Academy of Excellence 2017

By Laura Breen Galante

Do you have a preschooler or kindergartner in the Heathrow/Lake Mary area? At Academy of Excellence, a private preschool on South Orange Boulevard in Sanford, your child (potty-trained to age 6) can receive a sound foundation for learning and critical thinking in a positive and stimulating environment. In operation for  39 years, Academy of Excellence is built to spark the interest, imagination, and enthusiasm of each and every child.

“We believe all children deserve an excellent early learning foundation,” says Adele Willis, who has served as administrator of the school since 2000. “The Academy of Excellence is proud to foster young minds and give the gift of education, the one gift no one can ever take away.”

First and foremost, Academy of Excellence is a private preschool, not a daycare. The school offers a traditional approach to early education, and its uniquely accelerated curriculum emphasizes the importance of traditional morals and values. Preschoolers gain literacy skills via whole language and phonetically driven reading programs, while mathematical concepts are taught with numerous manipulatives. 

“I always tell parents that we need their support, and together the teachers and parents are helping shape future generations,” says owner Arvy Sodhi. “Here at Academy of Excellence, we can provide the infrastructure and the environment for success.”

The school’s curriculum accentuates the importance of both gross and fine motor development as well as socialization in the formative years. Kids balance, climb, jump, and run as they keep their bodies active throughout the day. In the classroom, they are taught how to cut, hold a pencil or marker correctly, write their names, paint, and paste.

Academy of Excellence students gain a lifelong love of learning thanks to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) programs, which have been a key curriculum component of the school for more than 40 years. Students at Academy of Excellence do not remain in their classrooms the entire day. Rather, they visit four enrichment rooms: science, art, music, and the library. Each enrichment room offers exceptional programs for young students for no additional fee.

In the science room, students predict, discover, and explore the world around them. They question. They experiment.

Meanwhile, little artists create weekly masterpieces in the art room while also learning how to use visual images, which aids in the development of decision-making skills. They paint, mold, and craft, and take pride in their creations.

The vast library, filled with more than 4,500 colorful books, gives young readers the opportunity to gain a lifelong love for literature, as early literacy is an essential element in proper language growth and development.

The music room provides students a chance to express themselves while teaching both the mind and body to work in unison. Children are taught lyrics and movement, rhymes and songs.

Additionally, Academy of Excellence students receive biweekly traditional Spanish instruction.

“We believe, and studies have proven, that as young students grasp an additional language, they also tend to gain longer attention spans and a greater ability to focus with outside stimuli,” explains Adele. “These tools aid in academic readiness.”

The exceptional curriculum coupled with small class sizes drive the success of the Academy of Excellence kindergarten program. The elementary fundamentals – basic phonetics and math concepts – are always a constant, but the curriculum is actually tailor-made each year for each unique classroom of students. There are no boundaries. If students are ready for multiplication, then they learn multiplication. If they can write simple sentence stories, then they learn to write multiple paragraph stories. Daily lessons are centered around classroom interests and taught on two or three levels to allow every child to excel.

The skilled staff at Academy of Excellence has a genuine desire for the kids to gain an absolute love of learning, and they do so by creating surroundings that encourage laughter, warmth, and confidence. A structured, but relaxed, environment fosters intellectual curiosity. Children can ask questions and solve problems to become competent learners and confident individuals.

“Our program assures children gain strong self-confidence and a hunger to learn more,” says Adele.