The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) recently received an endowment gift of $250,000 from the Lastinger Family Foundation in honor of Dr. Thomas M. Zavelson, who provides invaluable service to the school as a member of the FSDB Board of Trustees. The Foundation encourages the FSDB community and supporters to donate as well, as they will match donations dollar for dollar, to up to a maximum amount of $250,000.
“The Dr. Thomas M. Zavelson Endowment for Student Achievement will support professional development opportunities for FSDB educators, with the ultimate goal of increasing student success in all aspects of their academic experience,” said Dr. Jeanne Glidden Prickett. “Effective teaching is known to be one of the most important school-based factors influencing student achievement.”
A retired pediatrician, Dr. Thomas M. Zavelson was a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine. Previously, he was a founding and senior partner with the Pediatric Associates of Gainesville, a pediatric consultant for Children’s Medical Services, chair of the North Florida Regional Medical Center Department of Pediatrics, and member of the North Florida Regional Hospital Board of Trustees. In 2010, he was appointed by the Florida governor to the FSDB Board of Directors (reappointed in 2012 and 2016) and is highly respected by students, families, and educators alike.
David DeLacure, of Gainesville, credits Dr. Zavelson for his interest in education and medicine. A 2011 graduate of FSDB, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in microbiology and a Master’s degree in global communicable disease; he is applying for admission to medical school. “I would like to extend special appreciation to Dr. Zavelson - or ‘Dr. Z’ as I knew him as a child,” said DeLacure, “He served as my pediatrician in Gainesville for several years before his retirement. While at the time I was young and had no idea what career I would pursue, I was always fond of him as a person, particularly his caring manner. These early interactions with such a bright and dedicated medical doctor shaped my perceptions about physicians and contributed to my interest in pursuing a rewarding career in medicine. Thank you, Dr. Zavelson, for your many years of care for me, my family, my peers, and for FSDB.”
That same admiration is what led the Lastinger Family Foundation to donate to FSDB. The Foundation, based in St. Augustine, has a mission of preserving the past and investing in the future. They believe that children provide a bridge to the future, and their longtime friendship with Dr. Zavelson resulted in the plan to honor him through an endowment grant and matching commitment to FSDB.
“Dr. Zavelson, through his work with children and adults, has made a positive and lasting impact on countless individuals and groups. His compassion, loyalty, dedication, and desire to make FSDB the best school of its kind is admirable,” said Allen and Delores Taylor Lastinger. “Our family is honored to support FSDB and our dear friend Tom Zavelson.”
“I was so overwhelmed and extremely grateful when I learned that my good friends had given such a meaningful gift to FSDB,” said Dr. Zavelson. “We had been talking about the possibility of this gift for many months before I was ever made aware of their decision. This is such a touching and special way to be honored. Once again, the Lastinger Family Foundation, through their vision and compassion, is planting seeds by helping FSDB, an already fertile school, to grow even more. It is now our chance to work these seeds into the earth and develop new ideas and concepts for these amazing students. This grant is in no way about me, but rather it is for the benefit of this incredible school and the students it serves.”
Donations can be made online or via check to the Dr. Thomas M. Zavelson Endowment for Student Achievement, which will be matched by the Lastinger Family Foundation up to $250,000. If you donate online, please type the fund name in the Additional Information field. If you give via check/mail, please write the fund name in the memo line (lower left corner of check); mail the check to the attention of the Advancement Department, Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, 207 N. San Marco Avenue, St. Augustine, FL 32084. Donations can also be made via phone; contact Tanya Rhodes, FSDB Executive Director of Advancement, at 904-827-2235.
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a tuition-free state public school and outreach center available to eligible Pre-K and K-12 students who are deaf/hard of hearing, blind/visually impaired, or deafblind. At FSDB, students learn how to do more, be more, and achieve more, fulfilling our vision of preparing them for a lifetime of success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. For a campus tour or to inquire about eligibility for enrollment, contact FSDB Parent Services at 904-827-2212 voice or 904-201-4527 videophone. For more information, visit www.fsdbk12.org.