The COVID-19 pandemic’s uncertainty and its effects on the school system has increased applications and enrollments for local private schools.

St. Joseph Catholic School, located at 2901 E. Rancier Ave., is one of Killeen’s private schools. The campus offers a classical curriculum in partnership with the University of Dallas, teaching students from Pre-Kindergarten 3 through 8th grade.

“We focus on critical thinking, teaching students how to think and not just what to think,” said Principal Dirk Steffens. “This sets the school apart from not only public schools but other private schools in the area. All students learn about God and the truth and beauty of all subjects.”

According to Steffens, COVID-19 has affected the school in many ways but not the level of education.

“We did not stop teaching in the spring when this all started, we just quickly and nearly seamlessly continued virtually,” he said.

St. Joseph students and their parents can now decide to either continue virtual learning or get reintegrated in a regular classroom setting with their peers in person.

“The virtual students get the same level of education as in-person students,” Steffens said.

The nationwide trend of increased applications and enrollments in private schools has been extremely noticeable locally.

“Our enrollment has increased by 50%,” Steffens said.

He suggested parents that are anticipating joining St. Joseph’s to give them a call at 254-634-7272 to see if the school is a fit for their family.

“Let’s talk,” he said. “St. Joseph Catholic School accepts all students of any faith, and our classical curriculum allows us to challenge students at any grade level. We are a prayerful school with a true family atmosphere and teach about God from the Catholic worldview. The teachers are all certified, with many of them having graduate degrees, and are truly passionate about what they do. They believe this is their mission and duty of their faith.”

Currently, the private school teaches 150 students. Although the number of enrollments continues to rise weekly, Steffens pays attention to small classroom sizes.

“We keep our classroom size to about 20 students per grade,” he said. “This allows us more one on one time with students.”

Steffens is planning on expending grade levels to incorporate high school education at St. Joseph’s for the 2021/22 school year.

According to the school’s web site, tuition for St. Joseph Catholic school is $6,300 for Pre-K and Kindergarten and $5,775 for higher grades. Military and sibling discounts are available.

Other private schools in the area include the Killeen Adventist Junior Academy located at 3412 Lake Road and the Memorial Christian Academy located at 4001 Trimmier Road in Killeen.

(1) comment

Debbie H

In addition to the schools mentioned in your article, St. Christopher's Episcopal Preschool has a wonderful curriculum and is open to ages 18 months through Kindergarten. They went straight to virtual learning when the lockdown started, then finished the school year in May, and started back up in person at the end of August with the CDC protocols in place. Please come visit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Thursdays 8:45-2:15 and check them out or visit their web page at

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