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Oct/Nov 2004

Atlanta Education Guide
Helpful tips for finding the right school
by Sarah Gleim and Emily Horton

If you have a family, the importance of enrolling your child in a school is second only to finding a job. To find the best fit for your child's educational needs, you'll need to conduct careful research. With such an important undertaking ahead of you, here's some useful advice to help you navigate through the difficulties of relocating your child to a new school, preparing for the upcoming open house season, and understanding a bit more about what Atlanta schools have to offer. After all, finding the right school will make for a happy, healthy transition for your child--and your family as a whole.

School Daze: Easing the Transition to a New School

Moving to a new city can be a difficult transition, especially for families with school-aged children. Being uprooted from what's familiar, changing schools and having to make new friends all at once can be one of the most frightening experiences a child has to face. But there are things both parents and teachers can do to help make sure kids have a smooth transition.

While each age group will experience different emotions and fears during a move, the best way to make the transition easier is for parents to get involved. Mary Block, a high school Spanish teacher in DeKalb County, says parents of young children should let their child visit his or her new school to get familiar with their teachers, their classrooms and even where they will catch the bus.

Block says older students can benefit from visiting their new schools, as well, but it's best if the visit is after school lets out for the day. "Kids can be extremely intimidated by roaming the halls with their parents in the middle of the school day," Block says.

Parents Tony and Tammie Brooks did just that when they were forced to move their three daughters while school was in session. "Once we mo ved to our new house, we took the day to visit the girls' schools during class," Tammie says. "We met the counselors, teachers and principal, and we took a tour of the school, the cafeteria and the gym."

Brooks says she and her husband also made sure they kept their oldest daughter, Ariel, who was 11 at the time of their move, informed during the process. Because they were building a house, Brooks says they were able to visit their new community often to help Ariel get excited about the area. It also helped prepare her daughter for the change. "If you have set a move date, let your children know when it is so they can start to prepare mentally for the move and start to say their goodbyes to their friends," she says. "Don't tell them two days before you move."

Michelle Mendello, a primary Montessori teacher at Briar Vista School in DeKalb County, says most importantly, parents should understand the transition can be difficult, so it's critical to take the time to listen to their children. "I think it's harder for older children because their friends are so important," she says. "If a parent is concerned, the best thing to do is be there for their children and talk through their problems." Brooks agrees and says that listening and validating Ariel's fears and even anger was important.

Finally, Block says parents should make an effort to join their school's Parent-Teacher Association and attend meetings. "Go to parent/teacher conference nights, and try to volunteer at the new school at least a couple of times," she says. "Teenagers do not effectively communicate with their parents so parents need to make it a priority to see firsthand what goes on at school."

Although it's not always an option, the best way to make the transition to a new school easier on a child is to do it during the summer. "Students are losing their friends and everything that is familiar to them," says Viveca Hutchinson, a kindergarten teacher at Bright Star Elementary in Douglas County. "If the move is during the school year, they have to go right into another situation that is unfamiliar."

Block agrees. "Students just do better when everyone is getting a fresh start," she notes. "Also, if the curriculum at the new school is different, summer can be a great time for tutoring. When students feel confident in their academic ability, that gives them a sense of control in at least one area and maybe better equip them to adapt socially."

Regardless of when you have to move, reassure your children that things will be okay. "Tell your child about all the new things he/she will be experiencing and all the new friends that he/she will meet," Hutchinson says. "If the school has things their old school didn't have, make it a big deal and pump the child up for it. They will be fine."
- by Sarah Gleim Open Houses: Sorting Out the Private Schools

Searching for the right private school for your child can be a bit like deliberating in a gelateria. Every flavor looks amazing, but it's not always easy to peg which flavor suits you best. Atlanta boasts a diverse range of independent schools, all of which tout various advantages in various areas of academics, athletics and extracurricular activities, and the options admittedly can seem boggling.

Since hearsay and Internet searches don't necessarily suffice as research for such a significant decision as where your child will study for the next several years, open houses are a useful way to scope out various facilities. True to their name, open houses truly are open-no registration is needed to tour the school or even chat up administrators on the school's specialties, while at other times during the year, you'd need to pin someone down for an appointment. Even better, some schools offer tours during regular class hours, which offer a glimpse of what student life is like. For tours, call ahead to find out if they are offered and to reserve a space.

Open house season typically begins in October and extends through March, though the bulk of schools host their open houses in November, December and January. Since independent schools begin mailing out acceptance letters in early April-after students apply in February-this gives parents and students ample time to digest the offerings and target their schools of choice during the application process.

Open house dates vary from year to year and by school, so call your schools of interest to find out their schedules. In addition, the Atlanta Area Association of Independent Schools generally posts its members' open house dates on its Web site at

Not sure where to start? A great vantage point is the AAAIS Fair, held sometime in early November. Since representatives from every AAAIS school will be present for consultation and questioning, attending is perhaps the most efficient way to gain a broader perspective of your child's options before you begin attending open houses.

Why make the rounds? Attending open houses gives you the opportunity to meet the people who will be interacting with your child. At most open houses, key figures, including top administrators and faculty, make themselves available to querying parents and prospective students, and can be invaluable resources during the decision-making process. Many give presentations discussing the school's most alluring pros.

When you're visiting an open house, think beforehand about the features you feel are most important for your child's school to have. Consider academic features, such as the variety of academic courses available and student-to-teacher ratios. If athletics and non-academic activities are an element you feel will better balance your child's overall education, find out what types of programs and sports are available at each school. Other things to consider: how available teachers make themselves to both students and parents outside of class, daily class structure, diversity of the student body, student body size, and graduation rate of students who enter the school.

In a number of ways, visiting a preparatory school's open house is similar to visiting a college campus (sans the airline tickets and miles of walking). A school's Web site can provide ample facts, figures and statistics, but it lacks the capacity to offer feedback and portrays little of the school's ambience. Matching your child with the school that most closely fulfills his or her needs and interests, both inside and outside the classroom, helps to ensure that the years of learning ahead will be filled with enthusiasm.
- by Emily Horton

Private School Guide

Atlanta boasts a number of quality private schools. The profiles below represent a sampling of select private schools in the metro Atlanta area that offer a variety of educational opportunities.

Christ the King School
Founded by the Cathedral of Christ the King in 1937, Christ the King School provides students with a Catholic faith-based education. From an original enrollment of 60 students, the school has grown to accommodate over 540 students in grades kindergarten through eighth.

Christ the King School, a National School of Excellence, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Teachers maintain valid certification and educate students in religion, reading, mathematics, language arts, spelling, writing, science and social studies. Enrichment programs include library, guidance, fine arts, foreig n language, computers and physical education. AfterSchool program, after-class enrichment, homework and math labs are available. For more information call 404-233-0383 or visit

East Side Christian School
Since 1983, Eastside Christian School has provided a quality academic experience from a biblical perspective in a loving environment. Serving approximately 500 students, the school offers grades K5-8, as well as an optional extended-day program until 6 p.m.

A small student/teacher ratio enables the experienced faculty to help children develop high expectations for themselves as they master the knowledge, skills and disciplines that are essential for a solid academic foundation. Spanish, music, art, physical education, computer technology and journalism are vital parts the curriculum.

Besides developing life skills, after-school sports provide students, parents and faculty important opportunities to build friendships. Located in East Cobb County at 2450 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta, Eastside Christian School is a member of ACSI and is accredited by the Georgia Accrediting Commission. For information, call 770-971-2332 or visit

Greenfield Hebrew Academy
The Katherine and Jacob Greenfield Hebrew Academy has set the standardfor Jewish education in Atlanta for over 50 years. Founded in 1953, it was the first Jewish day school to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. GHA prides itself on its ability to meet each child's educational needs, providing the curriculum which is best suited for him or her.

Regular classroom studies may be supplemented by courses such as Discovery and Enrichment for gifted students, Ulpan for Hebrew language skills, and Resource Room for remediation. The newly expanded M'silot/Pathways school-within-a-school for students who learn differently fills a special niche in local Jewish education. A comprehensive afternoon school program--featuring activities in the arts, theater, band, and sports--rounds out the school day.

GHA provides academic excellence while enabling graduates to feel comfortable and competent in any Jewish environment. Many alumni have attributed their strong sense of community to their early education at the Academy. For more information, contact Holly Strelkiz, Director of Admissions, at 678-298-5350 or at

Holcomb Bridge School
Established in 1983, Holcomb Bridge School is located in the Alpharetta/Roswell area and has the reputation of one of the finest schools in the area.

The program provides a developmentally appropriate, hands-on curriculum for children two-and-a-half years of age (toilet-trained) through first grade. Small class sizes allow staff to individualize the program to fit each child's needs. Children are instructed in music/movement, reading, math/science, art and creative dramatics. Playground time is also an essential part of the curriculum. Instructors give a structured presentation of materials and then children have access to learning centers and free choice activities to complement the lesson.

Holcomb Bridge School is NAEYC-and GAC-accredited and accepts children of all races, religions, national and ethnic origins. For further information, please contact 770-998-2027 or check our Web site at

Mount Paran Christian School
Founded in 1976, Mount Paran Christian School (MPCS) is a fully accredited (SACS) college preparatory school for pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The focus of the school is to provide a solid foundation of academic excellence in a Christ-centered environment.

Situated on 68-acres at Barrett Parkway and Stilesboro Road in Kennesaw, MPCS features a preschool cottage; a multipurpose building for kindergarten, elementary and middle school; a high school building; baseball, soccer and softball fields; and tennis courts. The multi-purpose building and high school building include a media center, cafeteria, three fully equipped computer labs with Internet access, three science labs with laptops, an art room, two music rooms and two gymnasiums. A future adjacent fine arts building will house a 500-seat theater, rehearsal space, a recording studio and music rooms.

MPCS offers a gifted/honors program, advanced-placement classes, joint enrollment with area colleges and internships. Ninety-eight percent of the graduates pursue a college education, and 93 percent qualify for the HOPE scholarship. A member of the GHSA Region 6A (5A for 2004-05), MPCS competes in basketball, soccer, baseball, fast-pitch softball, cheerleading, tennis, golf and cross-country.

For information or to schedule a tour, please call 770-578-0182 or visit

Mount Pisgah Christian School
Founded in 1986, Mount Pisgah Christian School (MPCS) has grown to be a landmark in North Fulton County. The school serves more than 1,000 students, and its programs are accredited by NAEYC (Early Childhood Education) and SACS (K-12). A little-known fact about MPCS is that it is the only pre-K through 12th grade Methodist program east of the Mississippi River.

Mount Pisgah Christian School provides educational excellence and instills Christian leadership in a personalized environment. The faculty is passionate about what they do and show they love where they teach by consistently recording at least a 95-percent teacher retention rate.

The school couples challenging academics with nurturing Christian support to help students develop to their fullest potential and discover individual passions. The curriculum addresses the needs of the whole child--intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, socially and physically. This approach instills a life-long love of learning and desire to succeed in all areas of life.

Having graduated its first senior class in 2004, the school is building for the future. A new upper school academic building recently opened to accommodate the constantly growing student body. The curriculum is fully college preparatory, consisting of honors classes and a rapidly expanding advanced-placement program. The athletic field complex is ready to be developed to serve the 22 athletic teams currently in existence. Students have nearly 70 percent participation in sports teams.

Headmaster Chris Alexander, who has been with the school since its inception, is "thrilled" with the possibilities the future holds for Mount Pisgah. For more information, contact the Office of Admission at 678-336-3315 or visit

Rivercliff Lutheran School
Finding a new school can be an exciting time for you and your child. As a parent you want to feel confident in the academics, as well as finding a nurturing learning environment. Rivercliff Lutheran School offers your child a quality education and a firm spiritual and moral base for future growth in all aspects of life. Formed in 2001, Rivercliff now offers classes from kindergarten through third grade and will continue adding a grade each year. If, as a parent, you are looking for a nurturing, Christ-centered learning environment for your child where you can feel confident in the academics as well, consider Rivercliff Lutheran School. For more information, call 770-993-4316 or visit go to

Seigakuin Atlanta International School
Seigakuin Atlanta International School (SAINTS) offers a bicultural and bilingual education in Japanese and English to children from age three to sixth grade. SAINTS employs a "Two-Way Immersion" language program, i.e., two groups of students with different native languages learn both languages and study subjects in both languages. Their diverse student population comes from non-Japanese-speaking families (25 percent), Japanese-speaking families (25 percent), and bilingual families (50 percent). SAINTS families have represented more than 14 countries besides Japan. SAINTS is accredited by the Japanese Ministry of Education and offers a quality education including an accelerated math curriculum. The alumni have been highly successful both in American and Japanese school systems.

An essential component of SAINTS' mission is to help prepare their students to become active participants in the international society. SAINTS could be called a "stay-home international exchange program," since they offer a global experience without leaving Atlanta.

SAINTS offers a Christian environment as well as affordable tuition and scholarships. Limited placements. No Japanese ability is required for the three-, four- and five-year-old classes. For more information call 770-730-0045 or visit

St. Martin's Episcopal School
Since 1959, St. Martin's Episcopal School has provided quality education for children in a loving, Christian environment. Serving approximately 600 students in pre-school through 8th grade, St. Martin's offers programs in early childhood, elementary and middle school education, as well as an extended-day program.

Students enjoy small class sizes, a challenging curriculum, spiritual guidance and personal attention throughout their academic progress. St. Martin's truly creates a pattern for success through an integrated curriculum, which connects one class to another and builds knowledge from year to year. As early childhood students learn by doing, the same hands-on structure is used in classrooms from elementary to middle school, from science to math to social studies. St. Martin's develops skills for success from day one to prepare students for challenging college preparatory programs in secondary school.

A state-licensed extended-day program is available before school, starting at 7:30 a.m., and after school until 6 p.m. Enrichment classes, such as dance and karate, also are available through the extended-day program.

The extensive extracurricular program includes interscholastic athletics, a full-scale music/drama/speech program, academic competition, student newspaper, yearbook and others.

For more information contact Admissions Director Jan Swoope at 404-237-4260 or visit St. Martin's practices a non-discriminatory policy of admission.

Trinity School
Founded in 1951, Trinity School is one of the most outstanding elementary and preschools in the South. Concentrating exclusively on the preschool and elementary-age child, Trinity has 520 boys and girls from three-year-olds through grade six.

The challenging, developmentally appropriate academic program includes a creatively integrated curriculum and cooperative learning methods that sow the seeds for a lifelong love of learning. Trinity emphasizes the ethical values of the Christian religion and its Jewish heritage.

'The child-centered atmosphere nurtures each student's positive self-image and respects individual learning styles and gifts. Spanish, art, music, values education, physical education, outdoor education and computer technology are vital parts of the curriculum. Faculty members are highly qualified and exceptionally dedicated. There is an optional after-school enrichment program that allows the day to be extended until 6 p.m.

Trinity School's beautiful 43-acre campus is located 10 minutes from downtown Atlanta in Buckhead, just off Interstate 75 (Exit 107) at 4301 Northside Parkway. Trinity welcomes and admits qualified students of all races, religions, national and ethnic origins. Need-based financial aid is available. For admissions information and open house dates, please contact Adelaide Herrington, admissions director, at 404-231-8105 or visit

Open House Dates
Mark your calendars for these open houses. Call ahead for exact location, specifics and to confirm dates.

Christ the King School
Sunday, November 14, 2 p.m., 404-233-0383.

East Side Christian School
October 26, November 16, November 30, January 11, and February 8 at 9:30 a.m.; for kindergarten Jan. 20, 7 p.m.

Greenfield Hebrew Academy
October 13, November 17, and December 15 at 9:45 a.m. for children entering kindergarten and first grade; parents only on Sunday, January 23, 678-298-5350.

Holcomb Bridge School
Tours are welcome everyday, except Thursdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m., 770-998-2027.

Mount Paran Christian School
October 21, November 16, November 30, January 13, January 24, February 10 at 11:30 a.m., for middle and high school, additional dates available for preschool and elementary, 770-578-0182.

Mount Pisgah Christian School
Saturday, January 22, 10 a.m., 678-336-3315.

Rivercliff Lutheran
Thursday, November 18, at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., 770-993-4316.

Seigakuin Atlanta International School
Saturday, February 5, 10 a.m., 770-730-0045.

St. Martin's Episcopal School
January 22, 9 a.m., 404-237-4260.

November 12, 8:30 a.m., December 10, 8:30 a.m., January 9, 3:30 p.m., 404-231-8105.

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