New charter school in St. Cloud promises a private-school education without the high price tag

GrowthSpotter contributor

The former owners of a private pre-school in Winter Springs are bringing that school’s highly touted educational philosophy to a new charter elementary school in St. Cloud.

Construction of the Creative Inspiration Journey School of St. Cloud will begin this week with a formal opening set for August, according to the school’s CEO, Patricia Marquis. The school will be a free, public charter school and Pre-K that will select students through a lottery.

Creative Inspiration features the Reggio early childhood teaching method which supporters say uses an interdisciplinary approach without the rigidity of public-school curriculum.

“Our approach is interdisciplinary through topics (kids) enjoy and are able to apply in the real world and, while they are doing all this, they are meeting the (state school) standards,” Marquis told GrowthSpotter. “They’re not just memorizing; they’re understanding and applying what they learn to the real world. It’s all right to have standards, but the approach needs to be in such a way that there is not so much rigidity.”

The new school will consist of two buildings to be built in phases. The first-phase building will be two stories with 28 classrooms totaling 41,672 square feet. Eight more classrooms will be added in Phase 2. The second building, also two-story, will encompass 7,900 square feet. The school will sit on 6.46 acres at 2030 Old Hickory Tree Road, near the intersection with U.S. 192.

About 500 students will be enrolled initially, but Marquis said she expects to eventually expand to a student body of 680 or more.

The school site is being developed by School House Development with offices in Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Atlanta. The general contractor is BC Construction Group based in Raleigh, N.C., and Brighton, Mich. The civil engineering firm is Construction Engineering Group of Melbourne.

Marquis, who created the school with partner Sherri Schneider, said they wanted to bring their success at a private pre-K school of the same name in Winter Springs to the public-school sector.

“What we’re providing to the school system is a very expensive private-school curriculum free to the community,” she said. “Our goal is to make an impact on education … so we could promote this type of curriculum throughout the area. What we’re providing, there is nothing like it in Central Florida, especially in the charter school world.”

The reason they chose St. Cloud is because of the rapid population growth in that area of Osceola County, Marquis said. The school site is several miles south of the Lake Nona Medical City healthcare campus.

“Because Lake Nona has become so popular, with people calling it the Medical City, the growth has just sky-rocketed and people are starting to come down into Osceola County, south through Narcoossee,” Marquis said. “It’s a little bit less expensive here, and St. Cloud has started growing rapidly.” 

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