Melissa Soderberg, Head of School
August 10, 2018
Dear Columbus Academy Families,
Having just paid the first installment for our son's freshman year at college, I am reminded that we ask families to take a tremendous leap of faith in bringing their children -- often many miles and minutes away from their local public schools -- to an expensive place, and to immediately understand the extrinsic and intrinsic benefits their children will receive by being here.
It made me realize that I should take the opportunity to reinforce the most salient differentiating points of what we offer as a school. Some of these concepts are widely known and some are drawn from a variety of sources* in the public and independent school worlds.
Please know that if you are new to us, have been here for just a few years or your family has been dedicated to the school for generations, we are humbled by your commitment to Columbus Academy and continue to strive to offer the best possible education.
We have excellent resources.
There is no getting around it, our tuition is high. We spend almost twice the amount per student that the public schools around us do, which means students benefit from small classes, excellent teachers and lots of opportunities to participate and achieve in the arts and athletics, research and robotics. We have state-of-the-art facilities on a copious wooded campus that combine as incubators for dreaming and doing. We believe there is no better investment in your children than providing a learning environment that gives them every opportunity to thrive from their earliest years until they are ready to strike out on their own.
We have the highest standards.
From significant expectations in our classes to focusing on how kind we are with each other and with those we have yet to meet, Columbus Academy's education emphasizes excellence in character and perseverance in a nurturing and challenging environment.
We believe each child needs to write and speak well .
Time and attention given by our teachers, often too costly in large class sizes of the public sector, leads to developing the essential skills of children's self-expression. Beginning with our youngest students, who share their ideas in community meetings, to the many drafts of English papers and lab reports in Middle and Upper School -- including our oldest and most cherished tradition, the Junior Speech -- we care deeply about the well-organized mind of the confident student who can articulate his or her thoughts.
We create a culture of thinking and learning .
Because our teachers are free to create their own curriculum and are not caught in repetitive state-mandated testing, they focus our students' thinking on "if, why and how" questions that foster critical-thinking skills and value intellectual curiosity. At Columbus Academy, creating habits of the mind -- curiosity, creativity, compelling expression -- are at the core of what we do. We cultivate the atmosphere for these habits to be practiced every day.
We put a premium on relationships .
Our school is designed entirely to sanctify a sense of belonging: teachers to students and students to the school. We even arrange for our kindergartners and seniors to celebrate traditions and learn together at holidays and sporting events. We have exceptionally long-tenured faculty, and regularly our graduates list their Academy teachers as the most influential people in their lives.
We are a tight-knit community, but we are raising children to be at home in the world.
Is it possible for children on a secluded, breathtaking campus to be aware of and sensitive to the realities of their city and country? We know it is! And we are compelled to involve their active minds in anticipating and solving real world issues. From studying with students in Japan and Jakarta in Global Online Academy, to establishing participatory action research though the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, to solving world peace as fifth-graders and singing to senior citizens as lower-schoolers, our students are raised as active citizens of the world.
We are lifelong learners .
Awarded as a "Top Workplace" for our professional development programs by Columbus CEO magazine, we create multiple avenues for our teachers to grow. Our professional development budget is in the top 10 percent nationally of schools like ours. By encouraging our faculty and staff to study, explore, research, write and plan, we know we get direct benefits every year in our classrooms with innovative teaching and refreshed spirits from an energetic and engaged faculty.
We look more like the world in which our children will work than many suburban communities around us .
We are made up of 35 percent students of color, 54 different zip codes, families of all kinds from a wide range of economic and cultural backgrounds.
We place an emphasis on college.
One of the greatest differentiators of our experience is in our college counseling. Our students benefit from dedicated counselors -- national leaders in their field of college guidance -- who work individually with students on course choices, essay writing and financial-aid planning. Success is defined as the best match of student to college, a place where one will thrive and grow.
We are driven by our mission.
Unlike other school options, our school and independent schools like us are compelled to act on behalf of our missions.
Wondering where we are going, or what the blueprint for the future is? The answer lies in our unwavering efforts to live by our mission:
  • We value a broad diversity of students
  • We seek to develop the complete person: mind, body and character
  • We reward rigorous effort and accomplishment
  • We foster compassion, respect and moral courage
  • We insist on integrity, fair play and community service
  • We strive to develop and sustain a community of thoughtful, responsible, capable, confident citizens eager to engage in a pluralistic and ever-changing world
Welcome to the 2018-19 school year at Columbus Academy. Your investment in our school means everything to us.
*most heavily influenced by publications from NAIS, ISACS, public school websites and Breck School
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