HOLMES BEACH — An ocean of new learning is underway for students and teachers at Anna Maria Elementary School.
The first Guy Harvey Academy of Arts & Science celebrated its grand opening at the waterfront school in December, launching a statewide initiative by the Guy Harvey Foundation to help educators inspire the next generation of marine conservationists.
“We are extremely excited to offer this incredibly unique learning opportunity,” said Cynthia Saunders, Manatee County Schools superintendent. “Working with art, math and science educators through the Guy Harvey Foundation, we have developed a STEAM curriculum that draws on Dr. Harvey’s real life experiences to guide students as they learn science and math through an art lens.”
The School Board of Manatee County approved the initiative in June 2022, greenlighting the foundation and school district to design an art, math, and science-based curriculum to engage young learners on the importance of preserving oceans and marine life. The K-5 program will include a special aquarium. Students who finish the program will receive a certificate.
“Students will learn about the world’s environment and wildlife, have a better understanding of the importance of our oceans and its inhabitants and how they can preserve and protect both for future generations,” Harvey said. “It is so important that we continue to inform, educate and engage our students so they, along with their teachers and families, can enjoy and benefit from a properly balanced ocean ecosystem.”
The Guy Harvey Foundation was founded in 2008 to fund scientific research and educational programs aimed at conserving ocean resources. The foundation plans to expand its marine science curriculum to schools across Florida, according to a press release. Partners include include the Florida Department of Education, FPL, SeaWorld, Florida Virtual School, and the Florida Lottery.
Harvey has been a vocal advocate for marine conservation for decades. In 1999, he partnered with Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale to establish the Guy Harvey Research Institute to develop best practices to conserve and manage marine fishes and their ecosystems.
Raised in Jamaica, Harvey, 67, earned a degree in marine biology from Aberdeen University in Scotland in 1977 and a doctorate in fisheries management from the University of the West Indies in 1982. Harvey, who lives in the Cayman Islands, also is an internationally celebrated marine wildlife artist.
“At the Guy Harvey Foundation, we are committed to education and that’s why we were so excited to roll out our curriculum throughout Florida and beyond,” said Jessica Harvey, Harvey’s daughter and Guy Harvey Foundation co-chair.
In addition to Anna Maria Elementary, the academy plans to involve students and teachers from other schools during field trips; summer camps at the Anna Maria Elementary campus for Title I students; and teacher development opportunities. King Middle and Manatee High are expected to adopt academy curriculums in the future.
“It’s been a genuine pleasure to work with Dr. Harvey and everyone associated with his ocean foundation to make this academy a reality,” Saunders said.