Checking in on alternatives to public education around the Inland Northwest

click to enlarge Checking in on alternatives to public education around the Inland Northwest
Young Kwak photo
The "Three Companions Statue" at Gonzaga Prep.

For families seeking an alternative to public education, the Inland Northwest has a range of secular and private school options. While public schools in Spokane and other parts of Washington are still facing a pandemic-related decline in enrollment, many private schools report an increase in students.

Jamie Tender, head of school at Saint George's, a K-12 private school in north Spokane, says the school has seen an increase in interest from prospective students — especially 9th and 10th graders. Tender says he's also seen a growing number of families from out of town searching for their first school in Spokane.

"The nice thing about Spokane is we're able to both provide good public schools, but also strong private schools," Tender says.

For families interested in exploring private schooling options, Tender says his biggest piece of advice is to visit the school in person. Doing research on the school's website is a good start, but Tender says nothing beats seeing the campus yourself and getting a sense of the school's values, mission and vibes.

Derek Duchesne, vice principal of academics at Gonzaga Preparatory School, agrees. "My advice would be to go on a family tour of the school and do the same thing at a local public school too. Really sit down and weigh the pros and cons and figure out what's the best fit for their family situation."

Duchesne says small class sizes, rigorous college prep and specialized programs are typically the biggest draws for families seeking out private education.

Looking ahead to the fall, both Duchesne and Tender say they're excited about the return of school activities that were cut short by the pandemic. At Saint George's, students can expect to see field trips to Montana and to the Pacific Coast to study marine biology. At Gonzaga Prep, Duchesne says he's excited to see the full return of the school's extensive retreat program.

See below for a partial list of major private schools in the Inland Northwest.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS

Chesterton Academy of Notre Dame
Spokane; Catholic; 9-12; 509-242-3750 or chestertonacademyofnotredame.org

Enlightium Academy

Spokane; Christian; K-12; 886-488-4818 or enlightiumacademy.com

Gonzaga Preparatory School

Spokane; Catholic; 9-12; 509-483-8511 or gprep.com

Lake City Academy Coeur d'Alene; Seventh-DayAdventist; K-8; 208-667-0877 or lakecityacademy.org

North Idaho Christian School Hayden; Christian; 1-12; 208-772-7546 or northidahochristianschool.com

Northwest Christian Spokane; Christian; pre-K-12; 509-862-4175 or nwcs.org

The Oaks Academy Spokane Valley; Christian; K-12; 509-536-5955 or theoakscca.org

Saint George's School Spokane; nondenominational; K-12; 509-466-1636 or sgs.org

Salish School of Spokane Spokane; nondenominational/Salish language immersion; P-8; 509-325-2018 or salishschoolofspokane.org

Sandpoint Waldorf School Sandpoint; nondenominational; nursery-8; 208-265-2683 or sandpointwaldorf.org

Spokane K-12 Catholic Schools There are nine K-12 Catholic schools in Spokane and Spokane Valley, including All Saints, Cataldo and St. Thomas More; dioceseofspokane.org/schools

Summit Christian Academy Spokane; Christian; K-12; 509-924-4618 or ncek12.com

For details on these schools and others, check out privateschoolreview.com

Americans and the Holocaust @ Gonzaga University

Mondays-Fridays, 3-8 p.m. and Saturdays, Sundays, 1-5 p.m. Continues through Oct. 6
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About The Author

Nate Sanford

Nate Sanford is a staff writer for the Inlander covering a variety of news topics. He joined the paper in 2022 after graduating from Western Washington University. You can reach him at 509.325.0634 ext. 282 or nates@inlander.com