Updated: Feb 24
It’s hard to believe that with “back to school” just barely in our rear-view mirrors, it’s time to start talking about school applications. Except that it is. Beginning on October 1, 2021, families within a two-mile radius of Somerset Academy schools can begin to apply. Applications become available to all students on October 16, 2021. Once you have gotten over your shock, you can keep reading for a list of Pros & Cons along with school reviews.
Somerset Academy schools are a group of charter schools that have become very popular in Miami over the last 10 years. There are campuses all over Miami, including Coral Gables, South Miami and Kendall. Charter Schools are tuition-free schools that are publicly funded but managed by private companies. Click here for a complete breakdown of school options available in Miami.
When my oldest son was transitioning out of preschool, we choose Somerset Academy Gables. It was down the street from his preschool, loaded with kids and families we already knew, and had great online reviews. It was a great experience. It reminded me of the small private school I went to (CEA) and overall could be described as “free private school”. The kind of school where all the staff at the school know your child by name. As a mom, that feels good.
But no school is perfect, and Somerset schools are no exception. In second grade, my son was tested and placed into a gifted program by Miami-Dade public schools. While at the “staffing meeting”, this is when the child is officially placed into the program, we were told that our son was very bright, and should be placed into a “more challenging” program. We were both proud and very confused. Doesn’t Somerset Academy teach a more challenging curriculum than general education? It turns out, not really. We decided to take the recommendations given to us and moved our son to a community school with a self-contained gifted program. The transition was quite hard for him, and we realized quickly that the new program he was in was indeed more challenging, with more in-depth investigations. Happily, he was able to adapt and thrive, ultimately getting into his first choice middle school.
And it seems we are not alone. Over the years I have met many families that left a Somerset school because their child either needed a more challenging program, like our son, or needed more educational or emotional support. In fact, while researching for this Blog post I found several parent reviews on websites like Great Schools and Niche with similar experiences.
Now, that’s not to say that Somerset schools don’t have a lot to offer, they do. Somerset Academy schools have a strong focus on technology, which gave them a huge leg up when the pandemic hit and students were suddenly sent home to learn virtually, and because they are charter schools, they have considerably more autonomy than public schools to make decisions about how to best protect their students. Somerset schools also have a strong focus on building a school community and give parents many opportunities to meet-after all, we want to make new friends too.
My takeaway? Somerset Academy schools are great for general education, but may not be the best choice for students that are either gifted or need additional support and accommodations such as those with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Behavior Improvement/Intervention Plan (BIP).
Online School Reviews
10/10 Website Review & 3/5 Parent Review
Public School Review
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