San Antonio has a heritage of private school exellence

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San Antonio is known for its rich heritage, vibrant culture and historical significance. Residents see all of this reflected in monuments from the Alamo to the Missions and institutions from the military to education. In fact, it is this heritage within our private schools that adds so much depth to the educational landscape and community prosperity. Locally, private education has evolved over centuries with strong foundations in college preparatory programs, faith-based curricula, character development and successful sports programs.

It is this community atmosphere that often attracts families to private education. The decision of where to educate children is one of the most important parents will make. When looking at private vs. public education, often the choices revolve around the smaller campus and family feeling, the quality of college preparatory programs, statistics showing how many students enter top college programs, personal attention from teachers in smaller classrooms, faith-based programs in specialized schools, discipline required in behavior and success of the school’s graduates.

“Many are looking for a nurturing atmosphere,” says Rusty Sugg, director of admissions for San Antonio Christian School (SACS). A 30-year veteran of private education, Sugg says, “In recent years, we have seen more families who want a challenging education for their children where they are not teaching to the test, as public schools do.” Each private school has its own program for testing progress and is not required to take students through the controversial mandated tests.

SACS is one of the longest-established private schools in the city. It joins Saint Mary’s Hall and Texas Military Institute (TMI) as part of the foundation of private education excellence in this area. SACS was founded in 1972 and is accredited through the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). The program is a biblically based college preparatory curriculum for Pre-K 4 – 12 and includes AP and honors classes. Saint Mary’s Hall was founded in 1879 by the Episcopal church. Today it is an independent coeducational campus for students and families of all faiths and known for high educational excellence and sending students to the nation’s top colleges.

PrivateSchools-StMarysTMI was founded in 1893 by Bishop James Johnston and is the oldest Episcopal college preparatory school in the Southwest. It is known for its residential program, the Corps of Cadets, and its focus on teaching a small campus the four pillars of strong academics, military disciplines, competitive athletics and spirituality. Another community atmosphere associated with the Episcopal church can be found at St. Luke’s Episcopal School, located in Alamo Heights.

These schools join a growing list of private schools in and around San Antonio structured to meet the needs of a thriving population and providing the community an educational edge in the state.

CHOICE CURRICULUM

Because they are not tied to the minimum standard requirements of public schools, many private schools offer more diverse curriculum options and college preparatory classes for students. Several also boast of highly successful fine arts programs with noted awards in music and art. Specialized field trips are easier with smaller classes.

CO-ED VS. SAME-SEX ENVIRONMENTS

Some studies have found that students study more, are less easily distracted and feel less self-conscious in schools and classrooms with children of their own sex, so some schools, like Incarnate Word High School, Providence Catholic School, Central Catholic High School and San Antonio Academy, offer all-girl or all-boy classes. Of course, other parents believe that a co-educational setting provides better socialization, so many private schools are co-educational. There are local options for both, once parents determine their child’s individual needs.

PREPARATION FOR COLLEGE AND THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY

PrivateSchoolssunshinecottageMany private schools claim outstanding records of college placement and even provide counseling and programs to assist students in acceptance at prestigious universities. Most offer college preparatory coursework, college-credit and dual-participation high school classes and SAT/ACT testing prep courses. Some offer after-school volunteer programs, mentoring programs and internships.

Some schools offer travel opportunities with parents and teachers to see museums and sites in Washington, D.C., New York and even Europe. Many faith-based schools offer mission trips throughout the year and all around the world as part of their service hour requirements.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND SPECIAL NEEDS

Because all children have different gifts, skill sets and learning challenges, private schools are a place where an individual student’s needs may be considered. Whether a student has a physical, emotional or learning challenge, smaller private schools are often able to adapt to his specific special needs. Often the small classroom size offers a setting where a child with special needs can get more individual attention and assistance.

These are only a few of the many reasons families look toward private education. It is a personal choice, and local schools work to make it affordable and may even offer some scholarship programs. San Antonio is one of the best places to offer many choices for private schools. Following is a comprehensive directory for private school options in San Antonio and the surrounding areas.

By Pamela Lutrell