Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brandon Academy named one of nation's top 50 private schools

BRANDON — Ask Robert Rudolph about his state of mind, and he confesses that his head still spins.

In September, Rudolph learned his school, Brandon Academy, is one of the top 50 private schools in the nation. The academy, where Rudolph serves as head of schools, earned the distinction after Arne Duncan, the U.S. secretary of education, named it a National Blue Ribbon School.

Representatives from the schools — 254 public and 50 private — will travel to an awards ceremony Nov. 15-16 in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the honor. In the past 28 years, more than 6,000 of America's schools have received this award.

The last time a Hillsborough County school received the designation was in 2008 when Bevis Elementary School in FishHawk Ranch won the award.

"It's the highest achievement a school can receive," Rudolph said. "The kids are very excited."

On a recent visit to the campus, several students sported T-shirts proclaiming the school's blue-ribbon status. Congratulatory banners hang around the school grounds.

"I think it's wonderful news," said Michelle Ayers, the school's parent-teacher organization president. Ayers' three sons, twin 8-year-olds and a 10-year-old, have been attending Brandon Academy since preschool. "It's a credit to the teachers who are responsible for helping the kids achieve this goal."

Duncan's announcement didn't come as a surprise to Rudolph and his staff, who oversee 227 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade. He learned in January that Brandon Academy was among the 50 private schools nationwide nominated by the Council for American Private Education to receive the award.

As word of the award spread throughout the community, the school experienced a 12 percent increase in enrollment this year, despite a dour economy, Rudolph said.

Private schools that receive the award must score in the top 10 percent on standardized testing for five consecutive years. They also must offer "extraordinary educational opportunities," Rudolph said.

"In our case, we offer cutting-edge technology such as the Smart Board, an interactive computer system," Rudolph said. "And we offer field trips to places like Spain, Greece, Gettysburg and the Florida Keys."

The criteria are different for public schools. They need to be ranked among the state's highest performing schools, as measured by performance on state assessments, or they need to be schools with at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that improve student performance on state assessments or nationally normed tests.

Brandon Academy was one of three private schools in the state to earn the honor this year. The other schools are: Christ the King Catholic School in Jacksonville and St. Cecelia Interparochial School in Clearwater. Public schools earning the honor were: Avalon Elementary School in Orlando, Mater Academy East Charter School in Miami, Ocean Breeze Elementary School in Indian Harbour Beach and Virginia Shuman Young Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale.

D'Ann White can be reached at [email protected]

Brandon Academy named one of nation's top 50 private schools 09/30/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 30, 2010 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Sen. Nelson urges FEMA to examine high number of denied flood claims


    Sen. Bill Nelson urged FEMA on Tuesday to ensure fairness, proper oversight and transparency in processing Hurricane Irma aid following a report by the Palm Beach Post that 90 percent of Irma claims under the National Flood Insurance Program had been denied.

    Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for FEMA to ensure the flood claims process post-Hurricane Irma is fair and ethical following reports that 90 percent of claims under the National Flood Insurance Program were denied. | [Times file photo]
  2. Pasco delays Irma food distribution after problems elsewhere

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County has pulled the plug on a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O'Lakes Recreation Center that had been scheduled to open to the public on Sunday.

    Pasco County has postponed a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O' Lakes Recreation Center on Collier Parkway and is seeking an alternative site. Last week, commissioners said they feared a repeat of the long lines of traffic that appeared outside Plant City Stadium on Oct. 9. The nutrition program for people affected by Hurricane Irma had been scheduled to come to Land O' Lakes Oct. 18 to 27.  [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Editorial: UF can set example for free speech


    White nationalist Richard Spencer is bringing his racist message Thursday to the University of Florida in a legitimate, if utterly repugnant, display of the First Amendment at work. As a public university, UF has little choice but to allow Spencer's speech to take place. Now the university and the broader community has …

    By responding with peaceful protests and refusing to be provoked into violence, UF and the Gainesville community can provide a powerful repudiation of Richard Spencer’s hateful message.
  4. Percussionist rocks out with a blazing triangle solo during Florida Orchestra performance


    Oh, the poor triangle. It's the orchestra equivalent of a rock band's tamborine, and such easy fodder for jokes.

    John Shaw performs a triangle solo.
  5. Amazon expands in Tampa with Pop-Up shop in International Plaza


    TAMPA — A new retailer known largely for its online presence has popped up at International Plaza and Bay Street.

    Shoppers walk past the new Amazon kiosk Tuesday at the International Plaza in Tampa. The kiosk, which opened last month, offers shoppers an opportunity to touch and play with some of the products that Amazon offers.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]