Belle Glade Excel Charter Students are back for a brand new school year, and apart from a fresh start at academics, they have a brand new playground to enjoy during the school day.
The roughly $120,000 playground, paid for through donations raised by the charter school’s parent company Lutheran Services Florida (LSF), was a welcome addition by students, teachers and parents alike. Before the playground was built, students boarded a bus and traveled to an off-campus playground to burn off the energy stored up throughout the day.
Now, a playground awaits them just feet from the school’s front entrance.
“We’re thankful because the playground allows them to release energy in a positive format,” said Principal Dr. Beth Williams. “We’re excited about the school year and the opportunities that will arise here at Belle Glade Excel.”
This marks the school’s third year in operation. Opened as LSF’s first charter school, the school welcomed kindergarten through third grade students but now houses kindergarten through fifth graders.
Dr. Williams said the kinks of opening a brand new school have now been worked out and she can really start enjoying the fruits of her and her administration’s labor.
“I really look forward to our children growing academically and growing as individuals to become productive little citizens,” she said. “You can see the potential in these kids. They just need that little push.”
Excel Charter follows much of the district of Palm Beach County’s curriculum, including the literature and mathematics model, but infuses some of its own holistic approaches to teaching.
Dr. Williams said the students have a one and half hour block of reading and literature in the mornings and use tablets and other technology tools in their learning. Dr. Williams said this is important because kids today are so technology driven.
Classes are capped at an 18-student maximum and apart from academics, students follow a Leader in Me program that teaches students to learn with “dignity, honor and respect.” Maintaining eye contact while speaking and listening is an important facet of this program.
Dr. Williams and the school’s staff also make sure every student has breakfast in the morning, even if students are tardy to class.
“We provide cereal and milk,” said Dr. Williams, pointing to a stack of cereal boxes in the corner of her office. “We ask the kids, ‘Have you had breakfast?’ and nine times out of 10 they haven’t.”
Dr. Williams attributes the school’s success not only to the staff’s hard work but also LSF’s unending commitment.
“LSF saw a vision and allowed it to grow. They want what’s best for all of us,” said Dr. Williams.