When it comes to private schools in Tacoma, what are your options? On a recent episode of the Move to Tacoma podcast Tacoma real estate agent Marguerite Martin interviewed Cheryl Schenk, an expert on Tacoma’s private schools. In this conversation they dig deep into what makes the private schools in Tacoma unique and how parents can find the best fit for their children. Here is a clip of the conversation from the episode:

There are a variety of private schools in Tacoma and across Pierce County. This blog post will help you as you go about selecting the right school for you and your student.

What are the private schools in Tacoma, Washington?

Tacoma, Washington has a variety of private and independent schools- both secular and religious. Secular private schools in and around Tacoma include Charles Wright Academy  in University PlaceAnnie Wright Schools in the Stadium District of Tacoma Community Montesori in the Hilltop Neighborhood of Tacoma, and Seabury School in Downtown Tacoma and Browns Point.

Religious Schools in and around Tacoma include:

Tacoma’s landscape of private education encompasses a broad spectrum, from independent to religiously affiliated schools. “The thing to know about independent schools is that these are schools that independently manage themselves,” says Cheryl. “As opposed to religiously affiliated schools that might have different funding and governance.” This is an important consideration for families considering which school’s cultural and educational ethos that aligns with their values.

How do I assess the quality of private schools in Tacoma?

Visit the campus of the school and make the most of your campus tour. In the interview, Cheryl emphasizes the importance of initial impressions when visiting potential private schools in Tacaoma.  “First of all, trust your gut,” says Cheryl. “When you walk into that school, from the parking lot to the entryway to the first person that you meet…all of that will intuitively tell you a lot about a community, a school community.” This instinctive feeling can often lead parents to understand whether a school’s atmosphere will be conducive to their child’s happiness and growth. Some questions to as yourself as your touring the school are:

  • How warm and welcoming are they?
  • How friendly are they?
  • Are you seeing students laughing?
  • Does it look like my child is going to be really delighted to go to school every day?

“A lot of what we can learn about schools, we just need to trust our intuition on,” says Cheryl. “And I think a lot of that can be gained through doing a campus visit. Many folks will start with a campus tour, and I think that’s a pretty typical way to begin an investigation into a school, or an open house type of event.”

Navigating the Enrollment Process

The process of enrolling in a private school in Tacoma can vary widely from one institution to another. Cheryl shares valuable advice on approaching this journey. Cheryl advises parents to START EARLY. “You want to get started as early as you can,” recommends Cheryl. “That said, if you’re just getting started, contact an admissions officer. They are going to be able to give you the best insight into what your options are.” Her emphasis on early engagement and direct communication with schools underscores the tailored nature of private school admissions.

Of course, starting early and enrolling at the beginning of the year is not always possible when people are moving to Tacoma. Many schools also have mid year enrollment or even rolling enrollment. “That is going to vary based on the program structure and the demand on enrollment whether a school is going to have the potential of mid year admission or not.” Cheryl advises reaching out to schools directly to find out how flexible they are on enrollment.

A Reflection on Educational Choices

Perhaps the most compelling advice Cheryl offers is a call for introspection among parents. A lot of times parents make decisions based on family tradition or their own experiences of education that may not apply to their student. “Just take a minute to unpack that,” she says.  The default choices families might lean towards based on familiarity or external expectations. This reflection is a reminder that the best educational path for a child may not always be the most obvious one and that exploring various options can reveal new potentials for their development and happiness.

“…Every student has their own physical, emotional, social, and academic  forms of development that…can vary quite a bit from one child to another within the same family,” she says. “They can be very different from a parent’s experiences of their own education. And so I think that just taking that time to be a little bit thoughtful and reflective will give you the ability to say, ‘Is there a school environment right around the corner that we’re not even considering that could actually really unlock some potential for our kid?'”

Are public or private schools the better option in Tacoma, Washington?

Whether a student will be happier and more successful at public or private schools is a very personal and individualized question. Parents researching schools that are new to Tacoma should know about Tacoma Public Schools, “Schools of Choice” in addition to their standard public school offerings. The schools of choice cater to students’ varied interests and talents. They are:

The mission of the schools of choice is to change public education by emphasizing creativity and utilizing a fully inclusive model that educates the whole student through our core values of empathy, community, balance, and thinking. You can learn more about this and other innovative opportunities offered by Tacoma Public Schools by listening to the podcast, “Tacoma Public Schools with Tanisha Jumper.” Here is a highlight from that episode:

Conclusion: Private Schools in Tacoma offer a variety of opportunities

The diverse array of private schools in Tacoma represents not just different educational philosophies but communities ready to embrace and nurture students in a variety of unique ways. As families moving to Tacoma navigate these choices, this episode with Cheryl offers a valuable roadmap for considering what each Tacoma school can offer beyond academics.

Additional resources for researching Tacoma Schools:

Tacoma Public Schools Superintendent Carla Santorno Podcast

University Place School Board Member T’Wina Nobles Podcast

Washington State Teacher of the Year Nate Bowling Podcast

How to Research Tacoma Schools Video

Thinking of moving to Tacoma, Washington? Check out the resources below for more answers to questions people have when they move to Tacoma.

We also have this clickable neighborhood map and neighborhood guide that includes median home price by neighborhood if you’d like to explore Tacoma and Pierce County!

Here is a link to the MoveToTacoma.com Podcast if you’d like to learn more about Tacoma culture!

Marguerite Martin is a different kind of Tacoma real estate agent. Check out the Tacoma Neighborhood Guide to find answers to questions you have about neighborhoods in Tacoma and Pierce County. When the time is right to start looking, Marguerite can connect you with a local real estate agent who specializes in the neighborhoods you love most. Click here to contact Marguerite.

Picture of Tacoma Realtor Marguerite Martin with text that reads "Ready to move to tacoma?" Contact Marguerite Marguerite has been a real estate agent in Tacoma for more than 18 years. She can introduce you to the best agents in town, at no cost to you!