Apex private school triples enrollment in second year
Posted October 15, 2009
Apex, N.C. — Enrollment growth in public schools can be a challenge. In private schools, it's a sign of success. Thales Academy in Apex, pronounced THAY-leez, is only in its second year and has tripled its enrollment.
Named after an ancient Greek philosopher, the school was born partly out of frustration over the Wake County Public School System, Thales leaders said.
“(There was) turmoil due to constant reassignment and then the issue of year-round versus traditional,” said Kent Misegades, director of Thales Academy-Apex. "(There was) continued dissatisfaction with quality and stability of government schools. Many parents reject these altogether and would not enroll their children in any public school. Others have transferred out of WCPSS."
Public school transfers and parents' desire for strong academics helped triple enrollment, according to Misegades. Thales Academy opened last year with 60 students in grades K-5. This year, it has more than 180 in K-6.
Robin Faltz of Cary switched her kids from public to private.
“Class sizes were increasing and to prepare our fifth-grader for middle school, I felt like he needed a smaller classroom,” Faltz said.
Thales’ class sizes average around 18 students. The school has a dress code so students can focus on learning. Teachers focus on what's called direct instruction.
“It involves a lot of repetition and involves grouping students by their ability for core subjects like reading, math, spelling and language arts,” said Headmistress Hilary Hillman.
Thales recently purchased a nearby church and its surrounding acres to build a high school. There are also plans for three other Thales schools in the coming years. To keep construction costs down, every Thales school will have the same two-story floor plan.
"We do not provide transportation, a cafeteria and expansive athletic fields, nor do we need extensive parental assistance in our school," Misegades said. "Our teachers are highly-qualified, well-paid and receive a contract for only one year. There is no tenure for teachers, and their performance is evaluated along with that of their students."
Thales’ tuition is $5,000 a year, and some students attend on scholarships. Thales Academy also has a campus in Wake Forest.