It’s not for everyone. Only students who are ready for a challenging academic environment, only students who like a small-school feel, and only students who are female belong at Young Women’s Preparatory Academy.
“The advantage is that it’s a caring and nurturing environment where even though we set high standards we provide a lot of ongoing support,” said principal Connie Martinez.
YWPA is an all-girls, all-magnet, 6-12 school with only 400 total students. Students are admitted randomly from all areas of Miami-Dade County.
Martinez says the absence of boys is addition by subtraction. She says the girls feel less pressure and more freedom to be themselves.
“They become more confident in who they are,” said Martinez. “They feel that they have been empowered to step up and speak up and say what they believe.”
The school emphasizes academic achievement, including the sciences and arts.
The middle school kids, for example, compete in Lego robotics, while the high school team built and is now perfecting a robotic hand. They’re all learning engineering, coding, and teamwork in the process.
“They’re encouraging with one another, they are helping one another with whatever is necessary and it is a no-fault, no blame environment,” said Dr. Angela Choate, the robotics teacher.
YWPA has one primary mission, which is preparing kids for college with 16 AP classes and dual-enrollment options as well. The strategy is working, judging by the 100% graduation rate and the remarkable fact that 100% of the students also go on to attend college.
“We push our students hard from the moment they step in the door,” said Cecilia Reverte, the school’s AP coordinator.
At this school, every student is required to take AP classes. They don’t just talk about academic rigor, they live it.
“So I feel like the secret to our success is the high expectations we place on our students combined with a lot of love and support,” Reverte said.
The classes are small, so one-on-one attention is expected. After-school tutoring is also offered.
The school has middle and high school chorus groups, a dance team, and they’re adding drama next year.
What they don’t have is sports, but students at YWPA can play for teams at their home schools. In fact, one YWPA student just signed a college softball scholarship.
YWPA grads routinely end up at the best universities in the country, including the Ivy League, elite private colleges, and the University of Florida, Florida State, and other state schools.