Florida Prep Introduces College Schedule, Affords Students To Work On Larger Projects
By Space Coast Daily // October 29, 2016
students are held to high standards
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – When Florida Preparatory Academy introduced its college schedule to upperclassmen this school year, some students wondered what it would mean for their school day.
They needn’t had worried.
“Students, at first, imagined it would be tedious to be in class for 90 minutes at a time, but the opposite is true and they love the opportunity it now affords them to work on larger projects,” said Jeanette Middleton, the school’s Director of Public Relations and Communications.
The new schedule fits four different 90-minute classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and three other classes, each an hour and 45 minutes in length, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
In previous school years, high school classes lasted 45 minutes each, as they still do in most upper schools, even though research studies have proven this time frame is too short for an optimal learning experience.
The move to these longer classes was spurred by the desire to give the students at the Melbourne co-educational preparatory school an edge by presenting them with a class schedule that would mimic what they would face upon entering college.
The new schedule also allows for the use of adjunct professors from institutions of higher learning such as Florida Institute of Technology and creates time that allows students to participate in internship opportunities with local businesses such as Artemis, an information technology company, thus adding a significant breadth of experience opportunities to the school day.
“I like not having all the classes every day,” said Deva Shanks, a senior from Indialantic who plans to study both business entrepreneurship and art in college.
“The new format makes it easy to better focus on each class. It also helps me to manage my time.”
Principal Lisa Gray explains how changing the class schedule benefits students.
“They have to develop planning skills and learn to budget their time and set priorities for homework,” said Gray.
“They’re learning skills now that they would otherwise have had to wait until college to develop.”
It’s no magic potion that the more a high school can prepare its students for the college experience, the better that student will perform when given the significant new freedom that college brings.
Florida Prep’s transition to a college schedule gets high marks from the student body.
“It was a seamless transition,” said senior Ethan Aynes of Melbourne.
To make sure no student falls between the cracks, the school also offers Teacher Help, a half-hour session each day in which all teachers make themselves available for one-on-one time with students.
“Students can ask for help, or the teacher can request to meet with the student if the student is struggling,” said Gray.
As the needs of its student body have evolved, so, too, has have the structure of Florida Prep.
Founded in 1961 as Florida Air Academy by educator and aviation enthusiast Jonathan Dwight, the boarding school for young men once adhered to the strict code of a facility preparing its students for life in the military.
“There are certain students who need to be in that kind of school, but we have discovered that most students thrive in a family-like atmosphere that challenges them to excel,” said Steve Cash, Dean and Associate Head of Students.
“The Dwight family has been very forward-thinking in changing the direction of the school.”
ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Prep President James Dwight talks about the rich tradition, international student body, dedicated faculty and high standards of the 53-year old Melbourne, Florida institution.
Since its inception, Florida Prep has been under the leadership of the Dwight family. James Dwight, the son of the founder, is its current president.
Cash has first-hand knowledge of the significant changes at the school, since he is a past principal who continued on to positions as head of prestigious prep schools throughout the country.
He was considering retirement when Florida Prep again tapped onto his vast expertise as the school continues its efforts to position itself as one of the top college preparatory schools in the country.
“We are proud to develop young men and women who blend academic ability, integrity and good character, along with a knowledge of world cultures, into a powerful force well prepared for future success, growth, and leadership,” said Cash.
While the school has initiated many changes to help students meet the challenges of the 21st. Century, some things never change…on purpose. Since the time in the early 60s when Jonathan Dwight first opened his military academy, Florida Prep has remained a unique institution.
Students are expected to maintain high standards of responsibility and accountability in academic performance, character and community involvement. Florida Prep’s exceptional faculty expects more from their students because they give more to them and the students respond in kind.
All graduating classes since 1978 have achieved 100 percent college acceptance and many receive sizable scholarships to the institutions of their choice. Graduating classes of the past three years have earned more than $4 million in scholarship offers from top colleges and universities around the world.
Middle School Students Adhere To 45-Minute Class Length
Expectations start early in the learning process and high performing middle school students may now be recommended for high school-level classes.
Students in the lower grades, which for the first time include the fifth grade this academic year, adhere to a more traditional 45-minute class length because at the elementary school level, students perform best during shorter sessions.
All middle school core classes are held in the same building in the mornings, so students are free to attend high school level electives in the afternoon, and many do.
Diversity has always been a big part of the Florida Prep picture.
“When the school first got started, there was no other school where a student could sit next to students from China, Germany, France and many other countries,” said Cash. “There was always this diversity and sense of universal brotherhood.”
Florida Prep treasures that diversity, enhanced in later years by the inclusion of day students and girls. Although Florida Prep is a small school, its student body boasts students from diverse socioeconomic, ethnic, cultural and geographic backgrounds.
Boarding students from around the corner to around the world, as well as day students from just a few blocks away, all appreciate the different perspectives they gain from interacting with each other. It is not unusual for friendships forged at the school to last a lifetime.
“We offer an unparalleled opportunity of a rich cultural and geographic diversity to in a challenging academic setting that is as home-like as possible,” said Cash.
For more on Florida Preparatory Academy, call 321-723-3211 or visit flprep.com