William Dandy Middle School is the epitome of a hidden gem school. It’s not well-known, it’s in an out-of-the-way neighborhood on the west side of I-95, not near a main thoroughfare, and it’s loaded with great programs and striving students.
“We emphasize the whole child,” said principal Shernette Grant.
They also emphasize academic excellence. The school has the only middle school pre-med program in Broward County. Students in the course get high school credit and they learn about the full range of health care careers. They do it by going on field trips, as many as possible, and by hearing from professionals in the field.
“So we try to help kids to touch and feel as many components of the medical field that they possibly can because when they go to high school or on to college, they are better informed about the decisions they make as far as the careers they want to pick,” said Grant.
The students even dress in scrubs two days a week.
“It’s a very rigorous program and they’re not really sure if they’re capable of doing it, and they all are, and they see that by the time they leave, and it’s very exciting for me,” said teacher Rachel Charson, who directs the pre-med program.
William Dandy also offers high school level algebra and biology classes, part of its focus on preparing kids for the next level.
“Our kids are very successful when they go on because they’re exposed to that increased rigor we know they’re going to need when they get to high school,” Grant explained.
With a marching band, dance team, and sports, the school has plenty of extracurricular outlets to keep students motivated and interested. It also has a magnet pre-law program.
NBC 6 visited on a day in which a mock trial was going on inside the school’s courtroom, which looks like the real deal. Students prepared for the trial just like real lawyers, judges, and jurors would. Prosecutors and defense attorneys gave opening statements, witnesses were examined and cross examined, jurors and the gallery watched it all intently.
It looked exactly like a scene that plays out every day in the Broward County courthouse.
The students learn not just about what goes on in a courtroom, but also about the issues of crime and punishment, guilt and innocence, justice and compassion.
“We do believe in raising kids by touching their hearts so we can touch their heads,” Grant said.
They do that here every day. The verdict is in: William Dandy Middle School, guilty of fostering excellence in every student.