Amber Prange is the new social studies teacher for the Marco Island Academy charter high school. The twenty-eight year old Prange has been teaching and creating programming for young people locally for several years. She also brings valuable leadership experience gained through her prior work in Washington, DC for Congressman Connie Mack.
“I’ve always been inclined towards working with young people,” says Prange. Even as she appreciated the policy scope of her work as a legislative coordinator for Mack, Prange says she missed making a direct connection to the people she helped Mack represent. “I like making a first-hand difference. Plus, my whole family is here…I still have younger siblings going through school.”
Helping those siblings and young people across the island is Prange’s focus. As the teen recreation leader at Mackle Park, she came to a center of literal, and figurative, blank walls. The teen center primarily serves the island middle schoolers who have a gap between the end of school and their parents’ arrival home from work. Making the center welcoming was “trial and error,” says Prange. “We do career shadowing with them now, and we do monthly community service projects.” She works with recreation supervisor Mindy Matusiak on programming for the summer camp and special events like the recent ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.’
Prange has taught social studies previously, at Marco Island Charter Middle, and like the new high school’s mission, she believes in “going beyond the book.” To that end, she used a multimedia approach to tough subjects like World War II, incorporating current music along with period footage to bring issues to life instead of memorizing dates.
“I was ‘Miss High School’,” says the proud Lely graduate. “I have the best memories of proms, pep rallies. These are things the kids who attend the Academy shouldn’t miss,” and she expects to use her programming experience to help make sure that happens.
Prange researched the Academy extensively before signing on, and believes the school will provide the kind of cutting edge education she believes the US as a nation should be striving for. “I’m amazed at what this school is able to offer to students. The first year will be tough because people are scared of the unknown, but you are going to get the best education your parents could ever wish for you.”
Note: Prange and the rest of the faculty and staff of the Marco Island Academy are hosting a full orientation day for incoming students at the Marco Island Marriott on May 21. There will be beach games for kids and information for parents. In the evening, students will have the chance to discuss key issues like a mascot and dress code over dinner. Stay after dinner for a ‘dive-in’ movie at the pool. Prospective parents and high schoolers are welcome to attend as well.