|Educational Choice - The Key to Excellence|
The greater Lake Wales area is fortunate to be able to offer students and their parents a choice of school systems, which are all governed by the elected members of the Polk County School Board.
In the summer of 2003, the Lake Wales Charter School System was formed when parents and teachers from five of the eight area public schools voted to convert to Charter schools. In August 2005, students and teachers arrived at five Conversion Charter Schools, administered locally by the Lake Wales Charter School Board and an appointed superintendent. A new middle school opened at the beginning of the 2007-08 school year, providing a seamless curriculum for students as they move through the system that includes: Babson Park Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, Janie Howard Wilson Elementary, Polk Avenue Elementary, Edward W. Bok Academy (Middle School) and Lake Wales Senior High School, which in 2012 was officially granted IB status.
The Lake Wales Charter Schools system serves 3,800+ students in grades pre-K through 12 at six campuses in the community. Each school is run by strong administrative teams, dedicated teachers and support staff who all share a common commitment to the Lake Wales community – to make the very best public education available for our children.Local business and community organizations provide partnerships for all our schools; civic groups sponsor volunteer service activities for students; and neighboring colleges and universities offer dual enrollment for our high school students.
The Polk County School System has direct oversight and daily supervision over operations of three Lake Wales schools—McLaughlin Middle And Fine Arts Academy, Roosevelt Academy and Spook Hill Elementary. Roosevelt is a school of choice for sixth through 12th grade students with learning disabilities and has a focus on teaching employability and vocational skills. McLaughlin is one of only four middle schools countywide to have an intensive arts curriculum that includes music, dance, drama and visual arts. Both McLaughlin and Spook Hill are part of the state’s Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test grading program and both schools under the supervision of the school board are rated no lower than a B grade. Spook Hill Elementary has received an A grade for five consecutive years. McLaughlin and Spook Hill are also designated as Five Star Schools by the Florida Department of Education for their family and community involvement initiatives and projects. The school board also oversees the fulfillment of contractual obligations of two entities, the Lake Wales Charter School System and Our Children’s Academy.
Our Children's Academy is also a public charter school serving the special needs of students with a variety of developmental disabilities. Different from other public schools serving special needs children, Our Children's unique model combines an individualized educational program with a therapeutic program to help children be successful in their education and in their life.
Also located in Lake Wales is The Vanguard School, an independent, not-for-profit, private boarding and day school. Fully accredited through both FEIS and SACS, the internationally recognized school offers a remedial program for students who have learning disabilities such as ADD or ADHD and dyslexia, small class sizes and an atmosphere where students are identified by strengths, not weaknesses.
Ridge Career Center is the vocational-technical center serving the Lake Wales area community, preparing students to gain entry and advance within their chosen occupations. Polk State College's Corporate College works with the business community, often designing and delivering specialized programs to meet the training needs of area employers. Each year the PSC Corporate College trains almost 12,000 members of the Polk County workforce, preparing them to drive economic development and make Polk County the place to live and work in Central Florida.
The Lake Wales Family Literacy Academy helps adults complete requirements for their GED. The award-winning program provides a family meal on class nights and incorporates parenting classes, financial training, early learning activities for preschoolers and tutoring for grade school students. Teachers, social workers and community volunteers, including local college students, work one-on-one with adults as they move through the GED program. Polk State College offers scholarships to all program graduates who wish to pursue higher education upon completion. A critical component of the Family Literacy Academy program is the Literacy Coalition, which brings community organizations together in support of adult literacy programs within the Lake Wales area.
The Lake Wales Literacy Council is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the literacy rate in the Lake Wales area through one-on-one tutoring and small group tutoring provided by trained tutors. The Literacy Council offers residents the following services free of charge: One-on-one tutoring in reading, writing, math and English language acquisition skills; English for Speakers of Other Languages for students who want to improve their English language proficiency; After-school tutoring program for students in grades K-3; and workplace literacy program at Florida’s Natural Growers for FNG employees and others who which to pursue their GED or develop their English language skills. These classes are held at the FNG facility during the early evening. Interested individuals should contact the Literacy Council office at 140 E Park Avenue or phone: 676-5767. No experience in education is required. Training is provided for tutors.
The mission of the Circle of Friends Ministry is "enhancing, empowering and bringing inclusion for children and young adults with disabilities." The nonprofit organization offers a day-training program called POP, “Proclaiming Our Potential” to young adults unable to find employment due to disabilities and provides continued education, social skills, home living skills, mentoring program and job training.
Together, the Lake Wales Charter Schools and the Polk County School District, along with area private schools and academies, colleges, universities and other area resources, provide high-quality educational opportunities to children and adults.