The St. Lucie County school system is an important factor in deciding to relocate to our area. This subject is near and dear to many people as it’s important to know what education is available when they look for the right community in which to live and call home.
I have had the privilege of touring the St. Lucie County school system in 2011 with the Leadership Academy through the St. Lucie Chamber of Commerce (class 29). On this full day tour in I was immersed in the opportunities available to St. Lucie residents – from early learning all the way to Grad School.
Here are some of the highlights of the programs and initiatives I encountered with the St. Lucie school systems:
I toured Renaissance Charter School in St. Lucie West which is part of Charter Schools USA. This school is grades K – 8th and is tuition free, governed privately, and funded through the County. It’s part of the nation’s only accredited charter school program and the school boasts a 90% retention rate as well as being an “A” school for 2008 – 2009 FCAT scores. What makes this school unique is that they have a uniform policy and they require parental involvement and volunteerism of 20 hours per year. Their curriculum is data-driven and they call it “guaranteed and viable” because if they realize something isn’t working then they can easily change it as they have on-staff curriculum inspectors who make sure that all classrooms are adhering to the curriculum and all children are guaranteed the same education.
Our tour included a talk with the principal who relayed the above information. We were treated to a “Beatles anthem” from their children’s choir and got to tour through a few classrooms.
John Carroll Catholic High School and St. Anastasia K-8 Catholic School were on our list to tour for Private Schools. As there are many private schools in St. Lucie, these happened to be the two that we toured for the day. John Carroll is the only Catholic high school in our 4-county area and about 99% of the graduates go on to college.
We received a presentation from the students about the programs and extracurricular activities in which they participate. I was quite impressed with all this school has to offer – sports, volunteer programs like the Habitat for Humanity, and band – just to name a few.
High School – Academy Programs & Career Paths
We toured Treasure Coast High School off of Darwin Blvd in Port St. Lucie to receive a presentation from the students regarding the academies available to students throughout the county. An important factor that is a major focus is to make sure that students are work-ready upon graduation. An academy is a program with a particular focus. We heard about four major academies or career paths available within the High School system of St. Lucie County: Vet Academy where students intern at a veterinarian clinic, the Marine and Oceanographic Academy at Harbor Branch, a Construction Academy, and the International Business Academy.
Students in St. Lucie County go through a Freshman Seminar when they enter high school which helps students see what opportunities are available.
Kids at Hope
Many of the K-8 schools in St. Lucie County are part of the Kids at Hope program which is a mindset that teachers adopt. Instead of a teacher labeling a student as a “kid at risk” they now adopt the mental attitude that every student has a special skill and it’s the teacher’s goal to uncover their skills. The teachers and educational staff refer to themselves as Treasure Hunters and they look for the good in every student. The presentation at Garden City Early Learning Academy in Fort Pierce was insightful. We heard from a panel school board members, city council, and principles regarding upcoming initiatives for St. Lucie County.
Collaboration between Indian River State College and Florida Universities
St. Lucie County is the only county that is not within a 100 mile radius of a major university which is typical of all other counties in Florida. This is a very unique opportunity in that we have three universities partnering to offer higher education in our area. University of Florida (Gainesville), Florida State University (Tallahassee), and Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton) are the three universities that collaborate with Indian River State College to offer a diverse array of programs.
Indian River State College – which turned 50 years old in 2010 – enrolls over 30,000 students per semester and has about 3000 graduates each year. Currently they offer 150 programs of study including everything from certificates up to Baccalaureate degrees.
We toured the Kight Center for Technology on IRSC’s main campus in Fort Pierce and received a presentation from all three universities about what they offer and where we are headed in the future for education. The Kight Center houses the engineering program where we saw a robotic assembly line in motion. We walked through the “green room” of a video production studio and saw the behind-the-scenes equipment used for movies and news briefs on campus.
Indian River State College offers adult education in the form of Adult High School, the GED program, and Dual Enrollment. A panel of students from all three of these programs explained their experience and how their education has impacted their lives. The common theme was that by enrolling in IRSC’s adult education they realized they wanted to continue their achievement with higher learning such as an Associates in Arts degree or certificate program.
Share your experience with St. Lucie County schools in the comment box below.