New Innovative Programs Hitting South Florida Schools

Over the years, Broward and Miami-Dade Public Schools have added many new programs.

From Cambridge to IB, and a new magnet performing arts program to marine biology, there seems to be an explosion of new innovation in South Florida schools.

For example, Ramblewood Middle School became the first in Broward to feature a culinary arts class. The school already has fine arts, band, chorus and drama, so it was a natural, yet ambitious, expansion.

Ramblewood is part of the STEAM movement, which adds "arts" to the STEM curriculum of science, technology, engineering and math.

"We wanted to enhance and give our students here a foundation to prepare them for what's awaiting them in high school," said Principal Cory Smith. "We want to provide them with as many opportunities to prepare them for college and careers but we want to make the learning fun and engaging."

Ramblewood also added a new engineering design class this year, and like the culinary arts class, students will get high school credit for it.

"So we want the students to work on collaboration, design skills, working in their engineering journals and really by the end of the class, know what it feels like to work like an engineer," said teacher James Nance.

The kids in Mr. Nance's class will learn underwater robot design, digital design and they'll work with 3D printers. He said the influence of competition from private and charter schools is part of the reason why there are so many new innovations cropping up in public schools. They need to offer more choices to attract students and to keep them in the fold.

"I want the public to know a quality education with really good electives is available right here for free," Nance said.

A ton of families have already gotten the message. In Miami-Dade, more than half of all students are enrolled in either a magnet or choice program. This year the district rolled out dozens of new programs, including cyber security at Alonzo and Tracy Mourning High School.

"This is an amazing program here, these students are at the forefront of the future, this is the future," said Principal Lisa Garcia.

In four years, the freshmen in the program will graduate with three industry certifications, making them ready for the job market or for college, ready to defend against hackers or to join the dark side.

"A knife can be used by a surgeon or by an assassin, the skills that they learn in this classroom, they can do a lot of good with it or they can do some damage," said teacher Peter Melton. "They will primarily be taught to defend and set up networks and systems that are unhackable."

Students in the class feel like they're on the cutting edge because they are.

"All new and exciting, and something new is coming out for computers every single day," said student Sarah Lantsman, expressing the excitement the entire class feels about being in the cyber security program.

The trend in public schools is to offer more and more options to appeal to more and more students.

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