Goodwill to assume management agreement role for school for students with disabilities

Ave Maria Preparatory School to become the McKay Academy

Published Thursday, July 20, 2017

McKay Academy assistant principal Yamuel Perez, head of school Sister Gilchrist Cottrill, and principal Pawel LipinskiSARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – Ave Maria Preparatory School, the only school that serves students ages 6-22 with special learning needs in Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto and Hardee counties, is undergoing major changes. The school is being renamed McKay Academy and Goodwill Manasota will assume management.

Established in 2004, the school serves youths from elementary through high school with conditions including autism, attention deficit disorder, Asperger's syndrome, Tourette syndrome, and bipolar disorders. The McKay Academy is committed to providing a dignified and innovative learning experience for students with diverse abilities. It is a non-graded school, offering a standard or special diploma, determined individually at the end of middle school. The school is fully accredited through the Association of Independent Schools of Florida and the National Council for Private School Accreditation.

Classes at the McKay Academy 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.

Bob Rosinsky, president and CEO for Goodwill Manasota and John McKay, former president of the Florida Senate“Ave Maria has long been close to our hearts at Goodwill because we believe everyone who wishes to learn and work should have the opportunity. We are dedicated to assisting Sister Gilchrist, who has dedicated  50-plus years in helping children reach their fullest ability,” said Goodwill Manasota president and CEO Bob Rosinsky. “We are very fortunate to have a strong board of directors with numerous years of experience with the emotional and academic challenges of students with learning challenges and utilizes that experience in providing the most suitable education for McKay students.”

Sister Gilchrist Cottrill will continue in her role as the head of school, Pawel Lipinski is the principal, and Yamuel Perez is the assistant principal.

“This school and its wonderful staff should be in the dictionary under the word ‘dedication’,” said parent Norma Kramer. “They never give up on a child. Sister Gilchrist is knowledgeable, kind, and cares about each student. This school is truly deserving of the whole community's support and recognition.”

Goodwill has long been committed to advocating on behalf of and employing individuals with disabilities. Its Supported JobsPlus program supports employment for team members with significant disabilities, who face much higher rates of unemployment than those without disabilities. More than 12 percent of Goodwill Manasota’s 800-employee workforce has some type of disability or significant barrier to self-sufficiency.

Board members of the McKay Academy are; Margie Genter, Goodwill Manasota; Bob Rosinsky, Goodwill Manasota; Bruce Navarro, attorney; Eric Tridas, pediatrician; George Carlo, academician; John McKay, John McKay, Inc., The Riverside Real Estate Company and former president of the Florida Senate; Paul Chapman, Longwood University; Veronica Brandon Miller, Goodwill Manasota Foundation; Sister Gilchrist Cottrill, The McKay Academy; and Bob Stanell, CS&L CPAs.

For further information about the McKay Academy, call (941) 840-5331 or go to


PHOTO ID: (Picture 1 from l-r) McKay Academy assistant principal Yamuel Perez, head of school Sister Gilchrist Cottrill, and principal Pawel Lipinski.  (Picture 2 from l-r) Bob Rosinsky, president and CEO for Goodwill Manasota and John McKay, former president of the Florida Senate.