HOLMES BEACH – Anna Maria Elementary School (AME) will soon be home to the first Guy Harvey Academy of Arts and Sciences in the country.
The Academy, named for world-renowned wildlife artist, conservationist and businessman Guy Harvey, will focus on marine sciences, conservation and the arts. A collaboration between the School District of Manatee County and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF), the Academy will develop a K-5 curriculum that will include an aquarium room at AME that should be completed by October or November and accompanying art components.
“It is a goal of our school district to bring innovative educational opportunities to our students to expand their career and life possibilities,” Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said. “It’s been a genuine pleasure to work with Dr. Harvey and everyone associated with his ocean foundation to make this academy a reality.”
The collaboration happened quickly after Saunders met representatives from GHOF at a conference. The school’s waterfront location on Anna Maria Island made AME the perfect place to launch the academy, and it didn’t take long before both parties agreed to move forward with the project, scheduled to begin at the start of the 2022-23 school year.
“We are so excited, this is the first one of these in the country,” AME Principal Mike Masiello said. “It’s not just us that will benefit. During the summer, other schools will bus over to us to take advantage of what this Academy has to offer.”
In the near future, the district hopes to develop curricula for Guy Harvey Academies at King Middle School and Manatee High School in Bradenton. Masiello said this will be a benchmark that schools around the country can observe and adopt.
Dedicating most of his life to the environment, Dr. Harvey has devoted his talent, time and resources to protect oceans, fish populations and reef systems through the development of the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University and The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. Those institutions have made numerous contributions to protecting fish resources and biodiversity in the world’s oceans.
Harvey is also an internationally-known artist and his artwork is regularly featured in galleries, on apparel and on many other products. He holds a degree in Marine Biology from Aberdeen University in Scotland and a Doctorate in Fisheries Management from the University of West Indies.
“I can’t tell you how honored and excited Jessica and I are to be working with you on the creation of the very first Guy Harvey Academy of the Arts and Sciences,” said Dr. Harvey in a video statement with his daughter, Jessica.
“We’re excited to bring a new generation of young people together who will make a difference in saving our oceans,” said Jessica Harvey, who serves as co-chair of GHOF.
The agreement between the School Board of Manatee County and GHOF was signed and adopted at the June 28 board meeting. Doug Evans, chief philanthropy officer for GHOF, was in attendance.
“I don’t think there could possibly be a better fit for the very first Guy Harvey Academy of Arts and Science than Anna Maria Elementary,” Evans said. “You can actually see the entrance to Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge from the back of the school.”
The adopted Memorandum of Understanding included a detailed outline of what would be provided, how teacher training would take place and how the Academy would progress over the next five years. Year one includes the aquarium, training materials, educational materials and a certificate of completion for 5th-grade students who complete the program. Year two covers a plan to expand to the 6th-grade curriculum and establish a summer school program. Year three will see the development of 7th– and 8th-grade modules and the beginning of a high school program.
The memorandum also calls for joint efforts in fundraising initiatives for the initial collaboration of three years to support the development and expansion of the program.