School started this week at St. Augustine Preparatory Academy on Milwaukee's south side and founder Gus Ramirez and his family held a ribbon cutting Friday to mark the start of the inaugural school year.
Ramirez, chairman of Waukesha-based Husco International, said he first began thinking about starting the school more than three years ago and when he brought the idea to his family, they weren’t all sold on the idea of concentrating their education-related investments in one place.
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“It has been a journey. Along the way there were stumbling blocks,” Ramirez said, crediting Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and his staff for helping the non-denominational Christian school navigate the often contentious Milwaukee education landscape.
Augustine Prep will begin with around 600 to 650 students, but the $50 million facility can accommodate up to 1,700 and there are plans for further expansion in the coming years.
“Now the real journey begins,” Ramirez said. “The real metric of our success will be how these kids do when they graduate.”
Ramirez repeatedly told business leaders and students during Friday’s events that it doesn’t matter how great the facilities are, the faculty and staff of the school are what make for a great education. Augustine Prep went through more than 1,500 interviews to find its initial 66 teachers.
“Our curriculum is drawn from successful schools across the country and is based upon the high expectations we have for every student,” said Alfonso Carmona, Augustine Prep superintendent. “Our classrooms are designed to foster personalized instruction, yet we also believe in the value of learning outside the classroom, as well.”