Florida Prep Prepares Students For Life In Enriching, Challenging, Structured Environment
By Space Coast Daily // August 21, 2016
comprehensive college education program
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.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Few investments reap as many rewards as a private education. Helping children to thrive emotionally, physically and educationally is a parent’s most critical duty, so every dollar spent towards that goal is well spent, indeed.
A small private school such as Florida Preparatory Academy can provide a much more enriching, challenging and yet structured environment than many a much larger public school, where the student-to-teacher ratio is often very high and educators cannot allocate individual time to all students.
At Florida Prep, each student is an individual, yet also a treasured member of the Florida Prep family.
“We want these students to achieve their highest potential,” said Alisa Southwell, Florida Prep’s director of admissions.
Yes, it is true that public schools are free and private schools do have tuition costs, but the benefits of a private education should be viewed as a long-term investment with paybacks that often include hefty college scholarships.
Florida Prep students have achieved 100 percent college acceptance since 1978. Not only are they accepted into college, but they are welcomed at the colleges and universities of their choice with significant financial assistance. In the past three years, Florida Prep seniors have earned more than $7 million in scholarships.
While preparing students for success in higher education is critical, it is just part of the bigger picture. “Yes, we are equipping them for success in college, but even more importantly, we’re preparing them for success throughout their lives,” said Southwell. “We strive to achieve nothing less with every student.”
For a student to achieve his highest potential, a school should provide all the necessary resources, plus more, beginning with a setting that is embracing, welcoming and conducive to learning.
Unlike many private schools, Florida Prep offers a family atmosphere, primarily because of the school’s unique roots. The school remains under the leadership of the Dwight family, whose patriarch founded the school in 1961. Virtually all staff members send their own children to Florida Prep and 15 percent of faculty actually live on school grounds.
The Florida Prep family encompasses the entire world. A significant benefit of attending Florida Prep is its inclusivity, so students learn alongside students from diverse cultures. In this truly international school, the student body represents 30 countries and 20 states.
As globalization continues, students who enjoy this first-hand knowledge of other cultures and languages will gain a competitive edge from the start. It is not unusual for students to forge lifelong friendships that span the globe.
“It’s a very enriching environment,” said Southwell. “They develop a global perspective that prepares them to face the challenges of a global economy, whatever field they choose.”
SUPPORT, ENCOURAGE EACH STUDENT
Because it is both a day and boarding school, Florida Prep offers families an additional unique opportunity selected by working families from throughout Florida, who often choose five-day boarding for their students. Students are immersed in a rich academic and cultural environment, yet going home on weekends is easy.
“We even offer weekend shuttle services to south Florida, Jacksonville and Orlando, which allows students to return home at weekends – saving parents drive time to and from Florida Prep,” said Southwell.
In public schools, students who stand out are often not challenged enough, while students who struggle with classwork too easily fall behind because there is no individualized help to get them on their feet.
At Florida Prep, high-achieving students have their pick from college-level courses. Students who need additional help with their courses can easily access free after-school help, since their teachers have dedicated time in which they can offer one-on-one assistance.
National studies on the effect of class size have shown that the smaller the class size, the better students perform on academic achievement tests.
Educators are selected both for their experience, as well as for the passion they feel for the subject matter. With an average class size of 13, the attention students need and deserve is also available at Florida Prep.
Teachers become both role models and the student’s “second family,” and this close relationship additionally propels students’ academic success.
“We go out of our way to support and encourage each student,” said Southwell.
“We do hands-on learning and pay attention to each individual. The teachers know when the students are performing at their best game level and they step in to help.”
Small class size foster close student-teacher relationships that enhance learning, because educators have a more accurate sense of the student’s strengths and weaknesses. Students do not get “lost in the shuffle” of large classes and are more inclined to actively participate in class discussions.
Students are not just expected to step up to the plate academically, but they are also expected to be responsible, productive individuals.
“We hold them to high standards of responsibility and accountability,” said Southwell.
NOW OFFERING 5TH GRADE
In general, students in private institutions such as Florida Prep reach higher levels of academic achievements because they are challenged to do their best.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “private high schools typically have more demanding graduation requirements than do public high schools.
More can be expected of private school students in terms of quality of work, course workload and special requirements such as community service or arts participation. The push to meet this higher standard often results in a greater level of student performance.”
The 2016-2017 academic season brings even greater opportunities for families considering a Florida Prep education, since the school is opening up its fifth grade this year.
“We’ve had quite a few requests for it, so we’ve made a commitment,” said Southwell.
The addition of a fifth grade allows families to tap onto the benefits of a Florida Prep education early in the academic process.
Successful 21st Century men and women are well-rounded individuals defined not just by academic competence.
Florida Prep has a strong reputation in a variety of competitive sports and extra-curricular activities that include everything from surfing to flight training. Students are also expected to give back to their community through meaningful service. Florida Prep sets a high standard for its students, and students rise to the challenge.
Because the school places significant emphasis on personal discipline, disruptive behavior is not tolerated. Students learn self-control early in their school career, an advantage when they head off to the independence of college life.
When weighing the costs of a private education against the benefits realized from such a superior learning experience during the formative years, it is easy to see that private schools such as Florida Prep offer a great return on investment.
“We prepare students for life,” said Southwell.
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