On Monday, February 29, 2016 at 5 PM, a luxurious private yacht set sail with 20 of Marco Island Academy’s VIPs. There was live music, laughter, delicious food, and en-gaging conversation. After watching the sunset fade into dark, the guests all made their way downstairs to celebrate MIA’s past year and to hear the plan for the future.
The prestigious 2015 MIA Philanthropists of the Year Award was presented by Jane Watt, board chair to Bill and Karen Young. Over the past year, Bill and Karen have giv-en personally in many ways to the school.
“There is no end to the selfless dedication and commitment the Youngs have shown to MIA. They exemplify the definition of philanthropy: love of human kind. From helping theschool sell a used van and used motorcycle to raise funds, to helping the school meet a match before deadline, to sponsoring teams for the Golf Tournament and Sporting Clay Event, to providing unwavering guidance and support, and ultimately to providing a two million dollar loan to the school to buy land for a permanent home, there is no one who is more deserving of the award this year. Their kind and generous spirit is an inspiration to all of us. Their generosity will have a positive impact on stu-dents’ lives for generations to come. We wouldn’t be where we are today without their help. They are leaving a legacy behind in our community,” acknowledged Watt.
After the guests were done exchanging congratulations and thanks tothe Youngs, Rene Champagne, treasurer of MIA’s board and former recipient of the MIA Philan-thropist of the Year Award, walked to the front of the room and explained the school’s need to complete its 2015-2016 Annual Fund. Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools must raise funds for facilities, technology, athletics, and a 5% administrative fee to the district. This year alone, MIA must raise $500,000 toward the Annual Fund to cover these costs. Rene and Tish Champagne offered a gift of $25,000 and asked for a match. The gift was matched almost immediately by four more couples including Bill and Karen Young, Scott and Brenda Rhinehart, Constantine and Marianne Iordanou, and one anonymous couple. Within minutes, Marco Island Academy raised $125,000 to support the school. The school needs to raise an additional $25,000 before June 30th to complete its Annual Fund.
At the end of the evening, the vision for the future of MIA was unveiled. Ms. Scott, MIA’s principal, explained the school’s need for a permanent facility. Plans were revealed for a brand new gym, including a full court for basketball and volleyball, a stage for music and theatre performances, a music room, and additional administrative space.
The mission of Marco Island Academy is to provide a student-centered, well-rounded, interdisciplinary education. Students will engage in critical thinking while focusing on math, science, technology, environmental, and global studies. The Academy will up-hold the highest standards of academic excellence, integrity, respect, and social re-sponsibility, while guiding students to achieve post-secondary success.
As Marco IslandAcademy continues to grow and flourish, the schools leaders and supporters focus on the next steps. They are very proud of where they are today. The road has been long and hard, with many bumps along the way. The board, administra-tion, faculty and students are thankful for the many friends and supporters who have joined the MIA family. There are many hands that have played an integral role in MIA’s success. Together, we are making a difference in students’ lives.
Jane Watt is a mother of three children in the public school system. She is also the Founder and Chairperson for Marco Island Academy, a public charter high school. Recently she wrote the book, “Fighting For Kids: Battles To Create a Charter School.” Her mission is to help improve educational opportunities for children.