Why St. John's?
Our students benefit from rigorous academic standards, small class sizes, curriculum-enhancing technology, and experienced, caring faculty, as well as a wide offering of extracurricular activities including championship athletic teams, exciting academic competitions, and first-rate fine and performing arts.
In a world that increasingly values the external, we remain committed to educating and appreciating the whole child, celebrating who they truly are. Providing a safe, positive environment and a loving spiritual framework through which to view our complex world are parts of the St. John’s difference.
Our students serve others throughout Tampa, developing their skills as community leaders from the youngest grades and developing a sense of empathy that builds character.
St. John’s provides a safe, nurturing environment in which students are encouraged to reach their full potential:
• Students feel challenged and supported
• Teachers of high quality and committed
• St. John’s has a low student-to-teacher ratio
• Parents, teachers and students share a strong partnership
• The school climate support achievement
Independence in the truest sense of the word.
St. John’s is governed by a board of trustees, not a public school board. We are primarily supported by tuition payments, charitable contributions, and endowment revenue.
Our teachers have the freedom to create educational experiences that meet each child’s needs, without state mandates on curriculum, textbooks, and testing.
St. John’s is driven by our own unique philosophy, values, and approach to teaching.
High academic standards.
St. John’s nurtures intellectual curiosity, stimulates personal growth, encourages critical thinking, and promotes a lifelong love of learning.
Small classes that allow for individual attention.
Low student-teacher ratios encourage close connections between our teachers and students.
Our teachers teach in their areas of expertise. They strive to develop a full understanding of each student’s learning style, interests, and motivation.
Education for the whole child.
In addition to academics, St. John’s also nurtures students’ personal, spiritual, and social growth and civic conscience.Outside the classroom, students participate in school-sponsored athletic competitions, artistic pursuits, and leadership experiences.
St. John’s fosters a diverse and vibrant school community that welcomes and respects every family.
A community of parents who actively participate in their children’s education
St. John’s promotes regular communication among students, parents, and teachers to ensure everyone is working toward the same goals.
- Why an independent school?
- Independent, private, public….what’s the difference?
- What’s the process for applying to an independent school?
- What is the relationship between the independent school, teacher and parents?
- Why do some people believe independent schools are exclusive or elitist?
- When is the best time to send my child to an independent school? Elementary, middle or upper school?
- Do independent schools have good sports programs?
- What can I expect from teachers in an independent school?
- What is the value of small class size for my child?
- My child has a learning difference. Is there any room for my child in an independent school?
- Tuition in area independent schools is quite high. How will I know if my family will qualify for financial aid?
- How will an independent school education prepare my child for the “real world” in a 21st century society?
- What other questions should we be asking as we contemplate this decision?
- Is enrolling my child in an independent school a good investment?
The goal of choosing a school is to match a child’s abilities, interests, and needs with the most appropriate educational setting. Independent schools have unique missions, philosophies, and core values. The right school for any child is the one that can best meet the needs of that child. This decision may be made at the beginning of your child’s educational career or even in “midstream”. If an independent school was not your initial choice, at some point in your child’s education, you may decide that your child is not thriving and you want to pursue a different learning community.
- Public schools, funded by the state, are available free of charge for every child. There are many public school options, including traditional, fundamental, magnet and charter schools. Public schools adhere to a set curriculum, and students participate in annual state standardized testing.
- Private schools often have a religious affiliation and were founded by parents and community members who adhere to a certain philosophy. They are supported by their religious community as well as through tuition from parents.
- Independent schools may be secular or religious and may be based on a particular educational philosophy. They are governed by a board of trustees that is solely responsible for the school with independent funding, mostly through tuition. Independent schools are characterized by strong academics, adherence to quality standards, autonomy in choosing curriculum and adherence to school mission.
- All types of public schools typically administer annual standardized tests, but nonpublic schools are free to choose the testing program that best fits its educational goals, rather than state-mandated tests.
After researching the schools in your area by visiting web sites and talking with friends, neighbors, business associates and colleagues, call the school to arrange for a campus tour while school is in session. During the tour, ask key questions regarding curriculum, faculty, mission, extra-curricular activities and accommodations. Each school’s process will be unique, but in general, the steps following the school tour may include: completing an application, inquiring about a shadow date for your child and completing financial aid forms if needed. If applicable, arrange for any required testing and contact your child’s current school to have transcripts, testing results and references forwarded.
Independent schools adhere to a “triangle” approach to education – student, family and school. These three are linked together to ensure a solid education for each child; thus, parents are considered integral to the success of their child. Regular communication, including parent-teacher conferences, online and/or paper progress reports, newsletters and, sometimes, parent portals, are the norm in an independent school. Parents are encouraged to be active participants in the life of the school! Schools typically have a wealth of volunteer opportunities where parent involvement will be welcomed.
To fully benefit from an independent school education, the optimal time for a child to enroll is PreKindergarten or Kindergarten, while continuing in a similar school community through graduation. Independent elementary schools typically provide students with a solid academic base and study skills that will be beneficial for a lifetime. Middle schools usually focus on the emerging young adults; many schools have advisory and character education programs to guide students through this transitional stage. Independent upper schools generally provide rigorous academic work, opportunities for leadership, service-learning in the community and athletics, and opportunities for strong college placement guidance.
Many FCIS schools are members of FHSAA, the Florida High School Athletic Association, and compete within their classification with other schools across the state in a multitude of sports. Independent schools typically offer a wide range of sports, often have excellent facilities, and encourage students to participate and experience multiple sports. Independent schools recognize the importance of extra-curricular activities and are therefore committed to a successful program.
Faculty who choose to teach at an independent school are passionate about children and committed to excellence in their subject area. They understand the value of forming relationships with students and working with students in many capacities (classroom teacher, club sponsor, coach, advisor). They value the autonomy they are given in the creation and implementation of curriculum that both meets the school mission and engages students. Teachers value the parent/teacher/ student relationship and welcome parental input.
Financial aid is based on family need; many families with above-average family incomes will qualify for some support. The amount of aid varies from school to school. As part of the admission process, many schools will allow you to submit a Financial Aid form, which is the initial step in calculating the financial aid award. The average FCIS school provides financial aid to 17.87% of its families (NAIS Statistics 2014-15).
Independent schools increasingly adhere to the following values and skills that, according to Pat Bassett, Past President of NAIS, are crucial for success in the 21st century: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Character Education and Cosmopolitism, or the understanding of global communities. In the fall 2011 edition of Independent School, an NAIS publication, an article entitled “Independent Schools: A Well-rounded Preparation for College and Beyond”, cites impressive comparative statistics between public and independent school graduates. For example, demonstration of a high degree of open-mindedness and tolerance (66% Ind school vs 58% public school), creativity (60% vs 54%) and leadership (63% vs 60%) are a few examples where independent school graduates outperform their public school graduate peers. Independent school graduates appear to have acquired many skills that will enable them to look beyond the school campus and interact with the world at large.
Finally, ask for the names of parents with whom you can speak. If you are looking for an upper school, ask for the most recent senior class profile, which will provide a list of colleges where graduates have been accepted. Inquire about how much guidance is provided to each student and when the college guidance process begins. Ask about the school’s philosophy, core values and mission, and how these were developed. With regards to curriculum, how extensive are course offerings? Ask about professional affiliations for faculty, coaches and administrators. What about accreditations?
It all comes down to some basic questions:
- Is there a “spark” in my child’s eyes and an interest in learning?
- Is my child happy, engaged and nurtured? • Is my child curious and challenged?
- Is the process of learning more important than the testing and rote learning?
- Are my child’s needs being adequately met in the present situation?