Pasco County’s newest charter school, Pinecrest Academy Wesley Chapel, is on track to open later this summer with 652 students in kindergarten through sixth grades.
Principal Aimee Mielke reports there are still openings for students in all grades, and encourages interested families to explore the school’s website and complete its application as soon as possible. Information and the application form are at PinecrestWesleyChapel.com.
“We’re looking at opening with between six and eight kindergarten classes, and four classrooms each for first and second grades,” said Mielke. “It is very rewarding to be a new school that is flexible and able to offer the number of classrooms per grade that our community needs.” Grades three through six will have two and three sections.
Pinecrest Academy Wesley Chapel is a tuition-free public charter school situated at the community entrance of Avalon Park Wesley Chapel. It is the first Pinecrest Academy in Tampa Bay, and will be expanding to add seventh and eighth grades in subsequent years.
With 16 schools nationwide, Pinecrest Academy Inc. has made a name for itself in the education community. It offers advanced programs, including a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum, and a dual English/Spanish language program. With the STEM program, Pinecrest students will learn about new technologies, such as robotics, and will have fully functioning STEM labs in all grades — something most schools do not offer.
Pinecrest Academy Wesley Chapel also will have self-contained classrooms for gifted students, where pacing will be faster and performance tests much more in-depth, to allow gifted students to flourish in their education.
“All Pinecrest schools have an emphasis on high-quality instruction. We’ll continuously be monitoring the data so we know what each student needs, and have many different programs available to focus on the needs of the individual student,” says Mielke.
Everything designed and purchased for the classroom was chosen for student engagement, Mielke explains, and technology is an essential component of the new school. Laptops are being provided for every student in grades two through six, as are iPads for first-graders and kindergartners.
Each classroom will have a 70-inch Clear Touch Interactive Board mounted on the wall that will be used to pull up textbooks and other teaching aids. Teachers and students will be able to work on the screen, much like a giant, touch-screen white board.
The inviting furniture Meikle’s team selected for their classrooms was chosen to give students a feeling like they are walking into their living room, not a traditional school classroom.
“There is a lot of research that proves that children have different learning styles, and we want our classrooms to be flexible and versatile so kids can break up into small groups to work together most effectively,” said Mielke.
The Principal is especially excited about a large whiteboard table in every classroom that children can work directly on, and which the teach can then elevate and flip up to create a large white board for the entire classroom to see. Plus, every chair and table is on wheels, so they can be easily moved around the classroom for small group learning.
The furniture and technology will begin to arrive at the school in mid-June, and Mielke hopes to open the school’s doors for tour to families and teachers in July. The school schedule is tied to that of the Pasco County Public School system, which is expecting schools to open August 10.
Mielke has hired most of the school’s 27 teachers, including classroom, art, music, Spanish and physical education, as well as an instructional coach and office staff.
“We have a nice combination of experienced teachers from both public and charter schools, with seven teachers at more than 20 years of experience. Plus, we have two brand-new teachers who I am very excited about,” said Mielke, who adds that over half of her teaching staff have master’s degrees.
Blue and green colors brilliantly burst along the hallways of the modern building that has 49 large classrooms, oversized art and music rooms, and high-tech science labs. The school is visually notable with unusual windows in the shape of half-moons, circles and squares that give students and faculty stunning lake and conservation views.
“There’s no question that Pinecrest Academy Wesley Chapel is a visually stunning architectural masterpiece,” said Miekle.
Pinecrest is offering before and after care for their students, which will start at 6 a.m., and end at 6 p.m. It will be fee-based, but Mielke ensures it will be affordable. Pinecrest also will be providing a fee-based private Pre-K program for siblings of Pinecrest students; to be considered for the Pre-K program, a child must be 4 years old by Sept. 1.
Pinecrest Academy Wesley Chapel is one of the most important elements of the goal to build a brand-new town in Avalon Park Wesley Chapel, says Stephanie Lerret, senior vice president of marketing and community relations for the Avalon Park Group. Lerret noted that the developer’s goal is to have the very best school in the entire state.
“Our residents are ecstatic to now have the option to send their children to one of the top charter school operators in Florida,” said Lerret.
Published May 27, 2020