FLORIDA KEYS -- When public school resumes Mon-day, Aug. 20, Monroe County students will have different class options under the direction of newly hired Superintendent Mark Porter.
Many school administrators are also putting their focus toward preparation for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and an increased presence of college prepatory classes.
Freshmen orientation for Coral Shores High School will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 16, according to Assistant Principal Blake Fry. The first hour will be reserved for students whose last names begin with A through M, and the rest of the students will attend the second hour. Fry said members of the student government will be on hand to assist the new students.
Upperclassmen may pick up their schedules from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 17.
The 754 students will have the option of enrolling in a commercial fishing course offered this year for the first time in school history.
"It's the only one like it in the county," Fry said.
The course, geared toward upperclassmen, will help students with the classroom learning they need to pass a U.S. Coast Guard test to get a captain's license, Fry said.
Advance Placement courses will also be offered, and Fry says his students have the highest AP scores in the district.
Classes run from 7:35 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Call 853-3222 for more information.
About 700 students and faculty are expected on the first day of school at the Middle Keys' combined middle and high school. Among them will be a few new faces.
"We've hired a new culinary teacher, two math teachers and one reading coach," said Principal Hammond Gracy.
Carl Stanton, the culinary teacher, is a working chef most recently from New York. He has relocated to Marathon with his family.
The two new math teachers are Julia Flynn and Allison Heyl. Flynn was formerly a teacher in Central Florida and will be teaching subjects ranging from math for college readiness to pre-calculus. Heyl has been a teacher for seven years and will also tackle an array of math-related subjects, including calculus.
At press time, a reading teacher's contract was also being finalized.
The football, volleyball and swimming teams have already commenced practice. As soon as school starts, the golf and cross country teams will also start.
"I think it's going to be a great year. The classrooms are all bright and shiny and ready for the kids to show up," Gracy said.
Classes are 7:25 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Call 289-2480 for more information.
Plantation Key School
Principal Vanessa Strickland is bringing a program to Plantation Key School she has admired for many years -- a microsociety.
During one period every day, each of 453 students will report to their microsociety class. There the students will learn about career fields and how different occupations impact society, Strickland said.
"The purpose is to teach the students how to problem solve in a group," she said.
Strickland said the students will serve as reporters, lawyers, bankers, postal workers and other jobs it takes to run a society.
Once students have their jobs, they will begin making faux wages. Although not legal tender, the students must pay taxes on that money just like in a working society, she said.
"This has real world application," she said.
Classes run from 7:50 a.m. until 2:45 p.m.
Call 853-3281 for more information.
Key Largo School
Despite having to lay off approximately five teachers since last year due to budget cuts, Key Largo School Principal Julia Hoar says she is excited and ready to start the new year.
Hoar praised students and staff for their continued success on the FCAT -- ranking an "A" this past year.
"We're really excited, set and ready to go," she said.
Hoar said she plans on starting a new course for her middle school students called "AVID," or Achievement through Individual Determination.
The program works through an enrichment and intervention philosophy. Hoar said students with high potential will be pushed harder while their counterparts who are struggling can get help staying on track.
Classes for the school's 900 students begin at 8:30 a.m. Students may stop by the school from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 17, to pick up their schedules.
Call 453-1255 for more information.
Stanley Switlik Elementary School
At Marathon's elementary school, it's been a summer of musical chairs. Former fifth-grade teacher Stephen Hawes will be teaching physical education this year and Christine Paul will be returning to the media center as librarian. Trayce Zanders, a familiar face around Stanley Switlik, will be teaching fourth grade.
The school has also hired four new teachers.
"Michael Walden is a new addition to the fifth-grade team and he has an outstanding record as a science teacher," said Dr. Lesley Salinero, school principal. "Christine Ruselli is also a new fifth-grade teacher with excellent skills in common core classes."
Also new this year is David Ziss, a Title 1 teacher.
Salinero said the school is implementing a new pilot program called Science Lab Special. It's a hands-on lab period where students can work on projects and experiments.
"We are the only school in Monroe County that offers this exciting program," Salinero said. "It's an idea I first learned about at Harvard as a way to engage students, at an early age, into all the exciting fields of science."
Stanley Switlik serves almost 600 students.
Classes are 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Call 289-2490 for more information.
Treasure Village Montessori
After months of fundraising, Principal Kelly Astin said a new playground at the Treasure Village Montessori public charter school will open next month.
Astin said she will have 218 students this year with 105 on the waitlist.
"There has never been that many [on the waitlist] before," she said.
Astin said the school is hiring two additional teachers and two administrators.
"Now my assistant and I don't have to do everything," she said.
Now beginning its 13th year, the school serves students through eighth grade.
"Now we are established and have a solid reputation," she said. "The community is recognizing that and enrollment is up."
Classes will begin at 8 a.m. Aug. 20 for middle school students and 8:30 a.m. for kindergarten through fifth grade. Classes for all students will end at 3:15 p.m. Call 852-3482 for more information.
Big Pine Academy
According to Executive Director Cathy Hoffman, the Big Pine Academy public charter school anticipates welcoming about 200 kids, preschoolers through seventh grade.
"We're finally at the point where we have to add another kindergarten class," Hoffman said. "Teacher Joanna Morris has lived here for the better part of the year."
Hoffman said the teachers and staff will focus on ramping up science and math skills in the coming school year. That will probably include a few visits to the school's special outdoor classroom and eco- garden.
"We are looking forward to the new school year. I am very grateful for the students, parents and staff that I have the good fortune to work with. It makes my job very easy," Hoffman said.
Class hours are 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Call 872-1266 for more information.
Despite canceling its football program this year, the private Island Christian School expects about 200 students to enroll for the new year, up 15 percent from 2011, said Principal Jim Roper.
Roper said the six-man football team, which lasted three seasons, was beaten up pretty bad last year by bigger schools.
"We can't get enough guys involved," he said. "It's a little difficult."
Also new to the school will be zoology, advanced chemistry and physics classes for upper high school students. Roper said the school will also begin offering a dual-enrollment college algebra class. Students can earn college credit and high school credit for completing the on-campus course.
Classes will begin Wednesday, Aug. 22. Hours are 8:05 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. Call 664-4933 for more information.
Ocean Studies Charter
Enrollment at the Ocean Studies Charter School, mile marker 92, oceanside, has jumped from 38 to 72 students this year, according to Principal Jennifer Flores.
Flores said she expects word-of-mouth to raise attendance next year to well over 100 students. But what excites Flores and her staff the most is a $350,000 federal grant the school received this past month. The grant money will be sent to the school over a two-year period.
"The money will be invested directly into things that benefit the children," she said.
So far, the plan is to spend money on microscopes and slides as well as other science-based technology tools. Flores is also purchasing kayaks for the outdoor exercises.
Asked why student enrollment is increasing, Flores said "because Ocean Studies is the coolest school."
Classes are scheduled to begin Aug. 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call 852-7700 for more information.
Montessori Island has only a couple seats left open this school year, according to Ocean Studies Charter School Principal Jennifer Flores, who shares space with the school.
Montessori Island Principal Sylvie Turner was not available to comment for this story.
The school employs two teachers and its principal and expects an enrollment of about 22, Flores said.
She said some parents can seek funding to help with enrollment costs through Wesley House Family Services, a nonprofit charity organization in Tavernier.
The school is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and offers morning and afternoon care. Call 852-3438 for more information.
Enrollment is up about 15 students this year at Key Largo's private Montessori Academy, according to Principal Bridget Dangel.
She expects about 50 students for the year. The school is separated into three categories: infant, toddler and children age 3 to 6 who study in the Children's House. Subjects include French, reading, writing and mathematics. Students are also taught to write cursive.
Classes at the academy on Transylvania Avenue at mile marker 103.4 begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.
When students graduate from the academy, they are prepared to enter first grade.
Call 451-7077 for more information.