hot night in July 1973 as 26-year-old Edwin Massey drove his yellow Volkswagen Beetle along Florida’s State Road 60 on his way to interview for a teaching position at Indian River Community College.

In the passenger seat of the tiny car that had no air-conditioning was his wife, Jo, with their two small daughters in back, tuckered out from a day of battling the way kids in backseats do on long road trips. With only headlights illuminating their way, they drove along the desolate stretch, which locals called Death Road 60.

Pamela Williams

Treasure Coast Personalities


Coming from a family of educators — her mother and her aunts were all teachers — Pamela Brown Williams says she grew up with the realization that she enjoyed most helping those students who struggle with academics or confidence. Visiting the classrooms of her aunts, she says she saw how they were able to make learning fun for their students and she wanted to help students learn in that way, too.

Michael Naffziger organizes a sewing class

Treasure Coast Personalities


Right-brain people are creative. Left-brain people are analytical. But the person who has both sides of the brain functioning equally to complement each other is someone exceptional because that combination begets a highly artistic, systematic individual who’s innovative and pragmatic.

Such is the case with Michael Naffziger, theater and technical director for the Schumann School for the Visual and Performing Arts at Indian River Charter High School. For the past decade, Naffziger has taught acting, drama, musical theater, stagecraft and comprehensive theater at the school, but he actually got a degree in science in college and at one-time taught physics.

LaShawnda McNair

Treasure Coast Personalities


For LaShawnda McNair, being a third-grade teacher at J.D. Parker Elementary in Stuart involves far more than instructing on how to read, write and do arithmetic. It’s about molding young lives.

“I inspire kids. That’s what teaching is,” she says. “It’s making them believe that they can learn. Half of the battle is getting them to know that you care enough about them, that they can do the work — even when it gets hard.”

While in the classroom, McNair is busy helping her students become successful, responsible citizens. A rewarding part of her job, she points out, is watching their development.