Choosing the Right School for Your Student
When you move to a new area with school-aged children the toughest decision can be where to send them to school. You aren’t familiar with what’s available or the school’s reputation. Having to change a school once a child has already started is something no parent wants to have to deal with. Even if you’ve lived in a city for years, you likely haven’t given a thought about its schools until you come to the point of having to make the decision for your own children. It weighs heavy on the hearts of all parents but, as we always say, knowledge is power. Whether it’s a real estate decision, a school choice, or any of the other thousands of life decisions you will be forced to make you can always do a better job when you have the right resources at your fingertips to assist you. We would never argue that this blog is comprehensive. Instead, consider it one of many resources to turn to when you are faced with this decision. It’s a great place to start.
The First Decision: Public vs. Private
This decision is often one of the most difficult. It will lead you down two very different paths. There are several public and private school options which complicate things even further. In St. Petersburg, the public school system is run by Pinellas County Schools under the watch of Superintendent Dr. Michael A. Grego. Each school; elementary, middle and high school is given a performance based grade by the State of Florida’s Department of Education. You can find a comprehensive list of every Pinellas County School here. To understand how those grades are calculated by the State you can click here. More about the public school process in a moment.
The other path you can choose for your family is a private education. St. Petersburg has a wide variety of parochial schools as well as independent schools. Choosing a private education comes at a cost which varies as much as the schools. Children attending private schools may or may not wear uniforms and will have to abide by the guidelines of that particular school. Private schools do not have to abide by Common Core standards like the public schools.
Public Options in St. Petersburg
Your choice is not limited to the nearest public school to your home. If you are not satisfied with the school you are assigned to you can attempt to have your child placed in the District Application Program which is designed to give your child a chance to follow a learning path guided by their interests. You will determine your top five choices of schools and from there your child will be entered into a lottery which will determine the school your child is accepted into. Choices vary from fundamental schools to gifted schools to schools that cater towards journalism or math and science. The program begins in kindergarten through high school. The down side to this is obviously you might not get your first choice and of course you’ll likely have to find transportation to the school which might not be close to your home. Here is additional information on how the system works.
You can also choose to send your child to the school zoned for the area in which you live. This is a much simpler process as your child is guaranteed a place at the school you are assigned to. Click here to find out what school zone your home falls in.
Private Options in St. Petersburg
There are multiple private schools in St. Petersburg and certainly more than we can list here. The first decision you will have to make is whether you want a parochial school or an independent school. Do you want religion to be a part of the curriculum? Below we’ve listed some of the private schools in St. Petersburg and some of the things that distinguish them.
1.) Shorecrest Preparatory School – Preschool through High School
Below is a excerpt of why parents should choose Shorecrest taken from the school’s website.
2.) Canterbury School of Florida – Preschool through High School
Like Shorecrest, Canterbury is also located in northeast St. Petersburg. Here is an excerpt of the school’s mission statement from its website.
“Canterbury School of Florida educates and nurtures the whole child in mind, body, and spirit in preparation for college and an honorable life as a responsible steward of our world.”
3.) Admiral Farragut Academy– Preschool through High School with Boarding School option
Admiral Farragut Academy enjoys a waterfront location in St. Petersburg. Below is the school’s mission statement.
“Admiral Farragut Academy’s core values form the foundation on which our students, faculty, staff, and alumni perform, educate, and conduct themselves. We use these practices every day in everything we do. Our faculty and staff are committed to helping our students on their journeys of self-discovery by modeling integrity, self-discipline, perseverance and wellness while preparing them for 21st century challenges within a global society.”
4.) St. Petersburg Christian School– Kindergarten through 8th Grade
Below is the school’s mission statement from its website.
“The mission of St. Petersburg Christian School is to provide an excellent education in a safe and nurturing environment, equipping students to fulfill God’s plan for their lives.”
5.) LCC Day School- Kindergarten through 8th Grade
Located in Shore Acres, LCC Day school offers this explanation of its values and style on its website.
“At LCC Day School, each child is valued for his or her unique traits in personality, styles of learning, rate of development and ability. We strive to instill a lifelong love of learning in an appropriately challenging and faith-centered environment. Education based in Christian values and ethics which provides a moral foundation for life. At LCC Day School, we believe that school is not just preparation for life; for a child, school is life. Learning how to move from the dependency of the preschooler to become a caring, respectful young person who can think and act independently requires the encouragement of both school and home working together. Children gain confidence as they grow in responsibility. Challenging children’s potential and preparing students for future competitive pre-college preparatory schools is key to LCC’s mission. Knowing how to lead, how to function well as part of a group, and how to take another’s perspective, moves students a step beyond independence to interdependence, and toward being a vital part of the community.”
6.) St. Paul Catholic School– Kindergarten through 8th Grade
A Catholic School option, St. Paul’s offers these belief statements on its website:
- We believe that the traditions and charism of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, namely those of justice, peace, hospitality, service and non-violence, are as alive in our school today as they were in 1930 when the Sisters founded the school.
- We believe our primary role as a Catholic school is to provide all students with a holistic foundation for life through faith, academics, and service, and help all students learn how to use their gifts and talents to fulfill the plan God has for their lives.
- We believe in providing a safe, disciplined, and prayerful environment that enhances teaching, learning, and respect for self and others.
- We believe our actions are to reflect that every person is a valued child of God, worthy of love, dignity, and respect.
- We believe students must be offered a variety of instructional strategies and differentiated activities to support their learning needs.
- We believe that teaching Biblical Scripture, participating in liturgical celebrations, and practicing Catholic virtues provides our students, families, and faculty with a moral compass for their life journey.
- We believe effective use of technology can improve teaching and learning and that we must continue to meet the challenges of integrating evolving technology into our classrooms.
- We believe student learning is enhanced when clear goals, high expectations, and implementation of best practices guide classroom instruction, curriculum development, and authentic assessment.
- We believe in commitment to academic excellence and school improvement, through continued professional development for teachers, high quality curriculum and varied learning materials for students, and long range planning for our school.
- We believe the partnership between school and family is essential to the development of the whole child.
What to do Next
As we said in the beginning this list is anything but comprehensive. So, use it as a starting point. Click on the links and learn more about how the public school programs work as well as what each private school has to offer. Make a pro and con list as you go to help with your final decision. All schools offer tours to perspective parents and students. Take advantage of this and go see your top three or four schools. Sometimes just being in the environment will help you know whether its the right place for your student. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible and when its time you’ll feel great about the decision you’ve made.