By S. Smith
The North Florida Educational Institute, founded by Florida Gators standout Stacey Poole, Sr. in 2006, educates over 450 students annually with the majority being of minority background.
The programming at NFEI is designed to promote positive youth development by providing a safe environment, high quality education, supportive relations with peers and adults and the opportunity to develop new skills while having fun.
NFEI also provides eligible middle and high school student’s additional academic and enrichment opportunities through its 21st Century Afterschool Program. During this program, select young ladies participated in the Eagles NEST (Nurturing, Engaging, Supporting, Talking) Mentoring Program, developed by staff member Shola Smith. The chosen ladies were provided an extensive and interactive lesson on etiquette, resulting in NFEI’s first Tea Party held in the schools auditorium. Participants were able to dress up and practice what they learned while having some of their first experiences. Etiquette training provides children and teens the social skills that are needed in today’s world for both personal and professional success in their future. Instructor Smith smiled, “It’s never too early to start teaching children proper etiquette and to learn the essential social skills that they will need to use throughout their lives,” said Smith.
The event was funded by NFEI and individual donors with entertainment provided by students in the school’s chorus. As a result, the Tea Party was free to the participating students. After an overwhelming response by students and staff, NFEI plans to provide additional etiquette lessons, tea parties, and dinners to its students. Shown are students enjoying the tea and crumpets (l-r), La’Mya Stephens, Lanaria Stewart, Raynaria Price, Teisha Ross, Janiecia Salas, Jame-Meka Blackmon.