By STEPHEN FLANAGAN JACKSON
A new private school for toddlers through pre-kindergarten, and for students through third grade in need of before- and after-school care opened this fall emphasizing exploring and discovery as the key elements for each individual student, 90 of whom are currently enrolled.
The owner is Sarah Ashe, originally from Key West, and a 20-year veteran educator who also runs a consulting firm for preschools. Ashe’s latest endeavor is the Alford & Ashe Academy located at 7739 Gibsonton Dr., just east of Gibsonton Elementary School locatedbetween U.S. 41 and I-75. Previous to opening her new school in South Shore, Ashe was a director for a new school in Bradenton.
She attended Key West High School and has a degree in Early Childhood Education, as well as a Director credential and a Business Management degree from the University of Phoenix. Ashe says the new academy focuses on developing the social, physical and intellectual needs of the young students.
“Children are the body of a puzzle, and Alford & Ashe Academy has all the pieces to put them together,” she said, adding,“A child needs to be very rested and have had a great meal to start the day of learning.
“Learning is just one piece to putting the body of the child together,” offered Ashe. “Our academy works on other parts of the puzzle: Positive self-esteem, creativity, problem solving, initiative, self-control and independence.
“I mentor our teachers in a way that if they’re not having fun they are not teaching and remind them that every child is different,” said Ashe about the academy’s principles and practices.
Ashe uses the maiden name of her mother, Alford, and her father’s last name, Ashe, for the title of the school. The A&A Academy has nine full-time employees and one part-time employee as well as a full-time cook. The teachers’ education ranges from BA degrees to 45 credit hours of child care training. She said that as a business owner she has always wanted to educate children and to give back to the community as well as build little minds to become as big as one’s heart desires. “It starts in the first stage of a child. They need to be loved and to be encouraged and always spoken to in a positive manner,” stated Ashe. “I take pride in seeing a school full of successful children.”
The academy in Gibsonton is open weekdays from 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuition for 4-year-olds to attend three days a week is an estimated $90. A full five-day program costs $190. Before-and-after school tuition depends on need, but ranges from $40 to $75. There are also fees for yearly registration and enrollment. Alford & Ashe also offers a morning VPK for which there is no charge. The Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program (VPK) is a free pre-K program in Florida for 4- and 5-year-olds. Ashe invites anyone interested to call and make an appointment for a tour at 813-443-9136 and/or to go to www.alfordandasheacademy.com to see information regarding the academy’s hands-on teaching style, its curriculum for various ages and more info about the teachers and staff.
Ashe hopes to open another pre-school soon in the South Shore area. She also continues her consulting — Academic PA Consulting — which serves to provide a service to schools in need of increased enrollment and a sound educational team.