What do you mean by independent school? Why do we refer to Shorecrest as an independent school and not as a private school? Why did we host a Florida Private Schools Fair and not an Independent School Fair?
Admittedly, geography; that is being located in the southern United States rather than the north, has some bearing on why people associate schools like Shorecrest, Berkeley Prep and Tampa Prep as private schools. But if one were to speak to the headmasters of those three schools, all would say their schools are Florida independent schools and not private schools. As members of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), we all agree to non-discriminatory practices that were once associated with private schools. Plans for desegregation of public schools and the passage of laws to require desegregation lead to the founding of hundreds of private schools around the county. Most independent and private schools in the southern United States were founded after the mid-1950’s.
WHAT IS AN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL?
Many of those schools soon started to enroll students because of their ability and not because of race, religion and/or creed. Today, independent schools like Shorecrest take pride in both non-discriminatory practices and efforts to provide financial assistance to academically qualified students who demonstrate need.
Independent schools are governed by a Board of Trustees who are responsible for school policies, the financial well-being of the school and the employment of a Head of the School. Independent schools are expected to be accredited by state or regional associations. They are also expected to comply with Principles of Good Practice that provide Boards, administrators, teachers and coaches with best practices for ensuring quality education.
Independent school may hire teachers that meet the mission and standards of the school. Expertise in one’s field of study is more important than teacher certification. Independent schools are free to develop curriculum suited for their students. While independent schools may test students, they are not required to use up valuable instructional time with mandated state exams. These freedoms contribute greatly to the success of independent schools.
Essential to being a member of NAIS is agreeing to Principles of Good Practice regarding Equity and Justice. Rather than encouraging schools to be private, NAIS and the Board of Trustees at Shorecrest encourage us to be an integral institution in the development of Saint Petersburg and Tampa Bay. Shorecrest’s Inclusivity Statement provides guidance to our community regarding our desire and commitment to welcome all members of the great community to participate in our school.
SCHOOLS + COMMUNITY
While Shorecrest intentionally keeps the school and class size small, we increasingly encourage students, faculty and staff to seek ways to become actively engaged with corporate, non-profit and governmental entities in our community.
In short, we are a not private school. We are independent and proud to be associated with the other independent schools that serve students around the world.