First day of school at the new Fordham Early Learning Academy

Teacher reads to her kindergarten class on the first day of school at the new Fordham Early...
Teacher reads to her kindergarten class on the first day of school at the new Fordham Early Learning Academy.(WCJB)
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 6:05 PM EDT
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - Sharonda Oats dances with her kindergarten class after lunchtime. It’s not only the first day back to school district-wide for Marion County students, but it’s the first day ever for teachers, staff, and students at the new Fordham Early Learning Academy.

The new ‘school of choice’ is operating in the school site that was once Evergreen Elementary School. The former elementary school shut down after receiving consecutive poor school grades.

RELATED: Evergreen Elementary School in Ocala permanently closes its doors

This year the new school is focused solely on voluntary pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, but officials said they have intentions of growing the program.



“The idea has always been to create a place where our youngest learners can have just an exceptional start,” Dir. of Early Learning, Jennifer Beck said.

Named after Marion County Principal Edmond Fordham, who served as a history teacher at Belleview-Santos school before becoming principal at Sparr elementary, DR. N.H. Jones, and Dunnellon elementary schools. 



Beck said there are three pillars of the program: foundational literacy, music and the arts, and social-emotional development.



“We are excited and thrilled to really be able to target our instruction specifically for our youngest learners,” she said.

The school still has some spots open for kindergartners to attend this year.

 Next year current students will be able to return for first grade, and second grade will be added in 2024.

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