Saint Louis University

City Garden Montessori Charter School 

Saint Louis University currently sponsors City Garden Montessori Charter School. The charter school opened in 2008. It first opened in 1995 as a small, locally-founded and operated preschool. City Garden Montessori School has been educating racially and socio-economically diverse students from the Forest Park Southeast and surrounding neighborhoods for over 15 years. To meet the educational demands of many area families, the school's board opened in 2008 a separate public charter school. City Garden serves approximately 175 students in grades K-8. 

The well-established Montessori curriculum, intentionally small institutional size, and grass-roots community origins and leadership present a true educational choice for area families. And City Garden's distinct institutional mission - to encourage students to "value difference among people both globally and locally" and to teach "habits of non-violent conflict resolution and sustainable living" - resonates powerfully with the values of Saint Louis University. You can learn more about City Garden Montessori at



Grand Center Arts Academy

The University sponsors a third school that opened in the Fall of 2010, the Grand Center Arts Academy. The school is dedicated to offering world-class training in music, theater, visual art and dance as part of a rigorous academic program. The Academy is a locally- founded charter school and the newest campus of Confluence Academy (there are four existing Confluence Academy campuses in St. Louis). Grand Center Arts Academy is located in the the Beaux Arts Building across from Powell Symphony Hall in the heart of St. Louis' Grand Center cultural and fine arts district. Grand Center Arts Academy will be taking full educational advantage of partnerships with many of Grand Center's premiere arts venues, including the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre, Jazz St. Louis, the Center for Creative Arts, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and the Contemporary Art Museum. 

Sponsorship of the Academy is another demonstrable example of the University's commitment to development of Grand Center and all of Midtown St. Louis. The Academy will serve students in grades 6-12th grades and ultimately enroll approximately 750 students. You can learn more about the Grand Center Arts Academy at



Saint Louis University also sponsored Shearwater High School, which closed in June 2013.

Shearwater High School opened as a small public charter school on the campus of Ranken Technical College in the fall of 2010, serving students between the ages of 17-21 who were at risk of not earning their high school diplomas or passing the GED exam. Shearwater's goal was to graduate its students well-prepared for entry into college, advanced training programs, or students' chosen fields of work. This commitment to serving at-risk youth and serving the community aligned well with SLU's Catholic, Jesuit mission.

As Shearwater's sponsor, SLU closely monitored the school's progress toward its academic goals since its inception. In Spring 2013, Shearwater's performance required SLU to place Shearwater on probation, and to offer additional assistance to support the Board. Ultimately, Shearwater was unable to meet the shared expectations for educational excellence established in the charter, prompting Shearwater Education Foundation's board to vote to close the school.

While Shearwater's closure after three years was disappointing, it fulfilled the intent of charter schools to attempt significant innovation in K-12 education and to be held directly accountable for their performance. SLU remains committed to the school's mission to reengage, educate and graduate disconnected youth. SLU will continue to partner with the Shearwater Foundation board leaders to evaluate and learn from this experience. In keeping with the purpose and promise of charter schools in Missouri, the University will share Shearwater's experiences with colleagues at DESE, SLPS, and other Missouri school districts and charter schools in the hope that the lessons learned can inform future educational success stories throughout the city and state.