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Academics Meets Leadership and Learning at Florida Prep

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Boasting 100% college acceptance since 1978, tuition-based Florida Preparatory Academy (better known as Florida Prep) has brought academics, employment skills training for the global world and their optional athletics program together in one learning package for middle and high school pupils. Beginning over 54 years ago, the school has grown with the times and morphed from a male-only college preparatory flight training school to today's co-ed college preparatory (emphasis on the preparatory) school with an elective flight program.

The Florida Prep campus contains many historic Spanish Mediterranean-style buildings so fitting for this campus in Melbourne. Small class sizes and student-teacher ratio allows teachers to fully bring out the potential in each of the approximately 300 students. All students use an Apple iPad in their studies, making digital learning more relevant.

With the help of two school counselors, college applications are crucial to graduation from Florida Prep. Jeanette Middleton of Marketing and Public Relations details their importance, "As a college prep school, we also focus on college applications and college guidance far more than an average school. Our students begin meeting with a College Counselor in 9th grade. By their Junior year they are visiting colleges, writing CV's and have a good idea of the school to which they will apply." To impress on the students how essential attending college is, all students must have a college letter of acceptance to graduate.

In addition to their academic program, Middelton tells us, "We equip students with additional skills as part of our 21st Century Skills and Values program. We focus on the skills identified by employers that are required to be successful in the workplace and in life." Skills promoted are: character, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, real-world problem solving, public speaking, teaming and leadership.

"We team with local companies and involve our students in local and campus events in order to promote the use of these skills and to demonstrate how they will be used in the workplace," explains Middleton. Leadership and project management, for instance, are important skills for any adult and Florida Prep knows how to coax the most out of their students. "Accomplishing a successful outcome is always our goal," Middleton tells us, "but we allow failure and confusion along the way; it's the only way to learn."

Known for their international student mix- "30 nationalities at present," states Middleton -- foods from different countries are often served to get that global flavor and conversation going. But the fun doesn't stop there, as kids can participate in a variety of athletic programs, travel abroad, do community service (100 hours is a must) and join clubs. Florida Prep has big ambitions to teach children how to learn and grow for future business and life success, no matter where they live.

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