Eustace Isidore is a founder and director at 4Points Academy, a private elementary and middle school in Steiner Ranch, Austin. As a guest contributor to the Alt Ed Austin blog, he explains the rationale for starting a new private school in an area where the public schools have a generally positive reputation. Visit the 4Points website to learn more about this unique school—and check out its summer camps!
Why start a new private school in Steiner Ranch? It’s a question we at 4Points Academy often get asked when we meet with parents. After all, our school is located in a district with high achieving schools. Yet even with the success of these public schools, there are still certain gaps that parents acknowledge:
- the need to have fewer students in a classroom so that the teachers are better able to understand and address the needs of every child in their care
- the need to shift the focus back to teaching rather than focusing on getting students ready to pass the STAAR tests, which bring anxiety to so many students and their parents each year
- that “X” factor, where many parents articulate that their child is not being challenged or that their child’s specific needs are just not being addressed, and how difficult it is for the child or the parent to really be heard in a large school environment
We created 4Points Academy to provide our students with a safe and nurturing environment that allows them to flourish and grow, and we provide our parents with a view into their child’s learning and a voice in navigating it. At 4Points, we emphasize core subject mastery and provide small classes to enable individual student attention. Our specialist teachers help deepen our students’ learning, and we offer 1-1 technology, foreign languages, art, music, sports mechanics, and more, to give our students a well-rounded academic experience.
We also take the additional steps to understand each individual as a learner with unique needs and to foster an environment that that will allow all of our students to grow into confident, compassionate, courageous, and committed young men and women. We go beyond the academics to emphasize cultural diversity, global awareness, information technology skills, business and financial literacy, public speaking, and presentation skills, as well as proper handwriting, posture, manners, use of eye contact, and yes, even a firm handshake!
Another important way we distinguish our program from public schools is that we do not waste valuable classroom time teaching to a standardized test. There is no STAAR exam to focus on. Instead, there is a continuous focus on individual students and meeting their academic and social needs.
Why all of this? Because we want our students to be confident and articulate, to be “book smart” as well as “world smart.” We want our students to be 21st-century students, academically and socially ready for high school, college, and beyond.