St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, located in crowded downtown Cocoa, is seeking a significant expansion to its K-12 school, the similarly named St. Mark’s Episcopal Academy.
“I think it’s going to be a great thing,” said Joi Robertson, the head of the school. “We’ve literally run out of space. This allows for us to provide for the programs we have and hopefully some new ones.”
The Rev. Gary Jackson was eager to get the school’s plans fast-tracked after becoming the rector of the church last year. “They were ready to go; they were just ready for some direction,” he said.
For the school, now celebrating its 60th year, the expansion plan is long overdue. With class sizes averaging more than 20 children and the school occasionally having to turn away potential students, the local school can now get a little space to be more inclusive and provide more comfort and resources to the students who do attend.
“It was about a desperate need,” Jackson said. “We’re about out of room for both the school and the parish. We’re practically on top of each other.”
Included in the expansion plans are additional classrooms, a multipurpose room, an art and music room, and a lab. More importantly, the expansion will allow each grade to add a second full class, which will be implemented slowly starting with kindergarten and then moving up through the grades.
The school’s plans have been in the works for more than a year, and church leaders are already talking to the city about its approach. An architect has been chosen, and a feasibility study is already underway. The expansion has the potential to bring dozens more into the expanded St. Mark’s family every year.
For Jackson, the need couldn’t be clearer.
“The academy is the primary mission of the parish,” he said. “We have lots of education in our ministry within the Episcopal Church. We strive to include the academy in all of our outreach.”