It’s one of South Florida’s originals. We now know it as Edison High School in Miami, but it started out as Dade County Agricultural High School in 1915. They changed the name to honor the inventor of the light bulb in 1931.
So there’s lots of history at Edison High, but schools can’t survive by looking backward. They need new programs, they need to innovate, and Edison is doing just that.
"We are a major advocate of rigor in the classroom and again, just preparing our students for life after high school, and our goal here is just to make sure that students have several options,” said principal Try Diggs.
One of those options is Edison’s magnet academy of finance. It’s a real credit union branch, actual banking takes place there, and the students run the place.
"The students get a chance to actually work on transactions, do deposits, open up accounts and actually see what it is and how it is,” said lead magnet teacher Yolette Mezadieu, explaining that teaching financial literacy is vital. “We start off early, in ninth grade."
The school’s culinary program provides an avenue for students looking to work in the hospitality industry after high school.
"We do have students who are not college bound, they don’t want to go to college, so we want to make sure they’re ready for the real world with career readiness,” Mezadieu said.
Edison also has the Cambridge magnet program for kids preparing for college-level work, and a health sciences program which trains students to be emergency medical technicians, gets them ready for health studies in college, and more.
"It prepares them for real-life scenarios, I've had two students so far this year that have been able to intervene in family emergencies and had a successful outcome because of this course, it make me very proud of them,” said teacher Virgil Rodriguez, who is a trained EMT.
The students in his program ride with him on actual ambulance calls as part of the course.
They’re proud of their Marching Red Raiders band at Edison, which is noticeably smaller than most high school bands. That’s because the school only has 800 students, and sometimes, as the principal says, less is more.
"It’s a very small atmosphere so the students know us and we know them and it’s a very personalized atmosphere so we can insure that we can go above and beyond with regard to our students,” Diggs said, saying smaller class sizes and individualized instruction are the norm in her school.
That’s especially helpful in a school in which many students are not native English speakers. Diggs says in five years, the graduation rate at Edison has jumped 20 percent, about 80 percent now.
Smaller classes, more personal attention. It’s another Edison bright idea.