Had an older go through the school mostly under a previous administration, and would likely give this school 4 stars based on her experience. Under the new administration, however, things have changed.
What was once a fun, vibrant school with a great sense of community is gone, replaced with rules that no one understands, an administration that seems to make decisions no one follows, and a general atmosphere of negativity.
I think they have some good teachers, but there has been some turnover in recent years and I wonder if the administration has something to do with it. We are not sure if we are leaving our current daughter there to finish out like her sister or transfer her elsewhere. It's a lot of money to spend on something that has gone downhill in recent years.
If I had known when I sent my daughter to Villa what I know now, I would never have made the decision. There are better options available for girls looking for either a private or parochial Catholic education. It is simply not worth the money for a variety of reasons.
Academically, there is little to no accountability in the middle school. The science program has been deficient for a number of years, with students needing to self-teach based on YouTube videos. Languages last year moved to students teaching themselves with Rosetta Stone. The level of academic rigor for many of the other subjects is simply not there compared to other available options, including many of the parochial schools that surround Villa, and the girls are simply not being prepared for the rigor and accountability of high school. There are no end of year academic awards, so there is really no reason for the girls to try hard to achieve in the classroom.
Athletically, the school has gone downhill from where it was years ago. Parents coaches with no oversight are the norm who use it as a forum to showcase their own daughters and friends rather than try to develop the girls and create winning programs. The school also does not allow any players to participate in diocesan all-star games where the truly talented girls can be exposed to a better level of competition.
Partnerships with the local boys' schools like Malvern and Devon do not exist for things like the plays and service projects. It has been made very clear for the girls participating in Malvern plays that it is not considered a Villa-sponsored activity and there is no acknowledgement of it. Again, this was not always the case but appears to be something new in the past few years.
Achievement at Villa is neither encouraged nor rewarded - a missed opportunity to create an environment where girls build each other up and celebrate each other's talents and strengths. The exact opposite environment exists at Villa.
We were close to pulling our daughter last year but decided to let her finish her time and focus on high school selection rather than transfer her to another school. It is a pity because I’ve heard that, at one time, people thought very highly of this school, but in speaking with current parents, there is a definite sense of unhappiness and negativity rather than community within these walls.
Our family has been absolutely thrilled with our decision to send our two girls to Villa Maria! They both have very different personalities, yet it is the perfect fit for both of them. There is a definite sense of family and pride at Villa. We have been in schools where that is absent, and it really does make a huge difference in the morale of the teachers and families. There is a strong emphasis on incorporating technology into the classroom and projects which will help our girls stay competitive as they advance in school. We also LOVE the sports programs available at Villa! The coaching and competition has been terrific. Being on various teams helped my older daughter (who transferred to Villa in 5th grade) make friends and get to know faculty members. She instantly felt like she was welcome, belonged, and a part of something special. Plus, it is very convenient to have all practices take place right after school on campus... no more rushing dinner in between 5:30 and 5:45 to race to 3 different evening practices! :) All in all, transferring our girls to Villa was one of the best decisions we've ever made!
The transfer of our two girls to VMA was seamless. We have seen tremendous positive changes in both of them, mostly their confidence level and happiness. They are thriving academically, socially, and spiritually. Spanish and dance are two new classes that they didn't have at their previous school and they love both. We like that there are many after school activities and sports to choose from starting at a young age. This is a nurturing and encouraging environment. The principle, teachers and staff are wonderful! We are so thankful that our girls are able to have this experience . We LOVE Villa Maria Academy!
This is a wonderful school. The academics are challenging. It is a very warm and welcoming environment. They work hard at really individualizing each girls experience to meet their needs. One of their main focuses is leadership. I have seen many positive changes in the confidence of my daughter since she started in VMA.
The principal is wonderful and the girls absolutely adore her. She's fun, and positive and motivating and you get the sense she REALLY loves what she does. Academically, I think its great for my 2 girls. Are there others which are even better academically, I'm sure . . . There always are! BUT, they have definitely challenged my girls and have done so without neglecting their emotional & developmental needs. My oldest's class has been doing a national on-line computer-based math challenge and her class is 1st in the nation! The older girls are so impressive too that's what sold me during my 'Visit to Villa' day. They are so poised and confident. It's really astounding. I had to keep reminding myself that they were only in 7th & 8th grade. They really do encourage the girls to be strong and confident and 'whole' which is critical in developing true leaders!