By Adrienne Boudreau:
Though most people are aware of Nardin Academy High School (the Cleveland Avenue all girls, independent Catholic school), many don’t realize that Nardin Academy also has an Elementary school and a Montessori school campus.
I’m very passionate about public education. “It’s how normal people grow up!” I shoot back at my guy when we discuss schooling our hypothetical future child. But as I toured Nardin Academy last week I started to see the benefits private education can offer beyond the beautiful architecture.
First, Nardin Academy offers traditional elementary education from K to 8th grade that combines regular American educational structure with the benefits of attending a private school.
“We know that parents are paying tuition so we want to offer them the most enriched education we can. All students, boys and girls, are required to take dance lessons until 8th grade, tap, jazz, ballroom…,” said Jana Eisenberg, Director of Communications, as she shows me the bright professional quality dance studio in the Elementary school. The high school features a 2-storey high orchestra room, and the elementary music program is led by local Buffalo musician Mark Mazur. Many productions are put on at 710 Main Street, formerly Studio Arena Theatre.
Class sizes are, on average, 10 students per staff member, and the entire campus itself totals at about 1000 students.
The school has put in place a technology initiative too. Each student will soon receive a tablet for his or her own use, and modular desks are planned for the future to create a more interactive and flexible working environment (to help support different learning styles). Kind of like how a modular sofa can be rearranged for different tasks, these desks will be able to fit together differently for group work, solo research or partnering.
“Children love having these options and they learn to become graceful and courteous here. Respecting others’ personal space but being friendly is a huge thing at Nardin. We rarely have children bumping into each other,” said Eisenberg.
The Montessori school, the oldest one in Western New York, has its main Montessori campus on West Ferry Street. The property was initially owned by the Albright family and then the Oishei family, so its roots run deep.
“Parents fear that Montessori education has no structure but it just has a different kind of structure,” said Eisenberg, herself a product of Montessori schooling. Montessori education puts an emphasis on individualized learning, with students spending more time on what interests them, rather than specific blocks of the day for each subject.
Montessori education also teaches children a respect for life and peaceful cooperation. Each Montessori classroom has at least one form of life in it, like a bunny or a fish, that the children help take care of. They learn to plan, shop and prepare snacks for each other and themselves, and disagreements can be talked out calmly outdoors in what is known as a “Peace Garden.”
Tuition for Nardin’s programs average at $11,000 each year and Eisenberg wanted to remind me that financial aid is available and the part time programs for toddlers are obviously cheaper than the full time ones.
“We do work with families to make it possible for them. We have a lot of appeal to a lot of different people,” she said.
For those interested Nardin hosts two open houses for toddlers through 8th grade on April 29 and May 4. There will be tours, and students and staff available to answer any questions.