Barbara Goleman has a lot to celebrate. The National Academy Foundation named the academies of Finance and Hospitality and Tourism at Goleman as model academies and the school has seen a variety of areas increase in benchmark successes, not including the advances their Cambridge program has made after only two years since its induction.
The academies work with hotels, credit unions, State Farm, and car dealerships which sponsor the program through paid and unpaid seasonal internship positions to participating NAF students and through grants and scholarships. They are currently looking for the community to become involved in partnering with academic programs such as NAF to broaden the horizons by which students receive hands-on vocational experience.
"We were honored to be named as a NAF model academy in the U.S. for Hospitality and Tourism, and Finance. It's been a very good year," said NAF instructor Laura Diaz-Rodriguez.
Principal Joaquin Hernandez, intrigued by the constant comparisons made of U.S. students to the excellence of students abroad, researched how Goleman fared to international achievements in similar benchmarks. He happily found that Goleman is not only comparable to international excellence, but surpasses certain areas as well.
“What makes a school is the greatness of the people within the school. I have never worked with such a focused group of staff members,” said Hernandez. “We have a group of extremely dedicated people that are determined to help students succeed, staff that stays after hours to ensure great education.”
The school jumped from 2 to 15 percent of level 5's in advanced placement exams, and decreased from 32 to 12 percent of level 1's. Students in vocational-based courses available are also tested, and certified, in software programs like Photoshop, Flash, Quickbooks, and Dream Weaver.
“We have ordinary students doing extraordinary things, doing them not knowing that they ‘can’t’ and so, they do,” said Hernandez.
The school boasts 16 students with perfect 4.0 unweighted averages and are in what they call "the perfect storm" of motivated students, determined educators and involved parents leading to the many successes of the 2012-2013 school year, and, already, for the current school year.
“I like to think of the education system as a triangle, at the top teachers teach, then students study, and then there is parental involvement,” said Hernandez.
Goleman is also sure to foster a good relationship with Miami-Dade College (MDC) and keep the avenues of communication open for students to easily take advantage of post-secondary opportunities. The Cambridge program saw 100 percent of students enrolled in two advanced placement courses and 78 percent involved in dual enrollment courses at MDC with the hopes to complete their associate degrees by the time they graduate high school.
Language Arts teacher Sara Yanes has seen the ambition of the students in her ninth grade classroom just a couple months into the new school year.
“They're very enthusiastic. They're ninth graders and they're already thinking about college. They want to be very involved with their school, and their parents are very involved. They're a great group of kids,” said Yanes.
Cambridge program participant, junior Gabriella Sallai, though longing for the leisure of her freshman year, is looking to the future.
“I know in college, we're going to be working on what we're learning here,” said Sallai. “I’ve learned a lot doing it in a hands-on way. And because I'm an over-achiever I’ll probably challenge myself in college too.”