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Frequently Asked Questions

What follows are some frequently asked questions that may help you learn more about The Out-of-Door Academy. Please feel free to contact us with any additional questions you may have.

What are the benefits of an independent, college preparatory school?
To what colleges have Out-of-Door students been admitted?
Do students get college counseling?
What is the average class size?
How are gifted students individually challenged in classes?
Are parents welcome on campus?
Are students required to wear uniforms?
Do you have a lunch program?
Do students leave their classroom buildings during the day?
Do you offer financial assistance and scholarships?
What are the school hours?
What sports do you offer?
What sets your school apart from others?
What is your curriculum and who decides it?
Do you offer discounts for families with more than 1 student?
How do you handle disciplinary problems?
Accreditation and Membership
Do you offer a bus service?
Is there after-school care?
Are Out-of-Door teachers certified?

What are the benefits of an independent, college preparatory school?

It is no accident that many of the best college preparatory schools tend to be Independent Schools, independent in their governance and their finances. This independence allows the school the freedom to set and fulfill a clear mission, to admit able learners, to have teachers who are passionate about their discipline, and to establish a curriculum focused on the concepts and skills central to success in college.

At many college preparatory schools, the preparation begins in prekindergarten. Teachers expect students to do homework regularly; to read broadly; to report on what they read; to plan, research, organize and present projects; to use technology as a tool; and to be involved in the life of the school. At each grade level, students add to their repertoire of skills so that as early as middle school, the demands and skills required for college-level work have become familiar habits.

As the phrase implies, the emphasis at a college preparatory school is preparation for college and for life. Students and families are guided in their selection of courses, activities, sports, and community service so as to establish a full and rigorous program that will make them competitive when seeking college admission.

You will see from the tables below that students graduating from independent schools do very well in their post graduate years.  Statistics are provided by the National Association of Independent Schools (

To what colleges have Out-of-Door students been admitted?

Although Out-of-Door has been educating children for more than 90 years the class of 2010 will be only the eleventh group of graduating seniors. Nonetheless, graduates have gained acceptance at prestigious colleges and universities such as:

Click here for a complete list of colleges and universities.

Do students get college counseling?

The college counseling program is based on a five-year developmental model, which introduces parents and students to the unique aspects of college counseling and slowly initiates them to the terms, definitions, and strategies of the changing admissions culture. The five-year program was initiated not to create additional anxiety for parents and students, but to do quite the opposite. The slow delivery of information over five years creates an atmosphere of autonomy and independence for families. The intent of which is to empower those involved with the process and have them understand as much about college counseling and undergraduate admissions as any college counselor might. The vast majority of our senior students are finishing their college applications in early fall of their senior year, not beginning them as is customary at many secondary schools.

Internal and external programming are important elements in developing an effective and national caliber college counseling program. Within the school corridors, we attempt to offer students and parents a chronological education in the subtleties of college counseling and undergraduate admissions. Evening information sessions targeting each upper school grade level provide a solid, if general, education. The general information programs are supplemented by individual college counselor meetings involving both parents and student beginning in the freshman academic year. It is here we begin to establish a strategic model to plan the students next few years of preparation. Guidance during these meetings includes, but is not limited to: curriculum mapping, standardized testing, extracurricular activities, learning issues, grade point average, weighted coursework, athletics/special ability groups, financial aid, scholarships, and choosing colleges based on current achievement. Hopefully, it is evident that the college counseling department influences students to select a college environment which suits them best, never blindly encouraging them to matriculate at the "most selective" school to which accepted. Although the two are not always mutually exclusive, we believe a holistic match inside and outside the classroom is where students will ultimately excel.

What is the average class size?

Lower School class size averages at 18 with additional teachers in many classrooms. Class sizes in the Middle and Upper School are in the same range with some Advance Placement and Electives ranging from 5-12 students.

How are gifted students individually challenged in classes?

We fully realize that many students require additional challenge. Hence our Pre-K-12 programs are designed to "stretch" kids without "pushing" them.

In the Lower School teachers are trained to differentiate their instruction to best meet the needs of individuals. Students are not ‘punished' with extra work for completing assignments quickly; they are given different assignments that will allow them to make better use of their learning time.

n the Upper School, Honors sections and a plethora of AP courses attend to the needs of those students demonstrating a desire for additional challenge beyond the parameters of Out-of-Door's already accelerated academic standards.

Are parents welcome on campus?

Without question! We appreciate and welcome their presence. Parent commitment and participation are universally acknowledged catalysts in creating a successful educational process and an essential element of our school's vitality.

All members of the Out-of-Door community - staff, students and parents - share in the resulting cooperation and teamwork. The continued success of student programs, special events and fundraisers depends upon parent involvement.

Are students required to wear uniforms?

Uniforms are required for students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. While students in the Upper School do not wear uniforms, they follow a strict dress code. Click here for more information on uniforms and dress code.

Do you have a lunch program?

The Out-of-Door Academy lunch program offers healthy and balanced menu options, including hot and cold entrees that are available for purchase. Click here for more information on the dining plan.

Do students leave their classroom buildings during the day?

In grades PreK-3, students have an assigned homeroom, but many of the special classes including art, music, PE, Spanish and library skills are situated in other buildings throughout the campus.

In grades 4-12, students travel to classrooms designed to service the specialized needs of particular academic disciplines.

Do you offer financial assistance and scholarships?

Out-of-Door offers need-based financial assistance to families who apply for, qualify, and merit financial assistance. The only scholarships available is the Taylor Emmons Scholarship. Please see the section on Financial Assistance in the Admissions section of this site.

What are the school hours?

Lower School (Grades Pre-K - 5) 8:15 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Uihlein Campus in Lakewood Ranch (Grades 6-12) 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

What sports do you offer?

Although The Out-of-Door Academy Middle and Upper Schools have only been in existence since 1996, they have already established a winning tradition and reputation for excellence in many areas. Since the program's inception, Thunder varsity teams have won 39 district and regional championship or runner's up plaques. The athletic program recently laid claim to the school's second and third state championships during the 2008-09 school year. For their accomplishments, Out-of-Door athletics has been recognized by the Florida High School Athletic Association and the Florida Athletic Coaches Association as a premier Class A sports program statewide. Please see the Athletics section of this site for additional information.

The Upper and Middle School interscholastic Fall sports offerings are cheerleading, cross-country, football, golf, swimming and volleyball. Winter sports offerings include basketball, cheerleading, and soccer. Spring sports include lacrosse, baseball, softball, tennis and track and field. Generally, student-athletes in grades seven and eight comprise the middle school level teams, student-athletes in grades nine and ten comprise the junior varsity level teams and students in grades eleven and twelve comprise the varsity level teams.

The Lower School offers an after school sports program that includes a variety of sports such as basketball, flag football, lacrosse, soccer, etc.


What sets your school apart from others?

  • Our mission of developing both intellect and character with a focus on
    • collaboration
    • communication
    • creativity
    • critical thinking
  • Our academic programs that respect the abilities and learning styles of individuals.
  • Our integration of innovative teaching techniques and technology.
  • The accessibility to teachers and administrators
  • Our engaged, involved school families
  • Most of all, our confident, responsible and successful students and alumni.

What is your curriculum?
The Division Heads, department heads, and faculty work collaboratively to develop age-appropriate curriculum that helps students experience both breadth and depth.

Do you offer discounts for families with more than one student?
Since per pupil costs do not change whether or not students come from the same family, the school does not offer discounts to siblings. However, families applying for additional students may qualify for financial assistance.

How do you handle disciplinary problems?
We believe that good discipline begins with good guidance. The core values at The Out-of-Door Academy are inculcated into every aspect of the ODA experience.

  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Service
  • Excellence
  • Responsibility

Beginning at an early age, we strive to develop a sense of kindness, mutual respect, and responsibility in each child through our homerooms, advisories, assemblies, and general classroom expectations. Faculty model good behavior and insist that students exhibit the same.

When a transgression occurs, the teacher is the first to deal directly with the behavior. Generally, a verbal warning and a word of encouragement are all that is needed. In the event that a discipline infraction goes beyond the scope of the teacher (e.g. repeated violations, an honor offense, or a violation of a major school rule), the student will be directed to the Division Head. In some cases, Upper School students may be required to appear before the Honor Committee. Detailed information is available in the Student Handbook.

Accreditation and Membership
The Out-of-Door Academy is fully accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS). To quote the evaluating team:

"There is clear evidence that the mission of The Out-of-Door Academy is present in every facet of the school. Exemplary student behavior reflects the core values of the school and the high standards to which the student body and faculty hold themselves. We commend Out-of-Door in truly achieving its mission and maintaining that spirit on both campuses."

Out-of-Door is also a proud member of:

  • National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
  • Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)
  • National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC)
  • National Honor Society (NHS)
  • Cum Laude Society
    • Association of College Counselors at Independent Schools (ACCIS)
    • National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC)
    • Association of Indpendent School Admission Professionals (AISAP)
    • Secondary School Admissions Test Board (SSATB)
    • Educational Records Bureau (ERB)

Do you offer a bus service?
Out-of-Door operates a bus service for the purposes of transporting students to and from School. This service is maintained for the sole convenience of students and families of Out-of-Door. Pick-up and drop-off points are located at each campus and at various convenient points in between.

Is there after-school care?
Care is offered for extra-fee basis at the Lower School campus from the time school ends until 5:30 p.m. for Out-of-Door students only. Parents must complete the Extended Day Care Enrollment Form. Please see the Extended Care portion of this website for additional information.

An after school Prime Time program, for Lower School students, composed of special course offerings in academics, arts, and athletics is also available.

Middle and Upper School students have the opportunity to participate in a number of after school activities in the arts and athletics.

Are Out-of-Door teachers certified?
Each Out-of-Door teacher (many of whom possess masters and other advanced degrees) holds a degree in the discipline in which they instruct. Out-of-Door believes strongly that demonstrated expertise in the content areas is at the core of what makes for superior teaching.

© 2016 The Out-of-Door Academy
The Out-of-Door Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, gender, or national origin. The Out-of-Door Academy is an equal opportunity employer.
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