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Access Work Groups

Chaired by the Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Alberto Carvalho, and FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg, ACCESS - Achieving Community Collaboration in Education and Student Success - is an achievement-oriented partnership designed to improve student success in public schools, increase high school graduation and promote student transition into higher education. It is made up of 20 strategic workgroups, each with its own unique vision and goals, which are overseen by top leadership from MDCPS and FIU.


Chairman: Dr. William Beesting, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education, FIU

FIU collaborates with MDCPS teachers to help them improve student foundational skills and knowledge for collegiate success. Goals include developing a strategic plan to increase dual enrollment in sciences and other areas, continuing to offer professional development workshops to MDCPS teachers, and including FIU professors in the review and revision of MDCPS science guidelines.

Clinical Internships

Chairman: Ava Goldman, Division of Student Services, MDCPS

FIU students in speech language pathology, psychology, social work and other professional programs are placed in clinical training internships with faculty supervision at MDCPS schools to deliver screening, intervention and treatment. Goals include identifying opportunities to train and certify MDCPS special education teachers; identifying internship opportunities for FIU students in various disciplines, including nursing, social work and counseling, and identifying and addressing barriers that impede internship placement.

Collaborative Communication

Co-chairmen: Sandra Gonzalez-Levy, Senior Vice President, External Relations, FIU and John Schuster, Administrative Director, Public Relations, MDCPS

The goal of this initiative is to develop and share information regarding the partnership between FIU and MDCPS. This includes newsletters, news stories, updated information on respective websites, parent outreach and activities where the partners can engage, i.e. football games, band participation, etc.

Collaborative Fundraising and Research

Co-chairmen: Andres Gil, Vice President for Research, FIU and Iraida Mendez-Cartaya, Assistant Superintendent, Intergovernmental Affairs, Grants Administration and Community Services, MDCPS

FIU and MDCPS partner on a collaborative research agenda, share resources and develop evaluation methodologies and mechanisms to share and apply research results. The group seeks to identify outside funding sources to generate revenue for the partnership, including collaboration on National Science Foundation and other grants.

Disruptive Behavior, Violence Prevention, Social and Character Development

Co-chairmen: William Pelham, Director of the Center for Children and Families at FIU and Ava Goldman, Division of Student Services, MDCPS

Researchers study the mechanisms and treatment of mental health and learning difficulties of children and adolescents. The initiative provides education and services for the families and professionals who work with them and seeks to obtain collaborative federal grants to offer the program to others.

Dual Enrollment

Co-chairmen: William Beesting, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education, FIU; Jorge Zumaeta, Director of University College at FIU; Maria de Armas, Assistant Superintendent, Division of Academic Support, MDCPS

Through the Academy of Advanced Academics (AAA) and classes offered in 38 public high schools, students enroll in FIU courses and receive both high school and college credit. This group’s goals include expanding the professional development opportunities for MDCPS dual enrollment teachers to become accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) so that they may continue to gain practical knowledge and insight into how to best prepare students for post-secondary education.

Dual Enrollment: impact of accelerated graduation

Co-chairmen: Luisa Havens, Vice President, Enrollment Services, FIU and Maria De Armas, Assistant Superintendent, Division of Academic Support, MDCPS

FIU works with MDCPS to attract dual enrollment students to apply to FIU, including exploring automatic admission, similar to what is offered to Academy for Advanced Academics (AAA) students. This initiative also seeks to assess the impact of dual enrollment on lower and upper division offerings.

Education Effect

Co-chairmen: Maria Lovett, Project Director, Education Effect and Assistant Professor, College of Education, FIU and Pablo Ortiz, Region Superintendent, Educational Transformation Office, MDCPS

With funding from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, FIU and MDCPS are developing a university-assisted community school at Miami Northwestern Senior High School (MNW) that focuses on teacher preparation, health, safety, and parent and community engagement. Future goals include increased service-learning opportunities for FIU faculty and students; the creation and implementation of a strategic outreach plan to MNW feeder schools and a conceptual map for sustainability and scalability of the Education Effect partnership.

Medical Academy for Science and Technology (MAST) at Homestead

Co-chairmen: Barbra Roller, Assistant Dean, Student Affairs, College of Medicine, FIU; Colleen Rose-St. Prix, Associate Professor, Physical Therapy, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, FIU; Cristian Carranza, Educational Transformation Office, MDCPS

MAST at Homestead focuses on biomedical sciences, physical therapy and pharmaceutical sciences, with guidance and assistance from FIU. The program’s goals include increasing student participation in Advanced Placement Science courses, introducing dual enrollment opportunities and developing student internship opportunities for MAST students at FIU in the medical and science fields.

Pre-collegiate Preparation

Co-chairmen: George Simms, Executive Director, Student Affairs, FIU and Magaly Abrahante, Title I Project Administrator, MDCPS

Through innovative pipeline and summer enrichment programs, students acquire exposure to the college experience. This group aims to integrate FIU academic advisors with MDCPS College Assistant Program (CAP) advisors and arrange for FIU academic advisors to visit high schools and raise students' interest in attending FIU.

Teacher Development in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)

Co-chairmen: Delia Garcia, Dean, College of Education, FIU and Enid Weismann, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources and Performance Management, MDCPS

FIU offers pre- and in-service teacher preparation programs to ensure that teachers will have grounding in specific subject areas as well as theory and practice. The group strives to increase elementary and middle school teacher participation in STEM certificate programs, as well as other professional development efforts.

World Languages and Bilingual Education

Co-chairmen: Delia Garcia, Dean, College of Education, FIU and Maria De Armas, Assistant Superintendent, Division of Academic Support, MDCPS

FIU and MDCPS collaborate to identify ways to better prepare teachers for bilingual education in the public school system. The group also seeks to develop a method to monitor the progress of the MDCPS Extended Foreign Language (EFL) program and develop strategies to better educate parents about the benefits of the EFL program in a globally competitive world.

New ACCESS working groups launched in 2013 include:


Co-chairmen: Ruth McEwen, Director, School of Accounting, College of Business, FIU and Maria De Armas, Assistant Superintendent, Division of Academic Support, MDCPS

The goal of this initiative is to expand opportunities for MDCPS students from Finance and Accounting academies to successfully transition into the FIU Accounting Program. This includes exploring the opportunity of a Summer Bridge program for MDCPS students entering FIU in 2014-2015, professional development opportunities at FIU for MDCPS teachers from Finance and Accounting Academies, and potentially guaranteeing access for MDCPS students to the FIU Masters of Accounting Program through successful completion of the undergraduate program and the Accounting Entry Exam.

Arts and Culture

Co-chairmen: Brian Schriner, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, FIU and Maria De Armas, Assistant Superintendent, Division of Academic Support, MDCPS

FIU and MDCPS collaborate to increase and enrich dual enrollment offerings in arts and design, as well as offer customized MDCPS faculty development opportunities.

Dual Enrollment – Engineering

Co-chairmen: Norman Munroe, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies and Academic Affairs, FIU and Maria De Armas, Assistant Superintendent, Division of Academic Support, MDCPS

The goal of this workgroup is to increase the offerings of dual enrollment engineering among M-DCPS high schools, as well as to identify curriculum that will address M-DCPS’ needs to introduce students to engineering, computing and robotics principles.

Fostering Panther Pride

Co-chairmen: Irma Becerra-Fernandez, Vice President for Engagement, FIU; Michelle Mason, Dean, College of Law, FIU; Mark Zaher, Director of School Operations and Special Programs, MDCPS; Ava Goldman, Division of Student Services, MDCPS

A program to support foster and homeless youth at FIU, Fostering Panther Pride plans to provide customized services for this student population to support and encourage their attainment of a college education. The initiative seeks to hire a full-time coordinator, establish a mentor program, partner with high schools that have high foster youth populations, identify funding sources and research potential housing opportunities.

MAST @ FIU/Biscayne Bay Campus

Co-chairmen: Kenneth Jessell, Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer, FIU and Millie Fornell, Associate Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction, MDCPS

Following the highly successful MAST magnet school model at Virginia Key, Hialeah and Homestead, MAST@FIU will emphasize the sciences, and lead FIU faculty in the School of Environment, Arts and Society to enrich the students' learning experience. This partnership will support state objectives to have more and better qualified STEM graduates in Florida. MAST @ FIU/Biscayne Bay Campus opened in August 2013.

New Infrastructure and Technologies

Co-chairmen: Robert Grillo, Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, FIU and Deborah Karcher, Office of Information Technology, MDCPS

The goal of this initiative is to develop the "classroom of the future" by identifying infrastructure needs to teach dual enrollment in science, evaluate synergies for shared data networking facilities between FIU and MDCPS, and identify internship and mentorship opportunities for technology/GIS schools and local technology companies.

One Community One Goal and Career Academy Linkages

Co-chairmen: Lari Martinez, Senior International Officer, Undergraduate Education, FIU and Millie Fornell, Associate Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction, MDCPS

FIU and MDCPS will work together to align the Career Academies directly with academic programs in college, including the curricular and extracurricular components that will deepen the purpose of the academy. Ultimately, the Career Academies will align with the seven strategic areas of One Community One Goal.

Project Panther Life

Co-chairmen: Delia Garcia, Dean, College of Education, FIU and Ava Goldman, Division of Student Services, MDCPS

Project Panther Life is an effort to provide a comprehensive postsecondary transition program and a system of support to students with intellectual disabilities (ID) that will result in a certificate and the achievement of meaningful and relevant employment. Goals include the recruitment, preparation and retention of students with ID that meet project eligibility criteria.

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