What Is an Independent School & Is It the Right Fit for Your Family?

This post is sponsored by Albuquerque Academy. ABQ Mom partners with organizations that bring value to our readers.

This post is the first of a three-part series for ABQ Mom. In the upcoming posts, parents with experience in independent schools will cover a variety of topics such as the benefits of an independent school, application calendar, and tuition assistance. We hope this blog series will answer questions about independent schools and help families navigate the educational process in Albuquerque. 

One of the biggest considerations that every parent will face is how to educate and socialize their children. Finding the right fit for your family is often one of the final determining factors.

As parents, we are acutely aware of opportunities that may be accessible to our children. With the increase in the number of schooling options available in the past couple of decades, families now have many options which can make the decision confusing and sometimes overwhelming. Charter (public and private), online, public/tax-payer supported, parochial, for-profit private, and not-for-profit private schools (also known as “independent schools”) are just some examples. It can be difficult to identify the differences and determine which is the best fit for your child.

Independent schools are flexible, nimble, and strong. They truly are able to meet the needs of the communities they serve. Independent schools have been around for centuries in our country and continue to offer some of the top educational experiences for students and their families. Being governed by a board of trustees means they are not required to follow the same governmental laws and restrictions as public schools and other public institutions. Most independent schools offer more than a classroom experience; they offer a community and a network that extends beyond the school itself. 

Even though I am the product of an independent school education, the value of an independent school experience didn’t become clear to me until I became a teacher and a parent.

Although I cannot speak directly about the other educational options, for the past 20 years, I have served as a teacher, coach, and administrator in two different independent school settings, first in Tennessee and now at Albuquerque Academy.

My wife and I researched different types of schooling for our children, and we tried some different options early in our children’s educational careers. We quickly found that the independent school experience best fit our family’s expectations. In order to uphold our family’s goals and values, we decided that we ultimately wanted a school that offered a balance of high academic rigor, excellent arts, a championship-caliber athletics programs, a strong college advising program, and support for student mental health. Fostering a love for learning, developing a growth mindset, and being able to thrive in a safe environment were also driving factors in where to send our children. 

Even so, we realize that not all independent schools are the same. They come in many different shapes and sizes, with their own strengths, values, and limitations. Do your research, begin making plans, and always ask questions along the way. 

So which one is the best? Answer: It’s the one that fits your family’s goals and values the most.

If you have questions about Albuquerque Academy or the independent school experience, please contact us at [email protected] or 505.828.3208.

About the Author

Shaun Gehres grew up in a military family that moved a lot throughout his childhood– he has friends everywhere. Shaun and his wife, Stephanie, a native Albuquerquean, returned to the city over a decade ago. They have two children who both attend Albuquerque Academy. The whole family enjoys playing and watching sports, watching Parks and Recreation, and vegging out on the couch. Shaun has worked at Albuquerque Academy since 2011 as a teacher, adviser, grade sponsor, dean of students, and coach during that time. He currently is the 6-7 program manager, director of student-athlete outreach, and head football coach.