We looked at multiple private schools and have extended family members attending three other private schools. When first looking, Steward was number 3 on my list of schools...but after the tours, meeting the staff, finding out about the small class sizes, getting to know other families at all schools, and talking to relatives about "what would they do if they could do it all again" (even though they liked the great education, they were having character/bullying & entitlement issues at their schools, as well as little individualized attention and lack of teacher communication,) we chose Steward. Steward is truly a hidden gem in Richmond. Many old-time Richmonders sometimes don't look at it because they want their children to go to the school they attended (rightfully so, and I totally understand...but is one of the reasons they don't consider it, since Steward is only 43 yrs old vs. 125 yrs old.) Two of my friends told me they wanted to send their kids to Steward, but since the Grandparents were footing the bill, they had to choose a school "the family" has been attending in the past. While touring various schools, I also noticed that Steward seems to be more truly diverse...some of the bigger private schools will have a seemingly small % of African American students, and are otherwise Caucasian. Steward school has a great mix of diversity that reflects Richmond's demographics, with Hispanic, Indian, Asian, African American (and foreign exchange students in high school.) I personally feel that Steward kids have less of an "entitlement" culture (when compared to most other private schools,) and therefore attracts a more diverse student body because the entire family is welcomed. The teachers are top-notch, the facilities are excellent, and the administrators are now settled in and making continuous improvement (my only complaint was some of the past administers...but they've now fixed that! ...and I'd add one more class/grade in LS!) My kids love this school!!
We have three children at The Steward School and have been at the school 6 years. Each year we become more invested, enthusiastic, dedicated and involved in this amazing community. Each of our children excels at Steward in different ways. For one, it was the academic challenge they needed to step it up a notch. For one, the academics and social climate were just right for meeting them where they were and carrying them further towards thier potential. For the third, the class size provided the environment for the teachers to really get to know them and draw them out in their weak areas and help them trust and believe in their strengths. For all three, the athletic program has truly enhanced their natural talent and introduced them to activities or sports they would not have tried otherwise. The lessons learned being part of a team and out on the field have enhanced the lessons they are learning in the classroom. The athletic department views the students as "student athletes" and places high value on academics as well as athletics. We feel so fortunate to be a part of such an amazing school community.
The divisonal leadership at the Steward School in all three levels is incredible. Ingrid Moore in the Lower School has brought fresh, dynamic leadership to the school. Her enthusiasm shows her commitment to current topics and changing climates in education and she encourages teachers, students and parents alike to think innovatively and independently of any test or formula.
Susan Atkinson, Director of the Middle School, has assembled an amazing administrative team and teachers that have taken Steward's Middle School to a new level. I have had three children go through the middle school and the growth and changes I have witnessed in the last several years have made the school stronger and even more cohesive than before. I feel that the emphasis on grade level teams that Susan has implemented creates a unified approach to the knowledge that the teachers have of the students across all areas of middle school.
In the Upper School, Carol Moore has brought years of experience in leading students and teachers to successful career and educational decisions. She is always available to parents and students for a casual check in or to lend her opinion or advice on something. She leads with confidence and assurance that leaves you feeling like you are in the right hands, at the right time , in the right school.
I could not be more pleased with the leaders that are guiding my children and the teams they have assembled to aid them in their efforts.
Steward is fine if you have the money and want to say your child goes to a private school but have a child that can't get into a great one like Collegiate. For the money, I'd expect a fabulous education surrounded by well qualified teachers and students that are mentally and behaviorally NORMAL. They allow special needs children with both learning and behavioral issues to be in the same small classroom as the main stream children. This is NOT what I paid for. I can get that for free in public school. Save your money. It is not a status symbol to send your child to this school.
We have three students in the middle and upper schools at Steward. Each of our children approaches homework differently. The mission of the school encourages intellectual growth through robust academics as well as engagement. Sometimes that engagement comes in the classroom with little follow up needed independently at home. Other times, engagement comes during study hall where they seek out clarification from their teachers. Often, the day's lessons are solidified by extra practice and extension at home. We have yet to experience a class where out children feel overwhelmed by homework that has been given just for the sake of giving homework. What the kids do at home has purpose and meaning to what they have done in the classroom and is generally a valuable teaching and practice tool.
The Steward School challenges my students both in and out of the classroom. Whether it is stretching their comfort level academically, asking them to rise to the challenge of a difficult project or an out of the box writing assignment, or raising the bar on the playing field by putting them in a new position or testing their skill level with a new drill, faculty and coaches encourage my kids to keep trying until they achieve a certain level of mastery.
As parents of middle and upper schoolers, we have interacted with so many teachers over the years and with very few exceptions have found them to be enthusiastic, experienced, dedicated, and knowledgeable. Their understanding of tweens and teenagers has helped us as parents. Teachers and administrators are pretty good about communicating through phone calls or emails and are always welcoming of our questions or concerns where are kids are concerned. We feel that the working relationship we have with the teachers at Steward is above average.
Steward is an incredible community. We looked at many of the private schools in richmond and found many to be arrogant and pretentious. Many of the children at the other schools seemed to have a sense of entitlement and were unaware of their role in the larger community. With steward we found a diverse group of people for richmond, rigorous academics, and an environment that strives to help the children development self confidence, independence, social responsibility, and celebrate their individuality. The teachers are top notch. the curriculum has traditional elements enhanced by innovative methods. It is not a Montessori or Emilio Reggio system. The school, however, will see to it that your child is pushed academically as far as they can be both cademically and psychologically and help them set and achieve their goals. Students are taught to respect one another and they treat each other as family--in a good way! I have been most impressed with how the school and teachers have helped my daughters navigate the challenges that occur between female friends as they develop and grow. These life long skills will stay with them forever. My only criticism, per se, has been that there were many administrative changes over the last few years. Yet, overall these seem like smart decisions made in the interest of the children and with the desire to grow the school even more. Steward is a gem and we are privileged to be part of this incredible community.