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September 25, 2019

Program Profiles: Tampa Bay Education Guide Special Feature

By Anu Varma Panchal

From total French immersion to Montessori learning and Amazonian exploration, take your child’s learning beyond the ordinary with these exciting, enriching and even entertaining programs from local schools.


Academy at the Lakes

At the Academy at the Lakes, everything is done with intention, every step of the way from 3 years old to high school graduation. The school offers excellence in academics, athletics, fine arts and college acceptances, but more importantly, the students are prepped for life. Inside the beautiful campus, they grow into interesting, compassionate humans within a warm environment full of opportunities and experiences provided by an outstanding faculty and a unique culture.

Layered into the stellar academics of the school are 10 signature programs that create a rare learning environment: Public Speaking, AP Capstone, Medical Seminar, Moffitt Cancer Center Partnership, Environmental Science, Amazon Adventure and Internship, Dale Carnegie Leadership Training, Student Retreats, Extended Trips and a House System.

Academy at the Lakes students are expected to graduate with the skills to become inspiring leaders who embrace opportunities and challenges with poise and self-confidence. They think critically and creatively to seek solutions and develop new ideas. They can balance passion and responsibility in order to achieve individual growth and success, all while creating and nurturing meaningful relationships with respect, empathy and joy.

Points of pride include a student-to-teacher ratio of 7.5 to 1 and four State Championships in the past two years. However, the most important sign of success begins and ends with the expectation with which families enter the school: “You matter here.”


Berkeley Preparatory School

The educational journey at Berkeley is truly extraordinary, with a focus on developing strong character, promoting innovation and growth and desiring excellence. The Berkeley student can choose from an expansive list of AP courses, more than 100 extracurricular activities, a comprehensive Global Scholars program, the Berkeley Academy and a robust community service initiative that results in more than 30,000 service hours a year.

Berkeley’s mission states: “Berkeley puts people in the world who make a positive difference,” and every aspect of a student’s day is dedicated to that goal. The exceptional and diverse community of learners follows personalized paths. Students relish the supportive, nurturing culture, the school’s Episcopal identity, its ongoing commitment to continual self-improvement, and a deeply authentic dedication to making a positive difference in the world.

Berkeley is equally distinguished by a close-knit community where students of every talent are welcomed and celebrated in a uniquely positive learning environment on a beautiful campus. Surrounded by opportunity, encouraged by one another, Berkeley students feel empowered to pursue their passions and reach their full potential.

Berkeley parents share a common bond in wanting an exceptional education for their children. The Parents’ Club allows parents to strengthen that bond with each other, with students, and with faculty and staff, elevating the experience of the whole family through a deeper connection with the entire Berkeley community.


Corbett Preparatory School of IDS

Located on a beautiful 15-acre lakeside campus, Corbett Prep offers the International Baccalaureate programme for all PreK3-8th grade students. For 51 years, Corbett Prep has taught generations of children in a uniquely child-centered culture and community.

At the heart of the Corbett Prep experience is the positive, supportive relationship between students and teachers. Teachers use research-based strategies to engage students in hands-on learning opportunities. In this extraordinary learning environment, a social-emotional curriculum provides the framework for student mindfulness and wellbeing with robust opportunities to discover and develop individual areas of giftedness – academic, musical, performance, STEAM, leadership, athletic or global. Through a diverse, multicultural student body as well as partnerships with schools around the world, Corbett Prep students grow in intercultural appreciation and understanding.

Corbett Prep parents enjoy strong, often lifelong, connections with teachers, staff and other families. The Parent-Faculty Association and the Dads’ Club provide opportunities for involvement and social activities open to the school community. Graduates often say that at Corbett Prep, they learned and practiced the life skills they needed for success beyond 8th grade: the choreography of working respectfully and productively with those from different backgrounds and cultures, a growth mindset to approach and solve problems, and the confidence, poise, and presence to serve as leaders in their community.


The French American School of Tampa Bay

At this unique language immersion school, students ages 3-7 learn all their subjects in French, with their young brains learning the language first by listening and understanding, then speaking with authentic accents that they pick up by mimicking the French native-speaking teachers. By age 8, an English language class is added so that by 5th grade, students are able to speak, understand, read and write equally in both French and English.

Language acquisition is the primary focus of the school, but an equally key component is the robust French national curriculum, adapted to prepare students to transition to American schools. A strong focus on the arts helps students develop lifetime skills with Suzuki violin or piano lessons and the Music Together™ in-school program. The belief is that music, like language, is most effectively learned at a young age.

In its second year of existence, the school is modeled on the successful 19-year track record of L’Ecole Française du Maine, the founders’ first venture. Parents receive regular in-person and newsletter communications and have ample opportunity to get to know each other through events and field trips. In addition to a thoroughly renovated campus and small class sizes, students can take advantage of financial assistance, including Florida Scholarship programs for grades K & up, administered by Step Up for Students and AAA Scholarships, as well as a limited amount of school financial aid.

Learning a second language at a young age teaches children that there is more than one way to look at an issue or solve a problem. Young minds learn a global perspective, which develops a sense of empathy and openness to differences, qualities that will serve FASTB students well throughout their lives.


Lee Academy for Gifted Education

Founded in 1983, Lee Academy for Gifted Education is an internationally recognized institution that challenges, supports and inspires gifted and advanced learners from pre-k through high school. The program offers individualized curriculum, small class sizes and free acceleration, incorporating the latest research and best practices in the education of gifted and talented children.

Dedicated, dynamic teachers who are specialists in their individual fields provide personal attention that allows students to actualize their potential.  Classes encourage content discussion, analysis and originality, with an emphasis on critical and creative thinking. Outside the academic curriculum, students can enjoy excellent fine arts and foreign language instruction, as well as an attention to health, nutrition and fitness. Strong college counseling and dual enrollment programs help students take their pick of universities and secure scholarships after they graduate.

Lee Academy’s 5-acre lakefront campus on the south side of Carrollwood provides an ideal setting for the mutually respectful, cooperative community formed by the students, families and faculty. The forested non-institutionalized setting features several large wooden decks and a lakeside gazebo. Here, students can take art, science and literature classes in more informal locations or simply enjoy the relaxed, stress-free campus setting that optimizes student learning.


Palm Harbor Montessori Academy

At Palm Harbor Montessori Academy, families will find an environment uniquely tailored to facilitate each child’s individual learning. Following the Montessori philosophy and curriculum, each classroom has different grade levels with different ages. Teachers approach each student individually at their developmental level and continue to help them to grow. Classrooms feel like homes. Rather than sitting at rows of desks, students can work on the couch, the floor and other homelike areas.

A particular point of pride for Palm Harbor Montessori Academy is the Secondary Leadership Academy. The popular program has grown from eight to 21 students in seventh through ninth grades. The rigorous preparation students receive here has helped them thrive at exceptional high schools as well.

Parents whose children enter this school understand that their commitment is reciprocated in equal measure by the faculty and staff, who strive to follow through with their vision to create a loving community. When new students come to Palm Harbor, they are met with kindness by the existing students, and when children graduate from this school, they leave firmly entrenched in a mindset of respect and kindness.


Shorecrest Preparatory School

Shorecrest’s four schools are connected by an overarching mission, vision and core values on one beautiful campus. The Experiential School serves the youngest learners with an inquiry-based, joyful Reggio Emilia-inspired model. Project-based learning is the foundation of the K-4 Lower School program, and the middle school (which includes fifth grade in its program) supports young students so they can be prepared to excel in the college preparatory high school.

Families can expect a safe, engaged environment with opportunities to thrive, including a nationally-recognized performing and visual arts program, competitive athletics and engaged service learning. Shorecrest’s College Center guides all seniors to acceptance at a college of their choice. Other points of pride include a comprehensive protection program, a fulltime Director of Diversity and Inclusion as well as a full time Director of Service Learning, and Shorecrest’s use of educational technology, which is internationally recognized by The International Society for Technology in Education.

Through events like Relay for Life, Homecoming, Fall Festival, Poetry & Shakespeare in the Park, families can stay engaged in the school, and students can interact with others of all ages. The cross-division Buddy Program partners Upper School students with Lower School students for events, activities, and camaraderie.

When they leave Shorecrest, graduates are empathetic, independent thinkers who embrace the five core values of responsibility, respect, integrity, knowledge and compassion.


St. John’s Episcopal Parish Day School

In Central Florida’s oldest Episcopal school, students ages 4 through eighth grade are engaged in a transformative, values-driven educational experience designed to inspire wonder, develop character and build leadership skills essential to flourishing in the 21st century.

With a vigorous core curriculum that cultivates independent thinking, creativity, empathy and a passion for learning, St. John’s prepares each student for lifelong intellectual and spiritual growth. St. John’s student-centered, whole-child approach to educating children prepares the students for high school and beyond. Students are expected to leave here with impressive character and citizenship, along with leadership skills that will help them thrive today and into the future.

Involved families usually “join” a school alongside their children; when a family joins St. John’s, they can expect to become part of a community in which the school-parent partnership is encouraged in the raising of their children. St John’s welcomes families into a joyful environment of passion, commitment, optimism, positive energy, respect and an ongoing desire for thoughtful change and excellence.


Westlake Christian School

For 25 years, Westlake Christian School has developed and maintained a unique blend of faith, academics and community. The school is based in the belief of a well-rounded school experience with faith formation, academics, fine arts, athletics, technology, and leadership development as the primary areas.

Westlake is especially proud of using best practices throughout the school and in all areas. The whole school is a best practices environment. Families can expect a community-minded school dedicated to serving each child and family individually.

Westlake graduates are well-rounded and the best thinkers and problem-solvers in this locale. The school is also proud to be the only Christian school to hold accreditation by the Florida Kindergarten Council, the Florida Council of Independent Schools, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/AdvancED. In celebration of 25 years of existence, Westlake Christian School is opening a new building this year.

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