A Story Of Heroism And Relentless Persistence 

by John Mariotti, Feb. 2015

Most book reviews tell you all about the book. I don’t think that’s the best way to review a book, and especially not this book.
I started to do this review as a favor to Wade Keller, the publisher. Then something unexpected happened; I got hooked on it. I think you will too. Jane Watt tells the story of how she cared so much—“loved the kids”—that she was compelled (and driven by that zeal) to start a charter school on Marco Island, FL.
Marco Island is an enclave of mostly retired people and well-to-do vacationers. Its population triples from 17,000 in the “off season” (summer) to 50,000 in “season” (Jan.-Apr.) when the weather in the northern US is miserable and “snowbirds” flock to Marco’s pristine beaches. Who needs a charter school in a haven of largely non-school-age-children inhabitants? The answer, by Jane’s analysis, was “the kids,” who actually live on and around Marco Island.
Florida is not known for the quality of its schools, but from the travails Jane describes, the administrators who operate the existing local schools used “every trick in the book” to stop the Marco Island Charter school from coming into being. Those of us, who are not career educators, seldom give much thought to what it takes to “start a school from scratch.” It takes buildings, curriculum, teachers, administrators, classroom equipment, textbooks, and oh, yes, students whose parents want them to have a different—and they hope better—educational experience. That isn’t all. It takes all kinds of permits and certifications from a plethora of educational, local, state and at times even Federal agencies and regulators.
I’ll stop with that description of the enormity of what seems to be such a simple task: creating a charter school from the ground up and filling it with teachers, administrators and yes, as Jane reminds us, “the kids”, students. This is not a treatise for charter schools. It is a book about the desire to do what was good for the kids in the area who wanted a better educational choice. As a veteran of a big manufacturing plant/division startup (450,000 Sq. ft., 700 employees), I thought I knew all about the challenges of a start-up. I was wrong. The problems (some self-inflicted) and roadblocks (added by others) placed in Jane and her allies’ path were simply “inconceivable.” Over and over, as one obstacle after another was surmounted, another one was added. Each instance became more “inconceivable” than the last one.
Unless you read this saga of vision, faith, hope, belief, perseverance, fearlessness, dedication and repeated setbacks, you will not understand why this is a book about “heroism and relentless persistence.” You already know the ending: the Marco Island Academy exists and is successful. The journey is what makes for compelling reading. The ups and down roller-coaster ride of highs and lows; and the inspirational dedication of Jane Watt and her small group of family, friends, allies and fellow believers (including FL Gov. Jeb Bush) will hook you.
As you read, you will wonder, “what can happen next?” to this woman and her noble effort. The answers are simply “inconceivable.” Read the book for yourself, and join in the journey —the optimism and angst, the anxiety, the highs and lows, the incredulity and ultimately, the glow of success. If you get into this story, you will get hooked—and be happy you did.



“Fighting For Kids” Reads like a novel

bLarry Honig on February 28, 2015


We live in a small town in sleepy southwest Florida, where every year the influx of snowbirds doubles our population and gives the place a temporary feel, as if soon everything will be over and we can start again. This kind of environment makes a high bar for parents raising families, because kids sense they can sneak through to the next time. So do politicians and bureaucrats. In this stew of complacency Jane Watt decided to take on one of the most daunting challenges in the U.S. today: starting a charter school. Her book reads like a novel, with back-stabbing hypocrites and soul-robbing rent-seekers finally outwitted by perseverance, perspicacity and punch. Jane’s aw-shucks personal style barely masks a fierce and intensely smart passion that turned her into one of Marco Island’s — and Florida’s — most respected citizens. Along the way she pays tribute to the mentors she was wise enough to consult, the benefactors supporting this great effort, the teachers she miraculously attracted, and of course the students, who rewarded her with the highest competitive scores in the area.



“Fighting For Kids.” I love how well written it is

by Jenny Cartwright on March 2, 2015



As a mother of five children that live on Marco Island, I cannot thank Jane Watt enough for fighting for my kids. Naturally I wanted to read Jane’s book the minute it came out, as my oldest now attends Marco Island Academy. What I did not expect, is that I would read it in one day, not being able to put it down. I love how well written it is, the chapter titles, the quotes, everything about it. As a bystander, I remember many of the happenings, as it walked me through time. Every hurdle she jumped, every naysayer she faced, every deadline she made; to read about it through Jane’s words is truly enlightening. The energy, perseverance, and immovable dedication that she possessed to create the high school while being a wife and mothering her children, is awe inspiring. Jane proves that dreaming big, and achieving your goals is possible; even if you are “just a mom.”


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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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