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City of Alachua Education Collaboration

City of Alachua Education Collaboration

Education Collaboration in the City of Alachua


Greater Gainesville is home to exceptional educational institutions that provide students with remarkable opportunities for academic and professional growth. Alachua Learning Academy, Mebane Middle School, Santa Fe High School’s Institute of Biotechnology and Santa Fe College’s Perry Center for Emerging Technologies have created dynamic learning environments, fostering innovation, hands-on experiences and partnerships with industry leaders to prepare students for the future.

These schools and programs exemplify the commitment to excellence and innovation in GG. Through their unwavering dedication to student development, they empower students to become lifelong learners and future leaders in their chosen fields.


The Alachua Learning Academy

The Alachua Learning Academy is one of the top-performing schools in the state. This Gainesville public charter school has provided quality education since 2001 and has earned a reputation for academic excellence.

A particular highlight of the academy is its ACCELL Program –– Academically Challenging Courses to Enhance Learning and Life Skills. The courses in this program introduce students to subjects like Spanish, Publishing, Creative Writing, Digital Media, Speech and more.

KP Rivera, Alachua Learning Academy’s principal since 2013, has implemented innovative strategies to improve the learning experience, leading to a tremendous increase in performance and test scores.

“We are utilizing innovative teaching methods, such as project-based learning where our teachers create dynamic learning opportunities. Our strong team of educators ensures they are challenging their students,” Rivera said.

Alachua Learning Academy creates an environment where students can learn, explore their passions and build peer relationships with unique in-class and outdoor activities.

Rivera is passionate about education and helping students thrive. An Alachua native, he also believes in developing a safe and supportive space for learning and has introduced several initiatives to help promote this.

“What also makes ALA unique is our commitment to the whole child. We believe in developing the entire person, not just their academic skills. We focus on social and emotional learning and physical and mental health. We also provide a variety of enrichment activities to help our students develop their creativity and critical thinking skills.”

The academy’s objective is a high-quality education that prepares students for the future. With caring leadership and a commitment to excellence, Alachua Learning Academy has earned its place as one of the state’s top-performing schools.


Mebane Middle School

Greater Gainesville’s Mebane Middle School, a biotech magnet school, is designed to provide students with a rigorous, science-focused curriculum to prepare them for future careers in STEM.

Located in the City of Alachua, this magnet school emphasizes hands-on learning, with numerous labs and classroom activities. The curriculum heavily focuses on technology and students are encouraged to explore specialties like computer programming and coding.

In addition to its rigorous academic program, Mebane has partnered with local businesses in the biotech and entrepreneurship sectors to provide students with job shadowing opportunities and internships. One such organization providing student interns with real-world experience and networking exposure is the Santa Fe Center for Innovation & Economic Development Incubator.

The incubator allows student interns to work alongside experienced professionals, take part in research projects and contribute to business ventures, while receiving mentoring and support.

Santa Fe High School’s Institute of Biotechnology

The Santa Fe High School Institute of Biotechnology partners with UF Innovate | Sid Martin Biotech to provide students with opportunities to access modern facilities, gain hands-on lab experience and learn from experienced faculty and biotech entrepreneurs.

“Alachua has become a hotbed of biotechnology in the last five to 10 years,” said Dr. Timothy Wright, Principal at Santa Fe High School. “We contacted these biotech firms, asking them if they would be willing to have someone sit on our Advisory Board to help direct our curriculum… We can now collaborate on the best ways to help our students receive base-level certifications once they’ve graduated.”

According to Dr. Wright, the level of learning and exposure the students receive through this partnership creates a career-ready future workforce.

The collaboration will also help students develop innovative products and businesses. Through Sid Martin’s mentorship


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program, these young entrepreneurs are able to build their business ideas and receive support and guidance from seasoned professionals.

Students can customize their program of study to meet their individual needs and interests and pursue courses in areas such as bioinformatics, biochemistry and molecular biology. Graduates of Santa Fe High School’s Institute of Biotechnology can enter Santa Fe College’s biotech program, bypassing introductory courses.

The Santa Fe College’s Charles R. and Nancy V. Perry Center for Emerging Technologies

With Santa Fe College’s Perry Center for Emerging Technologies just a few miles away, participants in the biotechnology program at Santa Fe High School are getting an incredible opportunity –– to work with some of the most cutting-edge technology available.

This dual-enrollment program is a unique partnership between the high school and the Perry Center, paving the way for the future’s biotech experts.

Santa Fe College’s Perry Center, which opened in 2009, has 20,000 square feet dedicated to emerging technology, state-of-the-art classrooms and functioning laboratories.

The center is also close to Progress Corporate Park, a growing industrial complex famously home to the UF Innovate | Sid Martin Biotech facility. These serendipitous neighbors have resulted in a life-changing opportunity for Santa Fe High School’s biotech students.

“Our collaborations with Sid Martin and Progress Park are very strong, making for a perfect setup,” said Mary El-Semarani, biotechnology coordinator, assistant professor and current chair of the Department of Emerging Technologies. “We have a two-year biotech program for an associate degree, and then we also have a four-year biotech program, which is a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in industrial biotechnology. We’re finding our students go right out and get hired, or they can finish a four-year degree in industrial biotech or clinical laboratory science. Both degrees are in high demand.”

Not only will this collaboration enable students to operate some of the most advanced technology available, but it will also give them a head start on higher education and prepare them for successful careers in the biotechnology industry.



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