Las Cruces Academy serves students who are advanced or gifted academically by providing academic challenge, individual attention, and a nurturing environment. Our children excel in one or more subjects beyond grade level. Our mission is to guide them toward realization of their full potential intellectually, socially, and emotionally.
We are committed to recruitment of enthusiastic, highly qualified teachers and staff and to small class sizes. A comprehensive curriculum with emphases on math, science, and language includes daily classes of English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese to prepare students to effectively engage in an increasingly diverse world. Students are taught according to their ability, not age nor class. Our student-centered curriculum encourages self-directed learning, collaboration, and nurturing of intellectual curiosity and creativity. While in the classroom and at play we provide opportunities for social development and strive to impart the values of honesty, compassion, humility, and leadership.
We believe that all of our students possess gifts and talents. We provide a nurturing, loving and structured environment for our students to gain self-knowledge and self-confidence. Our hope is that they become compassionate people and productive citizens and that they enjoy fulfilling lives.
About This Cause
The Las Cruces Academy is a non-profit private school (IRS determination as (501(c)(3), as an educational charity) serving students in grades early K through 8. We engage students who are advanced or motivated and who are underserved in other schools. Our students are extremely diverse by ethnicity and national origin. We offer scholarships based on need, funding these from both restricted funds and general funds, as necessary. The scholarships average 8% of operating funds.
We began in 2009 as a K-4 school with 13 students of parents who trusted our vision and our qualifications. We have progressively added grades 5-8 and then early kindergarten, and we have grown to a stable enrollment averaging over 40 students in recent years. Our school founder, Dr. Lou Ellen Kay (Biology, CUNY) devoted her inheritance to founding the school and serves for a salary of $1 per year. The Board of Trustees members are all volunteers. Our bookkeeping, Web services, and planning services are done by volunteers.
Our curriculum is inspired by examples of the Perth Modern School in Western Australia and advice from individuals such as the late Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman who succeeded in establishing novel curricula. Our teachers have academic freedom in developing their curricula, which is exceptional in a primary school; the Head of School (our founder, Dr. Kay) and the Board review our progress, which amounts to a strong endorsement of our choice. We teach English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese daily to all students, with rare exceptions. We teach Singapore Math through all levels. Our science courses are taught by Ph. D. scientists of wide experience (Dr. Kay and her husband and Board Chair Vincent P. Gutschick, chemistry, Caltech). The curriculum is completed with in-depth social studies, art, music, and physical education. Students have notable input into the progress of courses.
Our paid teachers are compensated at a rate approximating 80% of that of public school teachers. We engage teachers by subject mastery and teaching passion, not requiring certifications in education courses. They have education and experience in English literature, early childhood education, primary education, wildlife science, comparative religion, Chinese literature and history, and Spanish teaching. They have been very successful. We have used minimal standardized testing (Iowa Assessments) in two recent years, and the results place our school in the top 1% nationally. We cannot take credit for our students' innate talent but we are confident that our teaching affirms and enhances their talents.
Our major funding needs in the 1-10 year time frame are for the cost of accreditation (full documentation expenses, audit, accrediting agency fees), the transition to a paid administration for long-term sustainability, and acquisition of a permanent facility (we currently rent a very serviceable building, though it may be sold to new owners who may not be amenable to rental to us). Our donors are diverse, encompassing to date our founder, our Board, student families, students themselves, local businesses, two foundations, and friends of the school. Our donation income varies, while averaging 6% of operating funds; our LCA families are almost all young in early careers; we do not have alumni yet of greater means.