Education researcher James Tooley, left, stands with Elinor Mount-Simmons, administrator of ED Corps High School. [ Ron Matus | Contributed ]
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Esteemed education researcher visits ED Corps

International education researcher James Tooley visited ED Corps High School in Eastpoint April 8 as part of a series of visits to the United States to learn about innovative schools.

Tooley is vice-chancellor of The University of Buckingham in England. His 2009 book “The Beautiful Tree” documented how high-quality, low-cost private schools were thriving in some of the world’s poorest places – and lifting up millions of children – even though some education experts denied they existed. 

He is now working on a follow-up book that will explore how similarly cutting-edge schools are growing in America.

ED Corps is a private high school under the umbrella of the Franklin’s Promise Coalition. It’s available to students who are at least 16 years old and want a more hands-on approach. The school limits its enrollment to 10 students and offers a blended curriculum that emphasizes project-based learning, industry certifications, and leadership and life skills development. Students spend at least a third of their time outdoors, often working on environmental restoration and conservation projects. For more information on ED Corps, contact Elinor Mount-Simmons, the school’s administrator at

Tooley learned from students, parents, and staff. Students demonstrated how they cultivate spartina grass for shoreline stabilization and showed Tooley plots along Apalachicola Bay where they had successfully planted it.

Among other questions, Tooley wanted to know why parents chose ED Corps; what students like about the school; how tuition compared to per-pupil spending in public schools; and whether the school could be replicated to serve communities elsewhere.

Tooley’s visit was his second to Florida for his upcoming book. In January, he visited South Florida, which has become a nationally recognized hotbed for micro-schools, many of them fueled by parents using state-supported school choice scholarships. Those scholarships are administered by the nonprofit Step Up For Students.

Ron Matus is director of research and special projects for Step Up For Students.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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