TERRA Environmental Research Institute Offers Strong Science, Art Programs

The place is so green, the building, of course, is LEED certified. TERRA Environmental Research Institute is a mouthful to say and it has a tasty menu of academic choices, from the AP Capstone program to three distinct choice academies on its Kendall campus.

"What they get out of the programs, I believe, is a strong, rigorous curriculum and a strong education that is not only good for their high school years but also for the years to come," said Principal Carrie Montano.

When "terra" is in the name, you should reasonably expect the students to get dirt under their fingernails. They do, in the Environmental Research and Field Studies Academy. The kids are always conducting experiments with plants, including testing which vegetables might grow best on Mars.

"Environmental education is everything, it is in law, it is in architecture and engineering, so these kids get a view of the world that is a little bit different than anyone else because they're already thinking green," said Surey Rios, a teacher in the academy.

TERRA is an all-magnet, public high school which draws students from as far north as Davie and from as far south as Florida City.

The other academies are Biomedical Research and Robotics and Engineering. The engineering students learn hands-on by building all kinds of stuff, including electric cars, remote-controlled robots, even a catapult. You never know when you might need to storm the walls of a castle.

"They have a lot of fun, they're really enthusiastic about it, these are great kids," said robotics teacher Ivan Rico.

There's no question TERRA is science geek heaven. But the school also has a strong arts program with a full range of classes, from basic level to AP, and its students have produced art displayed at the airport and featured in the New York Times.

"So what we're producing here is a well-rounded student," Montano said.

TERRA has been recognized in several forums as one of the nation's top high schools, and it's just getting started.

"The great thing to say about that is we've only had three graduating classes, so within that short period of time we've become iconic," Montano said. 

They're reaping the benefits of what they've sown at TERRA.

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