Parent Testimonials

Letters from SMA Parents

Dear Prospective Parent,

Decisions that influence your child’s future are very important.  As a parent, I am writing to share with you why I believe Stella Maris Academy is a great choice for you!

Since 1947 Stella Maris Academy has provided a quality, Catholic, K-8 education for children. Your child will join a family of alumni who have gone on to become valedictorians, college scholarship recipients, aviators, doctors, lawyers, teachers, business leaders, and the list goes on and on. By enrolling your child at Stella Maris Academy you connect them with a tradition of academic excellence, service, and success.

This tradition of excellence will be shared with your child through a:

  • Faith Stimulating Religious Education Program
  • Rigorous Academic Curriculum
  • Highly Qualified Faculty
  • Vibrant Parent Teacher Organization and Dad’s Club
  • State of the Art Technology
  • Well Maintained Facility and Grounds
  • Christian Community that is like Family

My experience as the parent of Stella Maris Academy students is the best that I can share with you today. Both of my children have attended Stella Maris Academy since kindergarten; my daughter is now in fifth grade, and my son is in third grade. My husband and I value many things about the school, but here are a few of the most important that come to mind.

First is the feeling of family and community that our children enjoy at the school. My daughter loves that she knows almost every student in the school by name, and my son feels completely comfortable playing with anyone in the school, whether in sports, at recess, or at the many “pickup” games that take place at the local parks or recreation center. Beginning in kindergarten, students are paired up with “buddies” in the older grades, creating wonderful and lasting relationships with students of different ages. My son bonded with his older buddy over a passion for making paper airplanes, and my daughter is now relishing her role as reading buddy and mentor to a first grade girl.

As parents we also feel that sense of community with the students, watching each one grow up before our eyes! Everyone is brought together at the all-school monthly Masses, the annual Christmas pageants, and other events throughout the school year, where the students often take on leadership roles and show a great sense of pride. I highly encourage you to contact the school about attending a future school event. (There is also a wonderful sense of community among all of us as parents, but that is a topic for another letter!)

Second are the values that are incorporated into every facet of the school experience. It is reassuring to know that the principles we as parents work to instill at home are consistently reinforced in the classroom and throughout the school. Every time I have the opportunity to talk with students – especially in the older grades – I am thoroughly impressed by the level of respect, courtesy, and helpfulness they exhibit. The children are encouraged and given many opportunities to practice good citizenship, volunteerism, and to make a difference in the local and extended community.

Of course, in addition to these core values, we have witnessed our children’s Catholic faith being strengthened at Stella Maris through religion classes and daily prayer. Faith and religion are freely mixed with all areas of the curriculum and school life. The highlight of both my children’s spiritual experience so far was preparing for and receiving the sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Communion with their second grade classes – days they will always treasure.

Last, but certainly not least, is the wonderful education our children are receiving at Stella Maris Academy. The curriculum is challenging, broad and relevant – I am continually amazed by what all they are learning! While standardized tests are given annually in most grades to evaluate individual and school progress, there is not a focus on “teaching to the test” but rather on an understanding of the subjects. There are also a number of self-paced programs incorporated into the curriculum that make learning fun and challenging. My daughter challenges herself to best her Accelerated Reader score each quarter, while my son begs to play First in Math every weekend.

It is also apparent that the teachers truly invest themselves in the success of students, providing ongoing support, care and even one-on-one instruction if needed. You are welcome to speak with any of the teachers at Stella Maris Academy about what your child can expect from their classroom.

Because of these, and many other, school experiences our children are happy and secure at Stella Maris Academy. They are proud of the many things they have accomplished so far, confident that they can go on to achieve their future goals, and ready to make a positive difference in the community.

I invite you to consider fully the opportunities present at Stella Maris Academy for your child.

Christ’s Peace be with you,
Karen and Art
Stella Maris Academy Parents

Dear Prospective Parent,

I am writing to share with you my experiences as a parent at Stella Maris Academy.  Our children our currently in 4th grade and Kindergarten, and our youngest child will enter Kindergarten at SMA this fall, 2010.  We also have an older child who is special needs and attends school in Carmel Valley.

We have been at the school for several years now, after transferring from another area school.  I enthusiastically and without reservation recommend Stella Maris Academy for many reasons, but above all for the rigorous academic curriculum, highly credentialed faculty, technology, arts program, and social climate.  The academic program at SMA is remarkable.  The curriculum across all grades is developed further every Friday by faculty at afternoon in-services, resulting in a program that exceeds the California state standards, and moves seamlessly from grade to grade.  My 4th grader just finished up her Mission project, for which she created her own board game built around key facts of her chosen Mission.  My Kindergartener spent the last month studying plants, and is happily watching his flowers sprout after a visit from the Carlsbad flower farms.  These are examples, but every grade has curriculum that is rich and engaging for the children.

The faculty at Stella Maris Academy is among the most credentialed you will find at any school; all have California credentials.  The junior yard alone has 3 reading specialists on faculty.  From the principal down, staff have a vision for the school, and are always thinking of the next thing to improve even more.  For your child, this creates an environment that is very dynamic and inspiring.

Technology at the school goes far beyond computers and the smart boards that every classroom is equipped with.  The Accelerated Reader program uses reading tests to measure every child’s personal reading level, then sets goals and appropriate book suggestions for each child individually.  My daughter reads far above her grade level, and so her goals are set for that.  My son is a struggling reader, and is given goals that will help, not frustrate him.  Progress reports and grades from Kindergarten on up are updated constantly on teacher-ease, an online site.  The well-funded and excellent schools in the Carmel Valley/Del Mar area do not offer this until middle school, if at all.  There are no surprises regarding how your child is doing, or unknown missing work with this system.

My children would tell you that one of their favorite things about SMA is the enrichment instruction.  Stella Maris has a credentialed art teacher, and a credentialed Spanish teacher.  All grades receive Spanish instruction 2-3 times each week.  They not only learn spoken and written language, but cultural facts as well.  The art program teaches true art fundamentals, including ceramics (the school has a kiln), painting, and print making.  Both of these things are not found at nearly any of the area local schools.

Finally, a school is only as good as the social climate.  Stella Maris faculty and students truly value my children for who they are, and appreciate their individual strengths and even weaknesses.  The students practice social skills such as properly greeting people, disagreeing appropriately, and accepting criticism.  These skills are critical for getting along in the world successfully, and I am thrilled that SMA teaches them directly. The result is students that are ready to interact with the world outside school, and are also able to speak up for themselves and their peers in a way that has created a very safe, warm, and nurturing school climate.

Best wishes on your journey toward a new school.

Kimberly McSherry
Stella Maris Academy Parent