Allison Academy: Private High School Spotlight

February 23, 2024

Since 1983, Allison Academy has provided a highly individualized, creative, and forward-thinking education for its students. Founded by Dr. Sarah Allison, Allison Academy was conceived “in the spirit of dynamic growth and intellectual pursuits” as a place where students had the opportunity to engage with the world around them in innovative and creative ways. As such, students are empowered to pursue their interests and expand their worldview within an environment that highly values achievement and aspiration, resulting in graduates who not only experience positive postsecondary outcomes but also are well-equipped to handle future challenges. Want to learn more about why Allison Academy was named a “Cool School” at the 2021 World Education Summit? In today’s blog post, we’ll delve into why Allison is one of the best private schools in Miami.

What sets Allison Academy apart from other private schools?

Allison Academy’s unique approach is based on the Finnish educational model, often considered to be one of the world’s most successful. In recent years, Finland’s system has ranked number one for future-skills education, well-being and happiness, and quality of primary education. As such, Allison Academy aims to better prepare its students for the future—and increase their current well-being and sense of self —by incorporating Finnish educational principles into their approach.

These principles include preparing students for real-life problem-solving, showing students how they can apply classroom knowledge to the real world, tailoring learning to each individual student, giving students opportunities to draw interdisciplinary connections, and teaching students to be mindful of their physical, social, and mental well-being. Accordingly, Allison students graduate with skills in global citizenship, innovation and creativity, technology, and interpersonal relationships, which are all invaluable for success in today’s world. Allison Academy is also a prominent member of the LINK Edu Alliance, an international education network that seeks to constantly advance and modernize current educational approaches.

In addition to their educational philosophy, Allison Academy is distinguished by the strength of their school community. Recent research published by Contemporary Educational Psychology suggests that positive developmental relationships with teachers are key predictors of motivation and school climate. Consequently, the small class sizes at Allison enable educators to truly practice what they preach, and create strong, caring relationships with students that center on individual needs.

How many students attend Allison Academy?

Allison Academy serves 100 students in grades 6-12, which works out to an average of just 14 students per grade. With nine dedicated teachers (more on that below), the student-to-faculty ratio is 11:1, below the national private school average of 12.5:1. This ratio is also on par with highly selective liberal arts colleges.

How does Allison Academy structure its curriculum?

To be successful in today’s (and tomorrow’s) world, Allison Academy believes that students must develop critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, information literacy, media literacy, technology literacy, flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity, and social skills. As such, Upper School students need to move through at least 24 credits over the course of four years. These requirements break down as follows:

  • 4 credits of English
  • 4 credits of mathematics, including Algebra I and Geometry
  • 3 credits of science (4 recommended), including biology and a physical science
  • 3 credits of social studies (4 recommended), including World History, US History, and US Government/Economics
  • 2 credits of a foreign language (French and Spanish are offered)
  • 1 credit of personal financial literacy
  • 1 credit of a fine art
  • 1 credit of an online course
  • 1 credit of physical education
  • 5 credits of Health
  • 5 or more elective credits

Many courses are offered at two levels, including Honors and Advanced Placement.

Within these requirements, there is plenty of room for personalization. Within core classes, students are encouraged to develop their sense of individuality, which is key to a long-term love of learning. As such, their specific talents and interests are catered to by their teachers. Per Allison Academy, “No wish is denied, but merely adapted to be practical, adaptable, and fun.” Allison educators seek to combine several skills at once by creating innovative assignments that allow students to gain soft skills while they are learning content. These assignments include joint projects, oral and written tasks (poems, scripts, music, and arts), interdisciplinary projects, research, and competitions.

Curriculum (Continued)

Outside of core classes, students have many electives to choose from, which include music, art, drama, journalism, team sports, forensic science, drafting, programming, and video game development, among others. Moreover, in addition to in-person classes, Allison offers over 80 online courses across all major subject areas. A number of unique subjects are also available, including paleontology, JavaScript, and child development. For students interested in undertaking AP coursework, 12 different AP courses can be pursued via online learning. These include AP Spanish, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Psychology, AP Calculus, AP Statistics, AP Lit, AP Lang, AP European History, AP US History, AP US Government and Politics, and AP World History.

Finally, Allison Academy’s curriculum champions diversity as well as technology. On the diversity front, Allison seeks to expose its students to a wide range of perspectives, best exemplified by the range of reading material assigned in literature classes as well as the travel to foreign countries that takes place via language classes. Moreover, science, technology, engineering, and/or math concepts are broadly integrated across courses to ensure that students graduate with a high level of technological literacy and communication prowess. Accordingly, computers are used as core learning and teaching aids, made possible by a student-to-computer ratio of 1:1.

If these learning objectives sound complex, it’s because they are. However, Allison Academy educators are certainly up to the task.

Who are Allison Academy’s faculty?

Allison Academy’s faculty are a highly accomplished and dedicated bunch—36% of them have master’s or doctoral degrees, and 72% have worked at the school for more than ten years. They are also experts in contemporary and individualized teaching methods, which enables them to provide a learning environment that is inviting and motivating while adapting to students’ individual interests and learning styles. Furthermore, they’re committed to student success, evidenced by the fact that guided, supervised study is provided daily after school for students who need additional help.

Moreover, all teachers are experts in their respective fields. For example, Elthon Castillo, an advanced mathematics, physics, and creative design teacher, worked at several architectural and engineering firms before transitioning to teaching, and holds a Professional Fashion Design Certificate from the Parsons School of Design in addition to a bachelor’s degree in architecture. Albert Washington, who teaches social science, is a third-generation teacher with a degree in criminal justice who previously worked at a nonprofit organization that serves foster youths. Finally, Carolyn Longstreet, who teaches robotics, coding, and computer science classes, is a former medical software company president and software/hardware business owner.

Of course, education doesn’t stop at the end of the school day. Allison Academy places a high value on parent-school cooperation—as a parent, you can expect to be in frequent communication and collaboration with your child’s teachers.

What is Allison Academy’s school community like?

Allison Academy strives to create a community where students grow in kindness and empathy, increase their self-esteem, and develop positive and long-lasting connections with one another.  As such, they place special emphasis on extracurricular activities, with the firm belief that students can only grow into their full potential with a balanced combination of academic and non-academic pursuits.

Extracurricular offerings are extensive and include Art Club, Drama Club, Guitar School, Piano Club, Choir Club, Band Club, Robotics Club, and Student Council. Moreover, a wide range of sports are offered, from basketball and volleyball to tag football and track and field.

Finally, community service is front and center. Although a minimum of 75 hours of community service is a State of Florida graduation requirement, giving back to others is a core value at Allison. As a result, Allison encourages students to earn approximately 20 hours of community service during each of their Upper School years, using their Friday half-days for this purpose. Service-learning opportunities are also an integral part of the school’s fabric, with students participating in projects and activities both during and after school.

What are Allison Academy’s postsecondary outcomes?

Allison Academy has a strong college-bound culture, with 92% of students matriculating to a college or university post-graduation. As such, the school offers a litany of resources during the college search and selection process, including standardized test preparation programs, application completion assistance, essay support, and college/major research resources. Moreover, teachers and the counseling staff work closely with students to help them identify best-fit programs and advocate for them during the college admissions process.

Most recently, the mid-50th percentile SAT score for Allison Academy graduates was 560-660 in Reading and 570-670 in Math. Past college acceptances include everything from highly selective research institutions like New York University and the University of Miami to small liberal arts colleges like Lewis & Clark. While Florida-based and other Southeastern colleges—like Florida State, Nova Southeastern, and Georgia Southern University—are heavily represented, a number of international institutions appear on the list as well, including the University of Australia, University of London, University of Madrid, University of Moscow, and McGill University.

What is the admissions process like at Allison Academy?

Allison Academy’s admissions process is centered on ensuring that each student is a good fit for Allison Academy and that Allison Academy is a good fit for the student. Accordingly, it involves in-person conversations with prospective students and parents as well as diagnostic testing.

Finally, Miami-Dade County is a diverse place, with a population that is nearly 70% Hispanic or Latino, 17% Black, and 14% white. As a result, Allison Academy strives to provide students with a diverse learning environment that reflects the city where they live, and seeks to admit students from a wide range of ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Allison Academy tuition

Tuition is $19,950 annually, and students should budget an additional $1,350 per year for registration, books/technology, local field trips, and activity fees.

However, in order to create a more socioeconomically diverse campus. the school prides itself on being a leader in financial aid. Accordingly, it uses an average of 25% of its yearly operating budget to provide financial assistance to qualifying students.

Finally, through Allison Academy’s Incentives for the Best program, high-achieving students are financially rewarded. If you possess outstanding talent in science, sports, or the arts, and are committed to continuing to improve, you could earn a partial scholarship to attend the school.

Final Thoughts — Allison Academy

Allison Academy’s small class sizes, dedicated teachers, and supportive community enable students to nurture their individual interests and talents, develop a lifelong love of learning, and foster positive mental and emotional well-being. If you’re looking for a highly personalized educational experience that will prepare you with the skills necessary for success in college and beyond, this unique private school could be just the right fit.