Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Opinion

New Tarpon Middle program recognizes value of the arts

At Tarpon Springs Middle School, we are very proud of our school's rich history as a high-performing neighborhood school with deep ties to our beautiful community.

Our school, rated an "A" school by the state Department of Education each year since 2001, offers something special for each child, from advanced academic programs to fun, award-winning clubs.

Next year, opportunities for students will be further expanded with the launch of an innovative and engaging new program that will positively impact our students, our school and our community as a whole.

The new Leadership Conservatory for the Arts with the Pre-Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) will be the first of its kind at the middle-school level in Pinellas County. The magnet program will integrate leadership training with academics, technology and the arts to prepare our students for a successful future in our global community. The Leadership Conservatory is modeled after the international award-winning program at nearby Tarpon Springs High School.

Tarpon Springs is known as a community that embraces and supports the arts. In addition to the aesthetic value an arts-centered community brings, we know from research that students who participate in arts education score higher on standardized tests and are more likely to graduate than students not involved in the arts. It was with this knowledge and appreciation that our school began bolstering our arts programs several years ago.

Our new Leadership Conservatory will help us continue to cultivate our arts programs, while the addition of the highly regarded AICE curriculum will provide additional rigor and relevance to help students transition successfully into any advanced academic program at the high school level.

What is especially exciting to share is that students need not be a part of the magnet program to reap the benefits of the conservatory. All students at Tarpon Springs Middle will get to take advantage of the opportunities for enrichment through the new program and enhanced curriculum.

Tarpon Springs Middle School has thrived in the community for many years, producing generations of intelligent, talented and responsible citizens. Our students can boast of high FCAT scores and a nearly perfect end-of-course pass rate in algebra and geometry. Our students are regional, state and national competitors through a variety of clubs.

Nearly 70 percent of our faculty members hold advanced academic degrees, offering students a quality education by a team of dedicated and caring teachers. And we enjoy a high level of support from our community, from parents and extended family members to small businesses and community organizations. Those partnerships have led to Tarpon Springs Middle's longtime recognition as a state Five Star School, which denotes exemplary community involvement.

Families from Tarpon Springs have long known that Tarpon Springs Middle is a gem among area schools. As we launch this new program (an application period begins March 31), which will be available to students throughout North Pinellas County, we invite the community to come see what our new program is all about. Join us for our Discovery Night from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, call us to schedule a tour, or just pop in to say hello.

Dr. Susan Keller is principal of Tarpon Springs Middle School.

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