Independent Schools These schools are governed
by their own board. Some are secular, while others have
a religious mission but are not part of or dependent on
a specific church or temple. Independent schools in
Marin County include Corte Madera’s Marin Country
Day School, Mill Valley’s Marin Horizon School and San
Rafael’s Marin Academy.
Catholic Schools Although there are schools affiliated with most every religion, the Catholic school system is such a major institution — enrolling 38 percent
of all private school students nationwide, according to
the National Center for Education Statistics — that it
deserves its own category. A Catholic school may be established and supported by a parish, a diocese or a private order such as the Jesuits or Franciscans. Not all
families who choose Catholic schools subscribe to the
faith; nationwide, 17 percent of their students are non-Catholic, according to the National Catholic Education
Association. Catholic schools in Marin include Kentfield’s
Marin Catholic High School, Novato’s Our Lady of Loretto
School and Tiburon’s Saint Hilary School.
Non-Catholic Religious Schools If you add up all the
other types of religious schools — conservative Christian,
Jewish, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventists, Quaker and
others — they enroll about as many students as Catholic
schools do, nationwide. Non-Catholic religious schools
in Marin include San Rafael’s Brandeis Marin (Jewish)
and Good Shepherd Lutheran School and Marin Christian
Academy, both in Novato.
Montessori Schools This approach to education has
been around for more than a century, but it’s enjoyed a
surge in popularity in recent decades as parents increasingly embrace Montessori’s focus on the whole child,
with independent activities and materials that appeal to
kids’ senses. The North American Montessori Teachers
Association estimates there are about 4,500 Montessori
schools in the United States, most of them private. Maria
Montessori originally developed her teaching philosophy for preschoolers, and the majority of Montessori
schools still focus on early childhood education. But
some include elementary and even secondary grade levels. Montessori schools in Marin include Corte Madera’s
Marin Montessori School and San Rafael’s Montessori de
Terra Linda School.
Waldorf Schools Less common than other private
school models, with only about 150 schools in North
America according to Waldorf Answers, this is nonetheless an attractive educational philosophy to many progressive parents. Waldorf is sometimes lumped with
Montessori since both allow students to move beyond the
desks and worksheets of today’s mainstream classroom.
However, Waldorf schools in practice are pretty different
from Montessori. Students in a Waldorf school may spend
more time creating things, whether it’s artwork or knitting with wool. Another distinguishing factor: Waldorf
schools don’t teach academics until first grade. Waldorf
schools in Marin include Mill Valley’s Greenwood School
and Fairfax’s WISE Academy, a Waldorf-inspired charter
school. For more on how Waldorf differs, see blog.sgws.
Know Your Schools
CHOOSING THE RIGHT EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE FOR
YOUR CHILD BEGINS WITH PINPOINTING THE DIFFERENCES.
BY CARRIE KIRBY
When you’re selecting a private school, it helps to narrow the field by deciding what kind of school you want your child to attend. The following categories are not mutually exclusive; some schools may fit into two or more, such as St. Helena Montessori, a Montessori school that includes Catholic teachings. Even so, knowing how the main types of schools are defined will help you advance your search.