Great curriculum. I'd love to give this school a higher rating.
The major reason for this low rating is that if the Head Of School believes that your student is in any way not able to keep up with the curriculum, your student will be asked to leave, (or not invited back). There is zero tolerance to work with a student who learns at a slower pace and/or may require extra guidance. No room for students with mental health or similar issues.
The arts offerings are impressive for such a small school, but not necessarily better than what can be found in large public high schools in the portland area. NWA does an exceptional job preparing students for college when it comes to academic writing and research. While the humanities faculty is excellent, the curriculum is very conservative and includes shamefully few texts by women. The math and science programs are merely average, although the class sizes are wonderfully small. The language classes are hit or miss. The school culture is not very welcoming. Parents are discouraged from contacting faculty with the idea that such communication would prevent students from learning to advocate for themselves, but an unfortunate result is that many parents feel unwelcome on campus and there is little sense of community among the families. The attrition rate is also very troubling and something to consider before making such a large investment.
My daughter completed middle and high school at Northwest Academy and has become a lifelong learner curious about the world around her. From her first year in 6th grade reading and analyzing Kafka and Edgar Allen Poe and learning to tap dance , the combination of arts and academics has inspired her daily. She took risks in the classroom through her artistic responses to the material taught from science to math and pushed her limits by directing and performing in one-act plays for her high school playwriting class. We also loved the school's location in downtown Portland with many excursions around city for community service, film class and French field trips to the Portland Art Museum. We couldn't ask for a better campus and engaged staff.
NWA is a remarkable school. The middle school is especially fabulous with a rigorous thought provoking curriculum that challenges students in a healthy creative way. Students are not pampered, but held accountable such that they learn to think, analyze, synthesize and evaluate. My child has continued to the high school and he is so happy. The level of education is amazing.
This is my son's first year (8th grade) with NWA. I am a former teacher and am quite picky about his education. I have been thrilled with the academic classes and teachers, the 1:1 attention the students get, and am quite impressed with the high level of learning and thinking that is demanded of these kids. My son wanted to go to NWA to develop his crafts (acting, singing, visual arts, guitar) and has discovered many more things that he enjoys from his Arts classes. He says he is "home" and that he has found his "people" with NWA. He loves going to school, loves his classes and teachers, and that makes me very happy.
Attending Northwest Academy was a transformative experience for both of my children. The teachers are beyond amazing. They have served as mentors and role models for my students and they inspire them on a daily basis. My children have grown intellectually, artistically, and emotionally in this environment. They have discovered that they are extremely capable. Personal responsibility and the value of community is woven into the culture of the school. The students respect each other and celebrate diversity. Sending my children to Northwest Academy is one of the best decisions I've made as a parent.
The Northwest Academy has provided my children with an incredible mix of artistic and academic challenges. The dedicated teaching staff takes the time to get to know each individual student and I have always found staff to respond quickly to my questions or concerns. Although this is an 'arts focused' school, we have found the academics to be far superior to those which our eldest child received in our local school. A great deal of attention is paid to the development of solid writing skills, but the artistic responses provide an opportunity for students to show what they know in a wide variety of formats. Although no school is perfect, this one is pretty close.
My experience with NWA was most troubling. Their so-called proficiency-based education is actually a one-size-fits all, standardized program in which every student is obligated to complete the same assignments at the same time. My every effort to meet with my child s teachers one-on-one was rebuffed by requests for email explanations to justify why I wanted to meet and if a meeting was even necessary. What kind of school systematically discourages a parent from being involved in their child s education, especially when the child has special learning needs and the parent has more hands-on teaching experience than any of her teachers. In sum, I found the school, and most of the classes and the teachers to be uninspired, uncreative, uncooperative, developmentally unsound, pedagogically ineffective, pretentious, arrogant and HUMORLESS. Don't listen to me. Please, talk with educators at PSU or Lewis and Clark, and ask educational and clinical psychologists if they think the NWA program is developmentally and academically sound. I hope you don t make the same mistake that I did.