Share, , Google Plus, Pinterest,


Posted in:

Looking at private schools? Consider these factors

By Jake Winter

Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is fortunate to offer several private and independent schools to families with young students. Private schools are generally understood to be for-profit organizations established and controlled by one or more persons. Independent schools most often signify a not-for-profit organization that is accountable to a board of trustees, which operates at arm’s length from the administration. Both offer education via paid tuition as opposed to public schools, which are supported by tax dollars.

Choosing to send a child to a private or independent school that is the right fit for a family’s specific needs can be daunting and multi-faceted exercise. Here are some factors to consider:


Families with multiple children will want to look for schools that offer services for toddlers through sixth grade. In the simplest of rationales, that choice helps with logistics — having only one school to drop off and pick children up at each day. More importantly, it enables a family to become an integral member of the school community, built upon a years-long foundation of relationships.

Most importantly, students who attend the same school for their entire academic career, from 18 months of age through sixth-grade graduation, reap the benefits of a learning environment consistent in core values and curriculum integration.

Ascertaining the specifics of a private or independent school’s learning environment is essential to making the right choice. Prospective families should tour the school’s campus to ascertain how children are encouraged to learn. Is the atmosphere one of positivity and caring? Is it fun and joyful?


When evaluating private or independent schools, a family should determine what tuition and fees cover: specialized classes such as music and art, plus extracurricular activities such as band and intramural sports? Technology tools such as tablets or laptops?


What is the school’s student-teacher ratio? How much standardized testing is done every year? Does the school offer after care and enrichment programs?


What are the school’s traditions? Are there annual activities that the students look forward to? Are field trips a part of the school’s annual calendar? What new activities have been implemented in the recent past? Does the school provide any additional services for students who need additional support in reading and speech skills? How is discipline handled, and how does the school communicate with its parents?

Tuition-based schools have a responsibility to provide an educational experience that sets them apart from public schools. To accomplish that, they offer a faculty that is committed to the school’s unique culture and who relish their freedom to teach students who are eager to learn and to grow.

Jake Winter is head of school at Coast Episcopal School in Long Beach. Reach him at (228) 452-9442.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *