What Makes a School “Good”?

A Canterbury student athlete partaking in and learning about art.



When choosing an elementary, middle, and high school for their child, most parents have their own unique predispositions about what is the right fit for their child, but what truly makes a school stand out above the others? 

For some, the markings of a “good” school can be seen in quantitative data, such as the average GPAs and test scores of the current student body, or the average college acceptance rates from the past five graduating classes. Others deem a school “good” by more qualitative matters, such as the multitude of courses and programs offered to ensure their student is well-rounded and prepared for all qualities of life after school. 

While these factors are all worthwhile to consider on their own, the true tell-tale sign of an excellent school should be a combination of both, and one that allows students to explore all aspects of their learning capabilities, from their character to their analytical skills, while providing the tools and resources for them to excel. 
 

Academic Performance vs. Actually Learning

Academics are important because they prepare students for the future and pave the way for them to enter competitive fields. However, an educational environment that holds unrealistically high standards and doesn't individualize its curriculum can take the joy out of learning and risk unnecessary stress on its students.

Academic stress is a common phenomenon that students in competitive environments silently deal with. Short-term effects of this are visible in the classroom such as underdeveloped critical thinking skills, difficulty concentrating or completing schoolwork, behavioral changes like mood swings, and withdrawal from in-class participation. 

At Canterbury School of Florida, students are encouraged to discover their talents and skills in our various signature programs, which can nourish students’ natural love of learning and their capabilities in the classroom. Canterbury heavily emphasizes engagement between students and educators to make sure their academic needs are being met. Most importantly, students are provided with academic, artistic, and extracurricular programs to challenge them and allow them to discover new ways of learning. 
 

Competition vs. Community

Schools that over-emphasize academic performance coincidentally create a competitive environment between students. Traditionally, competition between classmates is seen to be healthy and beneficial, however, too much competition can cause students to become focused on competing to be the highest achievers for the sake of being the best, instead of excelling at what truly inspires them and becoming the best they can be. Academic stress begins to build up, and students eventually burn out once they fail to meet unrealistic expectations placed by parents, educators, and themselves. By placing their value on their academic performance, many students can lose their sense of self and confidence in their ability to try new things. 

Balancing academic rigor with community-driven learning is ideal for students to confidently hone their learning skills. Valuing relationships and creating a community that respects all students is one of our core values at Canterbury. Due to our smaller class sizes, students have more time with teachers and peers, which allows our students to build upon their social and team-building skills. We pride ourselves in our various extracurricular programs such as theater, art, marine science, gardening, and athletics, where students can comfortably explore their interests in a community that celebrates unity and curiosity.  
 

Why Character Education Matters

Quality character education pours over into helping students’ academic success. Through character education, students learn how to effectively interact with educators and fellow students, and also how to be morally responsible people in both their communities and in learning. By encouraging students to be good citizens and creating a culture of respect and trustworthiness, students inspire and support each other’s successes rather than compete against one another. With these values, students will be prepared to navigate the hardships and challenges they will face in the real world. 

At Canterbury, character education is at the center of learning. Along with our character education program, also known as LEADS (Leadership • Ethics • Advocacy • Dignity • Service), we instill our honor code in our students from day one. We expect integrity, honesty, moral courage, personal accountability, respect, and compassion for others, values which our students carry on and practice in their daily lives and future endeavors. 
 

Choosing What’s Really Best for Your Child

While academics are an important factor in your child's education, a “good” school makes sure to cater to their individual learning needs to supplement their academic experience, and places an importance on molding upstanding members of society with honorable core values. A “good school” gives students the resources they need to fulfill their potential and build lasting connections within their community. 

At Canterbury, our students not only experience academic rigors but they also learn how to support one another, which establishes a sense of community. Our students are self-motivated learners who are accountable and seek to create substantial academic relationships with their educators. They also explore their creativity and passion for learning with our signature programs, and ultimately become intelligent, well-rounded, and morally-responsible adults.