Immokalee High School teacher Steve Becker will compete in a 12.5 mile open-water swim race Saturday, June 22 in the annual Florida Keys Community College Swim Around Key West. Becker is swimming in support of The Immokalee Foundation, the nonprofit dedicated to building pathways to success for the children of Immokalee through programs focused on education, vocation and life skills. Becker’s goal is to raise $5,000 for the organization.
This is Becker’s fourth time participating in this strenuous event, “Each time I swim in Key West, my times have steadily improved. This year I hope to break five hours again. A swim race of this magnitude demands a strict training schedule, which includes approximately a two-mile swim daily in a pool and a five-mile open-water swim in the Gulf of Mexico on the weekends.”
Becker’s commitment to The Immokalee Foundation is much more than a 12.5 mile swim. His involvement spans several years. He is deeply dedicated to TIF’s career development program that helps students refine academic skills, guides them through a process of career goal setting and increases their knowledge of career opportunities. The program also infuses innovative ideas to attract students who seek alternative choices in their education.
Becker is also a mentor for The Immokalee Foundation’s Take Stock in Children program where he is paired with a student who pledges to earn good grades, exhibit good behavior and meet weekly with their mentor. Students fulfilling the pledge are awarded with a full college scholarship upon high school graduation. The mentor’s role is to motivate the student to reach his or her potential and the assurance of a college education. Becker has committed to meet with his student weekly for about 45 minutes and attends school activities and other events, when necessary.
Becker’s mission is to help students reach college readiness benchmarks. Two years ago, Becker, a math teacher, was helping students in his classroom during their lunch breaks to prepare for the ACT. At the same time, TIF was creating after-school programs and summer academies to build students confidence for college-level courses and future career opportunities. A natural alignment took place and Becker became involved with TIF. Becker notes, “By the end of the summer, I was able to see an increase in student scores and the self-assurance they gained from all their hard work.”
In August of 2012, The Immokalee Foundation opened the Deanna Franks Learning Center, thus launching its after-school tutoring program including an ACT preparation program for students needing remediation. Two days a week, Becker was able to use the new building’s classrooms to continue working with students throughout the academic year.
“This is the hardest job I’ve ever loved! While working with the students I see their ongoing improvements. The excitement on their faces when they find out that they were accepted into a university is truly priceless.” Becker also added: “TIF’s classroom is providing life-changing opportunities for these kids. Because of TIF’s programs, they now have a greater chance to succeed.”
The Immokalee Foundation has a range of programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary training, mentoring and tutoring, and opportunities for broadening experiences, life skills development and economic independence. To learn more about TIF, the Charity Classic Celebration, volunteering as a mentor or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.