Great school with great opportunities for your child. I love the great parent involvement this school has constructed. I am very please with my son's kindergarten experience. I am excited for the upcoming year and what it will bring.
After my first (very neutral) review was taken off the site, I am following Great Schools review prompts to provide another useless review. I think everybody should know: that this is the best school in the whole world. What do I like? Everything! How could my school improve? It can't because it's already perfect! Is this better, Great Schools?
Nova Classical Academy is the best! My kids are safe, happy, have great friends, and are getting a great classical education!
Nova Classical Academy gives my child the education I would have wanted for myself. My child receives a solid grounding in history, geography, science, art, music and mathematics. I delight in being able to discuss history with her and watch her grow and change as the world opens up to her through her classical liberal arts education.
The curriculum is outstanding and it shows through the wonderful bank of knowledge that the students develop. The faculty and staff are well training and very dedicated to the students and to the mission of school.
There are many negative comments about Nova on this site, and I think that goes to show that it truly is a niche school that does what it professes to do. It is not a school suited to everyone, but it is perfect for me and I never want it to change.
Nova is a solid school grades K-5 (the exception being the reading program which is ridgid and uninspiring). The school falters beginning in 6th grade where rigor begins to take the place of mastery and in some cases, common sense. For instance, no matter what kids have been taught, how they have been taught, etc., many 11 and 12 year olds are not developmentally ready for pre algebra. Nova's high school continues along the same path as the middle school but to an even greater degree. For instance, all sophomores are required to take what amounts to a college freshman level chemistry class. There are no other options for science in 10th grade. For some kids, great. For others, GPA busting. No helpful electives are offered to 9th and 10th graders making a significant portion of the kids seriously struggle with at least one class. Essentially, Nova's high school teaches to the top 5-10% of its students with limited options to kids who are not super advanced in all subjects. Parents should not assume that if their child starts Nova in kindergarten and thrives at Nova through grade 5, (even through grade 8) that their child will be able to thrive in Nova's high school.
[Rigorous but harsh] Sixth grade was tough for my child because of the homework load and social/bullying issues. (Staff handled the latter quite well.) Some of the teachers seem to equate academic rigor with a harsh and humorless demeanor; I wish they'd make learning more fun. My kid responds to positive energy from teachers. And the history curriculum is definitely not everyone's cup of tea, what with its emphasis on ancient times, the male worldview, and Christianity. I do like that they infuse school life with virtues education (justice, temperance, prudence, fortitude). But sometimes "rigor" is self-defeating: Half the sixth grade had to repeat pre-algebra this year because the school was pushing seventh-grade material at sixth-graders last year! On the other hand, when my kid was in SPPS she was bored silly, it was so unchallenging. And I do like uniforms as a way to keep the focus off fashion and peer pressure and on school. I've looked at other schools, but there's no happy medium -- you either get too much rigor (Nova), or not nearly enough (every other St. Paul school). So we'll probably stay at Nova as long as our kid seems happy, healthy, and able to handle the work.
My school is on its way to becoming the best school in all of Minnesota!
My daughter is already asking how much longer summer will be until school starts. It is not that her days are lacking fun and relaxation, but that she finds Nova so engaging, involving and welcoming. The world-class (truly) curriculum and dedicated staff at Nova ensure a top-notch experience where scholarship and the development of the individual are the priority and the result.
Nova is an amazing charter school that brings a rigorous, classical, private-school-like experience to kids lucky enough to get in the lottery. The facility is beautiful, the expectations are high, and the community appreciates the teachers. This is a disciplined environment - so definitely make sure it fits your parenting style before signing up. It's truly a gem in St. Paul.
As a rising senior at Nova, who has hands-on experience and ample opportunity to observe what happens in classes, I have to say any comments degrading Nova, or complaining about its work load are utterly unjustified. It is by no means a "simple" school, it is by no means "easy." Nobody said it would be. Nobody said that a school that prepares you for life's struggles and hardships would be easy. Nova is a top-notch school, and I'm not just referring to the academics, which are only half of the deal. Nova's teachers are virtually irreplaceable--as in, I find my mind boggled when I look into their eyes and feel as if they care about me, as if they have a grain of compassion in their hearts, as if teaching is what they admire, and as if immersing themselves in work is what they love to do. Furthermore, as a student, I feel like I have thrived at Nova to extents impossible to state. I am allowed to speak my mind in classes; I have highly intelligent, curious, open-minded classmates to rebut my claims, and I have teachers to guide me through my studies as true mentors. If you want a place where you feel like people care and love and follow through with utter honesty, it's Nova.
Our two sons have attended NOVA for most of their school careers and are now in the Upper and Middle schools. We love the school - for us the trade-offs are more than worth it. I think you come to have a relationship with a school the same way you do with a work group or church or community group. I think it comes down to "fit", and for us NOVA is a fit. Our kids are challenged, the homework is also a challenge but we have decided it's worth tackling, and we like the personality of the school (intellectual, artistic, sometimes quirky, but in no way "heartless" as some reviewers have said). There is also a mix of liberal and conservative views. The classical education approach is embraced by some parents who home school their kids, and this conservative group (some of whom are also biblical literalists) co-exist side by side with the majority who are more moderate to liberal. We actually like this aspect of the school's diversity, and are grateful for the chance it gives us to discuss differing political and spiritual views with our kids. Judging by the quality of the kids in the upper school and how they treat each other, the school is doing a whole lot of things right.
I have read many of the reviews on this page and have noticed that the majority are submitted by parents. As a student at Nova, I feel that it is important to hear from not just parents but from students as well. Nova is unlike any other school you will ever attend. Students at Nova are beyond close and I am not alone in saying that I can trust every individual there. I feel like everyone there is my family. I love everyone. A lot of parents have submitted reviews complaining about the homework load. Yes, it's not a secret that you have to work hard at Nova. It's also not a secret that you have to work hard in college and in life. Nova is more than just a school. It's a promise for the future. Obviously, not everyone will perform optimally at such an intense school. It's also true that not all adults will perform optimally in life. But the best way to prepare yourself for the challenges ahead is to get the best education you can, even if it's difficult and even if it means lots of late nights. Nova has something for everyone, whether you're a hitter on the volleyball team, a lawyer on one of Nova's Mock Trial teams, or the lead in the spring musical.
In 25 yrs my fairly average kids (3rd, 5th, & 7th grade) will be running the world. It is my job to prepare them for what lies ahead. "Easy" is not what I am looking for. This is our 3rd year at Nova, My oldest struggled with the homework for about 3 weeks as he learned time management skills. Since then he has thrived at Nova while being active in Basketball and Track. I also enjoy watching my kids read and learn from the great authors and thinkers of history. From the journals of Christopher Columbus to the writings of philosopher Cicero. When I describe what goes on at Nova to the parents in my neighborhood, most just stare at me in disbelief. So dont take my word for it. Schedule a vist at Nova and see for yourself.
I could not agree more with the previous parent post regarding homework. Admittedly, I have heard numerous complaints about the amount of homework students receive, however, this should not be a surprise as the school's emphasis is on accleration. I have 3 daughters that have attended Nova for two years now. Currently, 2nd, 5th, and 8th graders. My 8th grader and recently 5th grader have participated in plays that have taken them away from the majority of their school day. To be more specific, the plays were at Minneapolis Childern's Theatre and SteppingStone Theatre. I mention this to make the point that these are professional venues and most should know that the production schedules are crazy and my 5th grader has a rigourous ballet schedule to boot. After all of this, they are still above average students. In fact, my 5th grader is a straight A student. I just wish parents would really take a good look at what they are entering into. It is a tough school, but any student can be successful with parental support. Parent/Educator
I find the comments on homework interesting. The school set out to have a rigorous curriculum and has high expectations for all students. We have a 7th grader who participates in both fall and spring sports, music, and still has time to complete the required work. Our 4th grader is able to complete his work in less than 30 minutes. Both are children are engaged in the subject matter and enjoy school. Enough said.
After several years at Nova, I have to revise my rating downward. We still love the curriculum but are becoming increasingly frustrated by the all-consuming homework of upper grades and high school. My 9th-grader regularly is spending 4+ hours per night on homework, and sometimes double that on weekends. (This is from a high-honor roll student who doesn't complain and who never had a problem with the middle-school homework load, which was also significant.) If a child even has even one other activity -- a sport or mock trial -- she is pretty much committed to being up at midnight every night. I second the other parent who says the "major work" calendar is useless. So are the yearly homework logs, which appear to be roundly ignored. My high-schooler will likely tough it out, but I sincerely doubt whether we'll have our second child continue beyond eighth-grade. She's already showing signs of frustration and despair in middle school. I used to be one of the school's biggest backers. I used to think that any child could succeed at Nova. I don't think that anymore.
Nova is a great school, but that is not to say it is without flaws. It is still a very new school (will have its first graduating class this year) and there are definitely things that need to be worked out, especially in the upper grades. While I understand the philosophy of hard work, sometimes I wonder if it might be a little bit much. The school makes promises that colleges will examine the schools curriculum and adjust accordingly, but I am afraid that many students will be at a disadvantage going into this process simply because of lower GPAs. Many have talked about the homework load. It is not so extreme as many make it out to be, but sometimes it can be excessive. One of the only other real problems with homework is that teachers do not coordinate with each other. The major work calendar is supposed to take care of this, but it does not. Only assignments such as presentations, tests, and lengthy papers go on this calendar. A 4 page paper? A quiz? A 12 page annotation? A lab report? No, not on the calendar. I believe that Nova just needs to find the balance between a rigorous education and putting students at a disadvantage.
Nova is our second charter school. We attended Eagle Ridge and private schools before. Our 8th grader has really loved the warm welcome and is very active in volleyball and other school activities. Our third grader is loving the supporting learning environment and the new facility is just beautiful. The school has a very long waiting list of people wanting to attend and you can feel that most of the families there are truly excited to be part of the community of students, teachers, parents and school administrators. We are staying here.
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