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The only 2-12 special learning needs

school in Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto

and Hardee Counties


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and more...


Ave Maria Preparatory School

Ave Maria Preparatory School is the only 2-12 school specifically for special learning needs in Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto and Hardee Counties.

Moved by Miracles

Ave Maria Preparatory School was established in 2004 as the only specifically 2-12 special education school in the region.  Its mission is to maintain a safe and caring atmosphere where students and staff are valued for their God given gifts and dignity.

Focusing on the dignity of our students classes are designed to both challenge students and teach to individual needs. A program of strong remediation in Reading and Mathematics is combined with a fine arts curriculum as well as college preparatory classes.  In addition, Ave Maria Prep provides career and transitional education, introducing all ages of students to a variety of employment opportunities and skills for the workplace.

Ave Maria Prep follows the Florida Standards Curriculum but delivers it differently through a multi-sensory approach which uses the “Disney Side of the Brain.” Students experience learning in a manner creating new brain pathways and “neurological plasticity.”

Social skill education is taught through role playing, specific tools and mnemonics such as the GROUP, SHARK and CALM strategies which prepare students to make and keep friends, fend off bullying behavior and respond with dignity.

The school employs research based approaches along with Math and literature programs recommended by the International Dyslexia Association and the Council for Exceptional Children.

Language and Occupational Therapies as well as standardized testing 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 LD, ADD, PDD, Mild to Moderate Autism, and Mild to Moderate Emotional Disorders.

Please call 941.322.1601 to schedule your phone interview and tour.


Ave Maria Preparatory School 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 Ave Maria Prep. School Director, Sister Gilchrist Cottrill and Lead Manager of Consecra Housing Network Gary Adams!

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Admissions Process

  1. Phone interview
  2. Tour of school
  3. Assessment interview with parents, student and director
  4. Decide scholarship choices and registration

View / Print Registration Form in PDF Format

  • Bob Barbarian

    We came from NJ and found the right fit for both of our children. Sister Gilchrist & 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!

  • Joy Maness

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

  • Suzanna Stein

    We visited all the schools in Sarasota and Manatee County before we choose Ave Maria. We really did our due-dilligence. As far as catering to children who learn different they are head and shoulders above the competition. Sister Gilgrist and the entire staff are completely dedicated. Don't be fooled by the name. It's not a catholic school. Our children are jewish and they are welcome and fit in better they have any where else.

  • 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. Ms. Carson and Mr. Lipinski are just two of their staff who stand out. They are truly deserving of the whole community's support and recognition.

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For more information about Ave Maria, call 941-322-1601 or send us an email.