Guide to Enrolling in Great Hearts Texas Schools in San Antonio for 2021–2022

Classroom in October 2019

Great Hearts Texas is a network of charter schools that offers a classical education model in a tuition-free, public school setting. On November 9, 2020, Great Hearts Texas will begin accepting applications for enrollment for the 2021–2022 school year, and the lottery will be on January 13, 2021. We have put together a guide to help you learn more about Great Hearts Texas charter schools in San Antonio and take steps to enroll your child for the next school year.

About Great Hearts Texas Charter Schools

Since its founding in Arizona in 2003, Great Hearts America has focused on cultivating the hearts and minds of students through the pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. The Great Hearts teaching philosophy follows Socrates’s assertion that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Students are encouraged to analyze what they read, discuss it among their peers, and make definitive judgments about right and wrong.

Great Hearts schools follow a distinctive curriculum that gives students a college preparatory education with a foundation in the liberal arts, as well as math and science. They are proud to teach the Great Books and ideas of Western civilization. The study of virtues—namely: courage, responsibility, friendship, citizenship, honesty, wisdom, integrity, and perseverance—is woven into classroom instruction.

Drama at Great Hearts Northern Oaks in October 2019

Students in all grades—kindergarten to 12th grade—read entire works of literature, history, and philosophy. To get a sense of which books the students read, look at Great Hearts Monte Vista‘s most recent Classics to Keep lists for K–5 and 6–12. In addition to the books on this list, students also memorize poetry. Classes will challenge each other to poetry wars to see who can recite more poems and declaim them with more verve. 

High school students earn credits in English language arts and social studies by taking courses in Humane Letters, a double-length class that functions as a Socratic seminar. The students read and annotate their books before class—no e-books here—and come to class ready to defend their ideas by referring back to the texts. The teacher guides and gently redirects the discussion by occasionally asking questions, but for the most part the students respond directly to each other, respectfully stating and challenging each other’s ideas. Starting in second grade, teachers begin introducing skills—sitting in a circle, looking attentively at each speaker—that students will need to fully participate in Humane Letters seminars.

Humane Letters class at Great Hearts Northern Oaks in October 2019

Great Hearts Texas campuses closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19, but students kept learning remotely. (Note: the photos in this post are from a visit to Northern Oaks in October 2019—before the pandemic.) Following the Great Hearts Safe Return plan, the school year started in August 2020 with distance learning. Campuses began welcoming students back on campus in September 2020, while still giving families the choice to continue distance learning through May 2021. Meanwhile, a new, full-time online school, Great Hearts Online, will begin classes on January 4, 2021; learn more in our guide.

To read more about Great Hearts Texas charter schools in the news, we recommend that you click on the articles linked at the bottom of this post. Also, we invite you to join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook and ask questions; the group includes current Great Hearts families who can comment with answers based on their own experiences.

Playground at Great Hearts Northern Oaks in October 2019

Great Hearts Charter Schools in San Antonio

In 2021–22, Great Hearts Texas will have five schools in the San Antonio region—or six, if you count Monte Vista as two campuses. In 2019, on the district’s most recent school report card, they earned a B rating; the list below includes links to each campus’s school report cards. 

Download the free San Antonio Charter Schools app for an interactive map that includes these campuses and many more. You can also find campus information about Great Hearts (and many other schools of choice) on our page Guide to Charter Schools in San Antonio.

PE at San Antonio charter school in October 2019

Enroll at Great Hearts Charter Schools in San Antonio

Families can apply online to enroll their children at Great Hearts Texas charter schools. Open enrollment for 2021–22 will begin on November 9, 2020 and will continue through December 11, 2020. On January 13, 2021, Great Hearts Texas will hold a random lottery; offers and registration will begin on January 14, 2021. Students who are selected will receive an email inviting them to register; the remaining students will be placed on waiting lists, and will be notified if a spot becomes available. Re-enrollment for current students will be March 1 to April 1, 2021; after re-enrollment ends, campuses may have more open spots to offer to waitlisted families. Find more information on the FAQ.

During application season, there will be information sessions and other events in the community for families to learn more about Great Hearts Texas charter schools. In the interest of campus safety, school tours are on hold for the fall 2020 semester.

Joining the Great Hearts Texas interest list will subscribe you to email updates about enrollment, information sessions, and other news.

We also recommend following these Great Hearts social media accounts:

In addition, please join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook to post questions and search previous discussions about Great Hearts Texas charter schools.

Math class at San Antonio charter school in October 2019

Facts About Great Hearts Texas

Great Hearts schools have a culture of ordered joy. The consistent structure helps students know what is expected of them. In kindergarten, at the beginning of the school year, the teachers spend time teaching the students how to sit in scholarly position—an attentive posture, not slouching. Initially, an observer might question whether it’s worth so much instructional time to build habits around how to move quietly through the hallways and what materials students should put on their desks at the beginning of a lesson. But the Great Hearts model seems to prove its worth when even young students in the Lower School are able to concentrate on challenging material, like making inferences based on textual evidence when defending an assertion about a character’s motives, or using bar models to visually explore algebraic concepts. 

The Upper School experience at Great Hearts hearkens back to older traditions of classical education, and so there are significant differences from the typical Texas public schools experience. The pop culture rule asks that students leave contemporary media culture at the door: no iconic characters, teams, or big logos on backpacks, jackets, etc. The school wants students to dwell on their common experiences at school—the books they are reading, their sports teams and clubs—not images or messages from mass media that may divide or exclude. Students are forbidden to use cell phones on campus, except in limited circumstances to contact a family member. For families who want to limit screen time and shelter their children from the pressures of social media, Great Hearts is an oasis. 

Our founder and Executive Director, Inga Cotton, wrote about her experience as a Great Hearts parent in this recent post.

Great Hearts Texas is partner of Choose to Succeed, a nonprofit organization working to attract the nation’s best public charter schools to San Antonio.

If you like what you have learned so far about Great Hearts charter schools in San Antonio, we recommend that you apply for enrollment. You are also welcome to join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group to learn more and interact with current Great Hearts families.

students playing outside at San Antonio school in 2019

Charter Moms Chats

Watch Andrew Ellison, Executive Director of Great Hearts Texas in San Antonio, speak with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on October 20, 2020 at 4 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.

Andrew Ellison has spent 20 years teaching, hiring and coaching faculty, developing curriculum, and mentoring school leaders in classical charter schools. From 1997 to 2003, he taught at Tempe Preparatory Academy, the first classical, liberal arts charter school in the state of Arizona. In 2003 he became the founding headmaster of Great Hearts Veritas Prep in Phoenix, Arizona, a position he held, while continuing to teach, for ten years. In 2013, he became Great Hearts’ vice president and assistant superintendent for upper schools in Arizona before relocating with the company to Texas in the summer of 2018 to assume the position of executive director for San Antonio. Andrew graduated from Valparaiso University (IN) with a degree in international economics and German. He lives with his wife, a Great Hearts teacher, and six children, five Great Hearts students and one alum, in San Antonio.

Read More About Great Hearts Charter Schools

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One Comment

  1. Hello,
    I have admired the Great Hearts schools in Arizona and Texas because of the classical curriculum and the stories I hear from my friend whose children all attend in Scottsdale. I live in Anchorage, Alaska, and am trying to teach my children poetry since their private school does not do enough memorization. I have Laura Berquist’s book but find her lists to be general because of her divisions of grammar, logic, and rhetoric for grades k-12. Would you be able to share with me the poetry list that Great Hearts assigns for its elementary grades? I would be very grateful to have a standard to follow for the education of my own children.

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