We currently serve more than 200 students. There are 65 students on-campus for the 2017-2018 academic year and another 160+ of our graduates in high school and college whom we serve through our Graduate Support Program. At present, our campus facilities can only accommodate 60-70 students, with about 20-24 students in each grade. Our 2012-2017 Strategic Plan, however, includes increasing enrollment to 90 or to 120 students while at the same time maintaining a very favorable teacher-student ratio.
We purposely maintain a small student enrollment to assure a very healthy student-teacher ratio (7:1). This personal, one-to-one attention is essential to our mission and perhaps the most significant factor in our students’ success. The majority of our students enter our school having achieved below grade-level academic progress (in reading, language, and math) in their previous (public) schools, where class sizes are upwards of 30 students or more. Limiting our enrollment to roughly 20 students per grade, hiring exceptional teachers who are gifted at engaging students in learning, and incorporating academic and social support programs within an extended-day and extended-year schedule allow our students to make remarkable progress in their three years with us.
Our parents and families are our most effective means of recruitment for new families. Typically, relatives and friends of current and past students apply after hearing the good news about Nativity. We ask prospective students to complete a written application and personal statement, to make a full-day visit to the school, and to submit two teacher recommendations from current teachers. We also interview parents and students together and administer an in-house academic exam to assess each candidate’s basic skill levels in reading, writing, and math.
We require first and foremost that students come from families that qualify for the free- or reduced-lunch program in their public school—we are here for families who want a Catholic, private-school education for their children but who otherwise cannot afford tuition costs. We also require that students applying for admission are the first in their families, or among the first of their siblings, to earn a college degree. Above all, we seek students and families who are committed to and motivated by the college-prep mission of our school, which centers on developing the whole person and is focused on preparing students for high school and college. Our students are entering our school, on average, one to two years below grade-level academically, as measured by the results of their sixth-grade, pre-year standardized testing. We do not select students based solely on their grades—above all, we look for students who, regardless of their academic record, show genuine desire and motivation for college and a professional career.
The 2017-2018 median income for our families was approximately $35,000, for a family of four. Some of our students come from single-parent homes, and we enroll a number of students who are raised by two parents. Most of our parents completed some or all of their elementary (K-6 or K-8) school education, and some have completed their high school education. All of our students, however, will be first, or among the first in their families, to earn a college education.
Yes. Before a student is formally accepted to Nativity, all parents and students agree in writing to essential terms for continued enrollment by signing our Scholarship Agreement. Among the conditions spelled out in the Agreement, parents and students are required to attend three (3) in-person parent-teacher-student conferences each year—we are proud to say that since our school opened, we have had 100% attendance from parents for each academic quarter each year. We also have an active Parent Committee, made of elected officers among parents of currently enrolled students. This Committee is responsible for recruiting new families for admission, for sponsoring and hosting social events and fundraising events, and for acting as representatives for each grade-level classroom.
We are proud to say that each year our graduates continue to be accepted at and to attend excellent college-prep high schools in San Diego and elsewhere in Southern California—The Grauer School, Mater Dei Catholic High School, Saint Augustine High School, the Academy of Our Lady of Peace, Cathedral Catholic High School, The Bishop’s School, Francis Parker School, The Preuss School at UCSD, the High Tech High Schools, School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Mater Dei High School (Anaheim, CA), and a number of students attend area charter schools and out-of-area public schools through the CHOICE program as well. A complete list of current high schools is provided through the link for High Schools Attending.
Our graduates are currently attending or have already graduated from a number of in-state and out-of-state universities and colleges–including, among others, Yale University, College of Wooster, Creighton University, University of San Diego, Seattle University, San Diego State University, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, St. Mary’s College of California, San Jose State, Cal State San Marcos, UC Riverside, and John Paul the Great Catholic University. Some of our graduates opt for a two-year community college programs in San Diego, with the expectation that they will matriculate to a four-year program. A complete list of current colleges and universities is provided through the link for Colleges Attending.
We are not a charter school. Nor are we a parochial school. We are an accredited, independent, tuition-free school with an independent Board of Trustees and a community of benefactors that funds 100% of our costs each year. We participate in the diocesan sports league, but we do not operate under the aegis of the Diocese of San Diego. While we do not discriminate in our admissions policy against families that are not Catholic, we make clear to all prospective students and families that our religious tradition is firmly rooted in the Catholic Church and in the Ignatian-inspired model of education. As such all of our students participate in daily prayer and in the Catholic Mass, they study the catechism of the Church, and they complete required community service each year.
As a private, tuition-free school, we are supported financially through the generosity of a number of individuals and with the help of a number of corporate and foundation grants. Our families are committed to paying a monthly program fee of $25 to help with costs for some of our extracurricular programs; otherwise, all income to support our annual operating budget of ~$1.7M comes exclusively from private, outside benefactors and investors. To learn more about opportunities to support our students financially, please connect here to Giving & Volunteering.
Yes. In July of 2015, after completing our second formal self-study, we earned our second consecutive six-year term of accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), effective through 2021. The process of accreditation is an ongoing and rigorous effort towards greater and greater excellence and growth.
Students in all three grades are required each year to successfully complete coursework in their core academic classes—language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies—and in religion, physical education, and art. We place an added emphasis on writing skills in all seven classes, including art and physical education. Students who are academically eligible can also participate in interscholastic team sports in three seasons each year, and we offer non-graded elective courses (clubs) as well each academic quarter. We place emphasis on teaching social skills to our students in all classes and programs—with simple but important reminders about saying “please“ and “thank you,” for example, and by reminding students the importance of making eye contact when speaking. You can connect here to our Academics link to learn more about our curriculum and programs.
Among a number of highly unique things about us, the one element that distinguishes us as non-profit and as a school is the 11-year commitment we make to our students and families, from middle school through high school to college. When our students move on to high school, we continue to support them in a variety of ways, including providing tuition subsidies to attend private high schools. Our Graduate Support Program also provides ongoing social and academic support for our students throughout their high school years and support throughout the college application process. Our students are also required to attend a nine-hour school day throughout the regular academic year (September through June) and a required five-week summer semester as well in July and August. We also offer on-site mentoring with the help of volunteers from the local professional community to help our students develop a relationship of support outside of the classroom.
Our number-one priority for community involvement is securing student sponsorships. Each year, our funding goal is to establish full-year scholarships ($12,500 each) for all 60+ students. We also are looking to recruit additional adult mentors and tutors to work directly with our students on-site each week. We host a number of fundraising and informational events throughout the year as well, including our monthly luncheons, annual golf tournament, annual friendship tea, and annual breakfast. You can read more about making a gift, becoming a mentor or tutor, and attending an event through our Giving & Volunteering page.