Was your preschooler the first in her play group to belt out her ABCs from atop the monkey bars? Does your preteen have a knack for fixing electronics? Would your teen's sketches hold their own in an art museum? If your child displays leanings toward specific skills, talents and interests consider a magnet school program. Developed in the 1960s to encourage voluntary desegregation, magnet programs have become an effective way to foster development of identifiable interests from visual arts to engineering to international studies. Here are a few of Duval County's most popular magnet programs:
Gifted, Accelerated, Multiple Intelligences, College Prep and Leadership AcademyThese schools offer enriched curriculums that feature hands-on, cooperative learning experiences designed to enhance team building, problem solving, critical and creative thinking and leadership skills. Programs are rigorous, fast-paced and typically operate one grade level above traditional schools. Most require participation in extracurricular activities that expose students to related career choices. Richard L. Brown, Central Riverside, R.V. Daniels, Jacksonville Beach, Thomas Jefferson, San Jose, San Mateo and Susie Tolbert elementary schools; Darnell-Cookman, James Weldon, Johnson and Julia Landon middle schools; Paxon School for Advanced Studies and Stanton College Preparatory School.
International BaccalaureateThese schools employ curriculums based on those developed by the International Baccalaureate Organization, a Geneva, Switzerland-based nonprofit educational foundation. Programs focus on awarness of world cultures and understanding of global issues. Students are prepared acceptance into universities worldwide and for success in the increasingly competitive global market. Richard L. Brown, Justina Road, Henry F. Kite and Rufus E. Payne elementary schools; Fort Caroline, Lake Shore, and Paxon Middle Schools; Jean Ribault High School, Paxon School for Advanced Studies and Stanton College Preparatory School.
Medical Professions, Health and FitnessStudents graduate with a competitive edge in the medical industry. Darnell-Cookman Middle School's School of the Medical Arts allows top students to continue studies at the school for their ninth grade year, offering courses with concentrations in biological, medical and natural sciences. Students at A. Philip Randolph Academies of Technology and Andrew Jackson High School benefit from hands-on, clinical experiences in long-term care and acute-care facilities. Passing students take the State of Florida Certified Nursing Assistant exam. San Pablo Elementary School; Darnell-Cookman Middle School; Andrew Jackson High School, Paxon School for Advanced Studes, A. Philip Randolph Academies of Technology and Stanton College Preparatory School.
Math, Science, Engineering and Environmental
Students in these programs are primed for careers in some of today's most competitive fields. Elementary students participate in the Problems, Challenges and Solutions engineering program, which teaches programming, robotics and computer aided design (CAD). Middle School level electives include astronomy, forensics, advanced genetics, aquaculture, robotics, video game design, TV production and digital photography. And Robert E. Lee High School offers computer, engineering, forensic science, environmental science, chemistry, physics and anatomy labs. Dinsmore, Lone Star, Loretto, Sally B. Mathis, Andrew Robinson and John Stockton elementary schools; Kirby-Smith Middle School; Robert E. Lee and William M. Raines high schools.
Computer Science and Information TechnologyThese programs prepare students for the business world. William Raines High School's Administrative Assistance, Academy of Information Technology and Network Support Services programs offer distinct curriculums. All high school-level students are afforded opportunities for job shadowing, internships or paid co-op training via partnerships with local businesses and compete in Business Professionals of America events. Successful students are eligible for industry certifications including the Cisco Certified Network Associate, A+ Repair, Microsoft Office Users Specialist, XP, Oracle, Adobe and HTML. Windy Hill Elementary School; Kirby-Smith Middle School; William M. Raines High School and A. Philip Randolph Academies of Technology.
The Montessori method of education is based on the work of Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Maria Montessori, one of Italy's first female physicians. It is built on her scientific observations that children essentially teach themselves by surveying their surroundings and manipulating objects and materials. What kid can resist pushing a button, pulling a string or plunging his hands into something mushy? It's a natural instinct that can be incorporated into their education via hands-on exercises and a non-competitive environment that lets kids learn at their own pace. J. Allen Axson Elementary School; John E. Ford Elementary School (K–8); Paxon School For Advanced Studies.
Spanish Immersion, F.A.M.E. (Foreign Language, Academics, Music Enrichment)John E. Ford Elementary's program combines traditional Spanish language immersion and Montessori techniques and employs the Montessori approach of keeping classmates together throught long, seamless stretches of their education. It's one of only two K-9 schools in Duval County. Martin Luther King Elementary School's F.A.M.E. (Foreign Language, Academics, Music Enrichment)program mixes foreign language with music theory and training with a curriculum that includes Spanish heritage, cultures, folk dance and modern dance and music. John E. Ford (K-8), Martin Luther King elementary schools.
Visual and Performing Arts
These programs integrate arts instruction into all classes, allowing students to learn and develop creative approaches to traditional learning. Elementary instructors employ the methods of German composer Carl Orff, who developed a highly effective system of music instruction using percussion instruments and motion. And those studying at nationally renowned Douglas Anderson School of the Arts declare majors in creative writing, dance, film, guitar, instrumental music, performance theater, piano, technical theater, visual arts and vocal music. Brentwood, Fishweir, Lake Forest, Martin L. King, Jr. and Pine Forest elementary schools; LaVilla School of the Arts; Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.
Aviation and Military Sciences
Highland Aviation and Military Science Academy's aviation ground-school elective offers on-site flight simulators and teaches principles of flight using radio-controlled planes and rockets. Its military science elective emphasizes military history and physical fitness. Students who complete three years of Andrew Jackson High School's Air Force Junior ROTC or Ribault High School's Marine Corps Junior ROTC programs are eligible to enter the armed forces two pay grades above other enlistees. Students of Frank H. Peterson's Military Science Aviation Sub Course can earn a private pilot licence via a basic private pilot ground school. Highlands Middle School; Andrew Jackson and Jean Ribault high schools; Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology.