Guide for Parents from NAIS
Information from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) shows that independent schools nurture intellectual curiosity, stimulate personal growth, encourage critical thinking and promote a lifelong love of learning. Their Parents’ Guide to Independent Schools is an excellent resource.
Meet the People, Compare Performance
When evaluating schools, look for a blend of measurable outcomes and for the more subjective criteria that cannot be quantified. Visit the campus and be sure to talk to parents of students in the same grade level as your child.
We chose Columbus Academy because we felt it has the best educational program and also a diverse community that is very supportive. The faculty and staff are very attentive and willing to make sure that every student is prepared for the future.”
– Diane Chattman, parent
KNOWING STUDENTS WELL, AS STUDENTS AND AS PEOPLE
At Academy, our parents recognize the strength of our academic offering and are also quick to describe the warmth of our community and the strength of our teachers, who strive to develop a full understanding of each student’s learning style and motivational triggers.
Parents appreciate our approach to helping students at every grade level find authentic connections to the subjects they’re studying so they become engaged and eager learners and achievers.
Here are some of the stories of our community – teachers, students and parents who together are the reason why Columbus Academy is recognized as one of the top independent day schools in the nation.
Mastering math, and loving it
Area ratios and volume ratios can be dry stuff. But not when taught by a math teacher who uses the movie Pirates of the Caribbean to help you understand. Chris Bolognese, the upper school math department chair at Columbus Academy, is always looking for ways to use technology to prepare a flipped classroom environment. For example, using an iPad, he records his own interactive videos and embeds them with purposeful questions that allow students to check their understanding of the geometry concepts prior to class.
It’s important that the student identify with the person in the video. Who better than me to be delivering the subject matter?” he says. “And the technology lets me track how long each student spent with the video, how everyone did with the questions and what we all need to spend more time on in the classroom.”
Mr. Bolognese’s creative thinking on how to expand beyond the four walls and 70 minutes of the classroom helps students internalize complex concepts so they can develop the same lifelong love of learning that he has.
Watch Mr. Bolognese in action in TeacherTalk: Flipped Geometry Class and see why, in 2017, he was awarded the Buck Martin Award for Exemplary Mathematics Teaching by the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics (OCTM).
Curiosity and energy spill out of the classrooms
You’ll find our campus is like no other, filled with spaces for spontaneous, dynamic and hands-on learning opportunities that engage students all over the campus, including in our hallways. Our Director of Early Childhood Program and Student Services, Brelle Farrenkopf, describes it this way:
In our makerspaces and interactive hallway displays you’ll see a variety of things. We have art projects, STEM projects, puzzles and challenges. Lots of collaborative activities that challenge kids to go outside their comfort zones.”
No instructions are given when the materials are placed into the displays. “It’s fun to just put them out and see what kids do with them,” Mrs. Farrenkopf says. All the displays are flexible and in constant change and motion. “You leave it one way, come back the next day and it’s another way,” she says, adding that sometimes parents even take part when they’re picking up their kids. “It’s a way for mom or dad to interact with their children’s learning and for the kids to take ownership of their learning.”
Innovative teachers make their mark with a curriculum that they design
Like her colleagues, middle school social studies teacher Laura Miller is a big believer in project-based learning.
Project-based learning is when you give students an extended amount of classroom time to work toward a goal, such as solving a problem, creating a product or meeting a challenge.”
For example, rather than just teaching about the Vietnam War, Mrs. Miller brings in a Vietnam veteran who shares his experiences, answers questions and tells stories only he can tell.
“Then the kids create their own mini-documentary or tell an engaging story about a related subject in which they have a personal interest, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, or the environmental impact of napalm, or the experience of a specific veteran,” she says.
Whatever the subject is, it’s always immersive, interactive and leaves a lasting impact. In the end, the students engage in the material at a deeper level because they are the drivers of their learning.
A lifetime of caring began at Academy
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Academy is small enough that I was able to do everything — academics, art, sports, newspaper — and have quality experiences in all of those areas.”
Experiences that were the catalyst for his success at Academy and beyond. Michael earned a B.A. in history, English and political science from Duke University; an M.A. from The Ohio State University, School of Education Policy and Leadership, Education Administration; and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. He was a policy analyst for the Children’s Defense Fund, an associate at Bricker & Eckler LLP, the executive editor of the Ohio State Law Journal, and is currently the executive director at the Human Service Chamber of Franklin County.