A Miami public magnet high school is gaining recognition as it prepares its students for college and beyond.
TERRA, the Environmental Research Institute, is a science and math magnet school that works to give students a head start in their job search.
“I graduate with eight years of science, so I am way ahead of the program. I feel like when I get to college, I am going to have a better chance of understanding everything,” said high school junior Segal Sax.
The school sports a workshop for robotics, a laboratory for biomedical research and a greenhouse for environmental studies.
“I even started working in a research laboratory in a university so I already know what that is,” said junior Brenda Abreu. “My older sister started when she's in grad school and it's something incredible that I am at the same level that she is.”
Terra, a nationally recognized "green school," opened its doors in 2009 and now has 1,350 students. It will have its first graduating class next year.
“No matter what those kids do, no matter who they become, what career they choose, and there are a lot of them available in this field, they will take their experiences with them,” said agriculture biotechnology teacher Monica Mejia. “They will live by the fact that the environment is there, the environment is real, these problems are serious, and they will have a social consciousness no matter what they do.”
The school, whose mission is academic excellence partnered with environmental stewardship, offers a complete high school curriculum and a wide variety of advanced placement courses.
“When we learn this way, we get a firsthand experience,” said junior Nicholas Marques. “We sometimes go out into the forest. We pick out invasive species like air potatoes and figure out a way dispose of them naturally.”
Principal Carrie Montano said the kids are the future.
“In an economy such as what we have right now, these are the kids that will be creating jobs,” she said.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Alberto Carvalho said the students’ futures are promising.
“The doors of opportunity that those interactions open are immense, and we have a good track record of students coming out of these programs with direct access to millions of dollars in scholarships that institutions of higher learning have available for them because they are the very best.”