Most middle schools offer a handful of classes, at most, that offer high school credit. It’s a different story at Ramblewood Middle School in Coral Springs, which has 16 high school credit classes, including 11 electives. The principal emphasizes student choice, especially in the arts.
"Not making it all about academics or testing but giving them an opportunity to try different things through elective courses that they might find a niche in and carry on into high school possibly even beyond high school,” said Cory Smith, Ramblewood’s principal.
There’s a lot of drama at Ramblewood. The school’s theatre troupe just won the state championship for its production of The Dogsitters, an English farce that features a stuffed dog. That experience helped unleash the talents of the drama class.
"It teaches them confidence, and they can carry that everywhere they go in all of their classes but not only that, in their everyday life they learn how to communicate with individuals,” said drama teacher Meagan Nagy.
Music is huge at Ramblewood, with the band program boasting more than 350 students. The advanced band sounds like a high school group, and the principal says it’s one of the school’s biggest draws.
Beyond performing arts, the visual arts have a prominent place here. The school’s walls are covered by murals, all of which are created and painted by students in their art classes. They make one new mural every school year.
Of course, there is no substitute for academic rigor, and Ramblewood has plenty of it. The principal just wants to make sure there’s something to pique the interests of every student.
"We pride ourselves in creating a certain culture here at Ramblewood where students feel accepted, welcome, and there are opportunities for them to learn not only in the classroom but the skills that will carry them on from high school and beyond,” Smith said.
Sounds like Ramblewood is barking up the right tree.