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America’s Best Urban Schools Award Winner (Doral Charter/Performing Arts HS)

March 13, 2017
Mr. Carlos Ferralls, Principal
Doral Academy Charter High School
Doral Performing Arts and Entertainment Academy High School
11100NW 27th St
Doral, FL 33172
Dear: Mr. Ferralls,

Congratulations! Your school is one of 27 winners of the 2017 America’s Best Urban Schools Award. Among the thousands of urban schools in the nation, yours is among the few that met all of our rigorous eligibility criteria. We selected your school as a winner because you demonstrated through multiple indicators that your school is achieving impressive academic results for every demographic group you serve. Our site-visit team validated that your school is truly one of America’s best urban schools! The site-visit teams had the incredibly difficult task of determining which finalist schools presented the greatest evidence of strength in four areas: curricular rigor, instructional effectiveness, relational quality, and continuous improvement efforts. The team found considerable evidence of these strengths at your school; therefore, your school has been selected as one of only 14 schools that will receive either the Silver Award or the Gold Award at the 2017 America’s Best Urban Schools Symposium.

The event will be held on May 16th and 17th at the Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. We will pay travel expenses and registration for you and one other educator from your school to attend the symposium. (Please see the attached packet regarding travel and registration information.) As an award winner, you are expected to present a session at the symposium. Educators from across the nation will be eager to learn more about what your school has done to ensure the academic success of your students. Also, at the symposium, your school will be recognized at our awards ceremony on May 16th. At the award ceremony, you will receive a large banner announcing that your school is a winner of the 2017 America’s Best Urban Schools Award. Also, your school will receive a check in the amount of at least $2,500. Silver Award winners will receive $2,500 checks and Gold Award winners will receive $5,000 checks. Only four schools will be designated as Gold Award winners. We will not release the names of the Gold Award winners until the symposium. As a Silver or Gold Award winner, you will be recognized at a special reception in honor of our awardees. We will work with your district to develop special media releases to inform your community about your outstanding accomplishments. In addition to all of this, you are invited to nominate up to five of your school’s students for our student speech contest, and you will have the opportunity to nominate one of your school volunteers for our school volunteer award. (Information about the speech contest and the volunteer award program is included in the attached packet.) Clearly, you can be proud of your school’s designation as a Silver or Gold Award winner. You join an elite group of 145 schools that can claim to have been recognized as a winner of the America’s Best Urban Schools Award. We look forward to celebrating your accomplishments in Nashville.

Please review the attached pages carefully to make sure that you complete each document by the due date.
There is a limited amount of time before the symposium, and we want to make sure that we include your school fully. Congratulations!

Sincerely,
Joseph F. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D.
Executive Director

DORAL CHARTER & PERF 2017 ABUS Silver Winner Letter & Packet.PDF DOWNLOAD

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International Studies Charter High School Tops U.S. News & World Report’s Best Florida High Schools List

Miami – May 13, 2015 – U.S. News & World Report has named International Studies Charter High School (ISCHS) the 2015 Best High School in Florida. In addition to its #1 statewide ranking, ISCHS ranks #4 Best Charter School in the country, #13 Best High School in the United States and is a Gold Medal winner for providing students with an excellent college-preparatory education, earning 100% on its college-readiness index. Founded in 2004, ISCHS partners with the Spanish, Italian and French consuls to offer rigorous multi-lingual, multi-literate and multi-cultural curriculum that develops students into citizens of the world.

Academica, one of the nation’s longest-serving and most successful charter school service and support organizations, is the education service provider for ISCHS as well as for a total of 14 schools (13 in Florida and one in Texas) that received 2015 Best High School Honors from U.S. News & World Report, which examined more than 29,000 public high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to determine which schools excelled in each state and nationally. Editors acknowledged Florida and Texas for an impressive presence on this year’s Best High Schools lists.

Rankings and honors are compiled from data on overall student performance, with a focus on effectiveness at education students from black, Hispanic and low-income students, and students’ college readiness based on results from Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.

Below is a complete list of the charter schools serviced by Academica that received U.S. News & World Report 2015 Best High Schools in Florida honors (except where noted), including Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for excellence in college readiness, plus national rankings:

Gold Medal Winners

International Studies Charter High School (#1)
(#13 national rank; #4 Best Charter Schools National Rank)
Miami / Miami-Dade County Public School District (MDCPS)

Doral Performing Arts & Entertainment Academy (#13)
(#148 national rank; #44 Best Charter Schools National Rank)
Doral / MDCPS

Doral Academy Charter High School (#22)
(#351 national rank; #85 Best Charter Schools National Rank)
Doral / MDCPS

Mater Academy Charter High (#23)
(#352 national rank; #86 Best Charter Schools National Rank)
Hialeah Gardens / MDCPS

Somerset High School (#25)
(#386 national rank; #92 Best Charter Schools National Rank)
Homestead / MDCPS

Mater Academy East Charter High School (#31)
(#470 national rank; #98 Best Charter Schools National Rank)
Miami / MDCPS

Silver Medal Winners

City of Hialeah Education Academy (#55)
(#801 national rank; #130 Best Charter Schools National Rank)
Hialeah / MDCPS

Mater Academy Lakes High School (#91)
(#1299 national rank; #158 Best Charter Schools National Rank)
Hialeah / MDCPS

Somerset Academy (#126)
(#2129 national rank; #201 Best Charter Schools National Rank)
Pembroke Pines / Broward County Public School District (BCPS)

Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering (BASE) (#144 – state of Texas)
(#1539 national rank; #174 Best Charter Schools National Rank)
San Antonio / BASE (T-STEM Public Charter School District)

Bronze Medal Winners

Mater Academy High School of International Studies
Miami / MDCPS

Mater Performing Arts & Entertainment Academy
Hialeah Gardens / MDCPS

Somerset Academy Charter High School
Homestead / MDCPS

Somerset Arts Conservatory
Pembroke Pines / BCPS
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US News & World Report Best High Schools 2015

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NASCAR Roars into Homestead Area High School

Homestead, FL (Nov. 8, 2013) – On Tuesday, November 12, Eleventh grader Jesus Luis-Mejia will arrive at school in a NASCAR racecar.

His NASCAR sponsored ride to school is the grand prize Jesus won for an essay he submitted to the South Dade News Leader / Homestead-Miami Speedway Art and Writing Contest for Students.  Students were asked to either draw a picture of a new NASCAR racecar or write an essay of 300 words or less describing what it would feel like to ride in one.

Jesus will be driven to school in an official NASCAR racecar with a police escort, arriving at Somerset Academy South Homestead (SOHO), 713 West Palm Drive in Homestead, at 8:00 a.m.  Students and faculty will be lined up outside the school awaiting his arrival.

A second winner…

Somerset SOHO 8th grader Darren Santiago’s essay took the Top Prize in the 8th grade division. He will receive two tickets to the Ford Championship Weekend races (November 15th through 17th, 2013) at the Homestead-Miami Speedway and will be recognized on stage prior to the Saturday race.

Somerset Academy SOHO is a public charter school serving students from Kindergarten to 12th grade on two campuses – 300 SE 1st Drive and 713 West Palm Drive – in Homestead.

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Pinecrest Preparatory Charter Now An “A” School

ORLANDO, FL (Nov. 1, 2013) – Pinecrest Preparatory Charter School—a tuition-free, public school in Orange County that serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade—today announced that it has achieved significant progress and been officially graded as an “A” school.

The 210-student institution is serviced by Academica, one of the nation’s leading charter school service and support organizations with a roster of more than 100 schools throughout the country.

Since opening in 2010, Pinecrest Preparatory Charter School has continued to make noteworthy strides, having received a “B” in its second year and this past academic year, an “A.” To accomplish this the school made various improvement efforts, including sending teachers to professional development seminars, offering free Wednesday and Saturday tutoring for students, and analyzing data to bridge instructional gaps.

“Having successfully been able to greatly improve the academics and enhance the overall atmosphere of the school is a testimonial to how far we have come,” said Pinecrest Preparatory Charter School Director Yasmeen Khan. “My goal is to maintain this academic vigor amongst our students and faculty throughout this school year and beyond.”

Pinecrest Preparatory Charter School is a technology-based institution and features Promethean Boards (interactive, electronic touch whiteboards) and several computers in each classroom. The charter school additionally offers students web-based programs that are used in school and at home to enrich learning.

“Academica is delighted to provide services to such a promising school,” said Academica Founder and President Fernando Zulueta. “We are extremely proud of Pinecrest Preparatory’s accomplishments and are confident the school will continue in its trajectory of success. “

For further information on Pinecrest Preparatory Charter School, visit www.pinecrestorlando.org, and to learn more about Academica, visit www.Academica.org.

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Academica Welcomes Nevada Charter Schools to Growing National Roster for 2013-2014 School Year

MIAMI, FL  (Aug. 15, 2013) – Academica—one of the nation’s leading charter school service and support organizations—today announced it will provide support services for two new Nevada-based charter schools, Somerset Academy Skypointe and Doral Academy of Nevada, both of which are slated to open for the 2013-2014 school year. The schools join a network of four other Nevada schools currently being serviced by Academica, Somerset Academy of Las Vegas – North Campus, Somerset Academy of Las Vegas – Emerson, Somerset Academy of Las Vegas – Oakey Campus, and Pinecrest Academy of Nevada.

According to Bob Howell, who serves as head of Academica’s operations in Nevada, the charter school movement is steadily gaining momentum in the state and extensive waiting lists for existing schools are prompting the development of new ones. Exemplifying that demand continues, Howell said waiting lists for new schools Somerset Academy Skypointe and Doral Academy of Nevada include twice as many students as those enrolled.

“It’s a testament to their [charter schools] growing success across the state of Nevada,” said Howell. “The Somerset Academy and Doral charter school networks, as well as Academica, are committed to creating opportunities for exceptional education in Nevada.”

Capitalizing on the nationwide success of the Somerset Academy school system, Somerset Academy Skypointe—located at 7038 Sky Pointe Drive—will mark Somerset’s fourth outpost in the state and be the first to feature a high school component, having recently amended its charter to include a college-preparatory style school.  Led by 21-year education veteran Principal Gayle Jefferson, the school will cater to 1,100 students in grades kindergarten through ninth, with plans to eventually serve 2,400 students.

Also slated to open this August, Doral Academy of Nevada. Located at 9625 West Saddle Ave., the school will serve 750 students in grades kindergarten through seventh. Featuring academic concentrations using arts integration, curriculums will incorporate content and skills from the arts—dance, music, theater, and the visual arts—as well as other core subjects. Principal Bridget Phillips will lead the school into its first year.

“Academica is proud of its continued growth in Nevada,” said Academica Founder and CEO Fernando Zulueta. “We look forward to providing support services to these institutions and assisting in their efforts to create bright futures for students.”

Academica’s four other Nevada-based client schools are continuing to make strides in educational achievement. For the upcoming 2013-2014 academic year, Pinecrest Academy of Nevada—which recently completed its first school year—will be increasing its enrollment to 925 students and serving students in grades kindergarten through eighth. Somerset Academy of Las Vegas – North Campus will maintain serving grades kindergarten through eighth and Somerset Academy of Las Vegas – Oakey campus will continue to cater to students in grades kindergarten through sixth.  Somerset Academy of Las Vegas – Emerson campus will serve grades kindergarten through seventh this year, with plans to grow to eighth grade next year.

As a charter school service and support provider, Academica serves in a similar capacity to a school district’s staff and board’s role in managing a traditional public school. The Florida-based organization has a proven track record of developing and growing networks of successful charter schools, with a current roster of approximately 100 schools operating throughout Florida, Georgia, Texas, Nevada, Utah, California, and Washington, D.C. Academica’s strategic formula of establishing schools in areas of great need has made it an instrumental resource in accelerating student and school performance nationwide for the past decade.

To learn more about Academica, visit www.Academica.org.  For further information on Somerset Academy Skypointe, as well as the other Somerset schools in Las Vegas, visit www.somersetacademyschools.com. For additional details on Pinecrest Academy of Nevada, visit www.pinecrestnv.org, and to learn more about Doral Academy of Nevada, visit www.doralacademynv.org.

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Academica Adds Schools in Jacksonville and Key West to Extensive Roster of Florida Charter Schools

MIAMI, FL (Aug. 15, 2013) – Academica, one of the nation’s leading charter school service and support organizations, announced it will provide support services to an additional two schools for the 2013-2014 academic year. The schools—Somerset Preparatory Academy in Jacksonville and Key West Montessori Charter School—serve as the newest additions to Academica’s roster of approximately 100 schools operating throughout Florida, Georgia, Texas, Nevada, Utah, California, and Washington, D.C.

In Jacksonville, Somerset Preparatory Academy will open in August within the revitalized former structure of St. Patrick’s Catholic School at 1429 Broward Rd. Led by 10-year education veteran Principal David Cook, the school will serve 350 students in grades kindergarten through eighth. Somerset Preparatory will feature two academic concentrations, college preparation and leadership, and technology—the latter offering students opportunities to engage in topics such as programming, design and robotics.

Key West Montessori Charter School is an existing school—established in 1998—that will now operate under Academica’s support. Located at 1400 United St., the Montessori institution, which emphasizes a multi-age grouping academic approach, will cater to 122 students in grades first through eighth. The school previously served students up to seventh grade. Led by Principal Lynn Barras—who taught for 12 years before becoming an administrator—the school will offer a new adolescent program that groups seventh and eighth graders.

“Academica is delighted to further strengthen its ties to Somerset Academy, as well as develop a new relationship with Key West Montessori,” said Academica Founder and President Fernando Zulueta. “We are honored to offer services to these intuitions and serve as an agent in their students’ educational successes.”

As a charter school service and support provider, Academica serves in a similar capacity to a school district’s staff and board’s role in managing a traditional public school. The Florida-based organization has a proven track record of developing and growing networks of successful charter schools throughout the U.S. and currently serves the largest population of high-performing charter schools in the state of Florida. Academica’s strategic formula of establishing schools in areas of great need has made them an instrumental resource in accelerating student and school performance nationwide for the past decade.

To learn more about Academica, visit www.Academica.org, for further information on Somerset Preparatory Academy, visit www.somersetacademyschools.com, and for additional details about Key West Montessori Charter School, visit www.keywestmontessori.com.

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New Charter School iMater to Offer Specialized Tracks in Performing Arts, TV Production and Technology

MIAMI, FL (Aug. 15, 2013) – Academica, one of the nation’s leading charter school service and support organizations, announced that iMater Charter Middle High School—a college preparatory school offering educational focuses in the areas of performing arts, TV production and technology—will open in Hialeah for the 2013-2014 school year.

Come August, the Academica-serviced school at 651 W 20th St. will open its doors to 750 students in grades 6 through 10, with the intention to expand to grade 12 in subsequent years. The school’s curriculum will allow for middle school students to experience a variety of electives and opt to focus more heavily on specific educational tracks in high school. Targeted classes will include dance, drama, graphic design, website design, computer programming, broadcasting, and more.

Advanced placement courses and dual enrollment programs will also be offered to iMater students, and upperclassmen will be presented with opportunities to obtain local internships within their field of focus. Students are also poised to compete as the “Knights” in a variety of sports, including baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, swimming, tennis, volleyball, track and field, and cross county.

“Academica is delighted to be able to provide support services to iMater Charter Middle High School,” said Fernando Zulueta, founder and President of Academica. “We are proud of our long-standing relationship with Mater Academy and look forward to assisting them in offering innovative opportunities for their students.”

A state of the art educational village, the school was developed in response to local demand, evident in long waiting lists of students hoping to attend the nearby Mater Academy Charter Middle High School. The current principal of that school, Judith Marty, will lead iMater into its first year.

“I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to be a part of the beginning of what will undoubtedly be a wonderful institution,” said Marty. “I look forward to the upcoming school year and to working with my team to inspire and encourage a new generation of students.

Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), iMater Charter Middle High School will join Academica’s growing roster of high-performing charter schools in Florida. As a charter school support and service provider, Academica serves in a similar capacity to a school district’s staff and board’s role in managing a traditional public school. The Florida-based organization has a proven track record of developing and growing networks of successful charter schools throughout the U.S. and currently serves the largest population of high-performing charter schools in the state of Florida. Academica’s strategic formula of establishing schools in areas of great need has made it an instrumental resource in accelerating student and school performance nationwide for the past decade.

To learn more about iMater Charter Middle High School, visit www.imater.org, and for further details on Academica, visit www.academica.org.

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Academica-Supported Charter School Opening on Site of Historic Miami School for 2013-2014 Academic Year

MIAMI, FL (Aug 15, 2013) – Academica, one of the nation’s leading charter school service and support organizations, announced today that Somerset Bay at Pinewood Acres will open for the 2013-2014 school year on the site of the former Pinewood Acres School, which was founded in 1952. Receiving support services from Academica, the school—at 9500 SW 97th Ave.—will serve as the newest addition to the Somerset Academy family of high-performing charter schools and Academica’s extensive roster of Florida charter schools.

In continuance of Pinewood Acres’ history of dedication to scholastic excellence, Somerset Bay at Pinewood Acres will offer quality education to 293 students from pre-kindergarten to 6th grade.

“The Academica team is pleased to have been selected to provide support services to Somerset Bay at Pinewood Acres,” said Fernando Zulueta, founder and President of Academica. “We are proud of our long-standing relationship with Somerset and look forward to assisting them in providing supreme education opportunities for their students.”

Leading the school will be Principal Saili Hernandez, an education-industry veteran who began her career within the Miami-Dade Public School System.

“I am honored, along with the entire Somerset Academy family, to continue the tradition of excellence in education established by the Lones family,” said Hernandez.

Pinewood Acres School was founded in the fall of 1952, when public school teachers DeVille Albury and Lorraine Lones decided to start an independent school with an enhanced curriculum on a slice of South Miami farmland. In the fall of that year, the school opened with 36 kindergarten students and became one of the first established propriety day schools in the Miami area.

As a charter school service and support provider, Academica serves in a similar capacity to a school district’s staff and board’s role in managing a traditional public school. The Florida-based organization has a proven track record of developing and growing networks of successful charter schools throughout the U.S. and currently serves the largest population of high-performing charter schools in the state of Florida. Academica’s strategic formula of establishing schools in areas of great need has made it an instrumental resource in accelerating student and school performance nationwide for the past decade.

To learn more about Somerset Bay at Pinewood Acres, visit www.somersetacademyschools.com, and for further details on Academica, visit www.academica.org.

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Somerset Academy Hollywood Charter School Opens for 2013-2014 Academic Year

HOLLYWOOD, FL (Aug. 14, 2013) – Somerset Academy, Inc.—a Florida-based, nonprofit educational institution with a 15-year track record of successfully operating high-performing charter schools—announced today that Somerset Academy Hollywood  is opening for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. The new charter school will cater to students in grades kindergarten through sixth and be serviced by Academica, one of the nation’s leading charter school service and support organizations with a roster of more than 100 schools throughout the country.

Enrollment for Somerset Academy Hollywood students is presently open. The school, located at 1704 Buchanan St., will host a “meet and greet” for parents and students on August 15 and officially open on August 19.

With plans to eventually serve students through eighth grade, the new charter school and its staff of experienced teachers will present supreme educational opportunities through carefully planned curriculums. In technology-rich classrooms, all students will have access to computers, laptops and Promethean Boards (interactive, electronic touch whiteboards), as well as specialized software for customized instruction. The school will also feature a uniform policy and before- and after-school care. Additionally, all teachers are trained in conscious discipline, which addresses emotional intelligence and promotes conflict resolution.

Somerset Academy Hollywood will be led by veteran educator and administrator, Mary C. Stuart, who also serves as the principal of Somerset East Preparatory Academy in Miramar (an “A” school), and boasts a doctoral degree in educational leadership.

“It is with great pride that I lead this school into its opening year,” said Somerset Academy Hollywood Principal Mary Stuart. “As enrollment continues and we open our doors for the first time, the Somerset team is thrilled for the opportunity to encourage a new generation of motivated learners.”

Nationally recognized for its award-winning education programs, Somerset was the first charter school system in the nation to achieve “district” accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS-CASI), the foremost organization granting external mark of quality and high standards to academic institutions in the Southern region of the U.S.

As a charter school service and support provider, Academica serves in a similar capacity to a school district’s staff and board’s role in managing a traditional public school. The Florida-based organization has a proven track record of developing and growing networks of successful charter schools throughout the U.S. and currently serves the largest population of high-performing charter schools in the state of Florida. Academica’s strategic formula of establishing schools in areas of great need has made it an instrumental resource in accelerating student and school performance nationwide for the past decade.

“Academica is honored to have been chosen to provide services to this promising institution,” said Academica Founder and President Fernando Zulueta. “We are delighted for the opportunity to further expand our relationship with Somerset Academy and assist this school in providing a world-class education to its students.”

For further information on Somerset Academy Hollywood, please visit www.somersethollywood.com and to learn more about Academica, visit www.Academica.org.

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Theodore R. and Thelma A. Gibson Charter School Continues Drive for Excellence into 2013-2014 School Year

MIAMI (Aug. 14, 2013) – Theodore R. and Thelma A. Gibson Charter School, whose students have achieved strong academic gains in all subject areas, is increasingly becoming the area’s school of choice as it continues to make exponential strides in its academic performance.

This tuition-free, Miami-Dade County public charter school, located at 1682 NW 4th Avenue, still has enrollment opportunities available for students in kindergarten through eighth grade for the 2013-2014 school year.

Being serviced by Academica, one of the nation’s leading charter school service and support organizations, Theodore R. and Thelma A. Gibson Charter School represents one of the area’s top performing institutions.

The school offers a broad range of programs and features, including:

  • Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program
  • After-school enrichment classes and sports programs (PAL)
  • Beautiful, secure K-8 campus
  • Highly qualified, certified teachers
  • Technology-rich, engineering and robotic program
  • College preparatory classes utilizing virtual platform
  • Uniform policy

“Our mission is clear – we want to help ensure that children in this community are given the opportunity to attend a safe, high-quality school that will prepare them for a bright future,” said school Principal Fareed Khan.  “The thriving academic achievements of our students have been unprecedented and a testament to the excellent education and support Gibson provides.”

Additionally, the school’s engineering-based Robotics Program allows students to participate in hands-on activities and learn how to design and build robots using math, science and physics.

“The Robotics Program is a huge source of pride for our school,” adds Khan.  “The students are extremely engaged, and the results of their efforts are extraordinary.”

The K-8 charter school is serviced by Academica, which presents a roster of more than 100 charter schools operating throughout the country. The Florida-based organization has a proven track record of developing and growing networks of successful charter schools throughout the U.S. and currently serves the largest population of high-performing charter schools in the state of Florida. Academica’s strategic formula of establishing schools in areas of great need has made it an instrumental resource in accelerating student and school performance nationwide for the past decade.

For further information on enrollment or applications please visit www.gibsoncharterschool.com, or contact Marisa Anderson at 305.483.0895 or register@gibsoncharterschool.com to set up a campus visit.

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