Presbyterian School of Houston was founded in 1988 and welcomed its first class of students in 1989. In August 2000, the school expanded with the addition of a middle school and welcomed its first class of fifth and sixth graders. Presbyterian graduated its first class of eighth grade students in 2003. The original mission of “Family, School and Church united in the education and support of each Child” continues to guide educators at Presbyterian.
Presbyterian was founded on the belief that students should be educated in an environment integrating the three life institutions: family, school, and church. Students are encouraged to develop their spiritual identities in a Christ-centered environment, as well as a sense of responsibility in relation to God. Religion is integrated into student life in several ways. All students attend Chapel once a week. In addition to weekly chapel, several all-community chapel services are held to unite the community, mark important events and manifest the Christian foundation of Presbyterian School.
Of the families whose students attend Presbyterian, 17% are members of First Presbyterian Church of Houston.However, students of all religious backgrounds are welcome to attend Presbyterian.
Presbyterian School has two campuses: a main campus and an outdoor education campus. The main campus is located in a facility owned by First Presbyterian Church of Houston, in the heart of Houston’s Museum District. The main campus includes modern facilities with two learning commons, three science labs, two art rooms including an in-house kiln, two music rooms, two gymnasiums, an Academic Enrichment Center, and a 1200-seat theater to accommodate over 500 students. The outdoor education campus is located less than 5 miles from the main campus and includes 14 acres of outdoor space for environmental learning, sports and athletics, nature trails, and outdoor worship.
Students applying to Presbyterian School of Houston must complete an online application, a school visit, and admissions testing, and they must also turn in teacher recommendation forms and an official school transcript. PreK and Kindergarten students must take the WPPSI-III and participate in a group visit to the school with other applicants. First grade to fourth grade students must take the WISC-IV and participate in a group visit with other applicants. Fifth through eighth grade students must take the ISEE and OLSAT and shadow a middle school student for an afternoon. Sixth through eighth grade students must acquire teacher recommendation forms from their current math and English teachers.
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Students may enroll at Presbyterian as early as age 3 as part of the “Beta” program. These Early Childhood students explore ideas and develop skills through art, music and movement, dramatic play, blocks, language arts, social studies, and math. Field trips, interactive science experiments, and readiness activities in reading and math further enhance the program. Small and full group work sparks curiosity and creativity, and encourages children to observe, experiment, solve problems, and acquire basic skills. Lower school students are taught language arts, mathematics, and social studies in their primary classroom. Faculty with specialized training in science, art, chapel, library, music, PE, and Spanish provide instruction in interdisciplinary activities beyond the walls of a student’s homeroom.
Middle school students are required to take English, history, mathematics, science, Spanish, and PE classes. Rotation classes, which include art, religion, music, and study skills, are also required for students in fifth and sixth grades. Presbyterian provides wellness classes and arts electives for students in seventh and eighth grade. Students in seventh and eighth grades also take an exam at the end of the second and fourth quarters.
No information concerning Presbyterian’s accommodations for students with special needs is available at the present time.
For lower school students, Spanish is taught through immersion instruction, with emphasis placed on recognition and production of Spanish vocabulary. In the third and fourth grades, students begin learning Spanish grammar, reading, and writing. In middle school, students continue studying Spanish grammar, reading, and writing, and they also practice spoken Spanish.
Presbyterian School offers an art program focusing on the principles of design and aesthetic awareness, as well as art history. PreK to eighth grade students go to art and music class each week. Students also have the opportunity for public performances through class plays (i.e. Kindergarten Circus), school wide programs (i.e. Lower School Poetry Program) or grade level productions (i.e. the eighth grade musical). Students who wish to have additional music classes beyond the school day may join one of the school’s five choirs. Additionally, Seventh and eighth grade students participate in fine arts electives each quarter. These electives include a wide variety of the arts, including photography, film, drama, dance and writing.
Supplementing the school’s art program are strategic partnerships that occur during the school day with neighboring institutions of the arts. Early Childhood students walk across the street to the Museum of Fine Arts for story time each week. Lower school students walk across the street to the Glassell School of Art for art classes. Middle school faculty are partnering with the Museum of Fine Arts to help them develop middle school art curriculum. The school’s Director of Fine Arts continues to develop the school’s strategic vision of enhancing the arts at the school.
Presbyterian School is a completely wireless campus and is increasingly implementing Apple iPads throughout the curriculum. Parents, students, and faculty can access the wireless technology on any given device (iPad, laptop, desk top, smartphone, etc.) Faculty are welcome to bring their own technology to use in the School. In a continuing effort to give teachers the best possible resources for their own growth, all faculty are given an iPad for their personal and professional use. In addition, the school is asking teachers to study, research, and create programs and initiatives with this technology that will resonate with students and that will be built to last for a long and sustainable future. Currently, Prekindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms have a class set of iPads to utilize in student small group work. In the 2013-2014 school year, Presbyterian implemented a 1-to-1 iPad program for 5th through 8th grade students, wherein they may borrow or bring in their own iPad. Additionally, all grade levels now have access to iPad and laptop carts to use in the classrooms.
SmartBoards and mounted projectors also enhance the technological presence in the classrooms. The Learning Commons provides an area for students to access digital information. Students begin to focus on learning to type in 3rd grade. When students begin middle school, they are given school email accounts and learn how to utilize Google Docs to manage their schoolwork.
The School offers extended time for students to stay after school for study and play. Students may remain at the school until 6:00 p.m. Lower school students may participate in after school clubs, including Art, Spanish, Choir and Odyssey of the Mind. Middle school students may participate in after-school athletics or extracurricular activities such as Choir and Odyssey of the Mind.
Presbyterian School has an outdoor education campus away from the main campus. The 14-acre outdoor education campus, located less than 5 miles from the school, also has a pavilion, two athletic fields, an eight-lane track, an outdoor chapel, and a cross country trail. Students may participate in school-sponsored sports from the sixth grade onward. Girls may join volleyball, cross country, or field hockey in the fall; soccer, swimming, or basketball in the winter; and golf, lacrosse, or track and field in the spring. Boys may join cross country, or football in the fall; basketball, soccer, swimming or wrestling in the winter; and golf, lacrosse, or track and field in the spring.
All parents and guardians of Presbyterian School students are members of the Presbyterian School Volunteer Council. There is no membership fee or registration. The PS Volunteer Council sponsors 23 different committees to support students, faculty and parents. The PS Volunteer Council objective is to promote the general welfare and betterment of Presbyterian School and its students; to serve as a communication link between the PS Volunteer Council, Administrative staff, Faculty, and Board of Trustees; and to support the mission of “Family, School and Church united.”