You won’t find the usual home economics class offered here—DASH, southern Florida’s Design and Architecture Senior High School, is unlike any other magnet school in the country. Established in 1990 and located in the heart of the Miami Design District, DASH promotes innovation through its curriculum, its educators, and, most important, its students. You’re likely to find dedicated pupils already working in the offices of local architects and other designers, while attending classes. Eighty percent of DASH’s seniors intern in design firms in the district, explains Dr. Stacey Mancuso, DASH principal and sculpture teacher. “Students see firsthand the professional life that awaits them.” More artists-in-residence than typical teachers, DASH faculty, Mancuso explains, “treat the students as professionals, not just kids.”
DASH’s rigorous programming sets it apart from the traditional American high school curriculum, offering classes in fashion, industrial, and architecture/interior design, fine arts, entertainment technology, and visual communications, as well as advanced placement subjects like physics and English lit. Ninety-eight percent of its graduating classes continue on to four-year colleges, including prestigious design schools like Rhode Island School of Design, Cornell, and Pratt.
DASH possesses an inspired vision, not to mention notable alumni, including fashion darling Esteban Cortazar, who began showing his women’s wear collection in New York while still a senior at DASH. “Education by Design,” as the DASH motto goes, represents the best of mergers between academic and real-life experience.