Summer is fading and we’re on to fall with yearnings of that first crisp morning and a pumpkin latte to set the mood. But for now, the only real signs of our third season are the back-to-school sales and the yellow buses making their way through town. Sarasota County schools are back in session with hopes of a thriving school year ahead. Local families are fortunate to have many exceptional schools in the area to choose from, and Pine View School is among the top.
Located in Osprey, Pine View has been educating high-achieving students for over 40 years. What began as the state’s first and only gifted education school has blossomed into one of the highest rated schools in both Florida and the United States, servicing Sarasota County children in grades 2 through 12. Admission to Pine View begins with an initial referral from a teacher, administrator or parent. Students are invited to attend Pine View based on test results as well as assessments of other criteria including grades and teacher input. Students work at least one grade level higher and attend school on a campus that embodies more of a university feel with an open air campus, walking trails and natural wooded setting.
Some estimations place the monetary value of a Pine View education on par with top private schools that reach into the tens of thousands of dollars per year. Being a public school, there is no tuition for attending Pine View, but in addition to meeting the entrance requirements, proof of Sarasota County residency must be provided. Because of this, many families relocate so they can have a Sarasota County address, allowing their child to attend. Dr. Stephen Covert, Pine View’s principal, is not surprised by this. He says there is quite a cost savings to parents whose children often begin college as a sophomore after graduating from Pine View. Dr. Covert attributes Pine View’s success with a highly rigorous curriculum, a faculty that is specifically trained in gifted education, and a culture that nurtures deep and thoughtful discussions that transcend the classroom. He says Pine View students not only work at an accelerated pace but the climate and culture at the school are irreplaceable.
Pine View holds a number of popular fundraising and recognition events throughout the year including several that are hosted by the school’s parent-teacher volunteer group, the Pine View Association. A couple of Dr. Covert’s favorite school activities include the Pine View Fair and the yearly Pinnacle event. At the annual fair event, teachers and clubs create booths with games and activities to raise money for benefit of the students. Dr. Covert indicated his usual spot at the fair is in the dunk tank but he’s happy to help and the students love it. He says that Pinnacle is usually a themed-event and a great evening out for parents who want to enjoy a nice dinner, silent and live auctions and a good time with friends all while supporting Pine View. Dr. Covert also looks forward to graduation ceremonies each year that sometimes run over four hours long. He likes that each graduate receives recognition in the ceremony, including anecdotes from teachers, words of thanks to the parents and an insight into the student’s future plans.
There is excitement in the air as teachers and faculty begin Pine View’s 47th year. Over the summer, Pine View received a new HVAC system, all while hosting a number of summer programs for the students. Over the next three years, campus buildings will undergo major remodeling and teachers will take turns in portables as their classrooms are renovated. Also new this year is the addition of eight classrooms of tomorrow, bringing the total to 16. Dr. Covert says the classrooms foster a collaborative environment where students engage in team talk and inquiry based problem solving. Pine View is one of only a handful of schools participating in the Capstone Program. Teachers will be reviewing implementation of this new program this year and students will begin participating next year. Students who successfully complete the program by taking AP Research, along with AP Seminar and an additional four AP courses, will receive their high school diploma and also an AP Capstone diploma. Also upon completion, students will be able to present at national conferences and can have their work published. With a number of teachers retiring, Pine View is adding 18 new teachers this year, some who are Pine View alumni and parents. And with almost 2200 students enrolled for the 2015-2016 school year, Dr. Covert is anticipating another great school year. Pine View is continuing its tradition of excellence and serving the students of Sarasota County well.