A pillar in the community for over forty years, Miami Learning Experience School focuses on active and collaborative activities and experiences to enhance learning and foster inclusion. A private school in South Miami for students and adults with special needs.
“It’s a hidden gem,” said Mari Rey, Director of Strategy and Events at the school. “We offer a community within a greater community by working alongside other schools and programs.”
With roughly 130 current students, Miami Learning Experience School (MLE) was founded in 1977 and is a non-sectarian, non-for-profit, 501c(3) school for children and young adults with intellectual disabilities.
With the majority of teachers having taught at the school for more than 15 years, the school prides itself on longstanding traditions and offers programming that promotes a safe and peaceful environment that encourages individualized academic, social, and emotional growth for all students.
“By taking the learning experience beyond the classroom, our primary goal for each student is to give them the necessary tools and empower them to become independent members of the community,” explained Rey.
The campus is comprised of classrooms that give students a wide range of opportunities. In addition to art and music for all students, class offerings for students include STEM, yearbook, weight training, functional math, world culture, and daily physical education.
“Physical education and sports are extremely important for our students by teaching them how to be a part of a team, follow directions, improve posture, and overall physical wellness,” explained Rey.
Students also participate in Special Olympics after school programs that include bowling, softball, basketball, golf, and soccer, giving them a skillset in unified sports.
“Our students are able to participate in sports just as they would in a traditional school setting,” explained Rey. “They can do everything other students can and in high school, we even celebrate our homecoming game with a homecoming dance.”
Starting at five years of age, students are welcomed into MLE and attend through high school until the age of twenty-two. They then go on to graduate into the MLE adult program, which focuses on the development of work and life skills along with continued fitness. MLE works with local partners to set up volunteer work sites for adult students through the University of Miami, Florida International University, Stunna Fitness and Hilton Hotel in order to create job experience.
“A portion of our students rely on the Florida McKay Scholarship to attend school while the remainder relies solely on fundraising dollars,” explained Rey. “For those that are scholarship recipients, government funding stops at the age of twenty-two and parents have that fear of what do we do now. We are able to ease those concerns and offer continued education through our adult program which is partially supported by our annual fundraising.”
Miami Learning Experience School hosts two major fundraising events annually that includes a fashion show luncheon and a walk at Tropical Park.
“Our fashion show will be held on February 22, 2020, with the theme set as Encore, named after a ship from the fleet of our biggest event sponsor Norwegian Cruise Line,” said Rey.
Hosted every year at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center, roughly 1,000 guests show their support as students strut down the runway to their favorite songs and model the latest fashion donated by Macy’s and other local boutiques.
“Nikki Spoelstra and her husband Erik Spoelstra are our biggest cheerleaders and attend our fashion show every year,” said Rey. “Nikki, along with her friend Janelle Perez, are our campaign chairs and we are so appreciative of their support.”
MLE will look to host their Walk With Me event, an annual walk that is led by student ambassadors from local high schools on March 15, 2020, at Tropical Park.
For more information on Miami Learning Experience School and fundraising events, please visit www.mleschool.org.