By Kimberly Guerra
It’s Back to school time and your choices have just gotten harder! With over 1000+ private schools to choose from, it can be daunting when you first approach narrowing down the playing field. Do I want a school that is close by? Do I want a school that focuses on one specialty or another? Do I want a faith based program or non-denominational. These are questions that need to be answered before you start making the calls and scheduling tours.
To make things a little easier, we decided to check in with a few of the schools who have been enhancing their offerings, expanding their programs, adding locations or just kicking it up a notch! We hope that this information will help you in making your decision a little easier!
St. Mark Lutheran Church & School
I recently met with the principal, Dallas Lusk, to discuss their recent multi-million dollar expansion and the addition of their state of the art, new 45,000 school building.
The school was founded in 1949. Why expand now?
In supporting the needs of the Spring Branch community, and the expansion & growth it is undergoing, we felt that we needed to expand to support the next generations. We have been here for 70 years, we want to be here for 70 more years, so we needed to make this investment in our community.
What is the master plan?
We have a master plan for the next 40 years. We have the support of those that have graduated, those whose kids have graduated that have given back to help us succeed in the future.
What do you want St. Mark Lutheran to be known for?
I want our kids to flourish in whatever school they choose. I want to open up opportunities for them to try different things. Whatever their passion is so that they can explore and know what kind of high school path they should choose. I also want them to be able to compete academically. Our kids are performing at a high level and don’t have a problem getting accepted into whatever school they choose to go into for high school.
What separates St. Mark Lutheran from other schools?
I know our kids can be responsible for their learning and advocate for themselves. They are prepared and can transition into high school and beyond. They are well balanced and can be productive members of our community. In the last 14 years, we have had as many valedictorians.
What would you like to see happen at St. Mark Lutheran Church & School?
I would love to see an influx of middle schoolers come to our school. It’s a tough time for kids. We have a great support program in our teachers coupled with great academics. We build a strong foundation. We have a great athletics department, fine arts, STEAM program, maker space, music and more. We challenge them and hold them accountable.
What is the teacher to student ratio? How many students would you like to see on campus?
Currently our overall campus ratio is 11 to 1. We currently have around 400 students and would like to grow to 500 in the next two years. We want to grow, but slowly, so we can make the adjustments necessary to keep our ratios in line.
What else is new?
We are adding a 6-man football team. It’s a lot safer than traditional 11-man football teams and it allows our kids who want to play to compete before high school. It would be really tough for them to compete at a high level in high school if they have never played before. So, our hope is that this will give those that want to play an opportunity to hone their skills before they get to the high school level.
St. Mark Lutheran School’s price point is really affordable in comparison to some of the other private school choices. Will that change with the upgrade in the school facility?
St. Mark will not be raising tuition in relation to the new facility. We adopt the standard increase every year to cover standard living costs for our teachers, but it is our goal to keep our school affordable. At this time, our cost is around $12,000, which is half the cost of some of the schools in this area.
Still want more information, visit gostmark.org for details.
Other private schools in the area are also making strives to continue to grow and expand the services to their community. Here are just a few.
The Village School
The Village School is proud to announce the addition of a new athletic complex and four-story dormitory to its expanding 28-acre campus.
Athletic and Aquatic Center
The new state-of-the-art 46,000 square foot athletic center includes a Varsity athletic gymnasium with a full size collegiate regulation main court and two high school regulation cross courts as well as a natatorium with a 25-yard competition pool. In addition, the center houses academic spaces, locker rooms, coach’s offices, fitness spaces and training room.
The center provides Village Varsity teams and student-athletes of all ages with premier facilities as it continues to build the elite athletic programs.
Residential Life Building
The new four-story dormitory for residential life students allows for convenient access to school facilities and after-school activities. Student suites have four bedrooms and two bathrooms with a shared study area in each.
The large common spaces on each floor are for flexible use, such as studying and relaxing, and have Wi-Fi among other amenities. Each floor has a kitchen, vending area and washer-dryers for student use. The outside courtyard area has a grill station/outdoor kitchen and entertaining area.
Distinct Abilities Academic Program (DAAP) first opened its door in August of 2012 with one child. Its vision was to offer an academic program for children with special needs and non-special needs where they would work together in the same classroom and be exposed to learning the same curriculum. The program was a huge success leading to wait lists at the Clear Lake location.
Two years ago, a search for an additional location began so that these services/programs could be offered to more children and families. A new location was purchased at the end of May this year and services are now offered in Alvin located at 851 N. Dilling St. near the intersection of Highway 6 and Business 35. DAAP accents children 6 weeks through 12 years where each child can build a solid foundation in which they can explore and discover their own “distinct ability”.
Full inclusion classrooms (children with special needs and non-special needs in the same classroom) are designed where each child receives an individualized program. This allows all children to reap the benefits and rewards of working together. Classes include language, mathematics, science and cultural activities. Enrichment classes of Music, Spanish, Art, Computer Lab and Sign Language are also included. An early childhood program with this format allows siblings to attend school together, so families do not have to travel to multiple schools to receive quality care and education for every child in their family.
Young children learn by doing and interacting with the people and things in their environment. Its unique approach to educating all types of learners begins with the prepared environment and is executed by well trained teachers and curriculum specialists who ensure each child is able to achieve his/her true potential.
Questions? Call Alvin 281.770.6215 or Clear Lake 281.770.6215 locations.
Rainard School is announcing a new Principal this summer. Mrs. Erin Chávez joins Rainard following her role as a Houston ISD Principal and 15 years of experience in Education. Her extensive background includes coordinating gifted and talented, magnet, bilingual, dual language and special education programs.
“I am excited to be a part of the Rainard community as we begin a new school year providing rigorous and engaging academic opportunities to Houston’s community of gifted students. The Rainard experience for scholars includes multi-age cohorts and systems that support asynchronous learners, as well as the academic and social-emotional preferences of gifted children. I welcome all returning families, new families, and inquiring families to an exciting 2018-2019 school year!”, Mrs. Chávez said.
Rainard School is the only non-profit, private school dedicated entirely to gifted students in the Houston area and has been in operation since 1986.
For more information call 713-647-7246.
The dynamic Social Awareness Program at Duchesne seeks to provide a variety of service opportunities, educate to a greater understanding of social problems, encourage reflection and personal growth, build community, and nurture a life-long commitment to service. Through our service learning, we promote resilience, empowerment, prosocial behaviors, motivation for learning, and engagement.
The social awareness program is a major part of the Upper School experience. In total, our freshmen and sophomores serve more than 1,000 hours per year, while juniors and seniors serve more than 4,500 hours per year. We work with approximately 50 different agencies and causes throughout the local region and beyond.
Once a quarter, each grade level dedicates a full day to social awareness. Mornings are dedicated to serving in our local community and afternoons are dedicated to reflection, discussion, and project-based learning. Each grade has a themed service project for the year.
Our youngest students, starting with Pre-K, are also involved in social awareness and service projects. In classrooms, our teachers emphasize participation in our society through works of charity. Each class chooses a project that will help support our community, environment, or the world. The goal of the social awareness program is to create aware human beings who are life-long participants in society.