Value of an Independent School

Vanguard College Preparatory School is a premier college preparatory school that stresses academic accomplishment alongside social development, athletic participation, enjoyment of the arts and ethical behavior. 
Our focus is the whole child, the whole family, the whole community. If you are looking for a superior education that nurtures strong, well-rounded individuals, Vanguard is the school for you.

Why Choose an Independent School?


Board of Trustees

Independent schools are governed by their own boards of trustees. They are financed by tuition payments, charitable contributions and endowment revenue, receiving little, if any, government funding. They adhere to rigorous accreditation standards. What does this mean for parents, students and Vanguard College Preparatory School?

  • We have the freedom to develop our own one-of-a-kind curriculum, allowing for enormous variety and creativity in teaching, course content and the ability to tailor and accelerate classes according to the needs of our students.
  • We establish very high standards for faculty based on our educational philosophy – we are not dictated to by state guidelines.
  • We are selective. We shape our learning community by choosing students and families who place a high value on an excellent liberal arts education and faculty and administrators who best fit our mission and vision.
  • We make the choice to have small class sizes, focus closely on each individual child’s strengths and challenges and foster meaningful relationships between students and faculty.


Benefits For Students

The National Educational Longitudinal Study, conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, found that students attending independent schools:

  • Are more likely to enroll in advanced courses than their counterparts in public, parochial and other private schools;
  • Watch only two–thirds as much television;
  • Are significantly more likely to participate in varsity or intramural sports;
  • Are more likely to agree that students and teachers get along well, discipline is fair and teaching is good;
  • Lead the nation in postsecondary achievement;
  • Place a higher value on community service and civic participation.


Real World Application

Independent schools are often described as schools that offer an education for the real world. We believe that our graduates are socially well-adjusted and are better prepared to enter the workforce or excel in post-secondary education.  Visit the National Association of Independent Schools website for more information on the value of an independent education.

We invite you to visit our campus to learn more about the benefits of an education for the real world.


The goal of choosing a school is to match a child’s abilities, interests and needs with the most appropriate educational setting. Independent schools have unique missions, philosophies and core values. The right school for any child is the one that can best meet the needs of that child. This decision may be made at the beginning of your child’s educational career or even in “midstream”. If an independent school was not your initial choice, at some point in your child’s education, you may decide that your child is not thriving and you want to pursue a different learning community.

  • Private School do not administer the state-mandated STAR Test. 
  • Public schools, funded by the state, are available free of charge for every child. There are many public schools options, including traditional, fundamental, magnet and charter schools. Public schools adhere to a set curriculum and all students participate in annual state standardized testing.
  • Private schools often are founded by parents and community members who adhere to a certain philosophy. They are supported through tuition from parents and alumni.
  • Independent schools may be secular or religious and may be based on a particular educational philosophy. They are governed by a board of trustees that is solely responsible for the school and are independently funded, mostly through tuition. Independent schools are characterized by strong academics, adherence to quality standards, autonomy in choosing curriculum and adherence to school mission.

All types of schools typically administer annual standardized tests, but nonpublic schools are free to choose the testing program that best fits its educational goals, rather than state-mandated tests.

After researching the schools in your area by visiting websites and talking with friends, neighbors, business associates and colleagues, call the school to arrange for a campus tour while school is in session. During the tour, ask key questions regarding curriculum, faculty, mission, extra-curricular activities and accommodations. Each school’s process will be unique, but in general, the steps following the school tour may include: completing an application, inquiring about a shadow date for your child, completing financial aid forms, if applicable, arranging for any required testing and contacting current school to have transcripts, testing results and references forwarded.

Independent schools adhere to a “triangle” approach to education – student, family, and school. These three are linked together to ensure a solid education for each child. Thus, parents are considered integral to the success of their child. Regular communication, including parent-teacher conferences, online and/or paper progress reports, newsletters and, sometimes, parent portals, are the norm in an independent school. Parents are encouraged to be active participants in the life of the school.  Schools typically have a wealth of volunteer opportunities where your involvement will be welcomed.

Financial assistance is based on family need; many families with above-average family incomes will qualify for some support.  The amount of assistance varies from school to school.  As part of the admission process, many schools will allow you to submit a Financial Aid form, which is the initial step in calculating the financial aid award.

Independent schools increasingly adhere to the following values and skills that are crucial for success in the 21st century, according to former NAIS President Pat Bassett:  Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, Critical thinking, Character Education and Cosmopolitism, or the understanding of global communities.  In the fall 2011 edition of Independent School magazine, an NAIS publication, an article entitled “Independent Schools: A Well-rounded Preparation for College and beyond”, cites impressive comparative statistics between public and independent school graduates.


Years ago, independent schools served only the affluent in our society; that is no longer the case.  Independent schools are now distinguished by adherence to mission, academic rigor, diversity, autonomy, character education, and service learning programs in an environment that fosters respect.

To fully benefit from an independent school education, the optimal time for a child to enroll is PreKindergarten or Kindergarten, while continuing in a similar school community through graduation. Independent elementary schools typically provide students with a solid academic base and study skills that will be beneficial for a lifetime.  Middle schools usually focus on the emerging young adults; many schools have advisory and character education programs to guide students through this transitional stage. Independent upper schools generally provide rigorous academic work, opportunities for leadership, service-learning in the community and athletics, and opportunities for strong college placement guidance.

Independent schools typically offer a wide range of sports, often have excellent facilities, and encourage students to participate and experience multiple sports. Independent schools recognize the importance of extra-curricular activities and are therefore committed to a successful program.

Faculty who choose to teach at an independent school are passionate about children and committed to excellence in their subject area.  They understand the value of forming relationships with students and working with students in many capacities (classroom teacher, club sponsor, coach, advisor).  They value the autonomy they are given in the creation and implementation of curriculum that both meets the school mission and engages students. Teachers value the parent/teacher/student relationship and welcome parent input.

Small classes allow faculty to truly get to know each child.  Teachers have time to monitor progress, answer questions in depth, and build a relationship with each child.  Additionally, the small class size allows time for interdisciplinary projects, collaboration, technology integration, and field trips.

There are NAIS schools whose missions are dedicated to students with learning differences. In addition, some schools have an academic support program with specialists trained to work with children and their unique learning styles and differences.

Sources include NAIS Statistics 2011-12, Independent School, NAIS Publication Fall 2011, AISNE website, Independents: The Newsletter of the Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS), Sept/Oct 2012, CAPE 2012 newsletter, FCIS Office website, November 2012, NAIS 2018 Website.