By Cindy Kluttz, Lucia Higgins & Nancy Tuohy

It’s the time of year that lends itself to reflection and thought. A new year, a new exercise regimen, a healthier way of life, and for many families, it’s time to contemplate the best school for their child – whether that child is entering pre-school, elementary school, middle school, or high school. Have you considered the incredible advantages of independent schools?

As Admission Directors at the only three NAIS member independent schools in Forsyth County, we have a great deal of experience helping families understand that independent schools are a very real option for them.

The three what? What’s NAIS? NAIS is the National Association of Independent Schools, a nonprofit education association that provides services and accountability to 1,400 independent schools offering exceptional programs to pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade students across the United States. NAIS also serves as the national voice and benchmarking organization for independent schools worldwide.

In Forsyth County, only Forsyth Country Day School, Salem Academy, and Summit School have been granted NAIS membership.

To be eligible for NAIS membership, a school must be independently governed by a Board of Trustees, practice nondiscriminatory policies, be accredited by an approved state or regional association, and hold not-for-profit, 501c3 status.

Fast Facts from NAIS:

• Over half a million children in the U.S. attend independent schools:
Many more families choose independent schools than is commonly perceived.
• Families of color constitute 28 percent of the U.S. independent school population:
There is considerable diversity at independent schools.
• Across the U.S., the median percentage of families who receive financial assistance at independent schools is 23 percent.
Independent schooling is available to families from a very broad range of income levels.

Many factors set independent schools apart from other private schools, for-profit schools, and public schools. Of these distinguishing characteristics, it’s the school’s mission that matters most. It is the factor that must resonate with parents’ values, philosophies, and beliefs. Schools that are mission-driven are empowered to create a tailored educational experience.

At an independent school, the staff, the parents, and the students share a belief system about education, and the resulting synergy among parents and educators creates a learning experience superior to schools not mission-driven.

A school’s curriculum, faculty, and families are carefully matched to the mission to ensure that the student learning experience is optimal and family satisfaction is high. The mission allows the school to assemble its student body based on philosophy and values, not zip codes.

No less important is the fact that independent schools operate under the highest method of accountability: since no family is compelled to select an independent school, if the school fails in its mission, a family can leave that school and choose another option for their child. Independent schools can survive only if they are extraordinarily successful at achieving their mission.

Another vital distinction at independent schools is the outstanding quality of the faculty. Faculty at independent schools are selected for their expertise in their subject areas, their skill in conveying their knowledge, and their ability to inspire their students. They are evaluated for excellence each year, and since there is no tenure at independent schools, only the finest instructors get to teach there long term.

Independent schools believe deeply that families should be able to choose those schools that will best educate their children. As the mission of each independent school is unique, by selecting an independent school, parents can obtain an education that is customized for their child.

There are few decisions as important to your child’s future as where he or she will be educated. Come learn about our schools’ missions and why many, many families have entrusted to us the care and education of their precious children.

Cindy Kluttz, Forsyth Country Day School, Grades Pre-K-12
Lucia Higgins, Salem Academy, Girls Grades 9-12
Nancy Tuohy, Summit School, Grades Pre-K-9

*Sponsored by Forsyth Country Day School, Salem Academy, and Summit School