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Sarasota Academy Provides Accelerated Pace to Help Student Thrive

May 21, 2024 | Jeffrey Good

Sarasota Academy Provides Accelerated Pace to Help Student Thrive image

Edgar Castaneda is a gifted student who found it frustrating to constantly wait for other students to catch up with him in classes at his former high school. 

“The big problem I had with normal school was that I would reach the wall where I couldn’t progress any further while I was waiting for the other kids to catch up,” says Edgar. That lack of progress plunged him into a depression that, when he was a sophomore, led him to drop out.

Edgar and brother Eddy“I just didn’t feel like leaving my bed,” he says. 

But stuck is not where he wanted to be. His parents had immigrated from Central America to the United States in hopes of building a better life for themselves and their children, and Edgar shared their American dream. 

After a full year out of school, Edgar discovered Sarasota Acceleration Academies (SAA), which works in partnership with the public school district to provide a non-traditional path for students like him. He walked into a learning space that felt unlike any school he had ever known. 

EdgarInstead of crowded classrooms and hallways, he found a calm, uncrowded atmosphere with comfortable chairs and small tables. While teachers at his old school had to match the pace of learning to the majority of learners, at SAA, Edgar was able to move through his courses as quickly as he liked. 

“The space is very comforting,” he says. “Here, you’re able to work at your own pace and the staff is more than willing to help if you need.” 

Edgar credits SAA Director Michelle Llinas, math coach Khaliah Augustin and graduation candidate advocate Frank Cruz with providing him academic and moral support. 

Cruz says it was a pleasure to have Edgar on campus, and to see him celebrate his diploma as a member of the Class of 2024.

 “Edgar was our best student. He came in, sat in the corner and does his work,” he says. “He’s really an outstanding young man with a bright future.” 

Smiling at Edgar, Cruz added, “I can’t wait to see what you’re doing next, buddy.”


With two locations — one in Sarasota and one in North Port, FL., Sarasota Acceleration Academies offers a blended learning model that allows students to work in person and at home, year-round. SAA is available to students ages 16-20 who live in Sarasota County, FL. Learn more or apply today.

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