Marco Island Academy readies for expansion

Marco Island Academy students Rosalie Gates and Arissa Gratkowski enjoy the camraderie at their school. Jean Amodea / Eagle Correspondent

Marco Island Academy students Rosalie Gates and Arissa Gratkowski enjoy the camraderie at their school. Jean Amodea / Eagle Correspondent

— Marco Island as well as Naples students have a choice about where to start or complete their high school education that includes attendance at the Marco Island Academy (MIA), a public charter high school that is tuition free.

With the benefits of small sized classes an individualized attention, students who need those advantages thrive in such an educational setting.

“The smaller setting is more personal and allows greater interaction with teachers, I really like the set-up here,” said MIA student Jesse Polanco.

However, currently growing out of their current space at Winterberry Drive, plans are being finalized to erect a new school at a San Marco location by August 2012.

A team that includes an architect, engineer, a local community representative, a member of the board of directors and the modular company is now at work to make the move a reality.

In an effort to disseminate information about various components of the school, Jane Watt, MIA board chairperson sat down with the Eagle to discuss the school’s organizational structure, advanced curriculum, activities, staff, governing board and funding sources.

First, she explained that the difference between a charter school and a traditional public school is that charter schools evolve from a perceived need for a particular “type of school in a particular location.”

“Initiated by a grassroots group of individuals, charter schools have been freed from some of the rules, regulations and statutes that apply to other public schools, in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results,” she said.

“Charter schools are accountable for their results in the same way other public schools are, but they’re typically granted more flexibility in how the school is run. In addition, students ‘apply’ to charter schools rather than being ‘assigned’ to the school based on where they live.”

She also said that charter schools “tend to have a focus” such as evident at MIA’s science, technology, engineering and environmental studies and mathematics (STEM) curriculum emphasis.

For high achieving students, in addition to a dual enrollment program at local universities, MIA offers an Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) diploma through the University of Cambridge.

Offered worldwide, AICE is a two year curriculum that has been in use in Florida schools since 1998. Students completing up to 45 credit diploma requirements are offered advanced standing and academic credit by many colleges and universities.

Watt said that AICE program students also qualify for the Florida Bright Futures tuition scholarship.

MIA extracurricular activities includes a growing number of clubs such as Student Council, Debate Club and civic clubs like the Key Club (Kiwanis), Interact Club (Rotary), Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program and the Naples Town Hall Speakers Series Ambassadors Program.

Athletic Director Roger Raymond directs the existing cheerleading, boys’ and girls’ cross country team, girls’ volleyball, boys’ and girls’ basketball, baseball and track.

For the 2012-13 school years, plans are in the works to add teams for football, tennis, softball and golf.

Regarding the administration, George Andreozzi, M.A. is at the helm at MIA as principal with 50 years of experience in education up to the college level. He also holds a professional certificate in administration.

The highly qualified teaching staff of nine includes six with master’s degrees, one of those who is also a bar certified attorney, one who will earn her masters’ degree in June, one with a bachelor’s degree and one music teacher.

The support staff includes the athletic director and coach, a comptroller, office manager and an office assistant.

Governed by a volunteer six voting member and one non-voting member board of directors, MIA also has a National Advisory Board, comprised of educators, business leaders and environmentalists.

According to Watt, the school is partially funded through tax dollars allotted each student. A portion of Collier County property taxes is applied to the school district that in turn sends the funds allocated for each student to their respective schools.

“The existence of MIA does not increase the educational tax dollars paid by property owners; by law, charter schools cannot levy taxes. The remaining funding needed for operations and capital expenditures is paid for by grants, fundraising and donations,” she said.

Since MIA is a non-profit 501 c(3) organization, all monies donated are tax-deductible and directly benefit the school. Fundraisers are conducted to supply additional needed capital for the school operation and now for the new building and site.

MIA is seeking “larger donations with naming rights” for the new structure and site.

Any persons interested in supporting the school’s vision with a tax-deductible donation, can drop off funds made payable to Marco Island Academy, a public charter high school to the school office or mail to MI Academy, 1450 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145.

For more information, visit MIA at marcoislandacademy.com.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 17

eaglepalooza writes:

Can any of these people spell J-O-K-E?
How much will they be expanding to? 100?
This school has violated all rules regarding the formation of a charter...her first comment was that they can operate if there is a "need"...that has NEVER been established unless you count being too lazy to drive over the Jolly Bridge!

MarcoDefender writes:

in response to eaglepalooza:

Can any of these people spell J-O-K-E?
How much will they be expanding to? 100?
This school has violated all rules regarding the formation of a charter...her first comment was that they can operate if there is a "need"...that has NEVER been established unless you count being too lazy to drive over the Jolly Bridge!

Palooza - This school's charter was approved by a school board that did all they could to stop it, so there's no possible way they violated anything, or they wouldn't exist. Your conclusion is false.

As for need, how do you explain the consistent growth of the Charter Middle School? It's ranked in the top 6% of the state, by the way, and there's so much demand to attend that they will likely have a lottery for acceptance this coming year. Yes, filled beyond capacity is the expectation. By the way, those students, Marco Island residents, would like to continue their studies in their community, and so would we, their parents. What's the point of driving an hour everyday to a sub-rated high school when they can be near home, near their families who are involved in their academic success, with a school that will continue the top rated education they have access to on this island. It's easy math.

I'm guessing you don't have school aged children that reside with you and grow up in this city. Wow, that's shocking. So, get the facts before you make quick judgements on a subject you know very little about. Let's keep our kids on island, let's keep our tax dollars on island, and let's see the continued strong academic performance the kids on this island continue to demonstrate. Do I need to educate you on the fact that the Charter Middle School is ONLY middle school in the entire Collier District to be A rated. The only one. Seems to me they are doing some great work there. By the way, those Charter Middle School students will move to the high school level, into the Marco Island Academy, if they so choose. Just give it a few years, it will be top rated as well.

Thanks.

eaglepalooza writes:

Who are you to say this school is top rated? Just because they score well on a test means nothing. The teachers they employ are far from world class. The athletic programs are lame. The facilities are pathetic. This is not world class. This is LOW CLASS! Those poor kids are being forced to attend by their lame parents. 99 percent of the middle school kids dont want to attend and will not. Stop making something out of nothing!

mhs513 writes:

The people behind and pushing MIA are a bunch of elitist jerks. Thanks for bringing your modular mess, along with more traffic and noise, to the area.

happyhorowitz34145 writes:

Why is there no mention of the police being at the school last week, when one of the coaches had his hands on a student chocking him?

Ruger writes:

Looks like the Lely supporters are out in force on this blog today.

If they had their way, MICMS would not be the best middle school in Collier County today. This High School IS Marco Islands future!

Go Marco Island Academy!!

waterday writes:

I agree with Marco Defender. I am a parent that has children at Lely High School. Lely is a good school and a great school for some students, with that said, it is a public high school. Driving over the bridge, countless times a day when parents work, and kids need rides to practice or forget items is a hardship for working parents.There are many of us that feel the public high school is too far off the Island. Having a high school on Marco, is a goal that I commend all of the supporters for following through on. It will eventually be top rated A grade, just like the Marco Charter School. If you want your kids at Lely, send them there.. but please don't trash a new high school and the many good people that are behind it. Marco does not mess up schools, they do them right, it will take many years of growing pains, but this school will be top rated, with a waiting list someday, like the Charter Middle School.

ajm3s writes:

in response to happyhorowitz34145:

Why is there no mention of the police being at the school last week, when one of the coaches had his hands on a student chocking him?

It may have been part of the new safety training demonstration of the Heimlich Maneuver that went awry?

MarcoDefender writes:

in response to eaglepalooza:

Who are you to say this school is top rated? Just because they score well on a test means nothing. The teachers they employ are far from world class. The athletic programs are lame. The facilities are pathetic. This is not world class. This is LOW CLASS! Those poor kids are being forced to attend by their lame parents. 99 percent of the middle school kids dont want to attend and will not. Stop making something out of nothing!

Palooza - The charter middle school is top rated, and it's because of the student's performance. Those students will soon populate the Marco Island Academy, hence, the top rating will likely continue. If students choose to go to Lely, that's fine, they have that choice.

If there are aspects you consider lame, it's probably fair since the school is brand new, not everything is great on day one, as you know. Give it a chance, there are so many great things in progress there.

By the way, a substantial portion of MICMS students chose to school at MIA, so again your facts are inaccurate.

Keep at it, you'll eventual get it right.

Gardenman writes:

in response to happyhorowitz34145:

Why is there no mention of the police being at the school last week, when one of the coaches had his hands on a student chocking him?

There was no mention of it because that incident did not occur at MIA and the student involved was not an MIA student. Get your facts straight.

Brisla writes:

in response to mhs513:

The people behind and pushing MIA are a bunch of elitist jerks. Thanks for bringing your modular mess, along with more traffic and noise, to the area.

No, we're not. Some might be, but not all...certainly not most.

Some of us want to send our kids to a school in our own community, instead of busing them to the next town. Others think an 8:30am start time makes more sense, or fits into their daily schedule better. Others like the curriculum and focus on STEM. Others want their kids to be able to participate on sports teams, which they might not be able to do at a larger school. Others like the student-teacher ratio, with more opportunities for individualized instruction.

To categorize all of us with one broad stroke is absurd, just as it would be to say that everybody who chooses to live on Marco Island is an elitist jerk because of the lack of diversity here.

Again, I wonder why there isn't this type of animosity to parents who choose to send their kids to the other charter school on the island, instead of sending them to Manatee Middle School. Why aren't they called elitist jerks?

jwputnam writes:

As I read the comments above, I notice that the anti-academy writers are not able to communicate a clear, intelligent argument. On the other hand, those supporting the academy write well and make a good case.

I have witnessed the exact same scenario when viewing the union protests in the Wisconsin State Capital and the so-called "Occupy" protests. The under-educated believe that shouting and (often) foul behavior and language make their point. (Actually....it does.)

There is no reason to rant and rave about MIA any longer. It exists and it is growing. If you don't like it, don't send your kids there. They can then grow up just like you.

The academy kids have made a courageous decision to experiment with excellence and I would guess that they will be our future leaders and job creators.

RayPray writes:

in response to jwputnam:

As I read the comments above, I notice that the anti-academy writers are not able to communicate a clear, intelligent argument. On the other hand, those supporting the academy write well and make a good case.

I have witnessed the exact same scenario when viewing the union protests in the Wisconsin State Capital and the so-called "Occupy" protests. The under-educated believe that shouting and (often) foul behavior and language make their point. (Actually....it does.)

There is no reason to rant and rave about MIA any longer. It exists and it is growing. If you don't like it, don't send your kids there. They can then grow up just like you.

The academy kids have made a courageous decision to experiment with excellence and I would guess that they will be our future leaders and job creators.

"I notice that the anti-academy writers are not able to communicate a clear, intelligent argument."

>>> If their arguments lacked cogency, why would you need to respond?

"On the other hand, those supporting the academy write well and make a good case."

>>> Klauby's subsequent post really proves your point!

"The academy kids have made a courageous decision to experiment with excellence"

>>> Funnier than Letterman JW

"I would guess that they will be our future leaders and job creators."

>>> Shocked such a multiplied-PhD'd, belletristic doyen as yourself should otiosly lapse into the pointless perfect tense of "have made" & "would guess" when just "made & "guess" would have been more appropriate.

marcoready writes:

jwputnam said it BEST!! For you haters, your only going to make me and others bring more kids and more revenue to support MIA! I would like to see a fundraiser every month. This is going to be the best high school in FL!

RayPray writes:

in response to marcoready:

jwputnam said it BEST!! For you haters, your only going to make me and others bring more kids and more revenue to support MIA! I would like to see a fundraiser every month. This is going to be the best high school in FL!

"I would like to see a fundraiser every month."

>>> I bet Gunga Jane soon grants your wish....

MarcoMade writes:

As a parent here on Marco, I am not sure how wanting a local high school is "elitist". It only seems natural that a high school would eventually round out the education already offered on the island. A parent should not be labeled for desiring the best for his/her child. We already have two wonderful schools here on the island....why bash the idea of a third?

blogsmog writes:

A high school on Marco is not the vision of the Chamber and the STRP lovers aka (Marco mafia). They want build build build, commercial, commercial, commercial, rent rent, rent. This little school is so much more than a learning facility, it is those who want a family structured paradise on Marco as opposed to those who want a Miami style paradise here on Marco. Stand tall MIA!

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