An exciting new chapter has begun at the Richard O. Jacobson Tech High at Seminole, with the opening of the state-of-the-art veterinary science building.
The modern addition was made possible through a donation from the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation in 2018. The $5 million gift was largest single gift in the Foundation’s history and helped transform Tech High into an innovative hub of Career Technical Education in Pinellas County Schools among other projects. And now it will give veterinary students a vastly improved facility to pursue their education, earning industry certifications as veterinary assistants from the Florida Veterinary Medical Association.
“When Hurricane Irma came through in 2017, it blew portions of the roof off our decades-old barn and caused enough structural damage that the barn was irreparable,” said Tech High principal Martha Giancola.
“We found parts of our barn in the trees all over the campus. We started to dream big about having a barn attached to classrooms to really allow for the highest level of engagement for our veterinary assisting students. The assistance from the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation made this dream come true. The excitement of our students is almost palpable.”
Giancola explained that students were able to get hands-on experiences with cows, horses, pigs, goats, rabbits and birds previously, but had no place to care for cats and dogs – experience they would need as future vets.
“The veterinary science building has allowed us to bring dogs and cats in each week with a partnership with animal services,” she said. “It has worked out well. The animals get so much love and socialization and so far most of the animals have been adopted by our school families. Additionally our animals can all be housed in close proximity because the classrooms and barn are in the same building. The students’ classroom is just steps away from the barn. It is a unique structure indeed!”
Bob McIntyre, former Pinellas Education Foundation chair and longtime board member, played a key role in the Jacobson gift. He’s thrilled with the new facility. “I just went out there and was absolutely floored,” he said. “It is amazing – not just the veterinary sciences building but everything around it. Mr. Jacobson would be so proud of what was built there and the impressive young people coming out of it.”
Undoubtedly, he would also be proud of the school’s most recent accomplishment being recognized by Magnet Schools of America with the New and Emerging Merit Magnet School of Excellence Award. This award, the highest honor for a new magnet school, shines a light on the school’s outstanding leadership, innovative curriculum, and community partnership across its seven career programs.