BABCOCK RANCH, Fla. (Aug. 8, 2018) – Former Gov. Jeb Bush joined Syd Kitson, elected officials, and community and education leaders to celebrate the grand opening of the new Babcock Neighborhood School in Babcock Ranch. The school, completed two years ahead of schedule to meet growing demand after BNS’s initial year of operation, features a project-based learning curriculum that earned the school an A grade last year from the state of Florida.
Following a brief ceremony, nearly 100 guests joined school administrators, teachers and student ambassadors in BNS classrooms to experience the school’s unique approach to project-based learning.
Bush presided over the creation of the 73,000-acre Babcock Ranch Preserve during his second term as Governor. When developer Kitson began planning the new town that was approved as part of the historic preservation transaction, he put together an advisory board that could help transform his vision for an innovative, sustainable new town into reality. Bush joined that board seven years ago.
“As we looked toward the future of this new town of Babcock Ranch, we were extremely fortunate to have the guidance of Governor Bush, a national leader in education reform,” Kitson said. “Building a school before you have a single home is a pretty big commitment. I am so glad Jeb pushed us to take the leap and to introduce the project-based learning curriculum.”
“Technological advancement will dramatically change the work world over the coming years, and we have to create new paths for each child to have the ability to reach their God-given potential,” Bush said. “Project-based learning arms each child with the problem-solving skills and the power of knowledge they need to succeed in a rapidly changing world.”
The unique, environmentally focused “greenSTEAM” curriculum at BNS integrates science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics into projects that allow students to learn by doing.
After opening at full capacity with 156 students in a smaller facility for the 2017-18 school year, the larger BNS building was fast-tracked to be ready in time to welcome students for 2018-19.
On Friday, Aug. 10, 338 students in grades K-7 will begin classes in the state-of-the-art school building designed with project-based learning in mind.
“What I have always believed education should look like is coming to fruition here at Babcock Neighborhood School,” said BNS Principal Shannon Treece. “It should be fun, engaging, rigorous and collaborative. This new school building, custom-designed to support project-based learning, provides the space our teachers need to make that dream come true each and every day in the classroom.”
While public charter schools like BNS have more flexibility to innovate, they are held to the same accountability standards as every other public school. In addition to earning an A grade in the annual Florida Standards Assessment ratings, BNS third graders topped all Charlotte County Schools in the Florida Standards Assessment-English Language Arts test.
“Sometimes at the beginning of a new endeavor, you don’t realize it is the start of something special, and this is one of those moments,” said Richard Lewis, chair of the BNS Governing Board. “I think five years from now, you’ll see people coming here from all over to see what we are doing and to learn from it.”
For more information about Southwest Florida’s new hometown, located just northeast of Fort Myers off Babcock Ranch Road/State Road 31, visit the Discovery Center at 42850 Crescent Loop in Babcock Ranch, call 877-709-6620
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