One of the questions that prospective parents ask most frequently is one that runs to the core of our school identity and mission:

What does it mean that Morgan Park Academy is an independent school?

All independent schools are built around serving a mission, which is always crafted to educate students under a certain philosophy. MPA’s mission is to engage the whole child, inspire the independent learner, and prepare the global leader of tomorrow to make a positive difference in the world.

Although independent schools may be driven by different educational missions, they are all committed to providing a safe environment in which students can learn strong academic skills plus the importance of hard work, leadership, personal responsibility, and good citizenship.

The National Association of Independent Schools outlines some of the primary characteristics as:

  • High academic standards. Independent schools nurture intellectual curiosity, stimulate personal growth, and encourage critical thinking. A larger percentage of students at independent schools are enrolled in advanced courses than in public, parochial, and other private schools.
  • Small classes and individual attention. Independent schools have low student-teacher ratios that encourage close connections with students.
  • Excellent teachers. They usually teach in their areas of expertise and are passionate about what they do. With more autonomy within the classroom, teachers are able to develop a full understanding of how each student learns and what interests and motivates each individually.
  • Education for the whole child. Independent schools nurture not just students’ intellectual ability and curiosity but also their personal and social growth and civic conscience. Opportunities extend well beyond the classroom to athletic competitions, artistic pursuits, and school leadership experiences.
  • Inclusiveness. Schools maintain diverse and vibrant student communities and welcome and respect each family.
  • A community of parents who actively participate in their children’s education. Independent schools promote regular communication among students, parents, and teachers to ensure everyone is working toward the same goals for the student.
  • The opportunity to choose a school with a mission. You can select a school whose philosophy, values, and teaching approach is right for your child.
  • And most important: An education that will pay dividends for a lifetime.

Based on research by the Higher Education Research Institute, we know that independent school graduates are more likely to:

  • enter college with higher than average ACT/SAT scores
  • be prepared for the rigors of college with 21st century skills, i.e. asking questions, evaluating the quality of information received, integrating skills and knowledge from different sources, looking for alternative solutions to a problem, supporting their opinions with logical arguments
  • make the most of college life
  • finish their undergraduate degree in 4 years
  • pursue an advanced degree
  • participate in service
  • be civically minded and participate in community leadership
  • be accepting of themselves and others

Nationally, there are only about 2,000 independent schools, about half of which extend through high school. They educate approximately 700,000 U.S. school-age children (1 percent).