The Atonement Academy is a fantastic Catholic environment. My children have attended the Middle School and Upper Schools for the last 3 years, and I would have them attend no other Catholic school in the San Antonio area, because we are focused on a few things that are our priority:
1. Daily Mass, 2. orthodox Catholic teaching integrated into all studies and school life, 3. rigorous academic standards and top tier results, 4. a safe and loving environment with students who are good Christians to one another
5. small class sizes which allow teachers to really know and care about your child's progress; those same teachers, in the vast majority of cases, are also very willing to work with parents to help kids adjust and succeed with the course material
If these are your priority for your children, then you would love Atonement.
Now the difficulties. While these are not ideal, they were not a reason for us, considering our priorities, to put our children somewhere else.
1. Athletics are a low priority, and there is little investment, recognition or support of the athletic programs and coaching staffs, relative to other private schools in SA
2. There has been some turnover of teaching staff that has disrupted the learning experience of students, particularly in the Middle School
3. Most of the teachers and administrators are top notch, but, just as in any school, there are occasional duds, some of which were let go, it seems, during last year's school year, which was described in #2.
4. There is more homework assigned than may be necessary, and it is generally not coordinated between teachers. The handbook limits homework on weekends, but that is generally not followed or enforced.
My kids and I love Atonement. One of them mentioned, after a few months of attendance how much she loves going to mass every day! Another child has become so much more of a scholar, who enjoys learning, more than he ever did before attending Atonement Academy. It is an adjustment, for sure, and will instill a new level of discipline that would not exist at any other school, but that discipline will carry your child through the difficulties of High School and University success. It will also prepare them to live a joyfully Catholic witness as adolescents and young adults in the secular culture we face today. I, for one, would not want anything less for my kids.
To quote the founding priest "In the end, any educational institution which cannot engage its students in that question cannot be educating the whole person. It is the fatal weakness of public schools, including charter schools. Truth can never be something that is only talked about." In NO WAY does the administration do anything other than talk the talk. They and the faculty do not walk the walk of classical or liberal education. The school has a few good families who are the minority. Charter schools can educate the whole person in ways Atonement never will.
Really, the teachers here have no credentials. Most of them have BA from UTSA which is a bottom level university. It is shameful for a college prep school to have such teachers who plagiarize power points and make multiple choice tests.
If you want your children to have an orthodox Catholic teaching with a Tea Party political agenda, this is the place for you. Don't trust what you see and read on the surface. The "top 50" rating is actually a poll taken by supporters of this type of orthodoxy and is not any real measure of academic achievement. A little online research will reveal that. The Blue Ribbon status occurred several years ago under a different administrator who passed away. There aren't many of the faculty left who were there when that status was granted. Over 10 faculty members left, or were forced out, last year. The current administration is mired in control issues and is oppressive to both faculty and students. For example, they hire teachers stating health insurance is offered, but it's a terrible plan not accepted by many doctors and low coverage limits. A few teachers moved or changed jobs to come to this school before discovering this and then left after a year. Dig deeper into the actual facts and learn the truth. The administrative style and personalities are the real problem. Research it carefully if you're considering sending your child here. Don't take the boasting at face value. Dig deeper.
I love the Safe and Healthy Catholic Atmosphere at the Atonement Academy. Students build positive Friendships and learn to help each other progress through a variety of challenging courses offered by the school. On one specific occasion, I was especially impressed by the speed at which my daughter was able to move between classes per my preference as a parent. This is just a single example of how the Teachers and Staff work very hard and always go above and beyond.
Working at The Atonement Academy has shown me a completely new group of students of the highest moral value. It is a pure joy to sit with these children and young adults to discuss their futures. The students here are happy and eager to continue to learn. Watching them grow and go onto colleges of the highest level is not only exciting, but gives me great hope for the future of our society.
My kids stopped singing after attending Atonement. If I ask them what happened their eyes get teary and they shut down. The choir experience left them traumatized. Even when Atonement has some excellent teachers and academics I wonder what happened. We left of course and I wonder how can a school steal a child's joy.