Saturday, December 3, 2022

MIA Makes its Move



By Natalie Strom –

Marco Island Academy has finally made the move to its permanent location. Students left for Spring Break and came back to a new school on March 18th. The site, made up of modulars connected by decks, is located on San Marco Road and has been years in the making. But in only one week’s time, the entire school was packed, moved and unpacked, making it ‘business as usual’ by the time Spring Break had come to a close.

“We had so many parents and students that helped – even some grandparents came,” says MIA Board Chair, Jane Watt. “People just started showing up, men bringing tool kits, women bring cleaning supplies. I was overwhelmed by the community outreach.”

Watt was also extremely grateful to Kate Younger, a volunteer who often helps in teacher Rob Eder’s art class. Kate organized everything using color-coded duct tape. Every item was labeled with a color and signs with the colored duct tape pointed as to which way each box would go. One knew they made it to the right place if the tape on the door matched the tape on their box.

“We did the entire move for free,” adds Watt. Paul Ragan, father of Jessica, a sophomore and Cameron, a freshman, donated a moving truck, as did as Phil Penzo, owner of Marco Office Supply. “Phil saw our principal’s desk and couldn’t believe it, so he donated a new one. He donated a conference table, chairs, copy paper; he went above and beyond.”

“It’s been great,” adds Principal George Andreozzi. “The kids have been wonderful and have been very responsible, treating [the school] like it were their own home.” Andreozzi credits this to, “the hallmark of the school: Respect, Responsibility, Reality.” He personally sits and talks with each student and their parents, getting a

Shaded canopies will soon cover the “Champagne Pavilion.”

Shaded canopies will soon cover the “Champagne Pavilion.”

commitment from them to honor these ideals. “We seal it with a handshake. Education is more than academics; it’s about learning what your word means and preparing students for life.”

Student Ford McKee is happy with the school and the new location, but says it’s the teachers that have made the difference for him. “The teachers here are amazing. The teachers just seem like they care more and they are reasonable. They work with us, for example, if they know we have more than one test in a day, and they are really easy to approach.”

With faculty, families, students and supporters all excited to be at the new location, it seemed a perfect time to unveil the school’s new Manta Mascot costume. During lunch period on Thursday, March 28th, Manta the Mascot was greeted with cheers, hugs, high fives and photo ops.

Students headed back to classes, some to work on AICE program material, some to the marine biology program, some to read from history books on iPads and some to design skateboards using specific techniques for art class.

As one walks in-between each portable to and from class, there is an area open between each that is open to naming rights as the space will soon be transformed into a “pocket garden.” Explains John Szerdi of of Living Designs Group, Inc., “The condensate water produced from the classroom air conditioning systems will be used as an irrigation source for individual ‘pocket gardens’ located in the same space between the classrooms. This will produce a constant source of water without using expensive potable water so precious to Marco Island and demonstrate to students one example how we can use humidity to our advantage.” Szerdi, the Project Manager of the school, specializes in utilizing green technology, which, as the school grows, more of these

High-tech: school books are read on iPads.

High-tech: school books are read on iPads.

techniques will be incorporated.

“So many people have come together to make this school so amazing, that I am constantly shocked at how we have been able to pull all of this off,” continues Watt. “The school has been blessed by so many volunteers, donors, students and staff. I could never thank them enough.”

Such as the Marco Island Marriott, another major supporter in the move. “The furniture on the deck came from the Marriott. It’s incredible; much nicer than we would have been able to do on our own.” The Marriott also recently took a naming opportunity, choosing the east wing. A placard will soon be seen at the entrance, reading Marco Island Marriott Education Wing.

“Many with naming rights do not have any affiliations to kids in the school,” states Watt. MIA enthusiasts Timothy Truesdell and Ralph Troyer took naming rights for the south wing; it will be called the Marco Island Education Wing. The west wing was sponsored by an anonymous donor. Within the west wing lies the Polley-Davis Conference Room, named for Bill and Kim Polley and Bruce and Stephanie Davis.

Rene and Tish Champagne, who have been working with Watt on the school for three and a half years, took the naming rights to the center pavilion – The Champagne Pavilion.

A gopher tortoise sanctuary which will, in part, be built and cared for by the students, has already been named by John and Corrie Grado. William and Loretta Cosgrove took naming rights to the nature walk that will be assembled, again, partially by the students, in the future.

There are still many naming rights available and the school is currently taking application for next year’s enrollment. The 2013-2014 school year will be the first year that grades 9 through 12 will be offered. To learn more about MIA, call 239-393-5133 or visit


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