July 20, 2017

Education comes first at Babcock Ranch

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

2017-07-19 / Real Estate News

School located at the heart of new town will open at full capacity

A field-trip in mid-July introduced teachers and staff to the environmental assets and hands-on experiences they can build into their daily curriculum.The morning of August 10th heralds an historic milestone at Babcock Ranch. It’s the day the new town’s first residents will point back to as proof that at Babcock Ranch, education really does come first.

Located on Founder’s Square at the heart of the new town that will eventually be home to 50,000 residents, Babcock Neighborhood School (BNS) will ring in its first school year at full capacity – months before the first homeowners start moving in.

How is that possible?

“The response to the innovative curriculum we’re offering has been amazing,” said BNS principal Shannon Treece. ”This is the type of education everyone wants for their children. It’s not driven by textbooks but what’s happening in the community and what’s happening around them. Students have real-world experiences while learning.”

Enrollment at BNS is open to all students who qualify to attend Charlotte County public schools – including out-of-county students who can be admitted on a space-available basis. The 156 students attending the new public charter school this fall were admitted through a series of lottery drawings. Another 54 students are on the waiting list.

For developer Syd Kitson, it is the realization of a dream, and the fulfillment of a promise made when plans for the innovative, environmentally-friendly new town were first unveiled more than a decade ago.

“Schools are the heart and soul of every great hometown,” Kitson said. “You can’t help but be inspired by the enthusiasm and energy of the teachers and staff as they prepare to welcome their first students.”

The school’s initial nine teachers as well as the parents have embraced the mission and unique vision of BNS and its emphasis on using the country’s first solar-powered city as a classroom. Its GreenSTEAM approach expands upon STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to include art and environmental education. Classes will explore the local landscape, history and culture while engaging and connecting students to the town’s natural environment, sustainable building practices and conservation initiatives that promote nature, health and renewable energy.

“This is a different approach,” said Ms. Treece, who’s worked in the education field for 17 years and was chosen from 160 applicants. Treece hand-selected each teacher — professionals who are passionate about project-based learning.

“It was so clear cut which were the best, it made it easy,” Treece said. They’re going to be unstoppable.”

Even as students and teachers launch into the inaugural year of classes in a state-of-the-art education building located on Founder’s Square –the Babcock team is looking toward the future. Expanded K-8 facilities and a high school are in the works with opening targeted for the fall of 2019.