Private schools abound in Columbia — each providing something a little different to its students.
One thing different from their public school counterparts is that each private school decides what qualifies its teachers.
Private schools do not have to adhere to state teacher standards or have teachers receive certification from the state.
Under Missouri state law, a private school is able to set the requirements for teachers working in the school.
Columbia has more than 15 private schools, not including pre-schools, each with individually set teacher requirements.
Most private schools require teachers to have a bachelor’s degree. Some schools do not require the degree to be in education. But all schools interviewed require their teachers who teach middle school or high school subjects to have knowledge of the subject from college education or work experience.
Some schools’ standards go beyond professional experience and credentials. Faith is important to many schools.
“Certification doesn’t mean a person is a quality teacher,” said Vince Winn, administrator of Christian Chapel Academy. “We look to see if a teacher is a good fit with who we are as a school. All our teachers are Christian and consider working here as a ministry that impacts the lives of kids.”
John Fonville, administrator of Shalom Christian Academy, said the school requires its teachers to have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior so they can minister to children spiritually as well as academically.
Columbia Catholic School gives preference to Catholic teachers because teachers in self-contained classrooms are required to teach religion. Principal Patrick Darcy said 99 percent of the teachers at the school are Catholic.
Greg Hasseldahl, principal of Good Shepherd Lutheran School, also wants religion-minded people teaching.
“Being a Lutheran is always a nice thing to be, but we do expect all teachers to be Christians,” he said.
Hasseldahl said he sees the school as a ministry to help children and families develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.
Teachers from both Heritage Academy and Christian Fellowship School are required to sign statements of faith.
“We want the teachers to demonstrate how their subject areas relate to biblical principles,” said Scott Williams, principal of Christian Fellowship School.
Other schools require extra training through their organization. Both Children’s House Montessori of Columbia and Columbia Montessori School require their teachers to attend Montessori training.