Christ the King Catholic School

(Published in 2010)

christthekingimageJacksonville – Stephanie Chinault beams when she talks about Christ the King Catholic School’s latest achievements. As a former student and current principal, Chinault was ecstatic to learn that Christ the King was honored by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the National Blue Ribbon Schools.

Just one of 50 awarded private schools in the nation, Christ the King was labeled a “high performing” school, which means its standardized test scores in reading and math ranked among the top 10 percent in the nation.

This great news came on the heels of another achievement last year when Christ the King won the Duval County Math Field Day, a citywide math competition for middle school students.

In addition to being the current principal and a former student, Chinault is also the parent of two children who currently attend Christ the King. Many of the school’s 310 students are second generation scholars whose grandparents, who established the parish, are still members. Christ the King enrolls 36 Step Up For Students scholarship recipients.

“Without the Step Up For Students Scholarship, those children would not be able to attend our school,” Chinault said. Chinault and her staff have made a concerted effort to position the school as an academic leader while maintaining its spirituality and drawing students from nearby neighborhoods. Today, the school maintains a diverse student population. Approximately 20 percent of the student population is non-Catholic. Nineteen percent of the students live at or near poverty level.

“When students who live near or below poverty attend a school with those of higher income, many educational issues are resolved,” Chinault said. “The children do better. They do better when they get a choice.”

A large number of the staff are graduates of the school and have an average tenure of 18 years. The school’s atmosphere fosters parent interaction with frequent parent conferences and after-school help sessions. With a low student-to-teacher ratio coupled with an active parent base, the environment is both that of a community and a family, Chinault said.

“The committed staff ensures a strong family environment,” Chinault said. “They develop a circle of care that surrounds the children and allows them to be their best.”

The school boasts a curriculum rooted in tradition that includes students learning cursive handwriting and kindergarten students learning how to tie their shoes. All students are required to take Spanish and also can take fine art classes, music and physical education and can choose from a variety of sports teams, including soccer, cheerleading, volleyball and softball. Computer classes reflect old fashion typing classes, to ensure that all students can type effectively.

The students also build character and learn how to treat and respect others while learning to give back to their community. The first Friday of the month, students bring in canned food to donate to an on-site food pantry. The annual tuition at Christ the King ranges from $3,875 to $5,960.

“Life is about relationships,” Chinault said. “It’s how you get along with others. It’s how you support and respect others. We feel that we offer the children a very strong foundation at Christ the King Catholic School.

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The typical scholarship school

Is small in size: The average total enrollment is 161 students.

Serves mostly private-paying students: Step Up students make up an average of 30 percent of total enrollment.

Serves elementary students: About 66 percent in grades K-5.

Is faith-based: Seventy-five percent of the schools are faith-based. The 193 Catholic schools represent the largest single group.