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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.

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.

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.

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.

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