I am an alumni of The Classical Academy. On the whole I had a very positive experience there. Considering how poorly they pay the teachers (food stamp qualifying wages...even before Obama), they seem to attract a large number of very good teachers. Due to the poor pay you get some bad ones. The academics were if anything too easy. I was only challenged when I got to high school and took AP courses. The focus on character was also a welcoming addition which served me well after I left. In summary, TCA left me prepared for college in body mind and spirit.
As a graduate of the Class of 2006, I can say nothing of the last 4 years of the school as I have not attended for that time. I can say without a doubt that the time I spent there fully prepared me for university academics. Using my well rounded education at TCA, I was fully prepared for all academic walks at college and was able to graduate with a Master's degree in 4 and half years. If you are looking for academic rigor, this is definitely the school for you.
TCA is a choice school deliberately designed to serve a specific portion of the community. Students who are college bound from relatively conservative families will probably do well. The conservatism does limit diversity, but overall most parents and students genuinely care about others. From my experience, parental involvement and general commitment is excellent and honestly, expected and required for a student's success. The school emphasizes character instruction which is somewhat successful. In terms of character, the student body is not perfect, but certainly commendable in many ways. The school receives bad press for a fraction of the problems that are out of control in so many other schools. Low teacher salaries lead to teacher turn over and less experienced teachers. However, many of the teachers are truly dedicated and excellent. Lack of funding limits elective options. A family needs to decide if it's a good fit.
This is the only school I would ever consider sending my children to. I have 4 children who have been involved at TCA for 10 years. My oldest has graduated now, and has gone on to a major university that seems "easy" because he was so well prepared at TCA. I love the commitment to excellence from the staff and the majority of the students. If you want to find the bad stuff, you can find it anywhere. At least TCA gives kids that want a great education a choice to pursue it. We love this school!
I would have to say that this would not be a good choice to send your child. Before I left the school it was full of drug use and lots of bullying. The academics at this school are a joke. Students spend every night studying as if they had a college exam the next day. I would not recommend this school to anybody.
In knowing the 'behind the scenes' activity that occurs at TCA as a former employee, I'm truly disappointed in the education that is provided to our students at this level. It's sad to see students struggle, thinking they aren't capable, when it's not an issue of motivation or lack of trying. Many teachers and the admin. don't take varied learning styles into consideration and make the student feel there is something wrong with him/her if success doesn't come. It's a truly detrimental way of teaching our children and I'd highly recommend looking at other options.
My daughter has attended this school since 1st grade and she is now in 9th. There is a reason people put their children on the waiting list as soon as they are born. While the teachers tend to be younger, with less experience, I have felt, on the whole, that they are usually extremely competent in their area of study. The curriculum is well suited to my daughter's interests, but I understand children who are not college bound may find it restrictive. The sports program has grown to include nearly every sport available at nearby high schools (with the exception of lacrosse, I believe). I do feel the administration tends to favor the opinions of the teachers over the parents, and this has surprised me in the past. I cannot say this is a perfect school, but I know my ninth grader feels very safe and accepted there.
Academically this is an excellent school, however, when it comes to social interaction and a realistic outlook on the 'outside' world, it is below average. There is a real lack of electives to choose from, compared to other D20 schools. Too much focus is placed on the schools image to the outside world and not enough attention to individual students. Diversity in every way is seriously lacking and in fact is discouraged by faculty and students. This does not prepare us for facing the real world. The administrators are very hard to reach regarding student concerns. Unfortunately, a lot of the criticisms about TCA from the media are true; I see them daily first hand. The students are good and I have made great friends.
TCA is definately not as bad as some of the other reviews make it sound. Yes a lot of the students are of the same religion and have the same political views but there are still some who are different and dont get persecuted. I am just entering high school after being here for 7 years and I like it. Although I do find it best for kids entering elementary school instead of coming in in junior high.