This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Posted October 08, 2014
- a student
Norfolk Academy is a pretty good school. Having been a student there, I know that it provides a quality education, especially for the "average" and "below-average" children. It also has a fantastic sports program, and most of the teachers are decent. However, it is difficult for the "above-average" and gifted students at NA to reach their full potential. The curriculum is designed to help the average students do well, not gifted kids. A previous review said that NA "cherry-picks" the smartest, best children in the area. I am sorry, but all I can say is that that is simply not true. There are plenty of kids there who struggle in school, even on easy topics. And the review mentioning grade inflation was mostly true. Despite this, the most negative part of NA is the attitude of some of the students. It greatly bothered me how much they cared about being popular and how they would act mean often just to be popular. In addition, the attitude about how great people were if they went to the school set off a negative atmosphere. Just because their parents can pay $25,000 per year to send them to NA doesn't make them smarter or better than people at public schools.
My child is happy and finally starting to achieve to the best of their ability. What more can I ask? Having been to several schools and had teachers comment that my child, though doing well, could perhaps do better - it is reassuring to me to see that the curricular support, work ethic, high expectations and general 'can do' ethos within this school is having a positive effect on my child. Whilst not achieving the highest scores in the Grade, my child's growth, both academically and in maturity has been significant. Important life skills such as being proactive, organized, working hard and working smartly all have come to the fore and are now really starting to show results. Yes, we have had complaints in the past amount the amount of work, about 'rich kids' possessions and grumblings about the odd teacher. However, we know that, as the parent of a teenager, we would see all of those points in any school (and to a point, see it as preparation for adult life). To us, the fact that our child has good friends, is happy, achieving better than ever before and has a positive, well-adjusted outlook, tells me that we have done the right thing. I highly commend this school to you.
Be leery of some of the professional sounding reviews NA has a fabulous marketing team. My 2 children attended and the middle school was amazing, leadership was 5 stars. Our children received a superb education, if only it could have continued. Upper school has some great teachers, but chances are 50/50, by the time you realize it you're stuck because upper school doesn't begin until 10th. The leadership in the upper school doesn't care to hear from you, students/parents feel intimidated. Meet the Upper School director. A select few pick a select few students they favor and awards as well as the valedictorians are selected in 10th grade, track the Virginia pilot awards section for 10th graders for a few years, and those "book" awards. Chosen few not necessarily based on academics sorry to say. Complete lack of college counseling known for many years. The inexcusable was we knew of 4 teachers that should have been fired on the spot but weren't. NA is fantastic for the average student trying to get a shot at UVA, great for grade inflation for average/below average. If your child is smart there are far better options where they will be appreciated and your input valued.
"The end justified the means," NA students graduated 100% and scored high with college test scores, all of them ended up at top-notch 4-year colleges nationwide for decades. The school's educational excellence cannot be challenged by any school in the area from its hundreds-of-years of experiences. NA parents are college-educated products, they've already mastered the rules of the game, that's why their kids are there for the right reasons, productively. Kids are on waiting list to get in the school, unfortunately, NA is designed as cherry-picking the brightest among the masses via scored IQs. It's famous, period.
Norfolk Academy is a school that everyone should go to. People who go there are said to be "gifted" by people from the outside, but that isn't the case, I think they are invested in what the teachers,coaches, and advisors are doing. The best part about playing sports and taking part in the theater is that your math teacher during the day is now your lacrosse coach in the afternoon helping you with algebra now helping with picking up ground balls. If your child wants to become their inner self then enroll them at Norfolk Academy.
As an alumnus from the late 80's, and as a professional educator, I can attest to the many reasons NA is a remarkable institution. Beyond the significant educational system and rigorous academic program, it is the relationships developed among students, faculty and administration that has been most meaningful. I was privileged to have John Tucker as my head of school and under his leadership and care, I felt important as an individual and as part of a community of learners. My relationship with the outstanding faculty and support staff have been pivotal in guiding my professional trajectory. I have carried these connections with me and am thrilled that some of my teachers and classmates are among those now serving the Norfolk Academy community. Certainly in the area and likely in the region, there are few schools that can compare. Anyone would do well to explore this option. As a school leader I am particularly sensitive to the challenges and opportunities of running an independent school. This is an exceptional one. While not flawless, the school continues to provide a strong and honorable educational milieu to those who would avail themselves of the opportunity.
I have been in a variety of educational institutions before NA and I have to say...it's not the best but...it's not terrible. I have moved not only from several different regions, but also from different teaching styles, including Montessori, Private, and Public. After coming here in the 9th grade, I have found that NA has a strange way of teaching. The honor code was valuable, but I knew people who didn't get punished for dishonorable actions. The only thing we really got in trouble for was plagiarizing. I did see the favoritism that many others complained about and it was pretty difficult to deal with. I, being reserved, found it hard to really fit in. I struggled to find a niche and often felt the pain of loneliness. Although my peers sometimes reached out to me, I felt like every time I tried to really form relationships, I never could break into their cliques. The only benefits I found were the great teachers. Most genuinely care for the wellbeing of their students, a rare thing in public schools. I definitely do not think it's worth the ridiculous price. It's reputation may be able to help with college, but there really is no replacement for hard work. -Submitted by a student
I am an eighth grader at na right now and I couldn't be happier with it. Lots of parents will comment on sever bullying but I can tell most of the bullying are jokes that have been seen in different ways. The class's are more diverse than it is said and the kids are ego controlled socialpaths with rich families and in fact almost half the kids have finianal aid. If your child is having problems in lower school just tell them it will get better. Believe me the lower school is not the best I went through all 6 years of it (lower school goes to sixth grade) middle school is real fun. I play football wrestling and lacrosse and the programs are great and the school does not recruit so coaches can work to improve their players and not look for the best. Athletes of all skill levels at any age are welcome. The students at na are deep into culture and the students watch many places and listen to many concerts in Johnson theatre. The teachers are great and don't focus on their lessons as much as on their students to make sure they are at the same level as everyone else. Students have many chance to meet friends and develop life long companions friends here stay friends for life
My daughter loves the school while my son was treated unfairly. Lower school's guidance counselor lacked credential. If you dare to voice your "opinion" that is different than theirs, you are "criticized" beyond belief. Staff's children are treated to be more "honest and better". You must play NA's game or else..... You must not have an opinion of your own as a "parent". Anyone who was mistreated in NA, please contact me.
I have been going to NA for 7 years now and by the 4th grade if you walked into the class room you could tell who was popular and who was not. By the 6th grade if you walked into the "quad" or locker area you could easily see the cliques and the space between them. Some reviews on here are from parents but i dont tell my parents that i hate na, so why would their kids. The middle school is even worse then lower, the teachers are moody and mean and its just insane how much we have to keep up with. Weekends use to be for hanging out with friends now their for studying and catching up on sleep. My mom sends me to na because she went their, and I'm guessing things have changed or my mom is just trying to make my life miserable. Norfolk Academy is just not the great environment and education its made up to be.