“Well, if she is asking what makes us different from public schools, the differences a myriad! But regardless of whether the comparison is with the local public system of, say, other local private schools, I would say the following:
What makes us special is that we are private. Parents choose to send their children to SJES because they place a high value on education and they are highly engaged/invested in the process. And we, as a school, decide on who is admitted to the school and who gets to remain in the school based on this commitment to high-quality education. The fact that we are a faith-based school adds a moral component that increases the value. When I send my child to SJES I can feel confident in knowing that he or she is growing morally, not just intellectually, and is associating with other students who, along with their parents, share this type of value. Simply put, my son or daughter is hanging around good, decent kids who come from good, decent families. And I knew – and felt good in knowing – that my child was not just being taught but being “cared for” at SJES, in that I knew his teachers truly cared about him and were invested in helping him grow as a student and a young person.
It’s a small school, with small class sizes. This means the physical nature of the school feels more like a home – more intimate and inviting to students and parents. The teachers are also able to build closer bonds with their students and offer more personalized instruction. It also means parents of the students are able to build closer bonds with each other and, in turn, with the school. Parental involvement is a huge plus at SJES and that is largely due to the fact that it is a small family.
The way we teach at SJES in one sense is kind of “old-fashioned,” yet radically different than the way public education has evolved. The Carden method is a proven success story in helping students learn more effectively. You won’t get Carden in other schools in the Permian Basin – public or private. And any standardized testing is used as a diagnostic tool to help track the student’s progress and areas that may need attention. And this is radically different than the mindless treadmill in the public system, where teaching is geared toward passing a standardized test and so much falls through the cracks as a result. And everyone is stressed out. So much more learning goes on in a place like SJES because of the approach toward teaching/learning that the school takes – and teachers love teaching and students love learning because of this.
SJES proves that a student can excel in an environment of quality education – not rigorous education. I still tell the story of the conversation I once had with an AP English teacher years ago at Bowie. She told me that her AP students were composed of graduates of SJES and Reagan Magnate and that on average the Saint John’s kids performed every bit as well if not slightly better than the Reagan kids, who came up through a much more stressful system, defined by massive amounts of mind-numbing work. Which prompted the teacher to ask out loud, what was so great about the Reagan way?”