Navarre teacher has big plans for new Navarre Beach Park

Managed by Navarre High School: Students at the Marine Science Station at the Navarre Beach Park promoting the appreciation, conservation, and understanding of the marine ecosystem of coastal Florida through education and service.
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Kenny Wilder
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Fri Dec 12, 2008 9:50 am

December 11, 2008
Pensacola News Journal


Navarre teacher has big plans for new Navarre Beach Park

Louis Cooper
lcooper@pnj.com


Charlene Mauro Fearon has a salty, sandy dream.

Fearon, 36, an award-winning marine science teacher at Navarre High School, wants to establish the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station at Navarre Beach Park.

It would be located in a building originally built as a ranger station in the former state park that runs from Santa Rosa Sound to the Gulf of Mexico.

"The difference between teaching out there and teaching in a classroom is it's definitely more memorable. I'd get the kids out there standing in the water, doing things hands-on," Fearon said. "It's better than me going out there and collecting things and bringing them back to the classroom.

There's a lot to be said for getting out in the field and active in the community."

The station would promote the appreciation, conservation and understanding of the marine ecosystem of coastal Florida through college-credit courses for high school students, summer camps, public tours and continuing education for teachers.

Navarre senior Jordan West said a decision on the science station will determine if she goes to the University of West Florida or out of state next fall.

"If this goes through, I'll be there to volunteer. I'll have something to do while I am going to school,'' said Jordan, 17, who hopes to teach marine science one day. "If not, I'll go to Southern Miss because they have a ship that goes to the ocean.

"We all live next to the ocean, so it's critical that we know what's out there. So many people live here and don't know what's out there."

The science station is only the latest manifestation of Fearon's passion for marine science education.

In 2007, she was named the top science teacher in Florida. She worked as an instructor at two aquariums, and she takes her students to other schools, festivals and businesses to host hands-on marine exhibits.

Her passion for the sea goes back to her own high-school experience.

"My interest in the ocean started after taking my first scuba dive in the Florida Keys when I was in the ninth grade," she said. "As a teacher of marine science, I can share my love of all things marine with my students by offering them hands-on learning experiences. I grew up in Atlanta and never had a marine science class or the opportunities I am able to offer my students."

Casey Fearon, Charlene Fearon's husband and fellow science teacher, said the science station would be "right up her alley."

"She actually gets students to teach other students," he said. "The marine science station will allow kids to get involved with teaching other kids."

The station's first hurdle will be getting the county to provide the building and renovations, which Fearon estimates would cost about $35,000. She wants to use Navarre High's construction class to do the work.

County Commissioner Gordon Goodin recently hosted a public forum on the future of the park.

He hopes to solidify plans for the park early in 2009 and expects some amenities — possibly including the first phase of the station — open by summer.

If anyone can make the station a reality, it's Fearon, he said.

"She's one of a kind," Goodin said. "People just want to be associated with any activity she's involved in. She's really one of Santa Rosa County's best assets."

If realized, the station would be more than just a place for today's students, Fearon said.

"The kids are going to be more aware of the beach environment and ways they can help out, contributing long term and giving back to the area," she said. "This marine science station is something I can contribute, not only to my students, but also future generations."

Additional Facts
Charlene Mauro Fearon
• Residence: Gulf Breeze.

• Occupation: Marine science teacher and science department chairwoman at Navarre High School.

• Family: Husband, Casey Fearon, a science teacher at Gulf Breeze Middle School and 2008 Santa Rosa County Rookie Teacher of the Year.

• Education: Bachelor's degree in marine biology, master's in curriculum and instruction, both from the University of West Florida.

• Teaching career: Navarre High School, 1997-present; Sea World of Florida, 1995-1997; marine science instructor, Scott Aquarium, summer 2001; marine science instructor, Pensacola Junior College, 1994-1995.

• Honors: 2007 Florida High School Science Teacher of the Year, Florida Teacher of the Year finalist 2005, Santa Rosa County School District Teacher of the Year 2005, 2004 University of Florida Distinguished Educator Award, 2002 Wal-Mart Foundation Area Teacher of the Year, 2001 Rookie Teacher of the Year for Santa Rosa School District.

• Quote: "The greatest reward of teaching is my students' enthusiasm. I truly love my job."
Kenny Wilder
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Pete
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Sat Dec 13, 2008 8:26 am

Great idea - as well as several others for the park.
But, before final decisions are made, I hope to see the cost(s) to the taxpayers - whether it is from county, or in this case maybe school, coffers. Whether it is from an increase in taxes, or a redirection from other county/school services. If can get grants/contributions - so much the better. While the benefits may be great, need the costs to see cost/benefit ratios for the various proposals. This applies to all park proposals.
Last edited by Pete on Sun Dec 14, 2008 8:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
Cheers, Pete
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Navarrian
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Sat Dec 13, 2008 5:47 pm

Pete,

Keep waiting for any analysis of costs to taxpayers. I mean..have you ever? I thought School coffers are taxpayer funds. Perhaps this would be another method of money redistribution (to coin a phrase :lol: ). What I want to see is how much money ANY venture with the park might...generate as income. Whether the facilities go to the dogs, marine enthusiasts, or champion volleyball wannabes etc... . I think it is time we focus on ideas to generate real money, and then show us how much, how often, and of course at what expense. I do agree with the academicians that a mind is a terrible thing to waste, but unless the effort is putting money into the county coffers (not another university) vs. taking out of the taxpayers pockets,... there will be strong opposition. By the way I think educationl grants are necessary but also don't offer long term solutions to our deficit.

Navarrian 8)
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Pete
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Sun Dec 14, 2008 8:12 am

Good points. The potential of offsetting income (vs. taxpayer expense, grants, etc.) certianly should be considered on the "benefits" side of the evaluation.
Cheers, Pete
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jacobspa
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Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:23 am

Whatever happened to the idea of putting casinos in the park. That would generate some real money to offset taxes. Seems to me it was talked about a few months back. It would also create jobs and stem the flow of money from Florida to Mississippi.
blackbird
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Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:51 am

:shock: Casinos????
It will be time for me to move if that happens
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Kenny Wilder
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Mon Dec 15, 2008 6:04 am

If casinos are ever seriously proposed for Navarre Beach Park, I will spend (24) TWENTY FOURS HOURS a day in using every ounce of my being to keep this from happening. Devastating and tainting our laid back, un-crowded and serene beach with a casino is the last thing that should happen to any part of Navarre Beach for at least a thousand years. And that might even be too soon.
Kenny Wilder
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