Florida A&M University Developmental Research School (FAMU DRS) is experiencing record enrollment for the first time in over a decade, according to school administrators.
This year, FAMU DRS surpassed its enrollment projections and currently, the interest level exceeds capacity. “We’ve had to employ a waitlist for the first time in my memory as an administrator at DRS,” said Zellee Barnes, assistant principal for secondary schools. “It’s a great problem to have.”
There are currently 273 students enrolled in FAMU DRS’ elementary school, 354 students enrolled in the secondary schools, and although school officially began Tuesday, August 10, more students are requesting admittance each day. Elementary Assistant Principal Cami Bernales said parents are enthusiastic about DRS’ focus on academics and students’ well-being.
“I personally called a couple of our new parents and they said, ‘the reputation of the culture and academic expectation exceeds our neighborhood school.’ That speaks volumes to the environment and the educational experience we offer at DRS,” she said.
While school administrators are pleased with increased enrollment, they said the ongoing pandemic has prevented them from growing their numbers.
“Prior to the pandemic, we would have admitted and welcomed more students into our district,” said Micheal Johnson, superintendent. “Due to COVID-19 precautions and the continued need for social distancing practices, we are limiting the number of students this year.”
Despite the enrollment limitations, administrators encourage parents and students to learn about DRS. “Our schools provide unique opportunities for students that are not always common in other areas,” said Barnes. “We are leveraging our strengths so our community will continue to consider DRS.”
Founded in 1887, FAMU DRS (formerly known as Lucy Moten), was established as a Teacher Training School for FAMU.
Originally only serving elementary students, the school later expanded to accommodate secondary-level students. In 1991, the Sidney Martin Developmental Research School Act designated FAMU DRS as a “developmental research school and the legislation mandated FAMU DRS operate as a designated public school district, with the mission to “conduct research, demonstration, and evaluation regarding management, teaching, and learning, emphasizing mathematics, science, technology, and foreign languages.”