Choosing a Private School

A child who is thriving at school. Isn’t this every parent’s wish? Finding the educational environment that best suits your student can be a challenge however. If you’re considering a private school, asking the right questions during an open house or campus tour is an important part of your screening process. Here we’ve asked several local schools to give their input on various questions parents often ask.



What is the school’s approach to discipline, bullying and safety? 


“Students excel when they feel safe and valued. At The Orchard School, we believe that a high quality education for a child is built on the foundation of a safe and joyful learning community. Orchard stresses social-emotional learning as well as strong academics.” 


Grace Rodecap, Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator, The Orchard School


What is the school’s philosophy or approach to homework? 


“I believe homework is a part of the school experience, and also, that children need time for opportunities apart from academics. The purpose of homework may be to reinforce and practice skills, to complete an assignment that requires resources external to the school, and to read or research. Regular homework builds skills of independence and responsibility.” 


Diane Borgmann, Head of School, Sycamore School



How is technology used to help support student learning at this school?


“Technology is a tool that can creatively and effectively engage students in the learning process. Our teachers use a unique teaching model to develop technology integrated lessons that also require critical thinking and application.” 


Brenda Klingerman, Academic Director and Elementary/Intermediate Principal, Heritage Christian School



How does the school help support both gifted children, and children with academic, social or emotional difficulties?


“Gifted students should be challenged to reach their full potential by way of a range of available honors, advanced placement, and dual-credit courses, and by way of teachers who don’t allow students to settle. At our school, we offer support for all students through our Learning Center program for those with diagnosed learning differences, as well as through our academic counselors and full-time school social worker.” 


Greg VanSlambrook, Principal, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School



Here are some other important questions to ask – from the perspective of what to be looking for in an answer:



Does this school have a particular educational philosophy or mission? 


“The school should have a clearly defined mission, and should be able to provide concrete examples – both curricular and extracurricular – of how the school accomplishes its mission.”
Cathy Chapelle, Director of Strategic Communications, Park Tudor School



How do the arts fit into the school’s curriculum? 


“Parents should look at the facilities available for the arts on campus and ask about the number of students who participate in fine or performing arts. Is there a marching band? A show choir? A gospel choir? Is there a no-cut policy for school plays? Ceramics and photography? Giving students a wide range of options in the arts is critical for helping create well-rounded students.” 


Matt McCutcheon, Chief Academic Officer, Cathedral High School



What kind of professional development opportunities are available to teachers? 


“A quality private school should offer many opportunities for professional development, including time for faculty to collaborate and learn from each other in a group setting, as well as opportunities for faculty members to pursue individual studies and attend conferences.”


Cathy Chapelle, Director of Strategic Communications, Park Tudor School




Get the most out of your private school open house or campus tour by researching info on the school’s website and coming prepared with the questions that matter most to you. By spending some time in advance thinking about what criteria a school must have for you to enroll your student, you’ll be better equipped to make a long term decision both you and your child will be happy with.

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