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Know Your Community : The Marco Island Academy

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Written By Rich Blonna

August 16, 2020

marco_island_academy

In my quest to speak with as many of the island’s stakeholders as possible before the election, I had the pleasure this week of speaking with the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Marco Island Academy, Jane Watt, and Mark Melvin, a member of their Leadership Advisory Board.  

We met via teleconference and for close to two hours discussed the school, the role of charter schools in public education, and a variety of topics that impact not only families with children in the school system but all residents who care about the future of our island.

Here are some facts about the Marco Island Academy that you might not know:

  • MIA is a free, public high school open to all residents.
  • Most of the students are from middle class families, many of whom own or work in small businesses on the island.
  • MIA has received an “A” rating from the Florida Department of Education.
  • MIA was designated a High Performing Charter School by the Florida Department of Education.
  • MIA was rated in the top 3% of all charter high schools in the nation.
  • Students must accumulate 100 hours (25 hours/year) of volunteer activity to fulfill their service requirement for graduation.
  • 96% of all students graduate.

As a former college professor, I was particularly interested in their innovative curriculum. Many of their courses are interdisciplinary in nature and issues are studied from many different perspectives including the historic, economic, artistic, and environmental just to name a few.

Their innovative Dual Enrollment program allows students to concurrently attend MIA and either Florida Southwestern State College or Florida Gulf Coast University. Students in this program are able to earn their Associates Degree (2-year degree) from FSW or FGCU along with their high school diploma in just four years.

I was particularly curious about their Underwater Robotics Club, wondering whether the students, robots, or both, were underwater.  Ms. Watt clarified for that it was the robots that were underwater, not the students.

Speaking of underwater, MIA has a special program, the Marco Island Academy/Jean Michael Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment Summer Camp that is the first ever joint venture between the Cousteau organization and a charter school. The camp features hands-on environmental learning experiences in a variety of exotic locations including Grand Cayman, St. Thomas, and Hawaii among others.

Marco Island Academy is truly unique and affords our children an option for a superior education in a small, supportive environment right on Marco Island. If I get elected to the Marco Island City Council, I will do everything I can to support the school and help it thrive.

Check out Marco Island Academy for yourslf at: https://www.marcoislandacademy.org/ 

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