West Melbourne Elementary School for Science takes No. 1
By Meagan McGone
BREVARD - According to the Florida Department of Education, some of the state's highest-ranking elementary schools belong to the Space Coast, including Florida's top-ranked school: West Melbourne Elementary School for Science.
The school's principal, Neleffra Marshall, said collaboration is the key to West Melbourne Elementary School for Science's rank above all of Florida's 1,795 elementary schools.
"I attribute our ranking to the teamwork between teachers, parents and administration," Ms. Marshall said. "We set a goal and worked collaboratively to increase the learning gains for all our students."
Established in 2000 as a public school of choice, open through a lottery-based application process, West Melbourne Elementary School for Science is themed around science and aims to integrate it across all subject areas. It serves Brevard students from kindergarten through sixth grade.
"We strive to educate today's students using scientific discovery and the implementation of technology to meet the challenges of tomorrow's world," Ms. Marshall said.
As a school of choice, West Melbourne Elementary School for Science requires its students to wear uniforms and its parents to donate 20 hours of service to the school each year.
Though it is a small school, with 434 students and 31 teachers, the school will expand to enroll 552 students and 36 teachers next year, Ms. Neleffra said.
"We have one science teacher, one reading teacher and one math teacher for each grade level," she said. "This allows the most qualified in each of those subject areas to teach all the students in the grade level."
And true to its name, West Melbourne Elementary School for Science introduces science and technology to its students every day.
"In many classrooms, there are one-to-one ratios of mobile devices for student use," Ms. Neleffra said.
The rankings of Florida's elementary schools were based on FCAT scores. The Florida Department of Education ranks its schools "to increase transparency by providing clear measures and metrics to help parents of school-age children, educators, and taxpayers in Florida evaluate their local schools," according to its website, www.fldoe.org.
Cocoa Beach's Freedom 7 Elementary School of International Studies and Indialantic Elementary School also ranked high on the list, scoring third and ninth places, respectively.