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  • Joanne Jacobs

Scientists, engineers, chefs, gardeners become freelance teachers

An ecosystem of innovative schools and teaching specialists is growing in South Florida's Broward County, writes Ron Matus on ReimaginED. He is policy and public affairs director at Step Up for Students, which manages Florida's choice scholarships.


Eye of a Scientist provides hands-on science classes at South Florida homeschool co-ops and microschools.

Inside a homeschool co-op's giant yurt, a neuroscientist is showing six children "how to make LED Christmas trees, with diodes and copper wire and button batteries," he writes. Neymi Mignocchi, owner of Eye of a Scientist, contracts with schools to provide enrichment. Under her guidance, students "use pliers to bend wire around each arm of a diode, then wrap the segment with electrical tape," learning about open and closed circuits, insulators and conductors.

“We’re the soup," says Shiren Rattigan, founder of Colossal Academy. "They’re the spice,”

Specialists in Broward include:

  • Project Flourish, led by a former chef who offers lessons in cooking, culture, and sustainable agriculture.

  • The Miami Compost Project, which is all about healthy gardening.

  • Surf Skate Science, led by ocean engineering grads, which teaches kids about physics, biology, and engineering while they’re having a blast on surf boards and skateboards.

Other freelancers specialize in art, music, photography and phys ed, writes Matus. The YWCA that offers classes on entrepreneurship. One "offered flying lessons to low-income students." A former science teacher plans to offer field trips to nature parks and the Everglades, he writes. "She expects her new venture to be more fulfilling than her teaching gig – and better paying." "Rural areas are seeing the rise of microschools, a modern reimagining of the one-room schoolhouse," write Jason Bedrick and Matthew Ladner in a Heritage report, Education Choice in Rural America.


"About seven in 10 rural families live within 10 miles of a private elementary school," many have access to charter schools and "high-quality virtual schools are available to anyone with a decent Internet connection," they write. Families have choices.

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