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I am homeschooling my daughter for kindergarten this year but will be sending her to school for first grade in the fall of this year 2010. I am interested in getting some honest insight from any parents of students who attend Valrico Lake Advantage Academy at Celebration Church in Valrico. I am interested in a more non-traditional approach to education. I am also wondering if this would be a good place for an advanced or gifted student. I welcome any honest comments positive or negative. Also, if anyone has any information on any other public schools in the Brandon, Valrico, Lithia area that would be well suited for advanced or gifted students, please let me know. I am not interested in a school that teaches to the FCAT. Thanks for all of your help and insight!!!
Thanks Vanille! If we go private, I would have to look into scholarships, we can't afford tuition right now. Can you elaborate on what kind of mixed things you heard about? Was it pertaining to the teachers, the curriculum, the overall atmosphere? Thanks!!
Turned out to be a BIG Lie!!! They totally teach for the FCAT and they weed out the students they are not able to work with, advanced and needing assistance! We are leaving the school this year, come to find out it is all about their funding and FCAT is the main reason. " Make an "A" and get paid" Sorry, this is so sad. In the next couple of days they are about to have a large number of openings due to parents finding this out and they are pulling them and going elsewhere. Please pass this on....
I love this school. I am not sure what the above poster was referring to stating that they only teach the FCAT - that is simply untrue and I am so sorry their child(ren) need to miss out on such a wonderful learning environment because of their parents opinion. I have one child in Val-Cad and the other in a local public high school... You want to talk about just teaching the FCAT!!!! Valrico Academy (Val-Cad) is awesome. The staff is friendly. The entire staff knows my child by name and talk to him regularly. The principle helps out in car line and is very visible always. They teach according to your child's needs or advancements. They do not kick out children they just "can't deal with", however, with that said, they do NOT allow severe behavioral problems to remain in the school, which is one of the freedoms charter schools have. I, myself and completely ok with that. The downside is communication. It is hard to find out when things are happening etc... all basically the growing pains of a young school.
Not only is Valrico Academy a great place to work, I truly believe it a great place for children to grow & learn. Although the FCAT is an important part of EVERY schools curricullum, it isn't the main focus, creating a fun, safe, possitive learning experience is! I have worked for the school since it opened and can honestly say that the children's education is always first on the list. I know every child by their first name and a large portion of the parent's first names as well. If you're looking for a intimate, unimpossing place for your child to learn with a personal touch, then Valrico Academy is the place for you. If not, send them to the public school with 5000 kids and 14 first grade classes, and then ask yourself, how many of the staff members in that school will know your childs name?
This school is horrible. I have since pulled my children and placed them at an awesome public school. The teachers are gossipy and clicky and never spend time getting to know the children. Ive even heard the teachers talking about the parents in the carline!!!! My child was in Kindergarten there and I have since pulled her out due to the apathetic nature of her teacher who I will not name. When I was there, the art and music classes were taught by parent helpers. Not impressive. Ive since moved my children to a decent school with an accredited art and music teacher. Speaking of, there is also an overweight teacher there now who was a parent helper last year that constantly yells at her students. My daughter came home in tears one day after being screamed at by her. Ive pulled my children before they could get to her class. Get out now while you still can.
Totally agree with Appleformom -- Valrico Academy (soon to change its name when it moves to its new location) is a horrible, horrible school beginning with its little primadonna principal who acts like she's the little queen of the kingdom! She has absolutely no leadership or communication skills whatsoever!!!! The owners of Charter Schools Associates make wonderful first appearances when opening up a charter school and then you never see them again -- that's why Shiloh has failed miserably! And now they are opening a new school called Channelside Academy -- again making huge promises on paper and I'm sure smiling and looking great in person, but once opened you'll never see them. Only those that are hand-picked by the principal or the owners can sit on the Board or the PTSA so that the queen can run things as she sees fit and that's it! Valrico is filled with cliques -- lots of nepotism (a couple of married couples both teaching at the school, sisters and all of their children, including the principal's daughter -- and they can all do NO WRONG and seem to all be the winners of the various Science/Math Fairs -- hmmm how convenient!). In addition, they constantly have people that are not qualified or certified to teach or lead classes and surprisingly not do a good job -- if anything at all. There are many parents that have taken their kids out of this school due to the arbitrary way the principal runs things and the clicky/catty teachers follow suit because they are afraid to rock the boat -- remember, many have family members working there too and can't afford to step out of line or they will have their contract terminated. The most egregious incident that forced a parent to take their kids out occured when there was an anti-semetic incident and the principal did nothing to address it and the parents simply had to leave since nothing was done. This principal is good at smiling and giving you the time of day when the right people are around, but when she doesn't have to, she can't be bothered by you or anyone else, lest her coffee that she floats around holding gets cold.
As you can tell, I wasn't happy with that school whatsoever, and I'm not the only one! It's only been two years and the vast number of families that have left speaks volumes.
What I think is important to remember here is that the vast majority of people do not set out to post positive things. When people are upset for whatever their reasons may be, they do make a point to say mean and vindictive things. I can only hope that the children of these above mentioned (shop mom) families do not see the nasty things written about their them or their parents. I think it's a stretch to say that staff children were given a free ride to the science fair when my child participated and everything had to be turned in with out a name so no preference could be given. These were graded by 3 judges. I don't understand bringing kids into the mix? The school has a behavior plan and when kids don't follow it they are not invited back. This has allowed my child to have a great learning environment without the interruption of classroom discipline. I can say from personal experience that Valrico Academy has been a perfect fit for our family. I am sure that Brandon Academy is a great school. I don't know it from personal experience but I do know that several Brandon Academy teachers left to teach at Valrico. They are fabulous teachers so Brandon Academy must know how to pick some good people! A family atmosphere is just what I would call this school. While there may be two married couples working at the school, both couples were great and showed care and concern for all children at the school. One of the husbands will not be returning. He heard that the school did not have a PE teacher in the 2010 school year because the previous one had to step down for personal reasons and he stepped up so the kids would have PE. Next 2011 year they are hiring a certified PE teacher. There were only 2 K teachers last 2010 school year. What a horrible thing to write about these teachers who devote themselves to the students and their families. These are good and kind teachers! As for the post about the parent para, she is a highly qualified,certified teacher thru the state of Florida. All anyone has to do is look up teachers on the DOE site. All the teachers at Valrico are higlily qualified certified teachers. Just go in and ask, I did! As far as teaching to the FCAT... If you know anything about the FCAT, it is a test generated and based off of the FL next gen. standards. All GOOD teachers teach the FL next gen. standards so I guess in theory all teachers must teach the FCAT...? hmm... I wouldn't exactly call that teaching to the test. I can't imagine anyone heeding the advice of some of the above posters who are obviously very angry, sad people. My suggestion is that anyone wishing to enroll their child in ANY school should do the leg work. Get out there, visit schools in person, visit classrooms with children in it, talk to the teachers and principle and make your own informed decision. Anyone can say anything on the internet, mean or kind.
People, there are both positive and negative experiences with all private and public schools.
My children attended Valrico the first year it opened (2009-2010) as well as last year.
1. Favortism. When you have a small school enviornment (less than 200 kids in K-6) there will be a prevalence for parents and teachers to have a closer relationship than larger schools. With that said, there was some favoritism with teachers and students, but that is true in the larger schools as well. Well-behaved students that pay attention are going to reap rewards. Personally, I have kids that are top performers and well behaved. I was tired of the "bad" kids getting more attention at their previously attended"A" rated public school, my kids' education was suffering. VA gives children many chances to succeed - if they continue to be a detriment to the school, they will be asked to leave.
2. Nepotism. Yes, there are quite a few teachers that have family members that work at the school. Again, this is a SMALL school. The new school is opening in August 2011 and will have over 700 students. I don't think it's really going to matter if a teacher has a sister/brother or spouse that works with them - they will be too busy.
3. Anti-semitic remark - it happened, it was dealt with fairly. Some parents you cannot please no matter what course of action is taken. The student transferred to Shiloh Academy - nuff said.
4. Teachers - MOST of the teachers are wonderful, caring, nurturing professionals. BUT, like all schools there have been a couple that have not been top-notch. They have been dismissed.
5. Principal - yes, her daughter attends school at VA. She is also a top student, well-behaved and a nice kid to be around (see #1). Does she get special treatment? Probably, but if your bosses kid was around the office what do you think would happen? We are talking about an 11 year old child. Let's be nice.
There are some growing pains with this school that I'm hoping are ironed out with the growth and new location:
Teachers being out of the classroom often for training or as a replacement for the principal.
I would like to see more honors classes offered for the lower grades. This was done in the first year but due to constraints not last year. By law the school has to provide remedial courses, why not honors as well?
A dedicated art, music and PE teacher. I know that these areas fall to the wayside w/budget cuts but they are so important in the development of the well rounded child.
It's an important decision where to send your child for an education. I wanted to share with you an impartial view on Valrico Academy.
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