South Florida is fortunate to have many all-magnet public schools, providing an unprecedented level of choice for parents and students.
Even among the circle of all-magnet schools, Ada Merritt K-8 in Miami stands apart because it draws students from three counties. You can live in Monroe or Broward County and still legally send your child to Ada Merritt, located in Little Havana. It’s designed to cater to parents who work in downtown Miami, no matter where they live. They call it a commuter school.
“We have a program that starts as early as 6:30 in the morning for drop-off in the morning care, then we’re here operating an after school care program until seven o’clock at night, and we not only provide for homework helper and review but also many other activities such as yoga, hip hop, karate, and guitar,” explained the principal, Carmen M. Garcia.
The school also has another unique distinction. Ada Merritt has the only Portuguese language immersion program for this age group in Florida, possibly the nation. It also has a Spanish language immersion program, and both language tracks are combined with the International Baccalaureate curriculum.
“I-B programs are not unique, immersion programs are not unique, but the combination is unique,” said Maud Clark, the middle school programs coordinator.
When they enroll in kindergarten, students choose either Spanish or Portuguese, and stay in that track until they graduate in eighth grade.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the boys and girls, not only do they come out bilingual but they’re bi-literate,” said Garcia.
Combined with the academic rigor of the IB program, learning a foreign language fluently sets the graduates on a path to excel in high school and beyond.
“And that would prepare our students to go into the world and be involved in the community, the world community and be able to compete,” Clark said.
The kids at Ada Merritt are on their way. Just ask them, and they’ll tell you. In Portuguese, of course.