Jane Watt, Founder and Chairperson, Marco Island Academy an “A” rated, fully accredited public charter high school

Fighting for Kids

There is nothing more critical to a child’s success in life than a quality education. Jane Watt’s triumph in establishing the Marco Island Academy is evidence that one passionate leader can ignite true systemic change. Fighting for Kids is a moving story that I hope encourages more people around the nation to follow Jane’s example by challenging the status quo and fighting to improve and expand educational options for American families.

—Governor Jeb Bush

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 Book signed by Jane

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Jane Watt, Board Chairman

Marco Island Academy



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Michelle Rhee
Founder/CEO StudentsFirst

Jane Watt’s book, Fighting for Kids, will touch an emotional chord with everyone who reads it. Her work to establish the Marco Island Academy and provide a better option for the children in her community takes read- ers on an incredible journey. It offers a rare view into the struggle against entrenched political forces, and the personal attacks and political road- blocks thrown at those who dare to challenge the status quo in education.

Ultimately this is a story of sacrifice and triumph, a story of uncommon love, perseverance and hope. It is a testament that a small-town girl who becomes a “mom on a mission” can move heaven and earth for her cause.

As a mother, and as someone who faces similar resistance and adversity in the fight to transform our public education system, I found this book to be a refreshingly honest assessment of much of what’s wrong and what’s right about our current system.

Jane’s experience not only informs the reader, but it has the power to inspire others who find themselves similarly dissatisfied with the schools available to their children. It sends a clear message, that despite the chal- lenges, one person can quite literally change the world for individual stu- dents and families. One person with vision and determination can rally others to a just cause and open doors of opportunity through better educa- tion that would otherwise be barred.

Jane’s story is extraordinary and uncommon, but it doesn’t have to be. Each of us is capable of more good than we realize. Each of us has the power to overcome obstacles in our paths, to draw on unseen strength from within, and to touch the lives of those around us.

When Jane Watt began her journey, she saw herself as an ordinary mother, but it wasn’t long before she was rallying political heavyweights and the neighbors next door to support her worthy endeavor of improving our country’s education system, even if it is just one mom, and one school at a time.

Fighting for Kids, is more than the title of this book. It’s a choice we can all make to defend those whose interests and voices are often disregarded in the halls of power. It is a commitment to give all we can for the hope of our future and for the hope of our children.


Rene Champagne
Chairman and CEO, ITT Educational Services, Inc. (ret.)
Treasurer of the Board of Directors, Marco Island Academy

Jane Watt is a leader. Despite the hurdles and personal vilification she encountered, I found Jane to be exceptionally focused on the objective of getting the school approved. She displayed incredible persistence, deter- mination, passionate commitment combined with an unbelievable work ethic of 24/7/365 for the school while being a wife and mother for three young children. And, she wasn’t monetarily compensated for these efforts.

At the request of Gayle Thawley I first met with Jane Watt. During the meeting, Jane described the vision of the school and the many challenges her team of volunteers and she were dealing with in an effort to have the creation and start-up of Marco Island Academy approved by the district. She described the numerous bureaucratic hurdles the school district was imposing, how the local off-island, public high principal had all but declared war to prevent Marco Island Academy from being approved and how a small, but vocal, number of island residents were publicizing their objection to the creation and location of a public charter high school on the island. Plus, Jane added, “We have no money, but would you like to help us in an advisory role”? I agreed to do so.

Marco Island Academy is fulfilling its Mission and Vision. Current and future students will greatly benefit from their experience at the Academy. To all of the volunteers who have assisted Jane over the years, Thank You! To the Academy’s fantastic faculty, staff and board, thank you! And to Jane Watt, thank you, thank you!

Note from the Publisher

In 2009, the word was getting around about efforts to start a new charter school on Marco Island. We are editors/publishers of personal memoirs in southwest Florida and naturally we are always interested in community “happenings.” Jane Watt was becoming famous.

I commented at that time, Yes, it would be nice to have a high school on Marco Island, but that won’t happen. The whole establishment is against it, due to the opposition of the NEA teachers’ union to charters and the busybody NIMBYs on Marco. Oh well, good luck Jane.

But then, by golly, she was winning. In the spirit of our community the gossip was churning. Just What is Going On? How did that happen?

Here you have it, the complete story of Jane Watt and the great success of a brand new charter school, topping off the “A” rating by the Florida Department of Education.

As you read this book, we believe you will find two distinct, powerful messages:

Obviously everyone enjoys the all-American sweetheart fighting a battle against great odds. (Hmmm, it could be a movie!)

And the second message is a very serious topic, namely that so much has gone wrong with public education. Recent books on the subject include One Nation by Ben Carson and Lessons of Hope: How to Fix Our Schools by Joel Klein. In Fighting for Kids Jane Watt is right on the target.

So there you go, the two important messages. Enjoy the book and perhaps there is a “happening” right in your own community— a bright new leader taking on a battle and improving education.

—Wade and Sue Keller
Keller Publishing

Rick Medwedeff
General Manager, Marco Island Marriott
National Advisory Board Member, Marco Island Academy

The right person at the right time for the right cause is Jane Watt’s Fighting for Kids, an incredible story of how one person with vision, passion, and per- severance could ignite a community to support the best possible education for their kids. Jane skillfully escorts you through this journey of obstacles, setbacks, and triumphs of launching the Marco Island Academy. As you read this book you are captivated by how a small minority of “nimby’s” and individuals who fear change could try to derail the creation of the MIA but were defeated by a person who truly cares for kids. As the headline of the community newspaper once published, “It only takes one Watt to light up a school and a community.”

Timothy Truesdell
President of Timothy Truesdell Investments
National Advisory Board Member, Marco Island Academy

Jane Watt’s Fighting for Kids is a magnificent assessment of how one person’s vision and perseverance can succeed over ambivalence and the comfort of the status quo. The book is wisely written to take us on a behind-the-scenes journey through the forming and founding of the Marco Island Academy, but it goes much further. It essentially becomes a window into the hearts and minds of a community and how a dream for a high-quality charter school education was turned into a hard-fought reality. Fighting for Kids is a must read for anyone who applauds and appreciates tenacity, triumph and spirit.

Get Fighting for Kids on Amazon

Fighting for Kids is a chronicle of Jane Watt’s personal courage, perseverance, and strength of character throughout the charter school process in the state of Florida. She birthed an idea that was complete, compliant, and compelling and made an academic difference in the lives of public school children now and in years to come. I am humbled and honored to have been a part of Jane Watt’s charter school legacy that is now Marco Island Academy, a public charter high school.

Vickie Marble,Principal
The Student Leadership Academy of Venice
National Advisory Board Member, Marco Island Academy

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