Norman “Skip” Sheffield Jr., a longtime Boca Raton resident, entertainment writer for the now defunct Boca Raton News and local arts enthusiast, died unexpectedly of natural causes in his home on July 21. He was 69.
Sheffield’s storied career capturing the evolving arts and entertainment bubble in South Florida left a lasting imprint in the community, friends and family say.
He started with the Boca Raton News as a 13-year-old paperboy, eventually working his way through multiple departments before trying his hand at writing. He held writing and editing positions at the paper until it folded in 2009.
“He loved to write,” his sister, Sheila Platt, said from her home on Long Island. “He loved interviewing unusual people. That was a special love of his. He would find someone with an interesting story to tell.”
Up until his death, he wrote for The Boca Raton Tribune, which honored Sheffield by publishing multiple pieces recalling the late writer in July.
His coverage of theater, film and music branded him in the community as a champion of the arts. As the local scene grew, so did Sheffield’s involvement.
He wrote reviews of productions performed at Boca Raton’s Wick Theater, films that screened at various theaters and festivals, and profiles of interesting players in the local arts world.
Sheffield’s unique view of Boca Raton, gained through five decades of living and working in the city since he moved there as a teen in 1959, prompted vocal advocacy against over-development in the city.
“It became ingrained in him to try and guard against unwise over-expansion,” Platt said. “It stemmed from those early memories of Boca.”
Sheffield’s fondness for Boca Raton is evident in the mementos he left behind, said his eldest daughter Mary Gentry, an English instructor at Florida Atlantic University.
When Sheffield learned a building was facing demolition, he would keep a piece of it — a sign, a flyer, or some other memorabilia.
“He held onto everything,” Gentry said.
Over the years, he’s donated some of the memorabilia to the Boca Raton Historical Society. He coordinated the donation of some 8,000 Boca Raton News photographs primarily from the 1980s and 1990s to the historical society shortly before the newspaper folded.
“Skip was a real Boca pioneer and longtime journalist,” the historical society wrote in a Facebook post, adding that the photos “would have gone into the trash without Skip.”
Sheffield’s interest in arts writing branched from a love of music and film that began as a child. He played bass and guitar with brothers Richard and John in the Sheffield Brothers Band for more than 40 years.
When he wasn’t writing, you’d find Sheffield surfing, riding his bicycle to the beach or traveling.
He graduated from Seacrest High School in 1965, from Florida Southern College in 1969 and from Florida Atlantic University with a masters degree in 1973.
Sheffield is survived by daughters Mary (Aaron Gentry), Laura (Ash Otocki) and Anna (Negean Mohi), grandson Milo Gentry, brothers Richard (Leslie), John and David (Julie), and sister Sheila (John Platt).
A memorial service is planned Aug. 26 at 11 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Boca Raton.
Donations in Skip’s memory can be made to the Boca Raton Historical Society or the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association.
For years, Royal Palm Place has been a popular downtown Boca destination, home to shops, bars and restaurants.
Now, a developer has new plans for the property: building two 12-story buildings there to offer nearly 300 apartments and condos.
One high-rise would bring 69 condos to the block at 200 S. Federal Highway. The other high-rise would offer 220 luxury apartments, replacing a strip of shops at 101 Plaza Real. The two buildings would be the newest addition to the 14-acre mix of living and retail spaces.
“When it’s all said and done, it’s going to be a 2020 version of Royal Palm Place,” said the project’s architect, Doug Mummaw.
It’s the latest high-rise proposal for Boca Raton’s downtown — at least three buildings reaching 10 stories or higher recently went up around Royal Palm Place, and several others are proposed for downtown over the next several years.
At Royal Palm Place, there would parking garages and an art garden with rotating exhibits. Eventually, developers want to include an entertainment district featuring shops, restaurants, clubs and bars in a row of two- to three-story buildings, according to proposal documents.
The proposal raises questions of how the shops, bars and restaurants already there would be affected. Among some of the businesses at Royal Palm Place are Boca Breakfast & Lunch Club, The Wishing Well, Hijinks Sports Grill, Giovanni’s Pizza and Black Rose Irish Pub.
The project is the second step of a larger project by one of the largest real estate owners in town, Jim Batmasian, and his company Investments Limited.
The company couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
The area, already a big draw for those who frequent shops and restaurants, would benefit from being made more pedestrian-friendly, Mummaw said. Plans call for wider sidewalks and park space within the development.
Faye Weissblum owns Travelgroup International, which is situated in a building that would be replaced by the development.
“It’s going to be a disruption in business, and we’re going to have to move,” said Weissblum, who has been in business for 17 years.
Weissblum said she hadn’t heard about the project from her landlord but does think the area needs a redesign.
Investments Limited.previously built a luxury apartment building on the site about a decade ago as the first effort to kick off redevelopment of the area.
But Mummaw said the Great Recession caused additional redevelopment plans to stagnate and ultimately permission from the city expired.
The latest proposal sits just across the street from the proposed Mizner 200 luxury apartment complex. The proposal, which calls for three 12-story buildings with 389 apartments, has drawn complaints from residents who are concerned about its size.
Boca staff is currently looking over the new Royal Palm Place designs before the plans head to city boards for approval.
BOCA RATON, FL – August 1, 2017 – Boca Raton Regional Hospital is the first in Florida and one of only five centers nationally to non-invasively map irregular heartbeats in patients with chronic atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias who have not responded adequately to medication or prior ablation procedures. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure or other heart-related complications. A total of 2.7 to 6.1 million Americans are living with the condition.
The Medtronic CardioInsight™ Noninvasive 3D Mapping System, introduced at Boca Regional by Murray Rosenbaum, MD, Director of Electrophysiology at the Hospital’s Christine E. Lynn Heart & Vascular Institute and was first used in February of this year on an 84-year-old patient.
The system uses a 252-electrode sensor vest that is worn by the patient to match body surface electrical data with heart anatomy. The non-invasive technology creates 3D electro-anatomic maps of the heart by collecting electrocardiogram (ECG) signals from the chest, and combining these signals with data from a computed tomography (CT) scan of the heart. The vest technology contours to the patient’s body and allows for continuous and simultaneous panoramic mapping of both atria or both ventricles non-invasively prior to the procedure. The 3D maps can be created by capturing a single heartbeat and enable rapid mapping of these heart rhythms.
“This non-invasive mapping system has streamlined the clinical planning process for specialists like myself and has made it easy for patients to receive exquisite mapping results right at the bedside,” said Dr. Rosenbaum. “The technology allows mapping of certain arrhythmias with high accuracy prior to entering the cath lab so that the entire procedure can be planned before touching the patient.”
The most important role, Dr. Rosenbaum emphasized, is the fact that this technology offers a chance to rid atrial fibrillation when no other treatment is effective. This includes cases where initial ablation has failed, or in cases of persistent or chronic atrial fibrillation.
CardioInsight has the ability to locate with great precision what are called cardiac rotors. These points in the heart’s electrical system are analogous to the eye of a hurricane; around which electrical activity called initiating spirals rotate causing the arrhythmia. Using this new mapping technology, the electrophysiologist can position an ablation catheter on the rotor centers. In some cases a single ablation can terminate the atrial fibrillation and restore the heart to normal rhythm. With conventional treatment, hours of ablation over a large area of the heart are needed, and results
worldwide have been disappointing.
“The advantages of this new technology are material,” noted Dr. Rosenbaum. “It is a major paradigm shift in how we manage patients with chronic AFib and allows us to be more efficient and achieve better outcomes.”
The Medtronic CardioInsight Noninvasive 3D Mapping System at Boca Regional was made possible through a generous philanthropic gift by Ronald H. and Joanne Willens.
About Boca Raton Regional Hospital – Advancing the boundaries of medicine.
Boca Raton Regional Hospital is an advanced, tertiary medical center (BRRH.com) with 400 beds and more than 800 primary and specialty physicians on staff. The Hospital is a recognized leader in oncology, cardiovascular disease and surgery, minimally invasive surgery, orthopedics, women’s health, emergency medicine and the neurosciences, all of which offer state-of-the-art diagnostic and imaging capabilities. The Hospital is a designated Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).
“It is past time to drop the legal shenanigans and let Boca Raton welcome the Chabad into the community,” Daniel Blomberg, a lawyer representing the Chabad of Boca Raton, said in a news release Monday.
City officials approved site plans in the summer of 2015 for the Chabad of East Boca’s $10 million, 18,000-square-foot synagogue and museum that was supposed to go into less than an acre at 770 E. Palmetto Park Road, a piece of undeveloped land east of the Intracoastal Waterway.
The beachside project, dubbed the Boca Beach Chabad and My Israel Center, gained approval by the city after the Chabad’s founder Rabbi Ruvi New
debuted the project in early 2015.
In response, Gagliardi and MacDougall, who live less than a mile from the site, sued the city in February 2016 claiming the city had given the Chabad special treatment. They also said the project would cause traffic and parking headaches for nearby residents.
More than a hundred people showed up to the initial Planning and Zoning Board meetings last year, some expressing similar concerns.
Due to a separate lawsuit by a neighboring real estate firm, a judge shot down the Chabad’s design for the synagogue and its museum. As of now, it is unclear when the project will move forward.
Generation Z has officially entered college. And just as the Millennials before them, this generation is disrupting the way learning happens in higher education. But these differences go beyond just a greater dependence on technology. Gen Z-ers tend to embrace social learning environments, where they can be hands-on and directly involved in the learning process. They expect on-demand services that are available at any time and with low barriers to access. And they tend to be more career-focused earlier on in their college careers.
A study done by Barnes and Noble College shows that today’s students refuse to be passive learners. They aren’t interested in simply showing up for class, sitting through a lecture, and taking notes that they’ll memorize for an exam later on. Instead, they expect to be fully engaged and to be a part of the learning process themselves.
In fact, Gen Z students tend to thrive when they are given the opportunity to have a fully immersive educational experience and they even enjoy the challenges of being a part of it. For instance, 51% of surveyed students said they learn best by doing while only 12% said they learn through listening. These same students also mentioned they tend to enjoy class discussions and interactive classroom environments over the traditional dissemination teaching method.
And the preference towards a collaborative learning environment isn’t just limited to in-person interactions. Instead, Gen Z is completely comfortable with learning alongside other students, even outside of their own school, using digital tools such as Skype and online forums.
And as a digital generation, Generation Z expects digital learning tools such as these to be deeply integrated into their education. For them, technology has always been a fully integrated experience into every part of their lives. And they don’t think education should be any different. They believe they should be able to seamlessly connect academic experiences to personal experiences through these same tools.
Additionally, they expect that these learning tools be available on-demand and with low barriers to access. For them, learning isn’t limited to just the classroom; it’s something that can take place at any time, anywhere.
And finally, access to unlimited new information has created a more self-reliant and career driven generation. In fact, 13% of Gen Z-ers already have their own business. And many are even taking this entrepreneurial spirit to drive changes in college curriculum, as they show a strong interest in designing their own classroom path in college. For those who haven’t started a business quite yet, early preparation is still key. In fact, nearly half of high school students have taken at least one class that counts as college credit.
Part of this change is due to the fact that they have more access to more information than the generations before them. By the time they’ve reached higher ed, they are already well versed in current events, music popular culture, and global trends. They are well aware of the world around them and are already beginning to think through what their place in it will be.
Generation Z is leading the change in how learning takes place. They are a driving force in the innovation of new learning tools, teaching styles, and unlimited access to resources. And they are proving that college is headed in a direction of a more learner-centric environment where students will become the directors of their own futures.
The K-12 education system in Florida — the one that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos likes to praise as a model for the nation — is in chaos.
Traditional public school districts are trying to absorb the loss of millions of dollars for the new school year that starts within weeks. That money, which comes from local property taxes, is used for capital funding but now must be shared with charter schools as a result of a widely criticized $419 million K-12 public education bill crafted by Republican legislative leaders in secret and recently signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott — at a Catholic school.
Critics, including some Republicans, say the law will harm traditional public schools, threaten services for students who live in poverty and curb local control of education while promoting charter schools and a state-funded voucher program.
The law creates a “Schools of Hope” system that will turn failing traditional public schools into charter schools that are privately run but publicly funded. The law also sets out the requirement for districts to share capital funding.
The man behind the Schools of Hope initiative was Republican House Speaker of Florida Richard Corcoran, whose wife founded a charter school in Pasco County. But as this recent Miami Herald opinion piece notes, a number of Republican lawmakers in the state legislature have financial stakes in the charter industry. “Florida’s broad ethics laws are a joke,” wrote Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago.
At a recent meeting of the Florida Board of Education, superintendents warned that the new fund-sharing requirement puts their school buildings at risk. Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho was quoted by WTVY as saying: “You really could see the potential unraveling of long-term maintenance and construction for public school systems across the state. It is not a good indicator when one of the two largest credit rating agencies declares a negative condition for school systems on the basis of a policy statement out of Tallahassee.” That’s a reference to a report issued in June from credit-rating business Moody’s saying that the fund diversion “is credit negative for school districts with significant charter enrollment,” suggesting that their ratings could be lowered.
The Broward County School Board has decided to sue over legislation H.B. 7069, alleging that it violates the Florida Constitution, and other county school boards are expected to do the same thing, sources in the state say.
Charter schools are just one of the alternatives to traditional public schools that DeVos, a Michigan billionaire who spends many weekends at her home in central Florida, has praised the state for offering to parents. The school “choice” advocate has frequently called Florida a national model for its range of school choices — including voucherlike programs that use public money for religious and private school tuition — though she doesn’t talk about the consequences of expanding these choices on the schools that educate the vast majority of schoolchildren.
You don’t hear DeVos talking about the fact that Florida has for years had one of the highest annual charter closure rates in the country, schools that were closed after financial and other scandal. Or that there is no substantive evidence that voucherlike programs that have channeled billions of taxpayer dollars into scholarships for poor children to attend private and religious schools has boosted the students’ academic trajectories — even while there are no mandated consequences on these schools for poor results.
You won’t hear her talk about those things because she has said that her idea of education “accountability” is in itself the expansion of school choice. By this way of thinking, the state that gives parents more options — whatever the quality of those options — is the state that is doing very well. And Florida, as DeVos says, is great at it.
Underscoring this notion is a proposal by Florida education officials to ask DeVos’s Education Department for a waiver from key parts of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the massive K-12 law that replaced No Child Left Behind and lays out principles for ensuring that public schools address the needs of the most disadvantaged students. Florida, as first reported by Education Week, no longer wants to judge schools on whether they are closing achievement gaps between different groups of students, or on how well English language learners do on English proficiency tests.
Will DeVos — who has said repeatedly that states and local communities should have control over their own education decisions — agree to this? And if she does, will Congress agree that she is properly interpreting ESSA? Stay tuned.
And there’s this:
• Gov. Scott also recently signed a new law that has alarmed people who care about science education. Known as H.B. 989 and targeted at the teaching of climate change and evolution, it empowers those who want to object to the use of specific instructional materials in public schools. Now, any resident can file a complaint about instructional material; it used to be limited to parents with a child in the schools.
• The state requires students to sign pledges that they won’t talk to anyone — not their parents, friends, or anyone — about standardized tests they have to take in the Florida assessment system. In fact, WFXL.comreported that one parent was incensed when her 10-year-old daughter had to sign. Brielle Rivera from Boynton Beach was quoted as saying: “When I asked her about her test, she started crying and tells me that she can’t tell me or she’ll be arrested. I was shocked.”
• The Florida Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge from parents to the state’s law requiring that third graders pass a test or be forced to repeat the grade. The law was one of the reforms instituted by former governor Jeb Bush, who pioneered standardized test-based school reform when he was governor from 1999 to 2007. It resulted in a jump in fourth-grade reading scores — but that improvement faded by eighth grade. DeVos, incidentally, was a longtime ally of Bush’s.
But in the spring of 2016, some Florida parents decided to opt their children out of the state-mandated standardized reading test — some of the kids were honor students — as a protest of the over-importance of test scores and the way in which the scores are used. Those students were not permitted to move on to fourth grade. An appellate court this past spring ruled against the parents, and now the state’s high court is letting that ruling stand.
So, state officials who don’t want to judge schools anymore on whether they are making progress on closing achievement gaps between white students and historically underperforming students still want to use a single test score to prevent third graders from moving to fourth grade.
It’s worth remembering that the standardized testing system pioneered by Bush, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, collapsed under a mountain of problems. It was succeeded by the Florida Standards Assessment, which state superintendents revolted against a few years ago, saying in a statement that they had “lost confidence” in it — a polite way of saying it was an unfair mess that hurt schools, teachers and students.
• Florida started a multimillion dollar program — and boosted funding in the new law — for a program called “Florida’s Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship,” which gives bonuses to teachers with high SAT and ACT scores (and strong evaluations). This rewards teachers for getting high test scores sometimes decades earlier, and teachers who didn’t take college admissions tests because they started out in community colleges can’t qualify.
But, as Ramon Veuneswrote in the Sun-Sentinel, there is no bonus for teachers who boost their own students’ standardized test scores:
I had a measurable real-life positive effect on my students’ education for the past three years, and I am not getting any money whatsoever for this. Yet, Florida legislators have determined that if I would have scored well enough on a test I took almost 25 years ago that has no definitive connection to my students’ education, I would deserve thousands of bonus dollars. In case you’re slapping your face at the baffling absurdity of it all, please rest assured that you are not alone!