The McKay Academy is a school that serves students ages 6-22 with learning challenges in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto and Hardee Counties.
Moved by Miracles
The McKay Academy (formerly Ave Maria Prep School) is a school that serves students ages 6-22 with learning challenges and their families in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto and Hardee Counties. Established in 2004, its mission is to maintain a safe and caring atmosphere where students and staff are valued for their God given gifts and dignity.

Our classes are designed to both challenge students and teach to individual needs. Orton Gillingham Intensive Reading, Touch Math and Saxon Math Programs are combined with a fine arts curriculum as well as college preparatory classes. In addition, The McKay Academy provides career and transitional education, introducing all ages of students to a variety of employment opportunities and skills for the workplace.

The McKay Academy complies with the Florida Standards in its curriculum, but delivers it differently: non-graded students classes are assigned according to ability, need for  credits, social skill abilities and achievement.

Social Skills classes are ranging from basic social skills to activities involving higher level problems solving which prepare students to make and keep friends, fend off bullying behavior and respond with dignity.

Language and Occupational Therapies as well as Executive Function Strategies to scaffold learning and social skills with a focus on memory, attention, test taking, time management and advocacy are included in school tuition and fees.

Come and visit a spacious and beautiful environment which combines indoor and outdoor education tailored to the needs of students with learning challenges, among them, but not exclusively with: Asperger’s Syndrome, Attention Deficit, Autism, Learning Disabilities, Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Substance Affected Disorders and Secondary Emotional Symptoms.
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The McKay Academy is Fully Accredited by the Association of Independent Schools of Florida
Published on Apr 11, 2016
Veronica Brandon Miller and Guest Co-Host Violeta Huesman talk good news with The McKay Academy Director, Sister Gilchrist Cottrill and Lead Manager of Consecra Housing Network
Gary Adams!


  1. Norma Kramer

    "This school and its wonderful staff should be in the dictionary under the word, "dedication." They never give up on a child. Sister Gilchrist is knowledgeable kind, and caring of each student. Mr. Lipinski in one of their staff who stand out. They are truly deserving of the whole community's support and recognition."

  2. Suzanna Stein

    "We visited all the schools in Sarasota and Manatee County before we choose The McKay Academy. We really did our due-dilligence. As far as catering to children who learn different they are head and shoulders above the competition. Sister Gilchrist and the entire staff are completely dedicated. Our children are jewish and they are welcome and fit in better they have any where else."

  3. Joy Maness

    "My two boys go to this school and we love it. The staff are so caring and loving teachers."

  4. Bob Barbarian

    "We came from NJ and found the right fit for both of our children. Sister Gilchrist and the rest of the educators are talented but more importantly, genuinely caring. They truly live it with many of the staff living on campus. My children have had trouble fitting, in the past, but not here. We have spent several hundred thousand dollars on lawsuits, therapists, expert reports, private schools and were lucky to find this one finally. I wish all educators cared this much. Thank you for everything!"

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Admission Process

Request Information

  • Phone interview
  • Tour of school
  • Assessment interview with parents, student and director
  • Decide scholarship choices and registration

           Please, email or call us at 941-840-5331  to schedule a visit and a tour!
           ¡Hablamos Español!
Registration form
Tuition Schedule