When it comes to education, Bartow schools consistently rank as some of the best. Bartow’s International Baccalaureate program is nationally ranked by US News & World Report. Bartow IB students have ranked first in the world in passing their advance placement (AP) exams. In addition, among schools with fewer than 500 students, Bartow IB was recognized by the College Board, the company that oversees AP testing, as having the strongest AP English and AP World History courses in the world.

Summerlin Academy is a school of choice on the Bartow High School campus: a college preparatory honors program, “built on principles of scholarship, leadership and citizenship,” with military-style discipline. Accepting both male and female students, Summerlin Academy is a four-year program that offers three curriculum tracks: math and engineering, with an array of higher math courses and four years of engineering classes; science and medicine, with advanced science courses including biotechnology and genetics; and English and social science, with advanced courses in reading, writing, history, government, economics, psychology, sociology, ethics and philosophy. Students are required to take four years of foreign language: either four years of one language or two years each of Spanish and German. The school also offers one-year “survey courses” in Arabic, Chinese, Russian, French, and Latin. Physical education courses include self-defense for women, tae kwon do or judo, boxing, scuba diving, equestrian courses, and fencing. The character development program emphasizes honor and integrity education, social etiquette, manners and civility, and community involvement.

Both parts of Bartow High School, the International Baccalaureate program and Summerlin Academy provide challenging academic environments for exceptional students. Known as the “Home of Champions,” with both successful athletic and academic programs, Bartow High School offers a wide range of extracurricular activities including band, drama, chorus, as well as clubs and other programs.

Rounding out Bartow area schools are seven public elementary schools, three private elementary schools and three middle schools. Bartow Elementary Academy and Union Academy are magnet schools with students selected by an application process. Both are consistently ranked top in the state. Enrichment activities include foreign language studies, art, science, theater performances and field trips.

Bartow’s schools have within them career academies. Career academies are small, personalized learning communities. Students enter the academy through a voluntary process, they must apply and be accepted with parental knowledge and support. A career academy involves teachers from different subjects working together as a team.

Staff teams who often share common planning time, work together to implement the key features of the academy and provide students with training in the career field. Students may be grouped together for several periods every day with a core group of teachers. This promotes a family-like atmosphere and results in close student-teacher ties.

Public Schools fall under the Polk County School Board made up of seven elected members, each from a separate district and elected county-wide for four-year terms. The Board adopts rules and regulations to supplement those of the State Department of Education, establishes a school calendar each year and approves an annual budget. The Superintendent of Schools is appointed by the Board. There are a myriad of choices for parents when considering the best educational opportunities for a child. Be sure to visit the Office of Magnet, Choice Schools. Bartow has many award-winning in-school career academies, that are some of the finest in Florida. For more information, contact the School Board at 863-534-0500, or visit its website at www.polk-fl.net.


Opportunities for advanced education are within easy driving distance of Bartow. The area has two vocational schools as well as eight colleges and universities. Polk State College Clear Springs Advanced Technology Center in Bartow came about with the unwavering support of Polk County’s business and government leaders, and strategic collaboration have combined for the physical embodiment of Polk State College’s commitment to advancing the area’s workforce: the Clear Springs Advanced Technology Center.

The Clear Springs Advanced Technology Center, to be located just east of downtown Bartow and just north of State Road 60, and in so many ways symbolizes the bright future Polk State is helping to create for Polk County.

The numerous community partnerships that helped bring the idea to fruition are an extension of the collaboration that has shaped Polk State for nearly 50 years.

The Clear Springs Advanced Technology Center is possible thanks to the donation of $12 million and 20 acres to Polk State from Clear Springs, led by owner and chairman Stan Phelps. Clear Springs’ gift is the largest single donation in the history of Florida’s state and community colleges.

“When Mr. Phelps came to us with his vision for this center, he changed the landscape of higher education in Polk County and sent ripples throughout the state of Florida. Words don’t begin to convey our gratitude to him and to Clear Springs for the trust they have placed in Polk State College,” said Tracy Porter, Polk State’s district vice president of institutional advancement and executive director of the Polk State Foundation.

The Polk County Board of County Commissioners also lent its generous support, as did the City of Bartow, to help bring infrastructure to the building project.