The King's Academy is a fantastic school! I have two children in lower school and they have truly excelled there. The staff is like family. I feel like I am dropping my kids off in the morning to people who truly care about every aspect of my kids lives. The character building skills they receive there are amazing. They participate in everything from sports, plays, academics and have every opportunity to find what they will excel at. The upper school students really watch out and mentor the lower school students. I also can't say enough about the Christian education they receive. My boys are learning so much about how to walk with the Lord and ask for his guidance in their daily lives. The heart of TKA is evident the moment you walk onto campus. I wouldn't have my kids anywhere else. I highly recommend TKA!
As a parent of a middle schooler, I used to have warm feelings about TKA, but in the past two years, I feel the christian education at this school has grown shallow, headed toward fundamentalism. So much teaching here, if taken to its natural outcome, boils down to "You need to do better, act better, be better." This is legalism and I don't see grace being taught or even on display in many cases. I don't see the teaching in chapel, from the chaplain, or from some in positions to speak to students being the sort that changes hearts/minds, but rather aimed more at rules. I have a strong suspicion that teachers (and perhaps some in admin) are not given much grace by disorganized leadership. I've noticed that way too many teachers quit at the end of each year. You hear that some left for personal or family reasons, but later learn it's because they can't work under the stress created by this headmaster or never knowing what to expect out of the leadership. Good teachers have been dismissed with no explanation or in hurtful ways. There is clearly a disconnect going on somewhere here. I hope the board will take notice before what used to be a good school comes to a sad end.
Many of the classrooms are too crowded, which is not good for the kids. I used to feel that the quality of education was decent, but in the last few years, I'm disappointed with it. Some years, science seems to be ignored, other years social studies. Foreign language in lower school used to be part of the curriculum, but I've not seen any growth in this area. Lower school math scores on standardized testing have dipped. There's such a wide disparity among learning abilities in the classroom that, while the Discovery program helps kids at the lower end, it feels like kids at the opposite end aren't well taken care of. Maybe these are just private school problems, but I really feel like it's a core leadership issue.
We have two daughters in Lower School that want nothing more than to graduate from TKA. They love the freedom to speak openly about their faith and love for their Savior, the teachers who take the time to get to know who they are as individuals, and the parents who come along side and serve as extended family. The administration expects excellence in academics, athletics, fine arts, service and character but understands the need to extend grace in certain circumstances, as God does for each of us. I feel that our girls are being well prepared for living a life pleasing to the Lord. The graduates that have left TKA have become missionaries, doctors, teachers, nurses and the list goes on. They have earned degrees at some of the best colleges and universities available and they have become productive members of society! We are blessed to be a part of The King's Academy!
This is a great school, but has been changed for the worse by the administration. As long as you are a doctor or lawyer and donate substantially to the school, then your child will avoid most trouble. If not, then you will constantly be sided against. Mr. Hiltabidel is a pleaser, and a bad one that. The school is becomning industrialized, swaying it away from the original Christian message. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to down the school as I was a student there for 12 years. Some of the godliest people I've ever met were my teachers and coaches. However, I warn parents now of the hypocriticallness of the administration. Hopefully things have changed since I was a student, but I never forgot how many times my favorite teachers or coaches were "let go" because one parent got mad about something. The original message of this school is to provide an equal opurtunity for children to learn in a christian environment, and not to be disciplined seperate from other students. I hope this had changed!
TKA offers a program through the NILD called Discovery for children with learning differences. It is very comprehensive and allows for classroom accomadations that most private schools do not allow. Two of our children have benefited from the program. The love and understanding shown to all of the children is unbelievable.
We have had two children to graduate from The King's Academy and they both have now completed 4 year degrees at Clemson. Presently, we have two middle schoolers here and are continued to be blessed by the experience of TKA.