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5 Things to Look for in a School’s Culture

Every school has a culture, whether they are intentional about it or not. In an educational setting, it is driven by the set of values, beliefs, and norms that define the learning environment. Culture is usually shaped by leadership and fostered by teachers, students, parents, and every member of the school community.

When choosing a private school for your child, most people begin by looking at academic programs, extracurricular activities, and the opportunities at hand. However, it is equally important to examine the culture. Is it positive or negative? Wondering how tell? Consider these five aspects of a positive school culture.


Look for a school founded on openness at every level. Teachers should be well informed by the administration and feel comfortable discussing their victories or challenges around student learning. Parents should be able to ask questions, speak with leadership, and attend important meetings. Students can be involved and informed, too. Transparency fosters a connected culture where everyone knows they have a voice.


In a positive school culture, members of the community stand together. Educators support one another and invest in their students as mentors. Relationships are valued and everyone in the school community exhibits compassion for their peers. A school with strong community provides much more than an education; it models a way of living that students can carry through all stages of life.


If you are a family of faith, sending your child to a school where role models share your beliefs can build a powerful bridge between home and the classroom. You’ve worked hard to build a culture of conviction in your home and want those same values to be reinforced throughout your child’s formative years. Faith also affects how students approach key academic subjects such as math, science, and others.


Positive attitudes are vital to any successful culture. In a toxic school culture, you might hear a lot of complaints from students, conflicts between teachers and administration, and frustrations from parents. On the other hand, a successful school culture emphasizes motivation to work together and develop a mindset of continual improvement. Look for a school that is unified by positive attitudes.


A school’s vision should be evident in its culture. When searching for a school, don’t be afraid to ask, “What is your vision for students?” There is no right or wrong answer to that question, but it’s very important that educators genuinely want to see their students reach full potential, in the classroom and out. A vision to prepare lifelong learners who have a positive impact on the world can drive culture in a powerful way.

Learn More About the Culture at NCA

The best way to learn about the culture of any school is to hear from those who call the learning community home. We invite you to download our e-book, Voices of Northside, to experience what makes our school culture unique.

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