Ready To Learn
By Ladianne Mandel
Posted: Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010
While the Lake Norman area has many successful public schools, some parents want to seek private or charter schools for their children. Given the wide range of options available, some can find the process of selecting a new school overwhelming.
What are the differences between private and charter schools? What are the options in my area? Are all charter schools alike? What educational philosophies and approaches are employed at each school? How do I know which school will best suit my familys needs?
Every school is unique. Not every charter or private school is the perfect fit for everyone. There are so many different schools with different philosophies, and although parents want more choices, it can be hard for them to decide whats best for their families, says Stacey Haskell, director and founder of the Corvian Community School of Huntersville, a private school seeking charter school status.
The seemingly monumental task of learning about the private and charter schools available, their offerings, educational philosophies and specialties is most easily begun with exploration of the differences between public and charter schools.
The best description of a charter school, says Joy Warner, founder and executive director of the Community School of Davidson, is that it is a public North Carolina school just like all other public schools. However, rather than being connected or associated with the local school district, charter schools are their own, standalone districts with their own boards.
Tim Riemer, managing director of Lake Norman Charter School, believes that finding the right teachers both in terms of talent and their relationship with kids provides the best foundation for students. We allow our teachers a great deal of flexibility in their classrooms, Riemer says. Our teachers have the freedom to design lessons that meet their students individual needs. Classroom activities are exciting, innovative and motivating. And this leads to increased student achievement.
Pine Lake Preparatory in Mooresville is the states largest charter school with 1,500 students. It emphasizes college preparation, with graduation requirements more rigorous than the states standards, and community service, with students logging 160 hours by graduation. Parents should look into the mission of the school as well as the philosophy for teaching, advises Leslie Kidder, the schools community relations director.
The great news for parents is that charter schools dont require the payment of any fees or tuition. The bad news? Getting into one of the charter schools can be more than challenging.
Families are required to go through the schools lottery process through which potential new students are either offered a spot in the school or are placed on a waiting list. Many families apply year after year before finally securing spots. For families that dont get into charter schools and can afford private schools, for which tuition and fees are required, there are quite a few options in or near the Lake Norman area.
Woodlawn School, Davidson Day School and Cannon School offer secular education, while schools such as Saint Mark, Southlake Christian Academy and Mooresville Christian offer education with a religious focus.
Davidson Day Schools head of school, Bonnie Cotter, understands the challenges families face when selecting a private school. The parent of a recent Davidson Day School graduate, Cotter believes smaller class sizes, individualized attention and a broad selection of programs from arts to sports draw families to private schools. Families choose us because we prepare students to think for themselves, embrace creativity and creative problem-solving, and develop their moral character. We believe children must learn to be responsible, self-motivated and confident in expressing themselves to their peers and to the adult community. Toward that end, we offer a wide range of athletics offerings, arts opportunities, clubs and activities from which to choose to participate, says Cotter.
The benefits of sending a child to a private or charter school continue well into adulthood, says Bill Diskin, director of admission and financial aid at Cannon School. We believe that students are going to face challenges after high school, after college and in their first jobs that we are simply not able to predict at this point in time. We know that there is one thing for sure the world is an uncertain place. So, we prepare our students to adapt to the inevitable changes their world is sure to face.
Opening in Huntersville for the 2011-2012 school year will be the new Christ The King High School. According to David Haines, director of communication for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, the school is in the process of enrolling ninth-graders. Of course, notes Haines, you dont have to be Catholic to attend Catholic school, but you have to be aware that you will definitely receive religious education.
At Woodlawn School, preparation for a lifetime of learning begins with project-based integrated learning. Angela McKenzie, head of school, highlights the schools seed-to-table curriculum as an example of this approach. We have gardens in which all of our students work each week, she says. They grow food they are able to eat and then they compost the scraps from their lunches. Tying her schools gardening adventures to the larger world helps the Woodlawn School achieve its goal of helping students become contributing members of a diverse global society, says McKenzie.
Approaching education in a less traditional way is Phoenix Montessori Academy, where teachers follow the lead of the Maria Montessori, whose philosophy was that education cannot be effective unless it helps a child to open up himself to life.
Helping children take a unique approach to learning, and allowing them to help shape their own academic development is a critical component of the way in which Phoenix Montessori Academys faculty works with students. India Adams, founder and head of school at Phoenix Montessori Academy, was thrilled to see a delegation of her schools students attend the Model United Nations gathering in New York recently.
Whether by gardening, taking trips to the United Nations, participating in plays, playing on sports teams or simply engaging in classroom activities, opportunities for unique learning experiences abound at area private and charter schools. Taking stock of all of the options might not be simple, but for parents willing to do their homework, a world of interesting and challenging educational options just might open up.
The goal and the task for every parent, says Community School of Davidsons Joy Warner, is to find the school that feels like its the right fit for the way you want to raise and educate your child.LAKE NORMAN AREA PRIVATE SCHOOLSCannon School
Address: 5801 Poplar Tent Road, Concord, NC 28027
Phone: 704-786-8171; Fax: 704-788-7779
Grades: Junior K-12Christ the King High School
(To open in fall 2011)
Temporary address: 13728 Statesville Road, Huntersville, NC 28078
Phone: Mike Ford, Mecklenburg area Catholic Schools, 704-370-3361
Grade: 9 for fall 2011Christian Montessori School at Lake Norman
(Lake Norman Christian and Christian Montessori School at Lake Norman are in the process of merging but are maintaining separate campuses for the 2010-2011 school year.)
Address: 14101 Stumptown Road, Huntersville, NC 28078
Phone: 704-875-1801; Fax: 704-875-9799
Grades: Infant-third gradeCorvian Community School
Address: 11901 Eastfield Road, Huntersville, NC 28078
Phone: 704-960-7002; Fax: 704-631-4510
www.corvian.orgCountryside Montessori Schools
Prosperity Church campus address: 4755 Prosperity Church Road, Charlotte, NC 28269
Phone: 704-503-6000; Fax: 704-503-1458
Grades: Age 2-kindergartenMallard Creek Campus address: 9026 Mallard Creek Road, Charlotte, NC 28262
Phone: 704-549-4253; Fax: 704-548-0088
Grades: 1-6Johnston Oehler Campus address: 4125 Johnston Oehler Road, Charlotte, NC 28269
Phone: 704-936-5580; Fax: 704-936-5599
Grades: 7-12Davidson Day School
Address: 750 Jetton St., Davidson, NC 28036
Phone: 704-237-5200; Fax: 704-896-5535
Grades: Preschool-12Grace Covenant Academy
Address: 17301 Statesville Road, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: 704-892-5601; Fax: 704-892-7206
Grades: Age 4-Grade 5Lake Norman Christian
Address: 7921 Sam Furr Road, Huntersville, NC 28078
Phone: 704-987-9811; Fax: 704-987-9814
Grades: K-8McKinney Academy
Address: 412 Armour St., Davidson, NC 28036
Grades: Junior K (age 4)-Grade 5St. Mark Catholic School
Address: 14750 Stumptown Road, Huntersville, NC 28078
Phone: 704-766-5000; Fax: 704-875-6377
Grades: K-8Mooresville Christian Academy
Lower school location address: 2487 Charlotte Hwy., Mooresville, NC 28115
Phone: 704-663-3441; Fax: 704-663-0272
Grades: K-5Upper school location address: 804 Fieldstone Road, Mooresville, NC 28115
Phone: 704-663-4690; Fax: 704-663-0272
Grades: 6-12Phoenix Montessori Academy
Address: 17609 Old Statesville Road, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: 704-892-7536; Fax: 704-892-8481
Grades: Toddler (18 months)-Grade 12Southlake Christian Academy
Address: 13901 Hagers Ferry Road, Huntersville, NC 28078
Phone: 704-949-2200; Fax: 704-949-2203
Grades: Transitional K (age 4)-Grade 12Statesville Christian School
Address: 1210 Museum Road, Statesville, NC 28625
Phone: 704-873-9511; Fax: 704-873-0841
Grades: JK (age 4)-Grade 12Statesville Montessori School
Address: 1012 Harmony Drive, Statesville, NC 28677
Phone: 704-873-1092; Fax: 704-873-1093
Grades: Preschool-8Childrens House
Address: 111 Hartness Road, Statesville NC 28677
Grades: Ages 2½-5Village Montessori at Lake Norman
Address: 20615 N. Main St., Cornelius, NC 28031
Grades: Ages 3-6Woodlawn School
Address: P.O. Box 549, Davidson, NC 28036
Grades: K-12For more information or details about other private schools, call 919-733-4276 or go to www.ncdnpe.org.LAKE NORMAN AREA CHARTER SCHOOLSAmerican Renaissance School
Elementary school address: 111 Cooper St., Statesville, NC 28677
Phone: 704-924-8870; Fax: 704-873-1398
Grades: K-5Middle school address: 217 S. Center St., Statesville, NC 28677
Phone: 704-878-6009; Fax: 704-878-9350
www.arsnc.orgCommunity School of Davidson
Lower and middle school address: 565 Griffith St., Davidson, NC 28036
Phone: 704-896-6262; Fax: 704-896-2025
Grades: K-8High school address: 404 Armour St., Davidson, NC 28036
Grades: 9 (adding a grade level each year)Lake Norman Charter School
Middle school address: 12435 Old Statesville Road, Huntersville, NC 28078
Phone: 704-948-8600; Fax: 704-948-8778
Grades: 5-12High school address: 12701 Old Statesville Road, Huntersville, NC 28078
Phone: 704-875-3389; Fax: 704-875-2961
www.lncs.orgLincoln Charter School
Denver Campus (K-5) Address: 2243 Hwy. 16 N., Denver, NC 28037
Grades: K-5Denver Campus (6-12) Address: 7834 Galway Lane, Denver, NC 28037 Phone: 704-483-6611
Grades: 6-12Lincolnton Campus (K-8) Address: 133 Eagle Nest Road, Lincolnton, NC 28092
Grades: K-8Pine Lake Preparatory
Address: 1639 Mecklenburg Hwy., Mooresville, NC 28115
Main phone: 704-237-5300
Lower school: 704-237-5312
Middle school: 704-237-5307
Upper School: 704-237-5308
Grades: K-12Success Institute Charter School
Address: 1424-2 Rickert St., Statesville, NC 28677
Phone: 704-881-0441; Fax: 704-881-0870
Grades: K-8For more information on charter schools, go to www.dpi.state.nc.us/charterschools.