Fall of 2019 promises hopeful new beginnings for our area. Summit Academy Charter School, 11421 Northwest 56 Drive, Coral Springs, will open its doors boasting a highly qualified staff of educators who will focus their talents toward up to 288 children in grades K-8. Director and Principal Gus Prats (“please, call me Gus.”) begins our interview by saying, “We are pleased to become an important part of this amazing community! We are involving the parents early on because things go much better when they have a hand in the school’s development and are actively engaged.” Gus also feels that the community is an integral part of building a successful school. He continues, “We want to host four large scale, community events during every school year. We’d like everyone here! Parents, grandparents, neighbors, businesses, dogs…I feel that the idea of community is often missing in public schools.”
The Broward County Public School system is a sponsor, yet Summit Academy Charter School (SACS) operates independently, having an autonomy regarding curriculum, instruction, and assessment levels. Gus tells us, “Things of that nature are left up to The Charter School Governing Board.“
Both Gus and the Board realize that safety and security are two important concerns. “All of our windows and doors are impact resistant,” he says. “We have security, with a guardian who has been through the training with the Broward Sheriffs Office, a single point of entry and exit, and cameras. Our facility has a high level of security that is not usually seen at the Elementary or Middle school level.”
To add to every parent’s peace of mind, all staff at SACS are background checked, fingerprinted, and drug tested. Although not required by Broward County schools, “This is something we have chosen to do at no cost to our staff,“ says Gus.
SACS is very proactive in their hiring practices. “Our goal is to have the most highly qualified teachers and administrators. The payroll bonuses given for experience, qualification, and certification combined with 100% health insurance coverage are positive steps in assuring families that only the best teachers will be instructing their children.” The former CEO of a charter school management company, Gus also brings his experience as a middle school science teacher and educational administrator to SACS.
By integrating into our community, Gus is clear when conveying the SACS focus. “We want to include parents so that they are active in the classroom, and we will be that school where you walk into the office and we know exactly whose parent you are.” Another clear intention is that no child or family feels like a ‘number.’ “We have so many fantastic schools in our area,” Gus tells us, “but they are so large that children who need extra help often get kind of lost.” SACS will be offering electives as well as ELL and ESE classes. “We want to make sure that the education we offer is individualized and prescriptive for each student. Our intention is to create a family atmosphere while developing the whole child, not just the academic individual.”
He goes on to explain another issue that is not uncommon. “We’ve also seen many students who need accelerated programs or enrichment.” He continues, “Many times, there are students who are ahead of grade level, but because public schools are tasked with maintaining certain standards, advanced students don’t always receive enrichment because they are expected to score well on the standardized tests. Unfortunately, this means that some students fall through the cracks and are not being challenged and advanced to their potential.“
Families will be happy to know that the curriculum at SACS will be minimizing the amount of homework to encourage family time at home. Gus emphasizes, “We will not be assigning any lengthy projects to be done at home because we realize that it often becomes a burden on parents.” Another added benefit for families at SACS has been implemented because of parent input. Teachers’ schedules have been designed to allow time for homework help and tutoring without charge.
At this time, open enrollment at Summit Academy Charter School is available on a first come, first served basis for students K-8. There is no cost involved. Open houses will be held every Wednesday beginning May 1.
Summit Academy Charter School
11421 NW 56th Drive, Coral Springs 33076