Grantee Corner  |  St. Lucie Public Schools

Three students hold flags for different colleges
Samuel S. Gaines Academy of Emerging Technologies students are college bound

Two male students with laptops look at a model of the human head and neck
Fort Pierce Westwood High School students work together in anatomy class

Four students sit at a table and create 3D models of trees in different colors
Fort Pierce Magnet School of the Arts students create artistic models of trees

Seated students play the trumpet, saxophone, and clarinet
Fort Pierce Magnet School of the Arts students practice for a music ensemble

A dummy lays in a hospital bed and students stand around
Fort Pierce Westwood High School students work with a mannequin in Allied Health class

Two female students laugh and point at a model of a kidney
Fort Pierce Westwood High School students use models in anatomy class

Two students peer into microscopes and one uses a laptop
Fort Pierce Westwood High School students use microscopes in a science lab

Rows of students hold black music binders and sing
Fort Pierce Magnet School of the Arts students sing in music class

Seven female students pose in dance costumes
Fort Pierce Magnet School of the Arts students pose in dance class

Two female students sit at laptops while one male student stands behind them and points at the screen
Samuel S. Gaines Academy of Emerging Technologies students work together with technology

Helen Wild, SLPS Project Director

St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS), established in 1914, is located in east central Florida and serves 40,524 preK-12 students in 42 schools. The diverse student population represents 51 countries and 47 languages. The district was recently recognized as having Florida’s fifth-highest graduation rate. The mission of SLPS is to provide safe and caring schools that ensure all students graduate equipped with the knowledge, skills, and desire to succeed. 

SLPS selected three schools to participate in the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant project. All schools apply innovative educational strategies that focus on personalized learning and character development. By employing varied themes across grades while using common research-based strategies, SLPS aims to create a scalable structure for additional magnet programs, ultimately leading to increased school choice for students and parents.

Through the MSAP grant, SLPS is revitalizing Fort Pierce Magnet School of the Arts as a comprehensive arts magnet school. With the help a community-based committee, the school has been renamed the Creative Arts Academy of St. Lucie. Areas of focus include dance, theatre, musical theatre, instrumental and vocal music, and visual and graphic arts. The fine arts magnet theme helps students create a lifelong connection to visual and performing arts as it exposes students to art careers. In addition, the arts are deeply embedded across the curriculum along with core content and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts.

Samuel S. Gaines Academy of Emerging Technologies has a STEM theme with a rigorous pre-collegiate curriculum. This magnet program provides academic excellence for all students through inquiry-based STEM explorations. Through STEM concepts and rigorous, standards-based instruction, students can access all core academic content areas. Students apply creative thinking to all tasks as they discover an innovative and engaging technology-based curriculum. Students gain knowledge and experience with robotics, augmented and virtual reality, and coding through making and tinkering. The core curriculum and resource course activities support agri-tech, health/wellness, and technology pathways through Makerspace, Innovative Labs, and Design Challenge Studios. Ultimately, the STEM magnet program will help close the achievement gap between all student groups.

The magnet program at Fort Pierce Westwood High School prepares students through rigorous pre-collegiate academics in the science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) college and career pathways. Leadership training frames the program, preparing students with practical skills for success. This program’s pathway helps students advance on their college or career paths. The pathway includes premedical, pharmacy technology, agritech, and data science and computer coding. New, state-of-the-art science labs prepare students for 21st century STEAM learning and careers. Through the Microsoft Imagine Academy, students also have the opportunity to gain valuable skills to help them succeed in an increasingly digital global economy. The school continues to build partnerships with the local scientific community, including Indian River State College and Florida Atlantic University.

Dr. Helen Wild is the Chief Academic Officer for St. Lucie Public Schools and serves as the MSAP Project Director. In her 28 years in education, Helen has served as a teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent. Now she focuses on increasing graduation rates, supporting principals and teachers, and ensuring that all children thrive.