Incarnate Word Academy

I recently took a tour of Incarnate Word Academy. My first view as I stepped out of my car was the enormous Minute Maid Park just across the street. With all of the excitement going on with the Astros and the World Series, the women at IWA are definitely in the midst of it. In fact, Kate O’Brien, Director of Admissions, shared that the students at IWA use Downtown, nearby museums, and the medical center as learning tools throughout their high school experience. O’Brien shared that IWA girls are “city girls at heart.” What beautiful views I had of Downtown Houston from the windows of the IWA campus! What a privilege it is to have the city and all of its resources at their fingertips! IWA is the oldest Catholic School in Houston with 350 students each year. Although there are roughly 100 students per grade, the school maintains a sense of familiarity- Everyone knows you. IWA is a safe place which brags a college prep curriculum and a mission to lead students into servant leadership. Serving the community is huge at IWA. Classes in leadership offered to students include Leading with Service, Leading with Character, and Leading with Business. The buildings were beautiful and the students welcoming, happy, and confident. Being an all-girls school, I definitely witnessed a confidence among the students- girl power…and a strong female identity! There are wonderful things happening in the heart of the city at IWA, and this school is a must-see!

Experience a thriving high school- St. John XXIII College Preparatory School

In Houston, it is common for people to drive 20 minutes in the morning to get their kids to school. One morning, I drove 20 minutes against traffic to St. John XXIII College Preparatory School, located in Katy. I could not believe how fast I got there from the heart of Memorial. The school is located on an abundance of land at the intersection of Grand Parkway and I-10.

I was extremely impressed with the liveliness of the school and the abundance of class offerings, not to mention the amazing facilities. The school appeared full of spirit and happiness. The hallways were adorned with bright colors and decor representing the school’s house system. The houses are named after 5 saints that influenced the life of Pope John Paul 23. Every student is assigned to a house when he or she first enrolls in the school and is with that house until he or she graduates. The houses engage in friendly competition and service-oriented activities throughout the year. Students in the same house have lockers down the same hall, which promotes community between the grade levels.  Each house hallway also has a bulletin board where students can post announcements and spirit signs. The college counseling hallway was very impressive, with colorful pennants hung on the walls. Each student is assigned a college counselor for the four years that he/she is at the school. I was impressed with the amount of student-led programs that I heard about. For instance, mentors students in grades 11 and 12 meet monthly with new 9th graders (called “first year experience”). There are student-led spiritual retreats. I walked into the campus minister’s classroom, which reminded me of a cozy living room. I was told that students love to come and take a load off in this room in the middle of a hectic day. I felt a sense of calm for sure when I entered this room.

There are 70 minute classes on a rotating block- so students have 4 classes per day instead of 8- much like college. What a great way to get students used to the next step! There is also an impressive learning center that contains two tiers of students: Tier 1 consists of students who need extended time on tests. Tier 2 consists of students who are in “academic seminar” and who need more close mentoring as they navigate the academic world at the school.

St. John XXIII offers everything other great schools in the city offer: academics, arts, athletics, faith, and a rich student life. Please go check this school out!



A Hidden Gem in the Heights- Our Savior Lutheran School

Our Savior Lutheran School…all I can say is WOW. If you live in or near the Heights and want your child to attend a school that is BEAUTIFUL inside and out, take a look at OSL. As you enter the gates, you feel like you are outside of Houston. Acres and acres of land, rolling hills, and a gorgeous, uniquely shaped chapel that is the central focal point of campus. The Head of School is present to students every day as he opens car doors. He led me on a tour adorned in a patriotic Texans jersey. Students and faculty were invited to dress up to show their spirit of the game. I saw warm, welcoming faces everywhere I looked. I saw diversity in the faculty- Lots of male teachers- which is a plus point and hard to find in this day and age. The school has many unique features- It offers a classical education to its students. Students take Latin starting in 3rd grade, and they tend to do well on the annual Latin National Exam. There is an in-house speech competition called Oratio Eloquentium (Eloquent Speaking) where every OSL student in grade 6 through 8 participates. The entire school comes to watch the finals and the performance is part of the student’s English grade. Listen to a student reciting the court speech in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Although there are ipad carts readily available, the curriculum is classical and traditional and technology is not the main focus at OSL. Students take history, not social studies…and they study BC to modern times. I saw a timeline in all of the history classes around the perimeter of the room, so that students would be constantly reminded of the time period they were studying. OSL has a very active House system where each student belongs to one of four houses, which are named after parts of an eagle (the school mascot). There are friendly competitions throughout the year between houses, and students from the same family belong to the same house. OSL has a great after school program with a plethora of offerings. I saw the beautiful pavilion in the back of campus for PE and athletics. The Head of School drove me to the new softball/baseball fields which were amazing.

What a great option for children age PK3-8th grade! Go check it out!

Great Alternative Education Choice- Alexander Smith Academy

Alexander Smith Academy has always been in my backyard but I had never taken the time to check it out until a couple of weeks ago. The school is located on the bottom floor of an office building. Once I opened the door to the school, however, I felt immediately like I was in a small school setting. There is a beautiful entry with the name of the school displayed. Historically, the school has catered mostly to budding pro athletes, artists, musicians, and actors. There are countless articles and posters on the walls honoring former students who “made it big” and received a solid education from ASA while juggling their demanding extracurricular load. Now, the school has broadened to include students who need flexibility of curriculum for many reasons, including anxiety, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, social pressure issues, etc. There are also quite a few international students who are looking for a slower school pace so that they can learn English more thoroughly. Every classroom has no more than 7 student desks. There is a student lounge in the back of the school that reminds me of a student lounge in college or a large office break room. Students have the opportunity to participate in clubs like NHS and student council. There are only 70 students in grades 9-12 attending the school. On Fridays, there are no classes, but students can attend club meetings and workshops like PSAT boot camp. ASA offers distinguished and honors programs including AP classes as well as regular classes for on-level students. Teachers are available to help students before and after school and on Fridays. What a great school option for families who need a more flexible curriculum for their children—whatever the reason! I was extremely impressed with what I saw and look forward to recommending ASA to my clients.

Episcopal High School

I had the privilege of walking the halls of one of the brand new buildings at Episcopal High School the other day. Many people know EHS to be an athletic powerhouse and the hub for the performing and visual arts. Growing up in Houston, I remember EHS’ dance team was incredible. As I visited the school recently, I learned a great deal about the school’s academic program. I was impressed by the facilities- The state of the art science labs and technology in every classroom. EHS offers 175 classes to their students- giving students the opportunity to take a class at the AP level or on level. EHS offers courses in marine biology, computer science, etc. etc. The school has a one to one laptop program.

At Episcopal High School, students can play a sport every season- they do not have to select one or two per year. That is something to consider if your child plays more than one sport and wants to continue to play those sports for the school.

I saw happy, comfortable kids walking the halls. It was picture day, and students would calmly and responsibly make their way into the gym to get their picture taken before they headed to their next class. There are plans to build a new student life center, which will give the school an even more collegiate atmosphere. The school offers supportive pastoral care and students are kind. generous, and take care of their school.

Episcopal High School is located close to the Galleria, Bellaire, and West University. It is a central location and would be a good choice for many students!

The Westview School

Children come in all varieties. Many will soar through preschool and elementary school without a hitch academically, but more often than not, children are identified with social delays that impede their progress in the classroom.

The Westview School is a great place to look if your child is experiencing social delays or frustrations consistently in school and or in play groups. Social skills are the backbone of the educational programs at Westview. Young children are taught basic classroom skills because many of them may still be learning the “how”- How to sit in a chair and not be a distraction to your neighbor, how to share a toy, how to get along on the playground, etc. At Westview in the early childhood program, the exceptionally small class size of 4 students with a teacher and an assistant allows for each child to benefit from closer attention and TLC as these students develop socially. Students transition into the main building as they are ready socially to handle the added behavioral expectations and responsibilities. Middle School students experience an academic curriculum with the added bonus of special classes in social skills, study skills organization, and real world issues called “Westview World.” The Middle School is traditional in the sense that there are student lockers, clubs, and changing of classes throughout the day.

At Westview, the administration and faculty are highly qualified to serve students with social delays ranging from ADHD to high functioning autism. Westview has partnered with The Stewart Center, which is a full service psychology clinic located on the campus. What a convenient perk for families! In addition to this service, there is an occupational therapist and a speech therapist on the faculty.

It may be very difficult to stomach the idea that your child may be needing a different educational path than what the traditional mainstream school offers; however, the earlier teachers and therapists can work with him or her on those highly important and formative social skills, the more likely your child will be able to be successful at a mainstream school and in life in general.

Do not delay in checking out the Westview School if your child is experiencing social delays. It is a great option for families!


HAIS Private School Preview on Sunday

The Houston Area Independent School (HAIS) Private School Preview is this Sunday, September 25, 2-4 pm at the Norris Center. This is basically like a bridal extravaganza where there are rows and rows of booths to visit- The event will showcase most of the HAIS schools as well as some boarding schools. Families will get a chance to ask questions of admissions professionals, sign up for further information, and pick up admission packets. It is a great way for middle and high school applicants to introduce themselves to the admissions directors and to get their questions answered. It is also a great way for families to survey the plethora of school options available to them.

A Hidden Gem in the Memorial Area- Holy Spirit Episcopal School

Holy Spirit Episcopal School is a hidden gem. The school is nestled in the lush, green, Memorial area, around the corner from Memorial Middle School. I had the pleasure of meeting the new Director of Admissions, Ross Purdy. He is passionate about the school he has been a part of for a few years. I was impressed with what I saw in the short amount of time I was on campus. I met the Interim Head of School and both the Lower and Middle School division heads casually in the halls. So many times, Heads are behind closed doors and inaccessible, and it was refreshing to see the leadership take an active role in walking the hallways and greeting guests. I was able to talk with the science teacher who told me that Lower School students come to the lab weekly for dedicated science experiments. This was great to hear as the lab is a fully stocked middle school lab. What an opportunity for young students! I also got to speak with the art teacher, who was busy displaying colorful third grade artwork in the hallway. HSES offers many unique programs, including the outdoor school where field trips and out of town trips are thoughtfully planned around school curriculum, a dedicated piano class in a piano lab, robotics, a soccer academy during PE, and social-emotional intelligence learning. Students start the day with a morning meeting where they focus on connecting with each other and with their teachers. HSES students represent 32 countries worldwide, and 90% of the community is non-Episcopalian. The school serves students EC through 8th grade, and students graduate and matriculate into the best private and public schools in the city. I have placed a few HSES graduates into high schools in the past few years, and I have been impressed with the students I have worked with. If you are looking for a place where your child will be known and feel loved, please consider Holy Spirit Episcopal School.

Men for Others- Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School

strake-2016Since my son was born, I always looked at Strake Jesuit as the ultimate school for him. After meeting with Tom Beverick, alumnus and Director of Admissions, my inkling was strengthened. If you are looking for a school where your son will get solid academics with opportunities in athletics and the arts,  Jesuit is a great choice. Strake Jesuit places just as much emphasis on being “men for others,” or community service. Good candidates for the school have social awareness ingrained in them, and by nature, they are community servants. Another important trait a future Crusader should have is a large focus on spirituality. All thoughts, words, and deeds are done in the name of the Lord. No matter the religion, students should recognize the presence and value of God in their lives. There is no one cookie cutter type of boy at Jesuit. There are boys of all shapes and sizes, with a variety of interests and strengths. The bottom line is that the school grows successful, well-rounded young men who are men for others.

Another Great Private School Choice- First Baptist Academy

Last week, I stopped by First Baptist Academy for a tour and visit with Ms. Mary Torregrossa, Admissions Director. I was pleasantly taken by the warm friendly faces I saw all over campus. I walked through the halls of the pre-school area- There was color all over the walls and inspirational quotes. Although the school hugs the freeway, there was ample space to play. There is an outdoor and an indoor playground that any child would jump at the chance to play on. The school has a beautiful, spacious music room and nice-sized classrooms and science labs. Everywhere I walked, students were engaged and attentive. FBA has a strong curriculum for the average to above average student. The school has adopted state of the art technology and a STEM focus. Every student has a laptop starting at 5th grade. Electives offered are drama, music, band, and athletics, to name a few. FBA serves infants through 8th graders. The school has a unique program called Center for Academic Success to help students who experience academic challenges to succeed. The after school programs are robust and well attended. The Parent volunteer organization is huge. I want to make sure that I mention that often times a school name reveals it’s mission (refer to my previous post re The Joy School). In the case of First Baptist Academy, the reality is that only 30% of the student body is Baptist and the school doesn’t require students to be Christian. Bible classes are everyday and chapel every week; however the curriculum is not taught from a Baptist perspective. FBA is a competitive academic, athletic, and arts school that should be considered as a possibility for families looking for the things I mentioned above.