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East County Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019 2 months ago

Lakewood Ranch to get school of the future

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New principal says goal is to 'foster excellence' at the new East County middle school.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Eleven-year-old Matthew Goldberg dreams of building a motorized Lamborghini out of Legos.

So as he sat Feb. 7 with his father, Jesse, at an informational meeting about the future Mona Jain Middle School, he could not help but get excited.

Lakewood Ranch’s newest middle school, slated to open in August, will have digital art, technology and computer classes and even extracurricular programs like the Technology Student Association. It also will be an “eSTEAM” school, meaning it has a technology program in which students bring their own devices to school

and complete coursework online.

Goldberg, a fifth-grader at Robert E. Willis Elementary, said he cannot wait for the school to open.

“I’m excited about the technology,” Matthew said as he reviewed a design of the school after the meeting. “I’m excited about digital art and taking high school-level classes. My dad is a programmer, so I really like that stuff.”

Matthew wasn’t the only one excited. His family was among more than 500 people who crowded into the cafeteria and hallways of B.D. Gullett Elementary School to learn more about Mona Jain Middle and its future offerings.

Mona Jain Principal Angela Lindsey said her goal is to foster excellence. She outlined a progression of advanced classes that would allow students to take and earn credit for high school classes their eighth-grade year.

“We’ll have more elective offerings than any other middle school (in the district),” Lindsey said. “The only one we do not have is the (agriculture) program.”

Mona Jain also will have art, technology, health and computer business application courses, many of which will culminate in a program certification. In addition to the Technology Student Association, it will offer Future Business Leaders of America, National Junior Honor Society, Student Government Association and HOSA-Future Health Professionals, an international student organization to promote career opportunities in the health care.

Myakka resident Teresa Anderson’s daughter, Juliana, is redistricted to the new school and will be  a seventh-grader next school year. Anderson said she likes the advanced courses being offered and that the school will offer eSTEAM, which Juliana has at R. Dan Nolan Middle School.

“Juliana is in all advanced classes. I don’t want her to go back,” Anderson said.

Central Park’s Linda Rojack agreed she liked the focus on technology and advanced courses. Her granddaughter Stephanie Green would be advancing to take algebra next year at Nolan and had been worried about taking a step back academically by switching schools.

“It’s great for them to pursue that challenge,” Rojack said.

Lindsey said the courses offered will vary depending on what teachers she hires, but she wants to hire “the best.”

She is looking forward to building partnerships with the local business community to enhance student learning opportunities.

 First-year enrollment at Mona Jain is projected at approximately  700 students.

Don Sauer, head of the district’s Office of Student Demographics, Projections and Assignment, said the opening of Mona Jain Middle will allow the district to reopen school choice at Nolan, Braden River and Haile Middle Schools within three years.

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