Who's #1? Homestead's own Medical Academy of Science and Technology High School, or MAST as it has become known, is.
Twelve Miami-Dade public schoolswere showcased in Newsweek magazine's prestigious "Beating the Odds 2015: Top High Schools for Low-Income Students" list. Out of 21,000 high schools in the nation,only 23 Florida schools made the list. Of those, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) represents a whopping 52 percent of the highlighted schools in the state with MedicalAcademy for Science and Technology @ Homestead ranked as #1. MAST was also rated #21 among the top 500 high schools nationwide.
On Thursday, August 27th, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, visited the school to celebrate the national recognition of the excellent educational opportunities here in Homestead.
"Miami-Dade County Public Schools is extremely proud to be recognized on this coveted list," said Carvalho. "This achievement is a testament to the innovative and progressive approach the school district takes regarding diverse educational offerings that ensure a world-class education for all of our students."
Since its founding in 2010, MAST has been rated an "A" school and has earned the National Merit School of Excellence 3 years running. In its first year of testing for industry certification, students had a 100% pass rate, high proficiencies in History and Biology as well as medical courses, Advanced Placement (AP) scholars are up to 18 from 5 in 2014, 100% to post-secondary education graduation rate in 2015, 93.7% college readiness, over $5 million in scholarship offers and the list continues. Not only have the students been recognized for their achievements, but the staff as well, with Rookie Teacher of the Year and Science Teacher of the Year awards.
But the heart of the school is not just facts and percentages. According to Principal Lisa Noffo, it's the staff and support that they have received from parents and the community that have helped the students reach for higher achievement. The school atmosphere is all about the digital age and the integration of technology with education. Through a district-wide initiative, freshmen and sophomore students receive a tablet computer giving them the access to books and resources needed to complete their studies. All students are encouraged to bring their mobile devices with them during school hours and to stay connected before and after school as well. This integration provides an even wider scope of education, where students studying physical therapy are communicating with those studying cell biology, giving both a broader understanding of how disease affects the human body, and keeping the students on the cutting edge of modern medicine.
For Principal Noffo, it has been a highlight of her career to join MASTHigh School. A former science teacher herself, she has walked the halls at MiamiCentralSenior High School, PalmettoMiddle School, New WorldSchool of the Arts and now MAST. She says that 68% of her students are at or below the state's poverty level, and perform as well as higher-income peers. She believes that the option of choice, resources and support, motivate the students to excel. Additionally, students interested in athletics are still able to compete with their home schools' team athletics program, since MAST does not offer athletics.
To continue providing the latest in educational technology MAST just completeda state-of-the art science lab, occupying the entire 3rd floor, complete with smart boards, HD monitors and learning centers, as opposed to classrooms. The school itself has an open floor plan, giving the students room to explore their options in the medical field. This includes the lunchroom, outfitted with HD monitors and "plug ins" for students to charge their devices while dining. Evenif they don't pursue a career in the medical field, the students graduate with a well-rounded educational base to continue on to college.
To learn more about MAST, go to their website at http://mastmedical.org.