A new school for Marion County’s youngest learners will be opening in August.
The Fordham Early Learning Academy, which is located at 4000 W Anthony Road in Ocala, will open on Wednesday, August 10 to students in Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten.
Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten students must be four years old on, or before, September 1 of each year to be eligible. Kindergarten students must be five years old on, or before, the same date.
According to Marion County Public Schools (MCPS), the academy is expected to enroll 72 students in its inaugural year. First grade will be added the following year, and second grade will also be offered at the academy beginning in 2024.
The academy is named after Edmond Fordham, a career educator and MCPS leader. The school will operate as a choice program, which means that any appropriately aged students can apply to attend. As with any choice program, parents and families must provide their own transportation.
In the event that enrollment demand exceeds 72 for the upcoming school year, MCPS will use its established lottery system to determine enrollment selections.
The academy will focus on developing strong literacy skills, social-emotional learning concepts, and music enrichment opportunities in early learners. Future expansion plans could include opportunities to serve three-year-old students, and the academy will seek input from school families to determine the academy’s mascot and colors.
A showcase event to celebrate the academy’s opening is in the planning stages.
Edmond Fordham, the academy’s namesake, grew up in Marion County’s Fort McCoy area and graduated from Howard Academy. He served in the U.S. Air Force and later graduated from Payne College in Augusta, Georgia.
Fordham served MCPS as a history teacher at Belleview-Santos School; assistant principal at Osceola Junior High School; and principal at Sparr Elementary, Dr. N.H. Jones, and Dunnellon Elementary Schools.
After retiring, Fordham became the site administrator for NOVA Southeastern University, mentoring aspiring school administrators enrolled in the Early Education and Exceptional Student Education programs.
Community groups and organizations interested in partnering with the academy can contact Early Learning Director Jennifer Beck, who serves as the school’s principal, via phone (352-671-4925) or email ([email protected]).