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Is private school a good fit for your family?

Some JBLM families' choices

(From left) Joint Base Lewis-McChord residents Margo Weaver, 5, and Avery Weaver, 8, head off to school at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic School. Photo credit: Melynda Weaver

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Frequent moves can be challenging for military children, and some local families on Joint Base Lewis-McChord have chosen the private school option to help mitigate it. Private schools are usually small, with a low student-to-teacher ratio. Many of the local private schools also offer substantial financial aid to military families. Here are a few chosen by families living on JBLM.

"We chose to send our 11-year old to Tacoma Baptist Schools for the small classroom size, excellent parent-teacher communication, and most importantly, the Christian education," said Debbie Jones, a military spouse. Tacoma Baptist School offers pre-K to high school.

Tacoma Baptist Schools, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, 2052 S. 64th St., Tacoma, 253.475.7226,

The Jesuit tradition of education is the foundation of the Bellarmine Preparatory School program.  

"Bellarmine is my sixth school in seven years," said Charlie Cleveland, a military child. "Before my first day of school, I began to feel welcome after a 12-hour long retreat at a local camp on the water that was for the incoming freshman class. I appreciated what they did to help me feel like part of the school." Bellarmine has grades nine to 12.

Bellarmine Preparatory School, 8 a.m. to 2:25 p.m., Monday-Friday, 2300 S. Washington, Tacoma, 253.752.7701,

The Shearer family chose the Children's Village Montessori School.

"(It has) a very well-rounded learning environment that was run like a school and not like a day care," said military spouse Tiffany Shearer. The school is for preschool and kindergarten students ages 2-and-a-half to 7 years old and is located in historic DuPont.

Children's Village Montessori School, by appointment only, 253.964.2545,

Many JBLM families like Annie Wright for its small class sizes, variety of extracurricular activities and International Baccalaureate program. In middle school, a trip is included in the tuition and is linked to what the students study. For instance, the sixth grade class went to California and included coastal study and Steinbeck sites from their readings. The school also offers one of the largest financial aid packages available. The school is pre-K to high school.

Annie Wright Schools, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., 827 N. Tacoma, 253.272.2216,

St. Frances Cabrini Catholic School is one of the most popular private schools at JBLM with carpools from both the McChord and Lewis sides of the base.

"We chose St. Frances for its faith-based and high academic teaching standards," said Jennifer Lucero Johnson, a military spouse. "We love that it is a small school and that most of the students know each other. The school has a great parent's club that helps to make this school feel like a family. We love it here." The school is pre-K to grade eight.

St. Frances Cabrini Catholic School, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday-Friday, 5621 108th St. SW, Lakewood, 253.584.3850,

There are plenty of options for private schools in the area. How to find the school that's right for you? is a search tool for schools that allows you to filter for private schools. Ask at the school to see if they have any military families. Most schools are happy to get you in touch with another military family.

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