Lake Eola Charter School was approved in 1998 and has completed its nineteenth year of operation. The first year presented the challenges of the actual physical plant; the second year the challenges of fiscal stability; the third year the challenges of a fine-tuning a first class curriculum. We are proud to report that we are in our Magnolia Avenue facility for the eleventh year and have achieved fiscal stability (and a surplus), a remodeled school, and a curriculum that resulted in Lake Eola Charter School receiving another “A” as part of the Governor’s Award Program (click to see 2013 FCAT data).
These are not small feats, but accomplished nevertheless through the cooperation and hard work of parents, students, staff, and business partnerships. Lake Eola Charter School possesses all that is advantageous to being a city school. The students have access to the public library for checking out books, completing research, and participating in weekly storybook time. The children are able to attend Bach Lunch Recitals at St. Luke’s Cathedral across the street from the school in both the fall and the spring. Physical education classes are held either at Lake Eola Park or the City Recreation Center. Children also have the opportunity to attend cultural events at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center as well as functions at City Hall. All of these opportunities conjoin to help us realize the goals of the school.
The uniqueness of the school goes beyond its location. The staff, using national standards, creates a living curriculum each summer for the students. Since the school implements a non-textbook curriculum, resources are pulled from primary source materials, Web sites, and practical application exercises. Teachers facilitate learning rather than “pouring it in.” This approach develops ownership on the part of students and fine tunes their critical thinking skills. All lessons are differentiated to meet each student where he or she is rather than where their ages dictate they should be. If a student is in need of acceleration, learning activities are directed toward that goal; conversely, if students are in need of re-teaching, their activities take that direction with the goal of attaining grade level expectations (see our 2008/09 No Child Left Behind accountability report).
Lake Eola Charter School employs a cluster system for student placement after grade 3. This system places students in 4th and 5th grade in mixed-grade classes. Similarly, middle schoolers (6th, 7th, and 8th grades) are in mixed-grade classes with each other. Research has shown that the cluster configuration allows for the optimum benefit for student success.
Beyond the Governor’s Recognition Program, Lake Eola Charter School students have achieved success at the local, state, and national levels in a variety of competitions such as the National Geographic Geography Bee, the Modern Woodsmen Oration Contest, the Dr. Nelson Ying Science Fair, the Florida Science and Engineering Fair, Odyssey of the Mind, No Boundaries, and the Radiant Peace program. Further, our 8th grade students have little problem getting into the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, magnet or Advanced Placement programs and, based on follow up surveys, have proven very successful in their post-LECS careers.
Lake Eola Charter School truly exemplifies all that is positive in school choice and stands at the forefront not only in Orange County, but in the state as a first class charter school.