FDOE Stops By Western Academy In RPB

Currently ranked in the top 20 percent of all schools in Florida, Western Academy Charter School in Royal Palm Beach has once again proven that its teaching methods are exceptional. The Florida Department of Education recently visited the school to film primary and secondary math classes. These videos will be used as training tools for teachers throughout Florida to share best practices in instruction.

The Florida Department of Education was thrilled when they looked at Western Academy state test scores, so a representative from Tallahassee went to the school to find out exactly what teachers are doing to inspire kids to learn and earn the school an A rating.

“After the FSA scores were released, one of the things that we noticed in Palm Beach County was that Western Academy stood out as being one of the top performing schools as far as mastery of standards in math,” said Shelly Miedona, with the Florida Department of Education.

School scores beat the district and state at every grade level for every content area.

Third-grade teacher Patricia Hunsecker explained why she thinks the school’s interactive methods are working. “It’s having kids learn in small groups. In our elementary learning model, we have three teachers who are with their students for three years, and the students rotate to different stations to do work including technology, paper pencil and hands-on activities. It is an active learning environment,” she said.

Additionally, instead of having a teacher teach the elementary students several subjects, each teacher at Western Academy focuses on one: math, reading or writing. They become a specialist in that subject area and can easily differentiate instruction based on a student’s needs.

“When I was a traditional teacher, I was trying to teach all subjects by myself, to the level of mastery. It’s absolutely impossible,” Hunsecker said. “I am doing it here in math because I specialize and have 90 minutes I can do it in.”

Principal Linda Terranova explained that a different program is working for middle school students. “It is problem-based and project-based learning, and high-level content,” she said. “It is a very rigorous learning environment where students work together to solve problems. We teach them how to think when they are learning.”

State officials have been impressed. “It’s not just because the teachers understand the standards, but it’s the way the teachers are presenting the standards. It’s hands on, it’s conversation,” Miedona said.

The school currently serves 460 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is located at 650 Royal Palm Beach Blvd., Suite 300. For more information, call (561) 792-4123 or visit www.westernacademycharter.com.

ABOVE: Western Academy students learning in science class.