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Study Session

by Staff

Any parent raising children wants the very best for their little ones and hopes they grow up happy and healthy. Undoubtedly, they also want the very best education for their kids and as a result, many families look to private schools to foster their child’s love of learning. There are many factors why a private school education could be the right choice for one’s family, whether it’s more personalized attention, unique extracurricular offerings, the sense of community or otherwise.

We spoke with several private schools in the area to get a better sense of how they challenge students academically, engage them socially and help develop well-rounded individuals.

How do you ensure students are prepared for higher education and beyond?
“Archmere’s rigorous academic program challenges all [high school] students to advance their critical thinking, sharpen their academic skills, take ownership of their learning potential and advocate for their own educational goals. In addition, Archmere students empower themselves and each other to reach new levels of personal distinction and academic achievement.”
--Spokesperson, Archmere Academy

How do you continuously engage and involve parents to be part of their child’s academic journey?
“Our first step is to communicate with students and their families throughout the admissions process. At Gwynedd Mercy University, we do our best to collect family and student information so that we can remind everyone of important dates and deadlines, and invitations for fun on-campus events. We hope to break down communication barriers for the students and student support services. Connecting all of the dots for students, families and advocates, and ensuring that they feel a part of the Griffin Community is a top priority.”
--Aimee Huffstetler, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment, Gwynedd Mercy University

“We value our parents as partners in their children’s education. We have a very active PTA in which all parents participate. Parents volunteer in a variety of areas including the cafeteria, fundraising events and classroom activities.”
--Sister Pat Pycik, Principal, St. Joan of Arc School

In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about private school education?
“The biggest misconception is that it is not affordable. Many independent schools allocate significant funds to financial aid so they can meet families’ financial needs and make attendance affordable. A standardized form, used by most independent schools, assesses a reasonable family contribution toward tuition and calculates financial aid based on that assessment. The system mimics the college financial aid system and allows independent schools to attain a desired social-economic diversity in their student populations.”
--Meredith Godley, Associate Head of School and Academic Dean, Moorestown Friends

“In talking with prospective families, we sometimes find that there is a general assumption that private schools struggle to serve diverse populations, whether that be socio-economic status, academic background, race, ethnicity  or any other of a variety of characteristics. However, in our experience at Holy Cross Preparatory Academy, we have found quite the opposite. By cultivating a caring, supportive community we create a school environment that allows students of all abilities and backgrounds to find success.”
--David Moffa, Principal, Holy Cross Preparatory Academy

“Not quite a misconception, but I believe many families are unaware of how strongly a school’s personality is linked to its educational model and mission. When people visit Paul VI, they see lots of different students pursuing a wide range of interests and love the energy of it all. Understanding the link—that a Catholic diocesan school exists to serve a broad range of students with many different interests and abilities—will provide families with confidence that what they experience during a visit is sustainable.”
--Kathleen Stewart, Director of Admissions, Paul VI High School

“One misconception about private school education is that students won’t have as many opportunities. At Our Lady Mercy Academy (OLMA), the opportunities are endless and students can get involved in a wide variety of activities. There are 16 varsity athletic teams, numerous leadership programs and countless service initiatives as well as an incredible mini-mester program (hands-on learning courses) that take place at the end of the school year. Smaller class sizes also mean more leadership roles and tailored offerings. At OLMA, we have launched many electives and programming in response to our students’ unique gifts and talents.”
--Nicole Donovan, Director of Admissions, Our Lady of Mercy Academy

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 3.
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