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UPDATED: What to Know When Choosing a Private School

Missing an open house doesn't mean the opportunity to visit the school is lost, and getting enrolled by early spring can guarantee your child a spot.

Private school registration for the 2013-14 school year is underway, and parents are scrambling to find the best private schools.

Dawn McComb, principal of Brookfield Academy’s Rochester Hills Campus, part of Michigan’s first Montessori school, said parents who visit at open houses often come prepared with specific questions.

“Parents are often very interested in the curriculum at the school. They want to know teacher-to-student ratio. They want to know about tuition,” she said.

Other FAQs asked are:

  • What are the after-school programs?
  • Are there uniforms and what’s their cost?
  • What are the school’s timings?
  • Is there childcare?
  • What’s the longevity of the staff?
  • What are the facilities?
  • What’s the class size?

What Makes Private, Religious and Montessori Schools Different

"The biggest difference between private schools and public schools is I think the smaller classes," said Amy Schlussel, director of admission at Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills.

She said they also emphasize personal development for teachers who participate in regular webinars and other training.

Schlussel said religious schools go a step further than private schools by developing students' character through the schools' core values.

"We’re giving them an identity and a self-confidence to who they are," she said. "It's beyond how they do in the classroom; it's how they are and the values they have."

Hillel Day School only accepts Jewish students, she said. Other religious schools like Mercy High School, a Catholic college preparatory school for young women, is open to students of various religious beliefs.

The Montessori philosophy focuses on the children's environment, which is designed to stimulate their interest and help facilitate understanding spontaneously with little or no adult intervention, according to Art Start Montessori Academy of Farmington Hills.

Different from other private schools, Montessori teachers often stand back while a child is working to allow the child the satisfaction of self-discovery, according to Art Start.

Parents can use online databases like Private School Search that help search for private schools in their area based on gender, religion, tuition and more.

Here are a few private schools in and near Clawson:

Guardian Angels

  • Faith-based (Catholic)
  • For: Catholic and non-Catholic students in preschool through eighth grade
  • Uniform: Yes
  • Yearly Tuition: not yet set for 2013-14; 2012-13 tuition: non-parishioners $5,100/parishioners: $4,700; preschool tuition varies
  • Location: 521 East Fourteen Mile Road, Clawson
  • Year-round programs: No
  • Handicap Accessible: Yes
  • Number of students: 310
  • Financial aid: Yes
  • Registration: opens March 10
  • Open House1:30 to 3:30 p.m. March 10

Shrine Preschool and Grade School

  • Faith-based
  • For: preschool through sixth grade
  • Uniform: Yes
  • Yearly Tuition: preschool: $1,100 to $3,200/half-day kindergarten: $2,650   (parish-subsidized); $3,300 (non-subsidized)/full day kindergarten and first grade: $4,660 (parish-subsidized); $6,000 (non-subsidized)/second through sixth grades: $4,660 (parish-subsidized); $6,925 (non-subsidized)
  • Location:1621 Linwood Avenue, Royal Oak
  • Year-round programs: No 
  • Handicap Accessible: Yes
  • Financial aid: Yes
  • Registration deadline: accepting returning students starting Feb. 28; general registration open until classes fill
  • Open House: 7 p.m. Feb. 28 (includes tours)

Shrine Catholic Academy and High School

  • Faith-based
  • For: seventh through twelfth grades
  • Uniform: Yes
  • Yearly Tuition: Academy: $5,400 (parish-subsidized); $8,650 (non-subsidized)/High School: $8,880 (parish-subsidized); $10,880 (non-subsidized)
  • Location: 3500 West 13 Mile Road, Royal Oak
  • Year-round programs: Yes
  • Handicap Accessible: Yes
  • Financial aid: Yes
  • Registration deadline: now accepting returning students; open until classes fill
  • Open House: possibly in mid-March; call to schedule a tour

St. Mary Catholic School

  • Faith-based
  • For: preschool through eighth grade
  • Uniform: Yes
  • Yearly Tuition: part-time kindergarten: $2,582 (in-parish); $3,582 (out-parish); full time kindergarten through fifth grade: $3,783 (in-parish); $4,783 (out-parish)/grades sixth through eighth: $3,883 (in-parish); $4,883 (out-parish)
  • Location: 628 S. Lafayette, Royal Oak
  • Handicap Accessible: Yes
  • Number of students: 218
  • Financial aid: Yes
  • Open House: 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. March 3 (for kindergarten through eighth grade)

St. Paul Lutheran School

  • Faith-based (Lutheran)
  • For: preschool through eighth grade
  • Uniform: Dress-code
  • Yearly Tuition: kindergarten through eighth grade (member rates): $1,650 for first child; $1,320 for each additional child/kindergarten (non-member rate): $1,650/first through eighth grades (non-member rates): $3,250 for first child; $2,600 for each additional child
    grades 1-8: $3,250; kindergarten: $1,650; non-Lutheran congregation tuition: $3,004
  • Location: 508 Williams Street, Royal Oak
  • Year-round programs: possible 2013 summer camp
  • Handicap Accessible: Yes
  • Number of students: 105
  • Financial aid: Yes
  • Registration deadline: open until classes are full
  • Open house: 2 to 4 p.m. March 10; Kindergarten Round-Up: 7 p.m. March 14
Ed February 20, 2013 at 02:56 PM
The Roeper School located in both Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham is an excellent option for gifted children. The school has an excellent athletic and fine arts program while delivering small class sizes. http://www.roeper.org/netcommunity
Haulin T Male February 25, 2013 at 03:09 PM
Roeper, when Clawson P S, could not do justice for this student they washed their hands, and Parents got him into Roeper, nd he thrived, I don't know , but of the Bullet points, he was able to advance at his own pace, be if supper fast in one curriculum, or slower in another, he was fine...... and turned out supper fine, I watched from afar, like up the street......
Haulin T Male February 25, 2013 at 03:11 PM
Why did Patch Delete the comments from several posters, ? on the first article ?
Haulin T Male February 25, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Last yr's Miss Clawson went to B Foley, now at (?) Air Force acad. (?) on some Scholarships, Patch did not cover B. Foley , do you know how many Kids from Claw, go to B F? quite a few, I say this cause the CPS parents think you have to be rich to go private....... not true. also you did not do Holy Name, and Bro Rice and Marian HS, I say this CAUSE parents do work in the area of B'ham, and take advantage of 2 fer ride in the morning, (work and school) and close for any meeting etc. you don't have to live in the schools area, to go there

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