The Stories & Insights That Matter

Meet Our Graduates

Roberto Hilarion: Making His – and his Parents’ — Dreams Come True

When Roberto Hilarion and his sister were younger, their parents moved from Cuba to Miami in hopes of building a better life for their children.  Roberto Hilarion and his parents. Both his mother and ...


Miami Academy Celebrates New Grads: ‘They Believed in Me’

Marcus Moore, who rose above poverty as a child to follow his mother’s footsteps into educating the next generation, looked out at the crowd of soon-to-be graduates, eyes expectant and surrounded by b...

Staff Perspectives

Miami Advocate Erick Velis: ‘You Have to Explore the Genius Inside of You’

If graduation candidates at Miami-Dade Acceleration Academies (MDAA) are looking for a role model in developing a wide range of life skills, they need look no further than Erick Velis.  The Cuban-born...

Student Stories

MDAA Grad Christian Johnson Tunes Up for Success

From the time he was young, Christian Johnson has been a gifted trumpet player. That spark grew into a flame when he was in fourth grade and got invited backstage to meet legendary trumpeter Wynton Ma...

Miami-Dade Acceleration Academies


Friends Find Fuel for their Dreams at MDAA

After facing bullying in elementary and middle school, Anaya Garnes decided she was going to map her own way through high school. During the Covid pandemic, she shifted to an online program but found ...


Miami Grad Rufus Wallace: ‘They Were the Gasoline in my Car’

When Rufus Wallace was at a traditional public school, he struggle to maintain focus. And with so many other students, it was hard for his teachers to provide the kind of one-on-one help he craved. Tr...


Joseph Bigot: ‘I Came for a Better Education’

When Joseph Bigot arrived from his native Haiti in 2017, he spoke mostly Creole and had to adjust to a very different education system. But he knew what he wanted, and he wasn’t afraid to do the work ...


Maria José Paz: ‘They Never Give Up on You. Never.’

When Maria Jose Paz’s mother died, she left behind a fervent wish: that her daughter complete her high school education and take the first step toward a better tomorrow.“She wanted me to have a better...

Equity & Inclusion

MDAA’s Nick Montolio: ‘I Had Space to Grow’

After facing hostility at his old high school, Nick Montolio found his learning home at Miami-Dade Acceleration Academies. Today, he’s a proud grad. “For young adults … that are in the LGBTQ communit...

Meet Our Graduates

Denisha Palmer: ‘This was the only place that was able to help me’  

Math doesn’t come easily but, as Denisha Palmer can tell you, neither does life. The young woman had almost completed high school when her daughter was born and she was thrown off track.. Two years la...

Meet Our Graduates

Miami Grad Malik Frye: ‘It Just Made Me Better’

Unlike most of his classmates at Miami-Dade Acceleration Academies, Malik Frye had not spent time in a traditional school, sitting at a desk in a crowded classroom, changing classes with the bell, wai...

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