Our Headmaster, Mr. Michael Phillips, discusses the qualities that set Smith Prep apart.
You can find dozens of schools representing various philosophies of education throughout central Florida. Daily we hear of schools offering the newest and greatest technologies and the next best thing in education. Some schools advertise their niche programs enticing families with a narrowly focused curriculum and skill development in a particular area of interest. Other schools might include fine art programs, enrichment programs, athletics programs, and anything else that can catch the interest of students or families looking for a change. Some of these schools are good programs serving students and families well. With registration opening in less than a month why would a family choose Smith Prep over other organizations and institutions offering educational opportunities for their student?
1. We are a Christian School within the Reformed Tradition
Smith Prep is unapologetically a Christian school within the reformed tradition. What makes us a Christian school is not only that we require students to take a Bible class each year or because we pray together during opening and closing assemblies. Rather, it is because the faculty and staff are committed to the Lordship of Jesus over every discipline. Literature, history, science, and all the academic disciplines are taught in light of the biblical narrative of God’s redemptive purposes.
Furthermore, the conviction that all human beings are created in God’s Image directs our educational endeavors. We recognize the dignity and significance of each human being, and the aim of our education is to cultivate in each students a well-ordered love for all that is true, good, and beautiful. In this way we seek to establish a community of virtuous scholars who are advancing God’s kingdom in their community and throughout the world.
Throughout their course of studies at Smith Prep our students are catechized using the Westminster Shorter Catechism and they carefully read and study the Old Testament and the New Testament. Our Upper School also students formally study biblical theology, systematic theology, and apologetics.
2. We are a Classical School
Smith Prep offers a truly classical education. Most people rightly recognize that a classical paradigm of education is a challenging and academically rigorous path. Many also recognize the use of the trivium—Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric—to provide the structure of a classical education. Yet, many people are unable to articulate just how a classical program differs from any other educational paradigm.
Classical education is about the moral, intellectual, and spiritual formation of students. It seeks to shape or cultivate a disposition to the world that is animated by well-ordered loves. While other forms of education promote self-discovery, Smith Prep seeks to cultivate Christian virtue and fit the soul to God. G.K. Chesterton once said, “Education is not a subject, nor does it deal in subjects. It is instead a transfer of a way of life.” This way of life is modeled by our faculty and staff, demonstrated in our curriculum choices, and re-enforced through our yearly trips and activities.
3. We invite our students to the study of Western Civilization and teach them Latin
We introduce our students to the works that have contributed to the Great Conversation that is the Western tradition. Western civilization has a rich heritage of art, architecture, music, literature, and philosophy. The events, people, and ideas it encompasses have formed us and shaped our communities. To know ourselves, to provide an accurate critique of who we are and what we believe, to make informed decisions, and to make personal and informative adjustments in the way we see and respond to the world around us, it is imperative that we engage with the voices of the past that have shaped our present culture.
Latin allows our students to plumb the depths of our heritage. Our students begin Latin studies in 1st grade. In fact, we teach English grammar through Latin studies. Latin serves as the next step that follows on phonics. Once English students know how to read Latin, it will serve to strengthen their ease of reading and retention of reading content. Further, Latin accounts for nearly a third of our English words and provides the root words for nearly all technical vocabulary in the modern sciences. Additionally, Latin is the source language for law, government, logic, and theology. Studying Latin is an indispensable tool that will strengthen a student’s ability to think critically and inform their future participation in society. There are about a half a dozen other reasons we study Latin that you can find here, here, and here.
4. We are a hybrid program with qualified instructors
Over twenty years ago Smith Prep began as a tutoring service for homeschooling families. While we have become a fully accredited private school, we continue to embraces a blended paradigm. Smith Prep combines the best parts of a traditional homeschooling experience with that of a classical private school education. Our school partners with parents to provide a rich educational experience for each student.
Gifted and qualified teachers, who know and love their subject, work with students instructing, encouraging, and engaging them weekly. Students work at home with their parents on the remaining days. This allows for more personalized attention and serves to strengthen an already robust philosophy of classical education. This partnership enables students to flourish beyond what could typically be achieved in a traditional five-day-a-week program.
5. We are an accredited school offering college dual enrollment credits
For over twenty years Smith Prep has enjoyed its partnership with the Trinity School and most recently Veritas Academy. These fully accredited schools have come alongside our students and have provided them with guidance, diplomas, accredited transcripts, and graduation ceremonies. This past year Smith Prep has begun a permanent merger with Veritas Academy of Central Florida, a fully accredited private school. We expect the merger to be completed before this school year (2016-17) is completed.
Being an accredited school gives our school both a higher level of accountability as well as college and university accessibility. It provides nationally recognized credentials and certifies our professional standards. Accreditation assures our families that we are indeed meeting college and states standards.
Given our high standards and quality of instructors we are able to offer dual enrollment classes at our campus through Palm Beach Atlantic University. This provides our students the benefit of continuing their studies at Smith Prep while earning college credits.
6. We are cultivating students of the highest academic quality
Christian classical schools have a proven track record of practical results. SAT scores in Reading, Math, and Writing are over 100 points higher than the national average and 50 points higher than the average independent and religious private school. ACT scores are on average five to seven points higher than the national average in English, Math, Reading, Science, and Composition.
While Smith Prep has not been keeping track of its students statistics until relatively recently, we have seen this trend to be true in our student’s test scores and college enrollment. Last year we had our first student accepted to Air Force Academy and past students have gone on to attend Harvard, Cornell, Baylor, Covenant College, Texas A&M, the University of Florida, Belmont University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Stetson University, New College, and many other fine colleges and universities. Smith Preparatory students are well trained and suited to engage our culture and society.
7. We offer a unique education in Central Florida
There are simply no programs in Central Florida offering the blend of educational benefits available at Smith Preparatory Academy! There are no private schools, hybrid programs, or co-ops in or around Orlando that match Smith Prep’s distinctive culture and commitment to academic excellence. Smith Prep has a tried and proven record. We have served the greater Orlando area since 1995, and as we move forward we are looking forward to many more years serving this community.
For all those looking for alternatives in education I would encourage you to take a closer look at Smith Preparatory Academy. There are several informational meetings coming up. Make an appointment, visit the school, come and talk with our faculty and staff. For those of you who have been attending Smith Preparatory Academy keep up the hard work. I promise, it will pay off!