By: Jen Russon
When Coral Springs Christian Academy closed its doors last summer, a new school took over the campus on the corner of Riverside Drive and Royal Palm Boulevard.
Once known as the Crusaders, the new Somerset Academy Riverside is now home to the Rams, or, as school spirit posters advertise in large, colorful letters: “Right Attitude Means Success”.
Serving students from Pre-k through 8th grade, the tuition-free charter school is not affiliated with any religion. It is accredited, offers a technology-based curriculum and has smaller class sizes. The campus boasts STEM, computer labs and two media centers.
Despite all the offerings, staff said they feel most people are unaware of their school, which is why they are planning a festival on Saturday, January 26 from 11:30-3:00 pm.
The festival is also an opportunity to enroll at the school.
“I feel like people don’t realize we’re here, and we want everyone to know – whether they are looking for a new school for their child or not – that Somerset Academy is a welcoming and tight-knit community with room for growth,” said Principal Michelle Rivas.
She explained that the Somerset Riverside festival is more for the community than to recruit new students, and that it comes on the heels of a string of fun events.
Rivas said they had accomplished a lot in their first year by holding a remembrance day on 9/11 so students and staff could honor first responders, celebrating Hispanic heritage and Grandparents Day in October, Thanksgiving, and later, a holiday shop.
When the principal described the festival planned for this month, she said she hopes that those looking for a new school will treat it, with the enrollment materials that will be on hand, like an Open House.
“One of our teachers will be in every booth. There will be food, rides and games, and any parent with a school-aged child can enter our raffle,” said Rivas.
The school has an open-door policy, and offers both ESE and gifted programs. They have individual learning plans for students who need them, dedicated ESOL team for kids who are learning fluency in English, as well as literary coaches and math tutors on hand to help where there is need.
Rivas said she loves to be hands-on with students by dropping by their classrooms daily.
Rivas’s own children attend a Somerset charter school in Miami where they live. She thinks her long tenure with the school is owed to what a great place it is.
“I love the support they [Somerset] provide for faculty and staff,” Rivas said.
Somerset was one of the first charter schools to open in South Florida in 1997 by parents and community members who wanted a school that maintained a strong neighborhood-school feel.
Rivas said she believes the Riverside campus definitely has that.
She and staff are grateful for the Coral Springs Police Department; one of their officers monitors the school from open to close. Elementary school hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Middle school students arrive at 8:30, but are dismissed at 3:30 p.m.
After-school program counselor and substitute teacher Anastasia Sweet said she has loved working at Somerset.
“One reason in particular are the students. I can be having a bad day, but when I come to work I know the children will put a smile on my face,” she said.
“Coming to work each day is not like coming to work at all,” said first grade teacher Kayla Copley.
“I walk into Somerset Riverside to see hundreds of kids smiles and a desire for learning each day. This is the most rewarding career at the most rewarding school.”
Students wear uniforms which can be purchased at All Uniform Wear. Before and aftercare programs are available, with a series of extracurricular activities, such as the baking, sports, and Lego-building clubs.
One parent on the school’s Facebook page gave a candid review:
“I’ve struggled for years to find my daughter a safe learning environment. Now she’s disappointed on the weekends she can’t go to school. She’s excited every day when I drop her off.”
The Festival will be held on Saturday, January 26 from 11:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
To learn more about the personalized academic program the school can offer your child, visit the admissions office at 2251 Riverside Drive, or call Diane at the front desk at 954-255-9740. You can also click on https://www.somersetriverside.com/
Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.