What differentiates us? There are several ways: they take a holistic approach to education based on Judeo-Christian values. We feel that our children’s interactions with staff and students of all ages and backgrounds allows the child a unique and diverse approach to character development. That, and within the curriculum a strong emphasis is placed on the merits of the 3Rs as being the fundamentals (or foundations) necessary to make our students learners! Lastly and not at all least, our “school community” is a tremendous strength and gives both student and parents a feeling that they are part of something special – a school that teaches the importance of merit over mere participation. They leave us ready to take on whatever social, or academic challenges they might encounter throughout their lives. Our children are provided a strong social and academic base!
Past St. John’s Parent
Well, if I’m being asked what makes us different from other schools in the area, the differences are myriad! But regardless of whether the comparison is with the local public system, or, say, other local private schools, I would say the following:
What makes us special is that we are private. Parents choose to send their children to SJES because they place a high value on education and they are highly engaged/invested in the process. And we, as a school, decide on who is admitted to the school and who gets to remain in the school based on this commitment to high-quality education. The fact that we are a faith-based school adds a moral component that increases the value. When I send my child to SJES I can feel confident in knowing that he or she is growing morally, not just intellectually, and is associating with other students who, along with their parents, share this type of value. Simply put, my son or daughter is hanging around good, decent kids who come from good, decent families. And I knew – and felt good in knowing – that my child was not just being taught but being “cared for” at SJES, in that I knew his teachers truly cared about him and were invested in helping him grow as a student and a young person.
It’s a small school, with small class sizes. This means the physical nature of the school feels more like a home – more intimate and inviting to students and parents. The teachers are also able to build closer bonds with their students and offer more personalized instruction. It also means parents of the students are able to build closer bonds with each other and, in turn, with the school. Parental involvement is a huge plus at SJES and that is largely due to the fact that it is a small family.
The way teachers teach at SJES is, in one sense, kind of “old-fashioned,” yet radically different than the way public education has evolved. The Carden method is a proven success story in helping students learn more effectively. You won’t get Carden in other schools in the Permian Basin – public or private. And any standardized testing is used as a diagnostic tool to help track the student’s progress and areas that may need attention. And this is radically different than the mindless treadmill in the public system, where teaching is geared toward passing a standardized test and so much falls through the cracks as a result. And everyone is stressed out. So much more learning goes on in a place like SJES because of the approach toward teaching/learning that the school takes – and teachers love teaching and students love learning because of this.
SJES proves that a student can excel in an environment of quality education – not rigorous education. I still tell the story of the conversation I once had with an AP English teacher years ago at Bowie. She told me that her AP students were composed of graduates of SJES and other schools and that on average the St. John’s students performed every bit as well if not slightly better than students who came up through a much more stressful system, defined by massive amounts of mind-numbing work.
Past St. John’s Parent
It is my experience that the typical student that is enrolled at St Johns is expected to excel. This can be difficult to measure but easy to experience. These expectations are placed on the student by the parents and teachers. I believe that education begins at home with the family. An eight year old student attending St John’s doesn’t understand the value of education but their parents do and expect their child to not only attend school but to thrive. The parents have the opportunity to be involved with the school and their child’s development. A lot of parents readily make sacrifices to keep their children in this school knowing the value of a strong academic start for their children. Next follows the staff at St John’s. The administration and teachers at St John’s wants your child to succeed. (All the brilliance of a child and support of a family can be wasted if the child is constantly placed in a toxic environment where the administration is bogged down with reaching passing standards and dealing with societal issues and the teacher is simply biding their time until the next vacation day.) Our teachers are here because they want to teach. The emphasis is placed on learning not passing a test. (I sometimes feel that the ability to think has been lost by the average member of society.) The students are placed in challenging situations (Speaking in Chapel, Science Fair, presenting at pageants) and are properly prepared to handle such situations. I have always been amazed at how the teachers seem to know all the students even the ones not in their classes/grades. There is a family feel. I always feel welcome by the teachers and administration.
Past and Present St. John’s Parent
I think one thing that sets apart St. John’s is the small community atmosphere. It is nice to know that teachers other than my children’s own know them by name. The small class sizes allow for more teacher-student interaction. Also knowing that all the teachers are degreed and certified suggests that St. John’s takes education for its students seriously. The learning environment is fostered in such a way that a joy of learning is nurtured. Our kids like attending St. John’s. The school takes measures to ensure a safe environment for our kids.
St. John’s regards every person as a child of God. Our faculty models dignity and respect for the entire community. Our worship is grounded in praise of God for the goodness of creation, and is respectful of diverse faith traditions. SJES is a safe and encouraging environment where children thrive in their learning as they become who God creates them to be.
As a native of Odessa, I have time and time again heard with what high regard St. John’s is held by its teachers, parents, alumni, and members of the community. After being a St. John’s parent and teacher, I am undoubtedly in harmony with that fondness. The Carden curriculum is second to none, and provides the students with a distinguished education and love of learning. The devotion of the parents and teachers to The Lord through prayer and service is remarkable, and it is because he is sought by the hears of St. John’s that He sprinkles His blessings in abundance. The sacredness of our sweet school is the fruition of years of prayers for His favor sown by some many that have loved this ministry in education for so many years. The Jesus light shines radiantly at St. John’s.
We love the St. John’s family—it’s personal. As a parent I love: that Chapel is offered; the foundation of the Carden Method; that the teachers love their jobs and the children in their classes; that we have a school board and vestry that support, love and care about what happens at St. John’s and believes in its future; the small class sizes of my own children’s classes and that there is 1 on 1 instruction and re-instruction on a personal level when needed; that my children are not just a number, that the office knows them on a personal level. We have an amazing school board that purchases and plans for the future needs of our school and students and wants good things for St. John’s. The alumni and parents of St. John’s love and believe in St. John’s future!!