I remember vividly the day that my oldest daughter began preschool. She did not separate well — she never had! Her preschool teacher (thanks, Miss Amy!) was so patient, and my daughter was going to be fine. Why then was that first day of preschool so powerful? Because it was at that moment that I started thinking about how my daughter would adjust to “real school.” So began my search for not just a school, but a community. As I came to learn, independent schools, or private schools, offered the difference that we were looking for.
An independent school is just that, a school that is independent and able to work from its own unique mission and vision. Independent schools have much in common, but each one is unique. Each school designs a learning environment that fits its philosophy and values. They typically have low student-teacher ratios, which offer close connections between teachers and students enabling teachers to effectively reach each child “where they are” while also providing more opportunities for children to grow and explore. This mission-driven approach is guided by educators who have the freedom to create experiences that meet students’ needs without state mandates on curriculum, textbooks, and testing. It was because of this (and so much more) that I knew an independent school was the right fit for our family!
You may be wondering how to know whether what your child is learning is right for his or her grade level and future, without state oversight. Although independent schools do not follow state mandates on curriculum and testing, they are accredited and held to rigorous standards by their state, regional, and national accrediting bodies. These associations enlist peers and experienced professionals to participate in an ongoing evaluation process that provides guidance, empowerment, and high standards for member schools.
Because of the ability to be creative with curriculum and work in small class sizes, independent schools are well-suited to nurture intellectual curiosity, encourage critical thinking, and promote a lifelong love of learning. As a parent of children enrolled in an independent school, I am welcomed as a partner in my children’s education, working with their teachers toward shared goals.
Independent Schools on the First Coast
Thank you for your interest in learning more about independent schools on the First Coast. There are many benefits to an independent school education that make them an important consideration when you begin your own school search. The list provided here contains logos and links for a number of the schools in our area that are accredited by the Florida Council for Independent Schools.
Best of luck in your school search!
About the Author
Rebecca M. Schwam is the Senior Director of Advancement at Jacksonville Country Day School.