Award Year: 2013

Hartridge Academy

1400 US Highway 92 West
Winter Haven, FL, 33881-8137

(863) 956-4434

Debra Richards, Principal at time of Nomination

Polk County Public Schools

School Website


Hartridge Academy will provide a high quality education for each of its students.

Student Demographics
  • Black/African American: 8%
  • White: 62%
  • Hispanic: 23%
  • Asian: 3%
  • Two or more races: 4%
  • ELL: 16%
  • Economically Disadvantaged: %

Hartridge Academy is a small, student -focused charter school of 245 elementary children. Our scheduling, budgeting, and service to each student and family, supports our reputation as a school where every student is recognized and valued. A random lottery for available spaces results in our student body remaining a true representation of our community rather than a "cherry picking" of privileged or advanced students only. Approximately 70% of our students qualify for subsidized meals, about 20% are English language learners, and many enter with special needs. Principal Debra Richards requires teachers to have ESOL and ESE endorsements in addition to elementary subject areas. Thus, teachers are prepared to serve all students upon enrollment.

One-on-one time (OOOT) has resulted in an exceptionally high percentage of our students making gains of one year or more annually. OOOT is scheduled weekly for each family before or after school. During OOOT, teachers address learning styles, immediate academic needs, or long-term goals. Parents use OOOT to learn how to help their child succeed, explore curriculum, discuss family situations, use our computers, or volunteer. Making private time for every family empowers parents to take an active role in their child's education.

Hartridge encourages families to be active community members. We utilize the online public library system, city soccer fields, and visit free dress rehearsals of orchestra and theatre groups. These are experiences which are unlikely to be affordable to our families otherwise. Staff and parents give back through participation in nonprofit community events. Hartridge students move to middle school prepared to excel academically, support and benefit from their community, and apply skills necessary for future success.