Apollo Academy: Encouraging Innovation  - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay

Apollo Academy: Encouraging Innovation 

By. Meredith Biesinger 

Apollo Academy is on a mission to inspire each child and parent who enters their doors with a learning design comprising core subjects, including reading, writing, math and spelling. Apollo takes an intensive approach to reading by utilizing Orton-Gillingham and Montessori programs and creative techniques to engage learners and make reading fun. Founder Beth Ann Valavanis said, “If my daughter, who I started the school for, is a strong reader and loves to read, she will be a lifelong learner too. Reading has to be fun.”

Along with core subjects, there are many non-core opportunities in which learners can participate, called quests. Apollo Academy quests are project-based learning opportunities such as community gardens, where students learn about the entire process of photosynthesis and then join in the process of utilizing what they have learned. 

Upcoming quests that Apollo learners are excited about include a marine science quest, coding and robotics, detective science (for older students), and a hero quest, where students will learn about past and present heroes. 

Creating an environment and community for children to learn and grow at their own pace, their studio looks more like a tech startup than a classroom and their quests are more like real-life “Shark Tanks” than traditional book reports. 

“We track progress using technology and celebrate world-class work through public exhibitions. Our systems provide guardrails for accountability, motivate for excellence (and celebrate failure), require collaboration and peer review, promote self-discovery and instill an innate love for learning. Our children are in control of their environment, progress, and ultimately, vision for their lives,” Valavanis said. 

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With the belief that children should process information through play, Tampa Bay’s Apollo Academy includes ample play time into their daily schedule. The innovative academy provides a framework modeled after Acton Academy in Austin, Texas, where learners are at the center of every decision and operate under the premise that children are far more capable than many realize. “With this intense focus on our learners, we are able to provide a magical (and real) place for children and their families to thrive.”

What is an Acton Academy? 

Acton Academy combines Montessori, blended and project-based learning in a cohesive model to provide learners an entrepreneurial environment and encourage curiosity, independence and lifelong learning.

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