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A tragedy. A board. A dream.

Updated: Jan 14, 2023

That's how it all started...

We saw a need and knew right away that our passions could help. Our community was broken after 14 students and teachers lost their lives in a school shooting down the street.

We lost kids that grew up coming to the local skatepark we ran. We saw students and parents struggling as they processed what happened. And our own son, who was a junior said, "I just want to graduate without getting shot." after being locked in a closet in his classroom.

No longer were our local youth worried about passing their science test. Worry took on an entire new meaning. And it just was not fair! It was not ok that we lost students and teachers. And it was not ok that school for our local community would NEVER be the same.

We hugged kids as they cried, took kids out to lunch and coffee to just be there, we helped organize the grief center and a paddle out memorial... but we saw that two things - Surfing & Skating - seemed to help the most.

Students did not want to go back to school. And parent's did not want to send them. But there was graduation, scholarships, prom and unfortunately memorials that they all had on their minds.

So what if we brought school to them? What if we turned our local beach and local skatepark into a classroom?

Toni went to school for Ocean Engineering and loved everything STEM oriented. She also ran a local art gallery and helped her husband Uli run their local skatepark. Uli worked for years in youth development and had a way with kids and teens. Why not? We had to do something - as parents and for the community we loved.

Surf Skate Science started with just a handful of students in 2018. Today it serves almost 300 students a semester in South Florida with their in-person co-op meet ups. And hundreds more through our free and low cost field trips and online programming.

And we are seeing an educational renaissance hit our area. Innovative educational entrepreneurs are popping up all over South Florida and allowing parents and students to think about education differently.

South Florida innovative entrepreneurs have been working to revolutionize the way we think about education. From new technologies, to rethinking classrooms, to untraditional teaching methods...these individuals are changing the face of education in exciting and impactful ways.

Here are five ways South Florida entrepreneurs are transforming education:

  1. Making education more personalized: Traditional education systems often struggle to meet the needs of individual students, but microschools like Colossal Academy are working to change that. By working with a fewer number of students, they are able to create personalized learning experiences that take into account a student's strengths, weaknesses, and learning style.

  2. Promoting hands-on, experiential learning. Local education programs like Surf Skate Science are taking an active approach. Rather than relying on traditional lecturing and rote memorization, Surf Skate Science promotes a hands-on, experiential STEAM-based learning environment as a way to more effectively engage students and encourage critical thinking. The turn beaches and skateparks into classrooms where students explore physics, engineering and more as they drop in on ramps or catch a wave. They also incorporate STEAM-based field trips, project-based learning, and even internships and apprenticeships to get kids excited about science, technology, engineering, art/design and math.

  3. Using technology to enhance learning experiences: Entrepreneurs like Fly Day South Florida are leveraging the power of technology to create new and immersive learning experiences for students. For example, this company teaches STEM and exposes students to careers in aviation through the use of drone, 3-d printing and discovery flights, making a career in aviation accessible to people who would usually not have the opportunity.

  4. Encouraging continuous learning: In today's fast-paced, rapidly changing world, it's more important than ever to be a lifelong learner. Programs like LeLe’s Art Lab are combining stewardship for our local environment with art and STEAM education to show that students can use their passions to make an impact. Programs like this are creating a culture of continuous learning by offering a wide range of educational opportunities that engage art and advocacy.

  5. Supporting alternative education models: From homeschooling to Montessori schools, entrepreneurs are supporting a variety of alternative education models that offer a different approach to learning. These models often prioritize creativity, self-directed learning, and social-emotional development, and are quickly gaining popularity as people seek more personalized and meaningful educational experiences.

As Sir Ken Robinson once said, "Children are naturally curious and imaginative. They are also capable of thinking deeply about things that interest them. The key to helping them learn is to get out of their way and let them get on with it." These South Florida entrepreneurs are taking this idea to heart and working to create educational experiences that are engaging, meaningful, and empowering for students.

Education has the potential to shape individuals' lives and communities. But, we are seeing a huge shift in the way our community views education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are over 750,000 K-12 students in the tri-county area. Since CoVId, over 30% of families in South Florida are choosing a non-traditional learning path for their kids.

As entrepreneurs continue to push the boundaries of what's possible in education, we can look forward to even more exciting and innovative developments in the field. These innovative entrepreneurs are playing a crucial role in shaping the future of education and helping to create a better world for future generations. And we are so lucky yo be part of it!

Toni Frallicciardi

Surf Skate Science & Innovative Education Network Co-Founder

January 2023

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