Trinity Day School helps students grow
by Mark Andrews
Aug 08, 2011 | 3154 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
First grade teacher Susan Stephens works with students in her classroom at Trinity Day School, from left, Nick Ballard, Alex Milligan and Madison Causey. Trinity Day School is entering its 15th year with an enrollment of about 140 students.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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The Trinity Day School in Cartersville is entering its 15th year of providing an alternative to public schools in the area, and recent test scores show considerable academic growth compared to other private schools in the nation.

The school, located at Trinity United Methodist Church, offers preschool to eighth grade education with a multi-denominational Christian background for about 140 students.

Director Isabel Bearden said the school was able to grow at the request of parents.

"We're a lot like most private schools, we don't have a lot of money to spend. As a result of not having a lot of money to spend, there aren't a lot of interruptions in the school day," Bearden said. "We have the emphasis on learning and it goes on constantly, and as a result, consistently."

Bearden said when she took the role of director eight years ago, she instituted the use of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, a comprehensive test used by private schools across the nation.

"We don't use test scores at all in this new system of accountability that public education has to go through for things like retention or threatening teachers or making teachers feel insecure," Bearden said. "Our teachers are accountable because they're accountable to themselves, to their kids and to God."

She said the school does not do test preparation specifically for the ITBS.

"We look at it as 'this is a diagnostic tool,'" Bearden said. "It's a diagnostic tool for improving the school, it's a diagnostic tool for fitting the students, and so we don't have to prepare to diagnose."

She explained the tests have a core total score in reading, English language arts and math, adding the scores do not reflect the number of correct answers on the tests, but a range of lowest to highest scores for all students.

"If your percentile rank is 50, then you're right in the middle," Bearden said.

This year's results show first-graders scored in the 98th percentile, second-graders scored in the 99th percentile, third-graders scored in the 93rd percentile, fourth-graders scored in the 92nd percentile and fifth-graders scored in the 68th percentile.

Bearden attributed the scores to individual attention placed on students. She said, for example, class size is limited to a maximum of 16 students and classrooms of this size feature both a teacher and paraprofessional.

She said the majority of teachers are certified and that the school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

"Our teachers are very active in learning so they can make sure they are good teachers, and they are fantastic teachers," Bearden said.

"When people come here, they stay," Bearden said. "We start at age 1 and continue."

"I think we're one of the jewels in Bartow County that people aren't aware of," Bearden said.

Julie Cauffman, technology teacher and public relations representative, echoed Bearden's statements.

"I think what sets us apart more than anything is probably the loving, nurturing environment because we cater to the individual child," Cauffman said. "We can meet their needs academically, but by nurturing them we can also help their families, then we provide that extra boost that maybe will build self-esteem, or character or things in kids that at this age are hard to develop."