The middle and high school years can be tough on any kid, but some students are just not built to thrive in the large traditional school setting.
A small alternative private school in Boca Raton serves those students, who may have some special needs, or just need a more supportive learning environment.
New Horizon Academy opened in 1993 with four students. Now it serves 40 sixth- through 12th-graders in a school at 2555 NW Boca Raton Blvd.
“For some students, a traditional classroom environment sets them up for failure,” said Matt Marcus, who has served as president of the school for the past two years.
They might be the kids in the back of room who blurt out the answers after everyone else has moved on – because they have a processing disorder. Or they may be getting attention for the wrong reasons – kids on the autism spectrum who may speak out of turn. Or maybe they are just “reluctant learners.”
The seven teachers and three administrators at New Horizon believe such students can succeed with the right attention.
“Our hearts are into this style of education,” Marcus said.
Because most classes have a 6-1 student-teacher ratio, the teachers can take the time to teach each student in the way he or she learns best.
They teach the core curriculum, and also help students manage challenges like executive function disorders, which can inhibit their organizational skills.
The familiarity of a small group of students can help them overcome social awkwardness. Often, such students are bullied in the public schools (or maybe they were the bully).
“Here, they get to recreate themselves,” said Academic Director Veronica McCue.
Marcus and McCue describe the school atmosphere as supportive – but say they don’t coddle the students, either. They have high academic expectations and encourage independence.
Most graduates go on to college or vocational school. New Horizon helps with that placement. Some even take dual-enrollment classes at Palm Beach State College and graduate high school with some college credits.
Students can also take some elective or make-up courses through Florida Virtual School.
Many parents start looking for alternative options around sixth grade. Florida’s standardized tests intensify in the middle years, which are difficult for some kids with even mild special needs. And our local public middle schools are huge with about 1,200 students or more.
Some students are able to go to a public high school after completing the middle school years at New Horizon.
Some New Horizon parents find relief in no longer having to constantly advocate for their children in the public school system.
The registration process is ongoing. The first step is a phone call, then a meeting with administrators to see if they think they can help your child.
“We only accept students that we feel we can help,” McCue said.
The school is not equipped for kids with severe special needs.
- Tuition is $14,800 a year. New Horizons accepts the McKay scholarships and some limited financial aid is available.
- Electives include drama, photography, art, video production, music and computer science.
- The registration process is ongoing. The first step is a phone call: 561-750-8111.
- The school embraces technology and has a computer lab. Students may bring their own laptops if they want.
- The school day runs 8 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. Next year, it is switching to an eight-period day, with the last period for clubs.
- New Horizon is accredited by the Association of Independent Schools of Florida, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Middle States Association. All the teachers are accredited, most in alternative education.
- Students bring their own lunch; there is no cafeteria.
Vist New Horizon online.
Find more school options, public and private, in our Middle School Guide.
- CHARLENE PACENTI