Local One Spark creator shares experience as next festival nears

Meros Academy founder shares experience one month before event

By Kumasi Aaron - Reporter/The Morning Show anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - We are officially one month away from One Spark. Thousands of people will come together in Downtown Jacksonville on April 9 as creators, artists, entrepreneurs and innovators will display their projects in venues around the area.

Not only is it a chance for creators to showcase their ideas, but also the chance for them to win thousands of dollars in crowd-funding and prize money. That's determined by votes from people who attend, so it's also a chance to check out the latest innovations take part in bringing them to life.

Just one of the many success stories from last year was the Kona School. Now it's co-founder is headed back to the festival with a revisioned brand called MEROS Academy.

Last year at One Spark James Smith and his team received the second highest vote total in the technology category. He says the curriculum and vision has not changed, only the branding. He says MEROS Academy is a private school for students grade 6-12. The learning model, based on eight research-based elements, work systematically to amplify student learning and maximize potential.

"One of the most valuable lessons from One Spark was that the KONA name placed an emphasis on skating above the other eight elements of the learning model," said Smith. "While skating is and always will be a part of our DNA, we recognized that each of the eight elements is a part of the whole innovative learning model and our name should reflect that balance."

Smith says support from One Spark 2013 helped him and his team research and refine the brand and launch strategy. By utilizing focus groups, input from longtime stakeholders and consultation from leading marketers in the community, Smith says they were able to develop the name, logo and tagline.

Smith says MEROS, pronounced mear'-ohs, is a Greek word meaning ‘a part of the whole' and more accurately reflects the system and cycle of learning at the curriculum's core. Additionally, a new tagline, Balanced Learning, Unleashed Potential, was developed which echoes the essence of the school's mission and vision, according to Smith.

"The MEROS Academy curriculum makes connections between what students are passionate about and what they are learning. We want to teach and empower students to apply their passion and knowledge to solving real-world problems," says Smith. "To accomplish that, we need to provide a balanced learning curriculum which enables them to unleash their true potential. MEROS Academy is that answer."

While KONA School will remain its own entity and brand separate from MEROS Academy; Smith says the passion which drove the initial inspiration remains a central force behind the the MEROS mission and vision.

"We want to revolutionize the way we teach our children; not just here in Jacksonville, but nationally and globally," says Smith. "From the school design to the curriculum itself, MEROS Academy will exist for families who want a more personal education experience for their child that inspires an exciting level of engagement, empowerment and results."

MEROS Academy will participate as a Venue at One Spark 2014 and is aggressively pursuing funding in support of their planned opening for the 2015 school year. More information can be found at merosacademy.com.

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