by Rick Grant
Nestled off San Pablo Road South between Beach Blvd. and the San Pablo Apartments, the 23 acre campus of the new Foundation Academy was officially dedicated last Saturday. Since I knew nothing about this school, I buzzed out there last Saturday to find out more about it and cover the Grand Opening celebration.
The school was founded in 1988. It became a reality through the creative vision of owner, founder, and principal Nadia Hionides, who said that with the grace of God, she has built this private school to educate all students giving them warmth and mutual respect. The school also gave Nadia’s daughter Maro Trendel a place to teach and help develop the school.
The family-like atmosphere at the FA prepares students for college with a strong foundation in arts and sciences. The school has 260 students who attend classrooms with a small teacher to student ratio that allows for one-on-one instruction. Students are encouraged to be individuals and offer their creative feedback to the group.
“Is it fair to say that the Foundation Academy is a private version of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and the LaVilla School of The Arts combined?” I asked Nadia.
“Yes, but we believe that all students have talents and hidden abilities. So we don’t turn away students,” Nadia said.
During my visit, I noticed that everyone attending the Grand Opening seemed to know each other. There was a current of camaraderie among the students and teachers. Everyone was friendly and excited to show off the school. The classrooms are roomy, well lit, with tables and desks, which, when one considers the student body is only 260, one can see that each student would get individual attention as well as group learning.
Interestingly, the reception lobby floor is made up of encased vinyl LP records which exudes an air of cool. The new buildings of the FA are arranged in U-shaped blocks– more like a college campus than an elementary through high school.
Parents are attracted to the FA because it appeals to their children’s artistic and academic needs in a creative and accepting atmosphere. “When you think about the arts and you think about the importance of how they stimulate the intellect (the creative thinking and the organizational skills) it is obvious then how arts can translate these skills into learning in all areas of study,” Nadia said.
While I was there, it occurred to me that Nadia’s vision for the FA could be construed as an alternative to home schooling, in that, her methods include the complete child– including emotional, spiritual, and intellectual. Indeed, home schooling has one major flaw-it deprives the child of important social interaction with other students.
To me, the key to FA’s success is: They treat each student as an individual and adapt programs that help the child to develop their potential without the pressure of the public schools’ rigid curriculum that frankly, leaves many students by the wayside. Every student learns differently and not necessarily at the same rate.
I know that many kids are turned off by public schools for various reasons. They’re bullied or are not accepted by the right clique. The FA is a great alternative for students who are treated with respect and given a chance to blossom into adulthood at their own pace. Clearly, I was impressed by this school and if I had kids still going to school I’d consider the Foundation Academy as an alternative to the destructive pressures of public schools.
Foundation Academy´s Grand Opening at New Facility
by Rick Grant