Enrollment set to soar at LWR Imagine School

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Imagine School at Lakewood Ranch laid its foundation last year but it did so in the Braden River Baptist Church, where portable walls and cabinets on wheels were used as temporary school facilities.

The enrollment was 57.

Heading into its second year this fall, the public, tuition-free charter school will begin at its permanent location near State Road 64 and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, with 36 classrooms accommodating up to 730 students.

Imagine School principal Steve Sajewski expects an enrollment of around 400.

Sajewski credited the massive jump in enrollment to the school’s instructional delivery model, Project CHILD (Changing How Instruction for Learning is Delivered), where students are taught based on their unique ways of learning. Project CHILD was founded by the Institute for School Innovation, a non-profit organization based in Tallahassee.

“Each child has an individual learning experience,” Sajewski said. “You can’t just have a blanket approach that’s going to cover everybody.”

The pre-kindergarten through seventh grade school allows children to learn on a personal basis with teachers and to utilize their youthful energy. Students are often able to move around and be social during activities, which allows them to learn people skills, Sajewski said. The kids often move in groups, like from a technology station to a construction station. There are no desks for students through fifth grade, just groups at tables.

As in the “real world,” the student are encouraged to learn from each other, he said.

Arlene Butz, a receptionist at the school, has a daughter, Victoria, who will attend second grade. Butz said her daughter has come home from school saying that the school offers a “fun way of learning.”

“That’s exactly what she said,” Arlene Butz said. “It’s very positive. There’s also a focus on character development so they’re taught how to respect each other and deal with peer pressure.”

In five years, Sajewski expects to have another small building on campus and an enrollment of more than 1,000.

“We feel that we’re on the right path right now,” he said.

The school is hosting an open house from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday . Also, from 4 to 7 p.m. July 30, the school will hold its family barbecue open to parents and students who are currently or prospectively enrolled.

For more information about Imagine School at Lakewood Ranch, visit www. imagineschoolslakewood ranch.com or www. imaginechoolslakewood ranch.sharpschool.com, or call 750-0900.