Unless you live in the neighborhood, chances are you’ve never heard of Andover Middle School. It opened in 2006, tucked into an area of northern Miami-Dade County near County Line Road. The principal says Andover is the classic hidden gem school.
“Most folks, they don’t even know that it’s here but when you come on the campus, you see 10 acres of beauty but inside those classrooms you have some of the most capable teachers and capable students,” said Kenneth Williams, Andover’s principal.
The kids look happy at the school and maybe it’s because they feel comfortable. With only 550 students, Andover has a nurturing atmosphere.
“You not only get a chance to know the student but most times get a chance to know the family as well,” Williams explained.
Andover offers the Cambridge magnet program, putting its students on an advanced academic track. Most will leave middle school with four high school credits in their pockets, and the teachers have a mandate to make thing interesting in every subject.
“There’s so many different things, political cartoons, powerpoints, whatever we can do, especially technology, that’s one of the major things to put it all together,” said Elizabeth Holmes, social studies teacher.
Technology is worthless if the students can’t use it. At Andover, every kid has a brand-new iPad thanks to an initiative from Verizon, and that program is having an impact.
“It’s done a lot to level the playing field, we have almost 80% of our students that are on free or reduced lunch, so there is sometimes a need in the house,” Williams said.
Dwayne Lebrun, the school’s Verizon Innovation Learning Coach, is responsible for making sure the iPads are being used to maximum benefit.
“It’s a major impact, ‘cause it’s vital for them, some of them don’t have connectivity at home to access the internet,” Lebrun said.
With the tablets, every student takes home 10 gigs of free data, the opportunity to excel, and all the programs used on the iPads.
The teachers say the kids are more engaged in their learning. It’s the magic of using tools they love.
“It definitely made an impact on their academics, their attitude toward education, definitely,” Lebrun explained.
There’s a ton of space to grow at Andover. The administration is hoping to attract more students by adding electives and by simply getting the word out: this Miami Gardens school has opportunities for every child.