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.

Ave Maria Partnerships:

Longwood University in Virginia: Program is in the works for professors and students from Longwood U. to work in our Physical Education program and begin a baseball team at Ave Maria Prep. Through our Board President Dr. George Carlo, who works with the Detroit Tigers, we may have professional players participating in this endeavor. Through this partnership our school has acquired “Little League” membership for our students.

Goodwill and Ave Maria Prep Partners in Sharing Services:

Both not for profit agencies have initiated and participated in The Workforce Education Scholarship Program. This program enables employees of Goodwill of Manasota to acquire a high school diploma while working. Students at Ave Maria are given the opportunity to receive job training skills at Goodwill while working at a paying job. Nine Goodwill students have graduated from Ave Maria this past August. Speaking of her diploma, Wanda Torres, who is married with children, says, “This changes everything.” Four more students will graduate August 6, 2015. Through this partnership Ave Maria foresees opening after school success centers for students and parents at Goodwill sites.


Pet therapy: including the use of 4 mini horses, two cats, one dog, ten love birds and two rabbits, and a new daytime visiting dog, assists our students with sensory integration issues and anxieties.

Therapeutic Yoga: We have started our yoga sensory integration program.  Students of all ages are benefiting from this innovative activity. It is not religious based, but designed to complement our THRIVE program in relaxing brain cell configuration.

Ave Maria Preparatory School

With new findings showing that one in every 166 children in the United States has autism, the school serves those dealing with the autism spectrum and other special learning needs including Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Pervasive Development Delay (PDD), Learning Disabilities (LD) Asperger’s Syndrome, Tourette Syndrome, anxiety and bipolar disorders.

Ave Maria serves students ages 6 to 22 from Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, Myakka City, Venice, North Port, Port Charlotte and Parrish in the Tampa Bay Area. The school accepts McKay Scholarships. Under the direction of Donald Pratt, Ph,D., Ave Maria has a very developed Anger Management Course for students.

Established in 2004 by Sister Gilchrist Cottrill, CE, the school follows the Florida Common Core Curriculum, but delivers it differently. As Sister Gilchrist explains, “We encourage students to use the Disney side of the brain -- the right, artistic, intuitive side.” The experienced teaching staff offers strong remediation programs in reading and mathematics.

“We use programs recommended by the International Dyslexia Association and the Learning Disabilities Association of America.” Sister Gilchrist has been co-presenting with the President of the International Dyslexia Association, Dr. Eric Tridas. At these conference, both Dr. Tridas and Sister Gilchrist have been keynote speakers on the topic of “Executive Function” in the classroom. This is about the planning, organizing and memory skills needed for success.

The school provides student transportation.

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

Accredited through National Private School Accreditation Agency.

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6289 Verna Road
Myakka City, FL 34251

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Sister Gilchrist Cottrill, CE
Ph: 941.322.1601

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Partnership for Shared Services with Goodwill Industries.

Counseling Services through Community Care Family Clinic.


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Non-Discriminatory Statement: Ave Maria Preparatory School, Inc., a Florida not for profit corporation admits students of any race, color, creed,  economic status  national and ethnic origin to all the rights and privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school.  It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed economic status, or national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school administered programs.