. . . it was the Holy Spirit guiding us to make that first phone call last May, and we knew we had to trust that SJA was the right place, regardless of our past experiences at private school. If your child needs extra support in the classroom and you are concerned that a private school can’t make the necessary accommodations, we encourage you to check out St. James and give it a chance.
By Mrs. Johnson, SJA Parent
Hearing his cousins talk so fondly about their high school experience at St. James Academy made our son really want to go there. He mentioned it several times throughout his 7th and 8th grade years, but we were planning for him to stay in the public school system for high school. We knew that St. James was a good school because of the experiences of our nieces and nephew, but we weren’t sure if it would be a good fit for Alex.
Choosing the Right High School
We switched Alex from private school to public school in 4th grade because he needed additional help in the classroom. Having dyslexia and an executive functioning disorder means that Alex has to work harder than most, but there are accommodations that help him. The public school was able to provide the support that he needed to be successful.
As much as he wanted him to attend St. James, we weren’t sure if they would understand the accommodations he needed, and whether they would be willing to implement them since we would have to forgo his Individualized Education Program (IEP) in a private school.
But Alex kept asking, and a few months before his Freshman year started, we decided to do some research and see what would be available at St. James for him. After a few phone calls with the admissions department and the head of the student services department, it was clear that there could be a place for Alex at the school, and he would be able to receive many of the same services and classes that he would have gotten at the public school.
An Academic Plan for Success
Many prayers later, we decided to give it a chance. Alex was so excited to get started with Thunder Football and the Sound of Thunder Drumline and he jumped right in for the remainder of the summer. We got his 504 plan in place with the school and continued to pray that it was the right choice.
Fast forward 10 months and his first year could not have gone better. The Academic Foundations class gave him the support that he needed to work on organization skills and project management skills to stay on top of his studies. The growth that he had in these areas this year has been amazing.
Focused on Individual Needs
It was clear from the first round of parent-teacher conferences that all of his teachers really understood what Alex needed in the classroom to be successful. His teachers were familiar with his 504 plan and were implementing it accordingly in their classes to aid with his dyslexia; some were even going beyond the minimums of the plan and suggesting additional ideas for him that were very effective.
This wasn’t being done out of an obligation or because they have to follow the plan. His teachers understand that small things make all the difference, like where he sits in the room, regular check-ins, and modified test settings. The teachers genuinely care about his success.
A Culture that Builds Confidence
His confidence in his ability to do well at school has soared this year. He wasn’t intimidated to tackle a large project and found out that he has the skills to do really well in areas that he never thought he could. His grades reflected this new found confidence. Smaller class sizes helped to make sure that he was able to receive the necessary attention, but it also made each class feel like a family that got to know each other and support each other throughout the year. The bar was set high this year, but we are so excited to see this path continue for him in his remaining years at SJA.
Surely it was the Holy Spirit guiding us to make that first phone call last May, and we knew we had to trust that SJA was the right place, regardless of our past experiences at private school. If your child needs extra support in the classroom and you are concerned that a private school can’t make the necessary accommodations, we encourage you to check out St. James and give it a chance. In addition to all of the other things that make this a great school and community, there is a place for students of all learning types with a caring and supportive staff that make sure that each student is successful.
By Mrs. Johnson, SJA Parent