PUBLISHED AUGUST 4, 2016
By LOIS KINDLE
SouthShore Charter Academy, the newest educational option for school-age children in grades K-6, will open its doors on Aug. 10. The new facility at 11667 Big Bend Road, Riverview, will begin its inaugural year with an enrollment of 799, said founding principal Kristen Storm-Taylor.
Grade 7 will be added in the fall of 2017 and grade 8 the following year. Full enrollment at that time will be 1,145 students.
The new school will be governed by the Florida Charter Educational Foundation and operated by Charter Schools USA, which will set its curriculum, which will meet all state-mandated curriculum requirements.
“I am delighted that a new public charter school is opening in the South Shore region,” said Hillsborough Community College SouthShore President Allen Witt, a member of the new school’s board. “This is another excellent addition to the growing educational opportunities in South County. I am particularly pleased that Kristen Storm-Thomas has been selected as principal. I visited her on several occasions at her (previous) school and was deeply impressed by its innovative and caring environment. I am looking forward to great things from SouthShore Charter.”
Originally from northern Baltimore County, Md., Storm-Thomas, 38, was principal for the past four years at Henderson Hammock Charter School in Tampa, which is also governed by the Florida Charter Educational Foundation. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in education from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg in 2005 and 2008.
As SouthShore Charter Academy’s first principal, she looks forward to accomplishing several primary goals.
“I want to build a community among the staff, parents and students, and begin establishing the foundation for my vision of leadership among our students,” Storm-Taylor said. “I also want us to become community partners with businesses, the chamber in Riverview and residents of the surrounding area.”
Individual goals are what makes the difference in a student’s education, she said.
“Each child will have a personal learning plan,” Storm-Taylor said. “Parents and teachers will have input, and it will be updated multiple times per year. Students will take part in the process all the way through their school years.”
The 66,920-square-foot school sits on 10 acres and was built by Ryan Companies. It features gleaming new classrooms, a multipurpose room to be used as a cafeteria or for assemblies and indoor recreation. It also has two science labs, two computer labs, rooms for art and music, basketball courts, covered playground and soccer/sports field.
Storm-Taylor said she is pleased with the finished product.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” she said. “We’re very excited to be part of the community and about making a positive impact on children’s lives in Riverview.”
The Florida Charter Educational Foundation board will set policy for the SouthShore Charter Academy in keeping with its charter and is responsible for the school’s legal and financial obligations. Its members include Witt, Chairman Rod Jurado, Valora Cole and James Grant.