There are more than 100 private schools across Hawaii, and like our unique children, each school offers different opportunities and experiences for our keiki. Though it is not always an easy process, the decision is definitely an important one. Your child could be spending five days a week for the next six, nine or even twelve years at this school – receiving an education that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Choosing the right school for your child can be both overwhelming and time consuming – tours and application fees take both time and money, with neither commodity being in infinite supply. But if you start your search early at home, you can often narrow down your choices into a smaller, more manageable list.
For personal insight, talk to other parents, friends, neighbors, and co-workers about their children’s schools. Read through this guide, full of descriptions for a handful of schools, and start making a list of potential options. Finally, take into consideration the school’s location, education philosophy, religious affiliation, accreditation, cost, and teachers.
RESEARCH AND TOUR
When considering a private school, you must look beyond the brochures. While advertisements and glossy packets are a great way to learn the basics and reach a quick judgment, parents should continue their research in order to make the right decision; a visit to the school’s website can often help eliminate schools that are obviously inconsistent with your family’s values and needs, but the best way to research a school is to schedule a tour.
Take the tour as an opportunity to ask questions and observe what you may not be able to find in a brochure. Pay close attention to the students and faculty – are they happy and engaged? Would you feel comfortable spending the entire school day there, five days a week? Would your children?
A long commute during rush hour can easily steal hours from your family every week that could be used more wisely. Being habitually late or stuck in traffic will only add more stress to your daily life.
Though your heart may be set on a certain school because you, your spouse, or other family members attended, pause and think about what works best for your family. Even if you are accepted, do you really want your children to get comfortable in a school so far away that after a year you are going to want them to transfer somewhere closer?
A school close to home is an obvious convenience for everyone, though a school close to the parent’s place of employment may also be a viable option. Consider the availability of before and after school care. If a school’s location or hours simply will not work with your family’s schedule, think of it as one less application fee and move on.
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION
With so many options available to Hawaii parents, there is sure to be a school to fit everyone’s educational preferences and ideals. Consider the following: Would your child work better in a co-ed or same gender education environment? Do you value a traditional academic program above all else, or are you open to progressive, less-rigid programs? Would your child thrive in a large school with many grade levels and resources, or would they learn better in a smaller, more intimate setting?
Are you set on the idea of a Montessori, Waldorf, Emilia Reggio, or International Baccalaureate program? If these terms are completely unfamiliar to you, it might be wise to set aside some time to conduct research. A quick Internet search can provide a basic outline of a variety of educational philosophies available and how your child’s individual personality and temperament would fare in each program.
Some families might place an emphasis on their religious belief system, and would prefer that their children attend a private school with religious affiliations that align with and reinforce their beliefs. There are some programs that will gladly accept students of different religions, while others will not. For parents considering religious schools, ask yourself if you are comfortable with the amount of instruction – or lack thereof – spent on religious studies.
Though you may be more interested in college acceptance and test scores, it is important to consider your child’s interests as well – is there an art program that would satisfy your budding painter? Does the school provide the opportunity for your little league star to play competitive team sports? Look into extracurricular activities and summer camp options to see if your child’s interests are represented.
Even if your family does not place priority on religion or a specific learning philosophy, it is important to look over the school’s mission statement to determine if their goals and beliefs are compatible with what you want to teach your children.
In order to be licensed or accredited in Hawaii, schools must follow a procedure that involves both self-evaluation, as well as evaluation from an outside party. Because accreditation involves both copious amounts of time and money, newer schools might still be in the process of gaining accreditation.
The Hawaii Council of Private Schools (HCPS) was formed in 1995 to develop and regulate specific standards and procedures for operating a private or independent school in Hawaii. HCPS operates under the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools (HAIS).
Parochial and religious schools are regulated by the religious bodies that govern the schools; for example, the Hawaii Catholic Diocese governs all Catholic schools in the state. Many parochial and church schools also work closely with the HAIS.
Hawaii’s private schools range from $2,000 a year to over $20,000 a year. But do not necessarily rule out a school that may appear out of your budget. Though you may wince at the sticker price, financial aid could be readily available. You never know what assistance you might be eligible for if you don’t apply. That said, do not put all your eggs in one basket; apply to more than one school, including those within your price range. While you should not bank on the notion that you will receive financial aid, you do not want to discredit the idea either and miss an opportunity.
TEACHERS AND FACULTY
Each private school is sure to have different standards and educational requirements for their teachers. These requirements also differ from the standards and requirements at many public schools. The Department of Education may require head teachers to have a specific degree and amount of experience, but a smaller school may use volunteer members as classroom aides. While a degree is not always indicative of a passion for teaching, you should feel free to ask about the qualifications that are important to you. Some private schools may have even stricter requirements for their staff members, as they may be able to offer higher salaries.
In order to make the best decision for your child and family, sit down and make a list of what you are looking for in a private school – and then prioritize that list. It is not always possible to find a school that meets every single preference, and you might find that nine out of ten is not bad. Keep an open mind, and once you have narrowed down your list to three to five schools, closely follow and adhere to admission deadlines and start the application process.
PRIVATE SCHOOL GUIDE FAQ
1. So many schools, so many choices. How do I choose?
Make a checklist of what you and your child are looking for in a private school. This will help you determine which schools to keep on your application list and which ones to remove. Some things to add on your checklist are school size and type, student to teacher ratio, teaching strategies, financial aid, after school or summer programs, types of extracurricular activities, school special events like fairs and award dinners, sports offered, and their college admission process. Once you find a school that checks everything off your list, then you’ll know you found the right school.
2. When should I start the application process?
Application dates vary for each school, but here’s a timeline of what to expect.
Fall (a year before you want to enroll): Research schools, arrange visits, register for SSAT or other required tests, and tour schools.
Winter: Submit applications, request financial aid forms if applying, make sure your current school submits transcripts, teacher evaluations, recommendation letters, and call admission offices to make sure they have your application.
Spring: This is when you’ll find out if you’re child got accepted or put on a waitlist, what your financial package is, and make sure you let the school know if you’re accepting their offer.
3. How many private schools should I apply for?
There is no minimum or maximum amount. You should apply for schools that best fit your child’s needs and is affordable for your family.
4. What is SSAT and is it required to get into a private school?
SSAT is known as the Secondary School Admission Test administered by The Enrollment Management Association. This standardized admission test is for students in grades 3-11 and helps admissions counselors to make decisions regarding admission. The test measures verbal, quantitative and reading skills. Application requirements vary for each school, so it’s best to speak to an admission counselor if this test is required or not.
5. What if I miss their application deadline?
There are many factors as to why you might have missed the application deadline. Maybe you only applied to one school and didn’t get accepted, or the financial aid package wasn’t enough, or your family just moved to a new place. Don’t fret, there’s still a way for you to get in. Use the School Search tool from SSAT, type in your zip code or town, select the semester you’re applying for in the “Open Seat Listing” on the left side of the page, and hit search. It will pull up a list of schools in your area that are still accepting applications, along with contact information.
Private Schools Directory
Assets School provides learning that transforms lives through a strengths-based curriculum that is specifically designed for each student. Our low student-to-teacher ratio is what allows us to provide the necessary time and attention that is essential for the success of each child.
Is your child bright, but struggling to learn to read, write or spell? Does your child feel discouraged and anxious about school? If so, Assets School may be the right choice for your family. Our teachers understand the importance of creating an environment where children can discover the joy of learning. We provide an individualized, integrated learning environment for students who are gifted, dyslexic or just learn differently. For more information, visit assets-school.net or call 808-423-1356.
Damien Memorial School
Damien Memorial School is a Catholic, coed, college preparatory middle and high school committed to excellence in education and service to the community. Small class sizes offer students in grades 6-12 individualized attention from dedicated teachers and counselors within a safe and supportive learning environment.
Damien’s highly qualified faculty provides students with a rigorous educational experience that prepares them to attend the finest colleges and universities in America. Our nurturing environment enables teachers to address the individual learning needs of all our students by cultivating their academic, personal and spiritual growth. On average our graduates have earned $4 million in scholarships and have achieved a 98 percent acceptance rate at colleges and universities in 26 states, including enrollment at United States Military Academy West Point.
Damien’s campus is a well-designed learning environment that features air conditioned classrooms and science labs, computer labs, media center, learning commons, 1,000-seat gymnasium, a newly completed Clarence T.C. Ching Athletic Center, football/soccer practice field, batting cages, chapel, counseling center, band practice rooms, aquaculture/hydroponics lab, and full-service cafeteria. The school also participates in sports programs with the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.
The Hawai’i Association of Independent Schools (HAIS) advocates on behalf of independent education in Hawaii, provides services that strengthen individual schools, and engages them to achieve educational quality and excellence for all students. HAIS Vision is to support member schools and other organizations in preparing all Hawaii students for the challenges of life and social responsibility.
The primary activities of HAIS are: 1) perpetuating school renewal through accreditation and/or licensing of its member schools; 2) developing and delivering professional development opportunities relevant to 21st Century learning for the faculty and staff of its member schools; 3) promoting choice as an important community value and assisting parents in learning about independent education; 4) creating public-private partnerships that support and enhance public education.
HAIS creates opportunities – including programs, professional development and conferences – that all educators are able to access.
Call 808-973-1540 or visit hais.us to find out how to become a member.
Nestled in the heart of Mililani is Hanalani Schools, an independent, private Christian school focused on developing students from preschool through high school. They believe in nurturing and developing the whole child – mentally, physically, and spiritually – through a college-preparatory program focused on STEAM (STEM + Arts) and grounded in Biblical values.
With dozens of sports programs, a championship robotics program, and a wide variety of fine arts, Hanalani encourages students to pursue their passions and excel in all that they do.
For more information, visit hanalani.org, or call 808-625-0006.
Hawaii Baptist Academy
Hawaii Baptist Academy (HBA) is pleased to celebrate 70 years of academic excellence rooted in faith. Founded in 1949, their motto, “Christ for every nation,” has guided them in creating a safe and nurturing Christian school environment. Students are supported by outstanding faculty and staff in their pursuit of excellence, exploration in faith, and preparation for the journey of life.
HBA is a private, co-educational, college preparatory school located on three campuses serving students from Kindergarten through grade twelve. They offer ample opportunities for participation in athletics, extra-curricular activities and an exceptional academic program that uses time-tested instructional methods, supported by cutting-edge technology. HBA also operates on a modified year-round school calendar to maximize learning and retention.
At HBA, they seek to nurture the unique abilities and inherent talents of every child. They provide a foundation of faith, building opportunities for life-long friendships, and teach compassion through service learning to encourage students to become well-balanced citizens and leaders in the community.
Lanakila Baptist Schools (LBS) has been educating children for 50 years. Their well rounded, Biblically based college preparatory program of study emphasizes mastery of the fundamentals, which are vital to each student’s success in academia with the truth of God’s word.
Decades of successful graduates have proven their traditional system and teaching methods to be effective, enabling 100% of the graduates to receive college scholarships to universities & colleges of their choice. At LBS, your child will become an informed, discerning individual, who is solidly equipped with the knowledge and critical reasoning skills that enable success in future academic endeavors, career pursuits, and life.
For information, application and admission requirements call 808-677-0731 or visit www.lbswarriors.com.
For over 50 years, La Pietra – Hawaii School for Girls has been educating young women to lead lives of achievement by offering an innovative, college preparatory program designed to challenge and inspire young women to discover their passions, realize their potential and become the architects of their own success stories.
With a low 7:1 student to teacher ratio and small class sizes averaging 10 – 15 students, girls thrive academically and socially in their uniquely sized school that offers personalized attention, supportive teachers who understand each girl’s individuality, and a school culture that is committed to how girls learn best.
A strong college preparatory curriculum, combined with a rich array of course offerings and robust opportunities in extracurricular, leadership, athletic, and arts programs, cultivate their values of Confidence, Curiosity and Identity to prepare students to find success in college and beyond.
Give your daughter the education she deserves at La Pietra – Hawaii School for Girls, where confidence soars! Call the Admissions Office at 808-922-2744 for more information.
Students at Maryknoll School are nurtured, coached and inspired to discover their passions, pursue their interests and become lifelong learners, 21st century leaders and global citizens of character. Maryknoll’s innovative programs for grades K-12 prepare students for the careers of the future. Your child can be part of Hawaii’s only school-day Mandarin Chinese Immersion Program; K-8 Project Lead The Way (PLTW) engineering; High School Mx Scholar Programs in STEM & Aerospace, Medical Innovation, Business & Diplomacy and Creative Arts & Expression; or earn a college associate degree through Hawaii Pacific University.
Navy Hale Keiki (House of Children) School takes pride in delivering quality early childhood education for every student in a safe and nurturing environment. They are a small private school comprising of just over 200 students from ages 3 years old through 5th grade. Their family setting has a strong foundation of trust, respect and accountability. Navy Hale Keiki School prioritizes the social, emotional and intellectual characteristics to good citizenship in both school and in a global setting. The school is open to all children.
Our Savior Lutheran School, now Cross Academy, builds a solid Christian foundation for learning that encompasses the whole child by including virtues and emotional maturity, as well as academic, moral, aesthetic, social, physical and service-leadership dimensions in a well-rounded educational program for preschool through eighth grade. OSLS teachers implement the S.T.E.A.M. project-based science, technology, engineering, art and math program to further inspire and prepare students with more real-world work. Promoting active learning, all K-8 classes have P.E., art and expert computer practice. After-school clubs, summer school and many event projects help to further expand the range and diversity of student’ educational experiences.
Pali Preschool provides a warm, nurturing, healthy, stimulating and enlightening environment that allows the children to grow at their own individual rates of development. We provide a variety of fun and thought-provoking hands on experiences in a loving, caring, Christian environment.
These experiences help the children not only develop their basic concepts, but to also develop a positive sense of self-concept, self-confidence and self-esteem. By building sound social and emotional skills the children are better able to become successful in their academic growth.
At Pali Preschool we focus on the process rather than the product in the work that the young learners render. We see play and hands on experiences as the foundation for academic or “school” learning. We believe in developing the whole child.
Students at Sacred Hearts Academy learn collaboratively in a safe and nurturing environment using hands-on materials. With the goal of educating the whole child, students engage in interactive cognitive activities such as reading, math, technology, science, social studies, physical education, art and music. The Academy’s Pre-School recognizes and accommodates each child’s individual needs, interests and learning styles. Parents play an active part in their children’s learning and are welcome to participate in school events and activities.
For more information, contact the Academy Admissions Director Karen Muramoto at email@example.com or 808-734-5058, ext. 224.
Soto Academy is a nondenominational day school from kindergarten through sixth grade. It is located on the grounds of Soto Mission of Hawaii in Nu‘uanu, close to downtown Honolulu. Soto Academy is dedicated to developing good citizens and academic proficiency through character, social and physical development. It offers a challenging academic program with small, self-contained classes. Classrooms are air-conditioned for comfort.
Good study habits, integrity, responsibility and organization are stressed. In addition to core classes, the curriculum includes Japanese Culture and Language, Hawaiian Studies, art, music, taiko, and physical education. Computer classes allow children in all grades to develop computer skills including keyboarding, Internet proficiency and Microsoft Office applications. Students are made aware of the impact of computers on the individual and society. Before-school care and after-school study hall are available.
Since 1952, St. Anthony School Kailua has been centered on educating the whole child from preschool through grade 8. The Early Learning Center provides preschool-aged children with a stimulating learning environment focusing on discovery, creativity, faith formation, and preparation for Kindergarten.
Kindergarten through 8th-grade students focus on a curriculum that is academically rigorous, with core subject instruction & specialty classes including the arts and faith formation. The curriculum prepares students for future academic success and to become moral citizens who serve others in the world. Excellent teachers guide their students to be 21st Century learners.
St. Anthony School Kailua is fully accredited by the WCEA and WASC.
For more information, please visit saskailua.org or call 808-261-3331.
St. Elizabeth School
St. Elizabeth School is a Catholic Community dedicated to the formation of the whole child from kindergarten to grade 12. The school offers education in Religion, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education, Music, Art, Robotics, and Computer Literacy. To round out the students’ experience, St. Elizabeth School also offers extracurricular activities. Before-school care for children in Kindergarten through eighth grade is available, as well as after school care. Extended care for Preschool is available up to 5:00 p.m. Located in Aiea.
For more information or an application visit steliz-hi.org or call 808-488-5322.
St. Joseph Parish School
St. Joseph Parish School believes parents are the primary educators of their children. They support and assist the parents by nurturing the spiritual, intellectual, social, emotional, cultural, aesthetic, and physical growth of the whole person in a safe and caring family environment. St. Joseph’s is located in Waipahu and offers education for children from preschool through grade 8.
Saint Louis School is the only all-male day school in Hawaii offering a college preparatory education to students in grades Kindergarten through 12.
The Admissions process at Saint Louis School is a very personable one. Each applicant is considered on his own merit with the idea that he will work towards matriculating to a college or university of his choice. As a Catholic Marianist School for young men, Saint Louis considers students with varied abilities from various socio-economic backgrounds.
The Admissions Committee will consider all aspects of the application and will weigh all aspects of the application equally. The student’s desire to attend Saint Louis is also considered. Admissions decisions are made based on the “overall” evaluation. Call 808-739-4832.
St. Patrick School
St. Patrick School strives to provide a quality Catholic education characterized by strong Christian values, ethics and morals. Programs and extra-curricular activities nurture life skills in leadership, collaboration, positive participation and effective communication.
Academics are emphasized, as well as religion, Hawaiiana, computer literacy, music, art and physical education. For fifth through eighth graders, enrichment activities, such as civics, photography, environmental science, ceramics, basketball, tennis, Japanese and Spanish, round out the academic program.
The Early Learning Program gives students the resources to thrive and to expand their horizons. Classes such as Web Design, Typing, Team Sports, Strength and Agility, World Languages, Clay Sculpture, Music Composition, and Theatre Performance are offered. St. Patrick’s incredibly affordable tuition offers an outstanding private school education for your child. Open to children ages 3 years through Grade 8.