Tucked away on the winding section of Gunn Highway that rolls past several sprawling farms in Odessa, is an extraordinary school that serves students from all over the Tampa Bay area. Some have said it is one of the best-kept secrets in Tampa, but to the nearly seventy (and growing) families who know of Keystone Prep High School, it is an amazing resource that pulls together students, many of whom have learning differences stemming from ADHD, dyslexia, high functioning autism, and other challenges, in an educational learning community second to none.

Engaging teens to become self-motivated learners is the core of Keystone’s strategy. A personalized learning environment, and a rigorous, engaging curriculum using instructional strategies to accommodate individual learning styles in a small learning community works. The school’s mission speaks to its unique place Keystone Prep High School holds among peer institutions throughout the region. That mission is: To offer a different approach to high school, where students with unique learning styles thrive academically, emotionally, and socially. The curriculum includes a full array of educational offerings including dual enrollment opportunities, college preparatory classes, music, virtual classes, visual and fine arts, athletics, world studies, and numerous other subjects.

The school is led by an energetic and passionate head of school, Ms. P.J. Petrillo, who came to Keystone Prep High School two years ago. You can see her eyes sparkle and light up when she discusses the school. There is no doubt when she starts talking about the teens who attend (she knows all of them individually), that her love of her students is what guides her work day in and day out! “To me, being ahead of school is not about staying tucked away in a corner office. It’s about making sure each student reaches his or her potential and has the opportunity to grow and develop into a young adult with a bright future ahead”

The faculty are experts in their subject matter, but, perhaps more importantly, they are carefully selected for their energy, dynamism, knowledge about how to engage students, and their understanding of working with students who may have learning challenges. The emphasis is on removing barriers, not lowering the bar, while providing a flexible learning environment that can be individually tailored to ensure each student has an educational experience that best meets his or her needs. Josh Boyle, a student at Keystone Prep, says, “I don’t have a favorite teacher. They are all amazing! But what I like the best about Keystone, is that my teachers are not just there to teach me in class, but to mentor me and help me with lots of different things. They really care about me.”

If you would like to learn more about the school or arrange for a tour, the school is open all summer and has rolling admissions throughout the year. You can also reach the school by email at admissions@keystoneprep.org.