By Natalie Strom
With the summer coming to a close, local schools are busy prepping for the upcoming school year. Marco Island Academy High School is no exception. Going into its second year, the school has come a long way since opening its doors last fall. The charter high school is looking forward to some big changes, including some new teachers, new coursework and a new school site.
Joining the MIA team this year are three new staff members. Ms. Betsy Klemme has signed on as the school’s guidance counselor. Graduating from FGCU with a Master’s in School Counseling in 2012, Klemme has made the jump from teacher to counselor. A transplant from Wisconsin, Klemme taught for AmeriCorps until deciding to return to school in 2009 for her Masters. Klemme hopes to instill the value of education and to develop a clear sense of focus in the students at Marco Island Academy.
New to the Marco area is incoming Spanish Language teacher, Professor Justo Herrera. A Spanish instructor since 1974, Herrera has taught in New York City, St. Louis and in Jackson and Broward counties in Florida. He has a BA from Herbert H. Lehman College in the Bronx and a Master in Spanish from New York City’s Graduate School and University Center, Brooklyn College. With a career spanning both high school and college level Spanish, Herrera will have students rolling their R’s in no time.
Another new face in the MIA halls is Physical Education and Resort Management teacher, Mrs. Kelly Monnot. “She will be working with the Marriott to coordinate the Resort Management program,” explains Board of Directors Chairman, Jane Watt. The new coursework will provide students with a chance to learn, first hand, what it’s like not only to live in a tourist-based community, but also the opportunities that it can provide. With a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Education and a Masters of Science in Sports Administration, Mrs. Monnot’s new position as P.E. instructor is a perfect fit. She will also be the new girl’s volleyball coach. She brings years of experience to the table with a volleyball resume that includes four years as a starter on the volleyball team at Eastern Kentucky University, as well as time spent coaching at premier volleyball club, USA South.
Along with the newly added Resort Management courses, MIA will also be offering AICE courses this school year. The Advanced International Certificate of Education through the University of Cambridge falls in line with programs similar to Advanced Placement (A.P.) courses. The program, which allows students to earn college credit while still in high school, will serve as a rigorous curriculum education opportunity.
Increased courses and enrollment have made the need for a larger school even greater, and advocates of the charter high school are making sure this is exactly what happens. Expecting over a hundred students at the freshman, sophomore and junior level (MIA is accepting seniors Fall of 2013), construction workers have been busy preparing the new school site on San Marco Drive since early July. Located between The Estuary condominiums to the east and Key Marco to the west, the site, “is on schedule and on budget,” according to contractor Mark Tolson of Development Services of Florida.
“We’ve taken care of utility coordination, we have the on-site water main run and hydrants are up.” Installation of sewer lines began at the beginning of August. According to lead architect, John Szerdi of Living Designs Group, the infrastructure for the school should be finished by early September.
“The infrastructure is a huge part of the expense that’s associated with the school, so we’re excited to have that part close to completion,” adds Watt. “What we’re working on now is fundraising to pay for the modulars, decking and roofing.” As with any charter school, Marco Island Academy receives little government funding so the tuition-free school has relied on fundraising to complete the project. “We have a team of people who are working on raising the additional necessary funds. From now until January 1, our focus is on meeting with people who have a vested interest in the future of the school. If everybody gives a little bit, we’ll be right there.”
A major contributor to the school from the beginning has been the Marco Island Marriott. Recently, the resort donated chickee huts once used on the beach to the school. As the new building is completed, the huts will be used for an outside cafeteria.
Plans to move into the new school are tentatively set for Christmas break as long as all continues to go as scheduled.
There are many ways to contribute to the high school by volunteering, through naming rights and through individual donations. Those interested in helping MIA reach their fundraising goal may contact Jane Watt at chair@marcoislandacade my.org or visit the school’s website, www.marcoislandacademy.com