Discover YOUR NEW JOB! We have openings in 21 Florida counties for

  • Teachers
  • Children's Caregiver
  • Bus Driver
  • Bookkeeper
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Family Support Worker
  • Floater
  • Teachers
  • Children's Caregiver
  • Bus Driver
  • Bookkeeper
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Family Support Worker
  • Floater

Home » News and Blogs » News

Immokalee Community School expanding to middle school after parents’ advocacy

ICS patio
Rachel Fradette

Naples Daily News

With her computer screen lit up with more than 80 families on Zoom, Immokalee Community School Principal Zulaika Quintero shared that her school will expand.

Parents and the community members attending the school advisory council meeting let out cheers and wrote messages in the chat celebrating the milestone.

Petra Hernandez Gonzales, who joined the school community about seven years ago, said she’s very thankful to see it happen.

“I’m so proud of the opportunity this will bring to the kids,” Hernandez Gonzales said in Spanish.

Making it through: Collier migrant students overcome disruption amid COVID-19

‘They see themselves in her’: Immokalee Community School principal finds her voice

The K-6 school will begin to offer seventh and eighth grade in upcoming school years, and its name will change with the expansion.

Immokalee Community School, now renamed Immokalee Community Academy after state registration, will add seventh grade next year and then eighth grade will be offered the following year.

Ozgur Dursun asks his first-graders to hold up their pinkies during a classroom activity at RCMA Immokalee Community School. Migrant students face educational challenges every year as they move back and forth between schools while traveling with their families, but the coronavirus pandemic has created additional challenges and stressors.

Since its opening in 2000, Immokalee Community Academy parents and community members have advocated for the school to build upon its original goals, including to go beyond primary school.

In the past five years Quintero said she started to hear more from families who wanted the option to keep their child at the school longer.

“They shared their interest because they knew what we had for their students allowed them to be successful,” Quintero said.

The building is located on Fourth Street near Main Street in Immokalee. The soon-to-be K-8 school will remain in its current building, Quintero said.

More than 250 students attend the school with many being from migrant families in the community that speak Spanish at home.

Principal Zulaika Quintero, who is the daughter of migrant farmworkers and grew up in Immokalee, poses for a portrait at RCMA Immokalee Community School on Wednesday, November 18, 2020. Quintero says the school focuses on reaching out to and supporting the parents of their students because, "their parents are their first teachers at home."

More:Immokalee Foundation builds homes through student learning lab despite COVID-19

Más:Los trabajadores agrícolas en Florida tenían dificultades para vacunarse contra COVID-19, pero los salubristas están ayudándolos

“Every year the parents would say at the SAC meeting, ‘But we’ve asked you and we asked you last year and we asked the year before,'” Juana Brown, director of charter schools for RCMA, said.

“There’s even more to celebrate than just the simple addition of adding seventh and eighth,” Brown said.

The school will also continue its dual-language program through its middle school education, Quintero said.

School leaders hope that students will be able to receive a certificate of biliteracy ahead of high school, Brown said.

With additions to school programming, RCMA officials also applied for 62 acres of land near the northwest corner of Lake Trafford Road and Carson Road to be rezoned to mixed-use planned unit development.

About 160 multi-family housing units, a K-8 school and preschool are listed in the application.

“In a few years, there’s the opportunity to realize something on a broader scale,” Brown said.

Brown said RCMA knows that affordable housing is a pressing issue in Immokalee.

Immokalee Community School parents rejoice in expansion

Parent Patricia Miranda, who serves as student advisory council president, said she considers the school a second home for her family.

“I was so happy because I saw this progress since the beginning,” Miranda said. “I remember. We started this dream since my daughter was in kindergarten.”

Miranda said the school’s diversity of cultures and languages sets it apart from other schools.

Like Miranda, Carolina Macias, a new parent at Immokalee Community Academy, said smaller class sizes and bilingual educations are a few factors that make the school valuable.

“They teach values,” Macias said. “They teach culture. They teach tradition that I consider at this time essential for kids to have a firm foundation to achieve their goals.”

Macias’ son started this semester in second grade, she said she immediately noticed a difference in him.

“He loves the school,” Macias said.

Rachel Fradette is an education reporter for the Naples Daily News. Follow her on Twitter: @Rachel_Fradette, email her at

Immokalee Community School is expanding to middle school, changing name (