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School Official Point of View

I would like to take this opportunity to respond with facts about our school. As a principal with forty years of experience in education, I have seen many concepts come and go and actually "circle around". The Common Core State Standards are new, connecting student expectations in a systematic manner from State to State, but the concept of project-based teaching and learning is what has circled and come back to be implemented in the classroom. This method engages students and teaches them how to apply learning. At SJA we do encourage this type of learning while stopping and reteaching along the way to ensure mastery and not just exposure. I bring this point to my response because when compared with where some of our students are with skills in public schools, it can appear that we are behind. In public schools they must stay on a path, teaching skills at a pace to complete standards before the FCAT. Our teachers must meet the same grade level standards, but for students that are not mastering or understanding the skill, the teachers are to reteach in a different way. Without a strong foundation, the child will eventually fall behind. Students learn differently and are not all are at the same level in each of our classrooms, giving the misconception that our standards are behind. We consistently upgrade technology, curriculum, and resources that the students have access to. The teachers are provided professional development where they stay current with research-based teaching strategies and best-practices. The teachers of the core subjects at SJA are all certified. The only teachers that do not have State Certification are the art and music teachers. They both have a degree and have been approved because of their experience in those areas by the Superintendent of the Diocese of Orlando and our accrediting body, the Florida Catholic Conference. in response to the students not speaking fluent Spanish, every student in 8th grade that attended Santa Fe in the last three years either entered Advanced Spanish or took Spanish II. They do not all speak fluent Spanish because the class focuses on the grammar as well as the application of the written language and not as much on time on conversing, even though they do presentations using Spanish. The teacher only speaks Spanish through the middle school years, so the students do understand the spoken language. Our school went through an intense accreditation process a year ago from an outside committee sent by the Florida Catholic Conference. We spent eighteen months to prepare for the re-accreditation by reviewing parent, teacher, and community surveys. The committees, independent of me, wrote the evaluations and new goals to improve our school. We were just audited by an outside CPA firm to review our financial processes and in both formal evaluations we had only minor areas to work on and received high marks. Our accreditation report can be seen on our website. The school is a business and the Diocese of Orlando, the finance committee, and the pastor expect us to be able to carry most of the burden of the finances. The reality is that every student receives financial assistance because the cost to educate a student is $6700, which is much more than the tuition. Students on vouchers, multi-student discounts, and students that need assistance from the church and individual donations, lowers the average tuition to $4,500. Students receiving tuition assistance through outside donations are 28% of our population. In order for us to provide this additional assistance, the families must show need through a definitive process and meet the guidelines provided by financial assistance committee. I have an open-door policy and am happy to meet with any parent or prospective family.
November 19, 2012

Review topics

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St. Joseph's Academy 5

Posted April 27, 2015
- a parent
Small class sizes, passionate teachers, my son can still mention Jesus without being persecuted. Love this school.

St. Joseph's Academy 5

Posted January 27, 2015
- a parent
I had two children who attended St. Josephs. To say I was pleased would be an understatement. In their time at this school I was never so comfortable in their academic and moral guidance, as well as their safety. The proof was in discussions that took place in the car, before bedtime and over dinner. It was not uncommon for my kids to bring up something they had learned in school as we went about our daily to do list. Thank you St. Josephs!


St. Joseph's Academy 5

Posted August 24, 2014
- a parent
Our family loves SJA. Our son Jackson started at SJA in Kindergarten and is now entering 5th grade. We have watched him thrive and grow academically, socially and spiritually. SJA's teachers,and staff know each child and they take the time to help each child achieve his or her personal best. When I attend morning prayers or Mass on Friday morning with Jackson my heart swells with joy that we are part of such a wonderful school. I am confident that SJA is preparing my son for a successful future.

St. Joseph's Academy 5

Posted August 12, 2013
- a parent
Our daughter is starting her 3rd year at SJA and we could not be happier. We are part of a family here. Great education and friendships.

St. Joseph's Academy 2

Posted July 27, 2013
- a parent
If I were filling out this review a year ago, I would grade the teacher quality four stars, the parent involvement 4 stars and the principal leadership 3 stars. Right after school adjourned for the 2012-2013 school year, I heard and confirmed jaw-dropping actions that occurred in a 7th grade classroom during class. I don't think it is appropriate to post those actions here, but actions occurred that cause me to not allow my child to continue to attend St. Joseph's Academy. The leadership of the school gave no notice of any kind to the parents of that class on actions that took place. That means that they are only interested in keeping tuitions flowing in and only sharing the "good stuff" that occurs at the school. Parents are not treated like adults and the leadership staff forgets that ultimately parents need all the information about what goes on in the school so that informed decisions can be made.


St. Joseph's Academy 5

Posted November 19, 2012
- a parent
We LOVE SJA!! We chose to try another private school this year, but after two weeks, we decided SJA was our forever home. SJA has the best, committed, talented teachers and staff. This is not a business. This is a family. Every parent, teacher and student are there for each other, whether daily or in a family crisis situation. Every child is challenged to excel, to treat others following the Golden Rule, and to be held accountable for their actions. The administration have an OPEN DOOR policy the invites parents to freely interact with the staff to make the most of their family's experience as a vital part of the SJA family. We love Monsignor, Fr. Ramon, and all of the SJA priests who help mold our children into positive, prayerful, and productive citizens. One of the key aspects is focusing on each child's success rather than on fund raising and test scores which offer only a snapshot of how a child is performing that particular day. We are beyond blessed to be back at SJA. We have tried other schools, and found "there's no place like home" at SJA!!

St. Joseph's Academy 5

Posted November 19, 2012
- a parent
St. Joseph's Academy in Lakeland is one of the best schools we have ever seen. They not only educate our children to the highest standards, but reinforce a sense of Christ in their daily lives. The resounding feeling of almost every person I encounter is one of family as soon as you enter the SJA building. The staff are always professional, compassionate, loving and receptive to EACH and EVERY student's needs. The administration's open door policy allows us to be an active part of the school community which we found lacking in other nearby private school settings. We know our children will receive a superior, well-rounded education of their mind, body & soul by being a part of the SJA family. We are blessed to be part of this wonderful community.

Message to families
SCHOOL LEADER
I would like to take this opportunity to respond with facts about our school. As a principal with forty years of experience in education, I have seen many concepts come and go and actually "circle around". The Common Core State Standards are new, connecting student expectations in a systematic manner from State to State, but the concept of project-based teaching and learning is what has circled and come back to be implemented in the classroom. This method engages students and teaches them how to apply learning. At SJA we do encourage this type of learning while stopping and reteaching along the way to ensure mastery and not just exposure. I bring this point to my response because when compared with where some of our students are with skills in public schools, it can appear that we are behind. In public schools they must stay on a path, teaching skills at a pace to complete standards before the FCAT. Our teachers must meet the same grade level standards, but for students that are not mastering or understanding the skill, the teachers are to reteach in a different way. Without a strong foundation, the child will eventually fall behind. Students learn differently and are not all are at the same level in each of our classrooms, giving the misconception that our standards are behind. We consistently upgrade technology, curriculum, and resources that the students have access to. The teachers are provided professional development where they stay current with research-based teaching strategies and best-practices. The teachers of the core subjects at SJA are all certified. The only teachers that do not have State Certification are the art and music teachers. They both have a degree and have been approved because of their experience in those areas by the Superintendent of the Diocese of Orlando and our accrediting body, the Florida Catholic Conference. in response to the students not speaking fluent Spanish, every student in 8th grade that attended Santa Fe in the last three years either entered Advanced Spanish or took Spanish II. They do not all speak fluent Spanish because the class focuses on the grammar as well as the application of the written language and not as much on time on conversing, even though they do presentations using Spanish. The teacher only speaks Spanish through the middle school years, so the students do understand the spoken language. Our school went through an intense accreditation process a year ago from an outside committee sent by the Florida Catholic Conference. We spent eighteen months to prepare for the re-accreditation by reviewing parent, teacher, and community surveys. The committees, independent of me, wrote the evaluations and new goals to improve our school. We were just audited by an outside CPA firm to review our financial processes and in both formal evaluations we had only minor areas to work on and received high marks. Our accreditation report can be seen on our website. The school is a business and the Diocese of Orlando, the finance committee, and the pastor expect us to be able to carry most of the burden of the finances. The reality is that every student receives financial assistance because the cost to educate a student is $6700, which is much more than the tuition. Students on vouchers, multi-student discounts, and students that need assistance from the church and individual donations, lowers the average tuition to $4,500. Students receiving tuition assistance through outside donations are 28% of our population. In order for us to provide this additional assistance, the families must show need through a definitive process and meet the guidelines provided by financial assistance committee. I have an open-door policy and am happy to meet with any parent or prospective family.
Posted November 19, 2012


St. Joseph's Academy 5

Posted November 13, 2012
- a parent
I am a former teacher, and have taught in the local area. My family and I live in an area with poorly rated public schools. We knew when he was born that we would send James to either a Christian school or one of the McKeel schools. We visited several schools before discovering St. Joseph's Academy. Halfway through the (unscheduled) tour at St. Joseph's, which Principal Lana Schwartzwelder, (teacher/principal first, business person last) took the time to personally guide me on, I knew that this would be the school I wanted to have my son to attend from his kindergarten through 8th-grade years. The school is small by design, and my wife, Beth, and I both instantly felt like the staff and teachers wanted us to be family, which is important to us. Despite the impression given by other reviews, academically speaking, all of the kindergarten through 8th grade teachers have a bachelor's degree or higher and are certified educators. I can't speak for the specialty teachers like art or music regarding their education level, but I can say that they are some of the most professional, experienced people I know and I am proud to have them teaching my son. We love St. Joseph's Academy!

St. Joseph's Academy 5

Posted November 08, 2012
- a parent
Thank GOD for St. Joseph's Academy. The quality of life and faith my child is exposed to is wonderful. The teachers and staff are caring and committed to challenging our children academically and spiritually. The emphasis on safety and security in a loving environment is priceless. The constant enhancements to technology and curriculum, as well as real-world application, validate my choice as a parent to enroll my child in St. Joe's.

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St. Joseph's Academy
310 Frank Lloyd Wright Way, Lakeland, FL  33803
(863) 686-6415
Last modified St. Joseph's Academy is a Private school that serves grades PK-8
St. Joseph's Academy Rating: 4 out of 5 based on 26 reviews. Top