Daily Point of Light # 1827 Feb 2, 2001

For the past ten years, Frederick Birnie has tirelessly given over 50 hours per month to the Volusia County schools. He is compassionate and concerned about all of the children in the county and wants to make sure they all have the opportunity for a good start. His youngest child has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound. He wanted his son to be a part of the mainstream in the public school system and worked to ensure that his son and any other challenged student could do so.

Birnie has made three major contributions that have impacted Volusia County. He has been a committed member of the $uccess at Work ($AW) Program. He annually seeks, motivates, trains, and places business representatives into 20 middle school classrooms. Fred initiated the Deland Area Chamber of Commerce Businessmen’s Substitute Program. Community members are trained imparting their expertise knowledge providing classrooms with qualified substitutes. He secured input from more than 200 teachers for the Charter District Leadership Committee by personally visiting schools and telling teachers how important it is for them to submit waiver forms to the charter committee.

Because of his commitment to $AW, the county students are better prepared for the world of work. Birnie has bridged the gap between community and school. The Substitute Program is his brainchild and has simplified the “Star Program,” which enables community members to become qualified substitutes commensurate with their expertise. Volusia students’ education is enhanced because of the program.

Birnie’s bold leadership on the Charter District Leadership Committee brought teachers and the community together to develop a charter agreement, which reflects the best interests of both in providing academic excellence for students. He has re-written the $AW Program to adapt it for special education students and Suspension Out of School Alternative (SOSA) students. Through his efforts, the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce has been a model for educational involvement. He initiated and developed the Businessmen’s Substitute and is actively recruiting and motivating businesses to be a part of the unique endeavor. His leadership, organization and dedication have resulted in these programs serving as models for other communities.

Birnie is also a volunteer with the Florida Engineering Society and the District Advisory Committee for DeLand Middle School and High School. He has served as President of the School Improvement Committee at Blue Lake Elementary and was a member of the Superintendent’s Search Committee. He is also the mentoring contact for the Florida Department of Transportation and has given up most of his vacation time for educational volunteer work.

Birnie has enthusiastically dedicated himself to making Volusia County Schools the best in the state. His faithful commitment to the students and the education process is evident by his participation in numerous venues. Volusia County’s effectiveness in education students has been enhanced and enriched by his ongoing pledge to make education a priority for the community.