Five years ago my friend told me her daughter was going to attend Scholar’s Academy at Miami Beach Senior High School (MBSH) and had turned down MAST Academy. MAST was an “A” school while MBSH was a “D” school. I said to her, “Are you crazy? Why would you send her there?” The following year, my daughter informed me that she wanted a real high school experience with “real kids” and that she wanted to leave her private school to attend Miami Beach Senior High. I said, “No way!” However, at this point, MBSH had improved to a “B.” Ultimately, I let it be her decision.
Fast forward four years. Wednesday, I received an email from our Principal, Dr. Rosanne Sidener, which read: SCHOOL GRADES CAME OUT TODAY. BEACH HIGH IS AN “A” GO HITIDES! I was overcome with emotion as I reflected on how hard our students work and how incredible our teachers and administrators are. I have had the opportunity to volunteer in our classrooms and witness the passion and dedication of our teachers. I have had the opportunity to participate in our school’s summer planning session where I was in awe of how our teachers and administrators worked together on their own time to improve our school.
Our school underwent a major transformation with new administration and a new building under construction from 2006 through 2010. 2011 marks the first “A” for MBSH.
Dr. Sidener states “Miami Beach Senior High School has a long history of academic excellence. This community produces outstanding young people and enjoys strong support from parents, the city and local businesses. We are proud to return Beach High to its traditional place as a world-class educational institution. The key is to focus on creating a culture of success where every student is challenged to achieve at his/her potential – whether that means college level study, the International Baccalaureate Programme, Advanced Placement or remedial reading.”
I asked Gwen Zaldivar, Activities Director and MBSH alumnus, what her reaction was to the news and she replied, “I hesitated to open the email because I was afraid of what it might contain”. Based on FCAT scores only, we were a “B”. This is the second year the state employed a morecomplex grading system for high schools. Instead of being based solely on how students fared on the FCAT, the state also takes into consideration student outcomes including graduation rates as well as student participation and performance in advanced course work. This is a fairer approach that acknowledges the many areas in which schools can improve, instead of relying solely on one make-or-break test. She continued with, “After so many years of struggling it finally came to fruition under strong leadership and committed teachers.”
Our “A” shows that MBSH is succeeding at preparing our students for college and for the work force. This is great news for our local businesses and for our community. Why would anyone living on Miami Beach not send their children to our local public high school?