Ocean Studies moving to Key Largo - A group of people sitting at a table in front of a computer - Private school
Ocean Studies Charter School kindergartners check out a model of their new school, which will open in August 2020. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

Ocean Studies Charter, an A-rated marine science and Montessori based school, is moving to a new location in Key Largo near MM 100. The school is scheduled to be open for kindergarten through fifth-grade students in August 2020, and plans are in place to add a middle school in August 2021. 

Ocean Studies is seeking support from the community. The school will purchase its own facility, construct nine classrooms, equip a quality marine science lab, provide outdoor space to learn and play, and incorporate a middle school so that students can carry their passion for the environment through to high school and beyond. The estimated cost for the project is $3.3 million. 

“I am very excited about the future of our organization and the opportunity to continue to change children’s lives,” said David Thompson, president of the board of directors. “Our teachers and students have achieved so much in our nine-year history, and now, we are charging forward into the future with great momentum. Our permanent facility will afford this unique education for generations to come.”

“I feel honored to be leading this campaign and to secure the future of Ocean Studies, a truly special public school that will make a positive difference to so many lives,” said Nicky Rudolph, vice president of the Ocean Studies Charter School board.

Ocean Studies was founded on the need to educate youth in order to preserve the fragile South Florida environment, in a way that immerses and engages the students, so that learning is interactive, explorative and fun. All students attend weekly field labs, working alongside local and national organizations such as REEF, Fish and Wildlife and more. 

“We are thrilled to be moving to our new location,” said principal Trisha Woods. “We are excited to provide new and innovative opportunities to the children of the Florida Keys through weekly field labs in our community and hands-on experiences in our classrooms.” 

In 2018-19, third-grade students worked with NOAA on a year-long mangrove and sea grass restoration project; fifth-grade students partnered with the Institute of Tropical Ecology and Conservation and travelled to Panama’s remote Bocas del Toro Province to research and compare ecosystems. 

Ocean Studies moving to Key Largo - A box on a table - Scale model
A rendition of the new Ocean Studies Charter School that will be located in Key Largo near MM 100. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

The school is nationally designated as an Ocean Guardian School by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); it is listed as a Green School by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, as well as being an A-rated Florida school.

With two certified teachers in each classroom, small groups are happening in two different sections of the classroom while independent workers are immersed in their lessons. Children have freedom of movement. They can read to each other in the learning lounge (a flexible seating arrangement that looks more like a living room than a classroom) or engage in a technology assignment. 

Ocean Studies was founded in 2011 as a free, publicly funded, charter school, with a charitable tax-exempt status. To tour the school and meet students and teachers, or to learn more about the school’s plans, call 305-852-7700 or email [email protected]. 

— Contributed 

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