St. George Academy will prepare your children for the vibrant future awaiting them; enrollment open

Student at St. George Academy, Washington, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Darren Edwards, St. George News

Approved per Brent Rowe

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Every child deserves an opportunity to live and to dream – and the best chance at achieving their goals and a bright future. 

Christy Hall is the dean of faculty at St. George Academy – College Preparatory High School, and she told St. George News that their vision is to give students more: “More challenge, more rigor and more opportunity in the pre-university pathway,” she said.

Hall, a Southern Utah educator for over 20 years, said that education has transformed immensely, and students today are getting less academic material – especially in math, science, language arts and social science. As such, she said, schools with more opportunities like St. George Academy are becoming essential.

The academy’s core program replaces lost academics and adds a wide array of opportunities to learn with electives in university-focused areas. Designed to improve skills in research, reasoning and reflection, their program include extra choices in math, science and language arts, as well as three different foreign language choices, which Hall said is practically unheard of for a school with only 250 students. 

The smaller class size lends to a more personalized education, and to ensure student success, they also have teacher mentors that meet with students at least once a week to monitor their well-being. The mentor helps students move toward their academic goals by tracking progress and assuring they maintain good grades.

Students at St. George Academy, Washington, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Darren Edwards, St. George News

“We believe that a school is a community,” Hall said, “and that community is made up of parents, students and teachers, and those three groups need to trust each other to maximize the student’s potential.”

In traditional education, she said, courses are all about the material and trying to complete it for end-of-year state testing. In this routine, student questioning is not taken as seriously as it should be, but that’s never the case at St. George Academy.

“If you’re in a course and you ask a question of the instructor, we stop and we discuss the question. Or we say, ‘Tomorrow, we’ll be really covering that in depth, and let’s look up some research,'” Hall said. “We encourage discourse between opposing viewpoints and teach them how to safely do that without attacking each other personally.”

This last point is especially important at St. George Academy, as they are proud to report a very low 1.7% rate of bullying prevalence, compared to the state average of 22%.

When it comes to the schedule, core classes are taught four days a week, but Wednesdays are reserved for seminars similar to an exploration style course – meant to be educational, but mostly inspiring, giving students the chance to take a course that is not generally offered in a regular high school setting. Students are challenged to ask themselves, “Do I really want to go this direction in school when I get to university?”

“It’s only a once-a-week class for a semester, but they’re more focused,” Hall said. “Last year we had an epidemiology course, we had a zoology course … things that you would only get at university.”

Along the lines of taking that next step, St. George Academy has a 90% college acceptance rate, and in addition to core classes, they also offer concurrent enrollment. And given the current pandemic environment, the academy will be offering both full-time and part-time online curriculum, as well as synchronous streaming of all classes for those who wish to take part in the classes occurring at the school but need or want to participate remotely due to illness or preference.

Besides all of their unique offerings, Hall said she thinks the passion and expertise of the faculty at St. George Academy are big contributors to their success. With the fervent belief that the true value of a diverse education is its power to “transform the individual,” they do everything possible to help students understand the world they will one day face on their own, and this starts with giving the faculty the tools to help facilitate that understanding. 

“We believe in empowering our faculty. We hire people who are highly qualified and have a variety of teaching strategies. Then we allow them to assess, create and be passionate about their subjects,” Hall said. “Our teachers, our faculty, are chosen not only for their expertise in their discipline but for their vision of what it means to be an SGA teacher and this idea of community, of working together and of empowering each of the stakeholders.”

Some students face unique challenges, such as learning and physical disabilities, so just like any other public institution, they provide instruction specific to the individual’s needs using individualized education plans – or IEPs. They look at every student and see how they can best serve them with the same mission of getting them into university. 

“Their options might be a little bit different, but we still give them the same support and consideration as other students,” she said.

St. George Academy, Washington, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Darren Edwards, St. George News

St. George Academy is a publicly funded charter school and is tuition-free, but in light of the challenging year students have had to overcome, fees have been suspended for the next year as well. Additionally, they offer bus transportation from the Santa Clara/Ivins area at no charge.

Committing to attending a new school is a tough decision, Hall said, adding that they usually have prospective students shadow another student for a couple of days, attending classes and becoming part of the regular academic discourse to see if it is a good match. 

“We’re open  to allowing every kid the opportunity to see if it’s a good fit for them,” she said. 

Enrollment is happening now online. You can also call 435-319-0105 for more information. 

Written by ANDREW PINCKNEY, St. George News.

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