In Miami-Dade County, where school choice is slowly becoming a reality for a growing community rather than just a catch phrase, Miami Arts Charter School (MAC) tops the list for students gifted in the performing and fine arts.
Launching in 2009 in the former Channel 10 studios located on Biscayne Boulevard at the eastern edge of the Design District, MAC has been an “A” school serving grades 6-12 since 2011-12. In 2013, it was named a “High-Performing Charter School” by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE).
Now, founders Alfredo and Christine de la Rosa, who also conduct the instrumental and choral music programs, respectively, have announced the expansion of the award-winning arts school to the Homestead/South Dade region.
In addition to a stellar, college-preparatory academic program, MAC offers a variety of majors for the artistically minded middle or high school student: Instrumental (Orchestra, Band and Jazz); Choral and Jazz Vocal Studies; Visual Arts; Photography; Theater; Dance (Ballet, Modern, Contemporary and Jazz), and Creative Writing.
“For quite some time, Homestead and South Dade, in general, have been experiencing tremendous development and growth,” said Alfredo de la Rosa, functioning as chief education officer. “Much of this area has changed from primarily agricultural use to a much more suburban landscape. New homes are once again being built, so you have a lot of young families coming here.”
He said they have found that in all communities, parents value the inclusion of high-quality arts education, yet Homestead has been lacking in that area for many years.
The new facility, which opens for students on Aug. 18, is a cutting-edge, 71,413- square-foot building that can accommodate 1,200 students, divided into approximately 600 in middle school and 600 in high school. The two-in-one model provides twice as many choices for schooling in an area where arts instruction has been extremely limited in the past.
Designed specifically for the arts as well as academia, the MAC Homestead structure contains two instrumental rehearsal halls, two choir rooms, four ensemble rooms, a percussion rehearsal hall and three recording studios. A pair of state-of-the-art studios will house the Dance Department.
Two naturally lighted visual arts and sculpture rooms are complemented by a photo studio with a dark room and a computer editing room, as well as professional studio space and a gallery in the lobby for the display of work. A spacious writing suite, two acting classrooms and a 450-seat theater serve the Creative Writing and Theater departments.
In addition, MAC boasts well-equipped science labs, a technology-driven media center and spacious classrooms. Set on an expansive lot, MAC Homestead also features generous parking and plenty of greenery.
Like its Miami Design District counterpart, MAC Homestead’s curriculum follows the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Student Progression Plan. The school also is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS/CASI), an affiliate of AdvancedEd. The school will have a designated college advisor program in place to assist students with the college application and scholarship process.
As employees of a public charter school, all MAC Homestead teachers are required to hold valid Florida teaching certificates. Not only are they highly qualified in their subject areas, but many hold advanced, post-graduate degrees, and lead AP and Honors classes in subjects such as English, Science, Social Studies and Visual Arts.
In addition to taking advanced courses, higher grade students have the opportunity to become teacher aides and exploratory teachers as well as work in student government. For juniors and seniors, College Dual Enrollment courses in the academics are options, as are pursuing internships within their arts interests.
“We feel very strongly about the success of our academic achievement at MAC,” said Christine de la Rosa, director of education. “Each year since 2009, we have made considerable gains in our scores. Our goal is to replicate this success in Homestead.
“So we always seek energetic, motivated and creative teachers. We believe that the crucial aspect of achieving a school of excellence is to focus on providing a quality teacher for each and every student in every classroom. That’s really what makes all the difference.”
Prospective MAC students must apply online and complete a scheduled audition in order to be accepted to either the Design District or Homestead/South Dade location. For audition requirements and more information, visit www.miamiartscharter.net.
The main Miami Arts Charter School campus is located at 3900 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33137, 305-763-6257. Miami Arts Charter School at Homestead is located at 3000 SE Ninth St., Homestead, FL 33035, 786-272-6398.