Blake Academy students | Polk County Public Schools

Five Polk County public schools, including Lakeland’s Rosabelle W. Blake Academy, are expanding to include or improve magnet programs, courtesy of a $14.5 million federal grant.

Blake Academy, a kindergarten-through-eight-grade school, will become a magnet school, with the rigorous Cambridge program available to elementary and middle school students.

The Cambridge AICE (Advanced International Certificate of Education) Program is affiliated with Great Britain’s University of Cambridge and works closely with the university’s education faculty.

Ann Everett, PCPS senior director of acceleration and innovation programs, said in a news release that the magnet grant will help the district provide more academic opportunities for students and help bolster the classroom techniques and professional development resources used by PCPS educators.

“This grant will have tremendous benefits for our community,” she said. “We will be able to offer greater support to schools and enhance their programs, leading to more students having success at every level of their education.”

Currently, Blake offers a leadership program in partnership with Lakeland Kiwanis Club, including:

  • K-Kids Club: geared toward the upper elementary, grades 3-5, with a focus on giving back through community service.
  • Builders Club: geared toward the middle school grades. It is an international, student-led organization providing members with opportunities to perform service, build character, and develop leadership.

In addition to Blake, four other Polk County Public Schools are participating in the grant:

  • Garner Elementary in Winter Haven will become a magnet school focusing on STEM education, with students progressing to Lake Alfred Polytech Academy for middle school.
  • Stephens Elementary in Bartow will become a magnet school featuring an International Baccalaureate program, with students progressing to Union Academy for middle school.
  • Bethune Academy in Haines City will receive a Cambridge AICE program for elementary students.
  • Daniel Jenkins Academy in Haines City will add a Cambridge AICE program for middle school students.

PCPS officials said the grant is being distributed over the next five years. They are in the early stages of implementing these new initiatives and updates will be provided to families at each school as more details are finalized.

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Kimberly C. Moore

Kimberly C. Moore, who grew up in Lakeland, has been a print, broadcast and multimedia journalist for more than 30 years. Before coming to LkldNow in the spring of 2022, she was a reporter for four years with The Ledger, first covering Lakeland City Hall and then Polk County schools. She is the author of “Star Crossed: The Story of Astronaut Lisa Nowak," published by University Press of Florida. Reach her at or 863-272-9250.

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