Imagine starting your mornings off with a hearty breakfast in a comfortable and spacious dining hall that is just a short walk from your dormitory room. From there, it’s on to a grade-specific advisory meeting with a faculty mentor or to one of the twice-weekly chapel services with the campus ministers. The school day then follows with a mix of challenging core classes and engaging electives. After the final bell, after-school activities begin, transforming you into an athlete, a community servant, an actor, or a club member. With evening coming on, you have a chance to wind down and catch up with friends over a relaxing dinner. Whether you prefer meat and potatoes or vegan and vegetarian fare, you’re taste buds are covered. Next is study hall in the dormitory, where the residence life staff provide undivided attention and tutoring as needed. Call to rooms and lights out bring some well-deserved rest and closure to this typical day at San Marcos Academy (SMA).
From start to finish, you’re surrounded by teachers and staff who really love what they do, no matter how overwhelmingly busy it can be. “It is very much a family atmosphere,” explained Toby Wade, who teaches Economics, AP Macroeconomics, and Dual College-Credit Government, as well as serving as Athletic Director and coach for football and baseball.
Colleague Vickie Boyer agrees. “It is a fun, loving environment that is always exciting,” said Boyer, who teaches World History and English, among other courses. “I enjoy coming to work in the mornings, when I have an opportunity to talk with my senior advisory group about sports and their other activities and encourage them to have an amazing day. Then after school, we have an opportunity to attend their sporting events and cheer our Bears on to victory!”
Nestled between Austin and San Antonio, in the beautiful Texas hill country, San Marcos Academy provides a boarding and day experience that nurtures students and prepares them for a lifetime of success. The mission and vision of the school has changed little over the 113 years since its founding; the desire of the staff and faculty is to produce leaders whose lives are built on integrity and who exhibit a Christ-like devotion to service and a compassionate concern for others. Within the safe and inspiring co-educational community at the Academy, students are encouraged to learn about God’s story while discovering their place within it.
“We help students to become personally responsible individuals with a value and regard for those around them,” explained boarding director James Portis. “This helps them become interdependent self-managers, concerned not only with how they can improve themselves, but also with how they can inspire others to become better citizens.”
SMA has three academic divisions: a Lower School for kindergarten through fifth grade, a Middle School for grades six to eight, and an Upper School for grades nine to 12. Using the Teaching for Transformation curricular model, students at all levels embrace discipleship concepts such as worship, truth, justice, service, and community––all of which contribute to intellectual, social, and spiritual development.
Ready for college and beyond
Upper School students prepare for college-level work through a rigorous Christ-centered curriculum. SMA students follow the Texas state-mandated course requirements to graduate and/or obtain one or more endorsements in areas such as Arts and Humanities, STEM, Multidisciplinary Studies, Public Service, and within the next two years, Business and Industry.
AP and honors courses at SMA are specifically designed to be writing intensive and to improve critical thinking skills. Under a new partnership with the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, SMA offers up to 30 hours of dual credit college courses taught by Academy teachers who are adjunct college professors. “Our STEM programme is growing,” Boyer said. “We recently added an engineering programme to help grow the “E” option in STEM. Currently, we have a computer submerged in water that functions on full display for the student body to ponder. We do our best to encourage students to take a chance on new courses to help drive their desire to learn and grow both academically and spiritually.”
It’s an effective approach. College matriculations over the years have included renowned institutions such as Penn State University, Boston University, Michigan State University, the University of Texas, and many others. “My children were well prepared to enter college,” said Sherry Christensen, a proud parent to two SMA graduates and two current students and a Middle School science and math teacher at the Academy. “With our small classes we can really help students learn to communicate, work through problems or experiments, and be leaders in their classrooms.”
The Counselling and Guidance Programme contributes to these successes. The Academy’s guidance counsellor Teri Nash works with families regarding college selection, applications, essays, resumes, recommendation letters, SMA-sponsored tours of Texas colleges and universities, and standardised testing. Students are welcome to visit her office at any time to seek advice or get their hands on any kinds of materials needed to help design their paths.
“Students come to SMA from all walks of life with their successes and struggles in tow,” Nash said. “SMA staff and faculty celebrate their success and allow the students to see past the struggles to new successes. This allows them to discover a nurturing and caring atmosphere in which to learn.”
Families can decide how much of this exposure, mentoring, and supervision is necessary. The Academy offers two boarding options: the traditional seven-day boarding programme or the five-day boarding programme, designed for families residing within a 70-mile radius of the campus. Comfortable home stays are also available for international students during holiday seasons.
Those who choose to reside on campus enjoy 24/7 engagement, with schedules filled to the brim with exciting activities and mentally-stimulating academic experiences.
Athletics play a pivotal role in student development here, as well. All SMA students are encouraged to get involved in sports to build values in sportsmanship, integrity, and character. The Student Recreation Organisation also hosts weekly and monthly events such as board games, karaoke, card games, arts and crafts, holiday-themed festivities and much more.
At San Marcos Academy, a well-rounded student experience, a connected community, and a suite of opportunities are ready and waiting. Convinced? Click here to secure your child’s place.