Meet the Headmaster
It is my pleasure to serve as Houston Academy’s 7th Headmaster. I could not be more excited about the opportunities that await our children at HA. Coming to HA after serving stints at several other outstanding independent schools in the Southeast, I believe Houston Academy is uniquely poised to be a national leader in independent school education. At the core of our educational leadership role is our mission:
Houston Academy is an independent college preparatory institution. Our mission is to prepare all our students for responsible participation in a global society by providing an excellent learning environment and opportunities to achieve their highest academic, social, and creative potential.
Our mission is what sets us apart from other educational institutions in the Wiregrass. Please allow me to briefly explicate what our mission means.
1). We are independent.
There is an important distinction to be made between the term “private” and the term “independent.” The term “private” implies some sort of exclusivity. As such, “private” schools are often affiliated with a particular religious order, and in that sense, are not entirely free to set their own educational path. Often, in order to work at a private school or attend a private school, you must adhere to a certain worldview or be a member of a particular religious denomination. “Independent,” on the other hand, means that we are inclusive and welcoming of all people, regardless of religion, race, creed, national origin, or socio-economic status. That is not to say that we do not embrace faith or religion – we do. However, in independent schools like HA, we embrace the diversity of our community and attempt to learn from our differences and build on our students’ and faculty’s individual strengths.
Houston Academy is also the only National Association of Independent Schools [NAIS] member in the Wiregrass. NAIS members must meet rigorous admissions criteria. Not surprisingly, then, NAIS schools offer their students significant advantages over other private and public institutions.1
2). We are a college preparatory institution.
This means that the goal of preparing our students to be successful in college and in life is at the core of everything we do. As such, we are the only school in the Wiregrass with the explicit mission of college preparation. We are unapologetically rigorous, and we hold our students and teachers accountable to an unwaveringly high standard of excellence. At the same time, we provide a loving and nurturing environment in which our students receive the support they need to be successful.
3). We prepare our students for responsible participation in a global society.
At Houston Academy, we understand that our students are entering an increasingly connected world. This requires imparting a skill set for our students that goes far beyond classical educational traditions. Our students must be 21st Century Learners. They must learn to collaborate, communicate effectively, engage in creative reflection and thought, think critically, possess enduring moral character, and have strong cross-cultural competence. To this end, we are the only school in the Wiregrass that is a 1:1 MacBook school in grades 5-12, and we are the only school that has integrated interactive projectors and iPads throughout our lower school curriculum. We seek to move beyond rote learning and meaningless memorization (methods that were the hallmarks of the classical educational model), to higher level thinking on Bloom’s Taxonomy. In addition, we offer four World and Classical Languages (German, French, Latin, and Spanish). We offer Spanish starting with our four-year-old preschoolers, and we will expand our middle-grades and lower-grades language offerings in the very near future.
4). We provide opportunities to achieve their highest academic, social, and creative potential.
Each student has individual strengths that we seek to recognize and enhance. All of our student go to college, but they are also musicians, actors, community volunteers, tutors, dancers, and artists. It is not unusual, despite our small size, for HA to lead the Wiregrass in the number of students selected for All-State Band and Chorus. Furthermore, our student art has received regional acclaim, and community service is not only required for graduation, it is a central part of what we do.
I invite you peruse our strategic plan to see what will be happening on our campus over the next few years. More importantly, I invite you to visit Houston Academy to see our incredible students and teachers in action.
As always, do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.
Dr. Scott D. Phillipps
1Our students are three times more likely to attend four year colleges, they are two to three times more likely to graduate from a four year college or higher, regardless of socioeconomic status, 13% more likely to do volunteer work, and they are more likely to become involved as citizens. Both the “National Educational Longitudinal Study” and the “Freshman Survey Trends Report” showed that graduates of NAIS schools were more active in civic life as young adults. Whereas 57.4 percent of all the students who participated in the “National Educational Longitudinal Study” voted in a presidential election as young adults, 75.3 percent of participating students from NAIS schools did so. NAIS graduates were also nearly twice as likely to volunteer to work for a political campaign than the group of students as a whole. Data from the 2005 “Freshman Survey Trends Report,” produced by the Higher Education Research Institute, revealed that 46 percent of NAIS graduates, and 36 percent of the total group, felt that “keeping up with political affairs” was essential.