The goal of choosing a school is to match a child’s abilities, interests and needs with the most appropriate educational setting. Independent schools have unique missions, philosophies and core values. The right school for any child is the one that can best meet the needs of that child. This decision may be made at the beginning of your child’s educational career or even in “midstream”. If an independent school was not your initial choice, at some point in your child’s education, you may decide that your child is not thriving and you want to pursue a different learning community.
Public schools, funded by the state, are available free of charge for every child. There are many public school options, including traditional, fundamental, magnet and charter schools. Public schools adhere to a set curriculum and all students participate in annual state standardized testing.
Private schools often have a religious affiliation and were founded by parents and community members who adhere to a certain philosophy. They are supported by their religious community as well as through tuition from parents.
Independent schools may be secular or religious and may be based on a particular educational philosophy. They are governed by a board of trustees that is solely responsible for the school and are independently funded, mostly through tuition. Independent schools are characterized by strong academics, adherence to quality standards, autonomy in choosing curriculum and adherence to school mission.
All types of schools typically administer annual standardized tests, but nonpublic schools are free to choose the testing program that best fits its educational goals, rather than state mandated tests.
Independent schools adhere to a “triangle” approach to education - student, family, and school. These three are linked together to ensure a solid education for each child. Parents are considered integral to the success of their child. Regular communication, including parent-teacher conferences, online progress reports, newsletters, and parent portals are the norm in an independent school. Parents are encouraged to be active participants in the life of the school. Schools typically have a wealth of volunteer opportunities in and outside of the classroom where your involvement will be welcomed.
To fully benefit from an independent school education, the optimal time for a child to enroll is junior kindergarten or kindergarten, while continuing in a similar school community through graduation. Independent elementary or lower schools typically provide students with a solid academic base and study skills that will be beneficial for a lifetime. Middle schools usually focus on the emerging young adults; many schools have advisory or character education programs to guide students through the transitional stage. Independent upper schools generally provide rigorous academic work, opportunities for leadership, service-learning in the community and athletics and opportunities for strong college placement guidance.
Faculty who choose to teach at an independent school are passionate about children and committed to excellence in their subject areas. They understand the value of forming relationships with students and working with students in many capacities (classroom, teacher, club sponsor, coach, advisor). They value the autonomy they are given in the creation and implementation of curriculum that both meets the school mission and engages students. Teachers value the parent/teacher/student relationship and welcome parent input.
Small classes allow faculty to truly get to know each child. Teachers have time to monitor progress, answer questions in depth, and build a relationship with each child. Additionally, small class size allows time for interdisciplinary projects, collaboration, technology integration, and field trips.