Mother-son team collaborate to offer education choice

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – When Julia Musella enrolled her son Luciano in preschool in Italy, her understanding of education underwent a sea change.

“People were talking to children as if they were adults,” she said. “They were respecting their intelligence. They were really fostering community, working collaboratively, cooperatively, giving them experiences that made them think rather than just teach at them or ask them to memorize.”

A couple of decades later, Julia and Luciano work side by side as administrators who deliver a similar style of education at BB International School, where nary a conversation occurs without mention of collaboration. It’s a central tenet that unites students, teachers and parents.

Julia started BBI as a PreK and kindergarten in New Jersey in 1980, and then opened a campus in the Fort Lauderdale area in 1986. BBI expanded to fifth grade here in 2014 and now serves 44 K-5 students, including 10 who use a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship administered by Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog.

Annual tuition is $11,300, and Julia credits the scholarship with helping bring diversity to BBI’s student body.

“The beauty of school choice is that it supports a school like ours – the microschools, the innovative schools, the progressive schools for alternative learners,” she said. “But you know what? All children are alternative learners when you respect that everybody learns differently.

“So the idea that they can use this scholarship in a school like this where they will all be successful has been monumental. It’s a life-changer.”

To learn more about BBI, read Lessons from the Renaissance school, which appeared on redefinED in October 2018.

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BY Jeff Barlis

Jeff Barlis is a writer with more than 26 years of experience in print, video and internet media. A product of public and private schools, Jeff was born and raised in the Tampa Bay area and attended University of Central Florida and University of Florida, where he received a bachelor's degree in Journalism.