The REAL Cost of Private Education in Queens

Private Education can be seen as a costly choice if you are only weighing in the dollar value. But for some Queens families, private education offers learning opportunities and environments that are not so readily available in public schools.

Having been in the business for over 50 years, private school Astoria Lutheran School has been committed to providing children, from three years of age to grade six, a challenging academic program to prepare them for the future and shape their character. 

Principal Mary Leake wants “to equip [children] to meet the challenges of the 21st century with confidence, integrity, and a respect for others.” She continues to see demand for their education  model even within this challenging economic market.

For Margarita Soto, mom of three and Co-Director of the Astoria School Symposium,  private school won out in her decision for her son’s education because of her desire to have her children fluent in English and Spanish. Of Peruvian descent, Margarita wanted to pass the Spanish language to her children and found the dual language curriculum and small teacher to student ratio at Queens Paideia School ideal for her son’s needs.

Margarita says she “was committed to being a public school parent and did an exhaustive search of the public schools around Astoria. [She] found many public schools in Astoria to be great schools-  working very hard at providing quality education.”   But after a thorough assessment of her son’s strengths and weaknesses, she felt he would be best served in a more intimate learning environment.   Margarita stumbled upon QPS -a new private school located in Long Island City. QPS believes in an individualized curriculum and an extremely small ratio-  5:1.  For Margarita , “the school is tiny and the community is small but the staff is highly committed and the families are wonderful.   Her son is thriving and she and her husband are pleased; they have already committed to enrolling their daughter at QPS  next year.   Margarita passes along the following advice that was once given to her, “… no school is perfect. It is a matter of finding the school that matches your educational values and an environment that can bring out the most of your child.”

It is their distinct philosophy that private religious schools pride themselves on that is so desirable to some families. Soraya Gafary-Mohamed, a resource teacher and mother of two wanted to give her young daughter a more complete Islamic education that was not as readily available 25 years ago in NYC when she was growing up.

Enrolled at the El Ber Islamic School of Astoria, five year old Aminah Mohammed enjoys a close knit school environment of just a little over 100 students attending from pre-K to grade 5.  The school provides comprehensive dual language learning in English and Arabic, a curriculum flexibility not easily found at public schools.

For Soraya and her family, “religious education is not just about memorizing prayers but reflects a general set of shared values amongst the teachers and families at El Ber School. There is a continuous presence of dialogue made connecting the faith with everyday behavior”.  Ultimately Soraya knows she is paying to ensure that her daughter is learning her religion in a structured environment that fosters academic excellence.

Astoria resident and mother of three daughters, Erin Carman appreciates the nurturing environment of her daughters’ school where they are “flourishing and growing spiritually”. Having also attended private education, Erin’s fond memories and familiarity made the choice to enroll Ruby and Stella at Immaculate Conception Catholic School an important consideration.  Private education is something that has to be worked out in your family budget. As a full time stay at home mom Erin  is fortunate to have this education plan an option for her family but shares “we are taking it year to year. It was important for us to find the right fit for our girls and for us that is priceless”.

El Ber Islamic School ,  Astoria Lutheran School and several other private schools will be present at this year’s Annual Astoria School Symposium ( January 12, 2013). For more information or to attend this free event, please visit

Private schools in Astoria and surrounding neighborhoods:

El Ber Islamic School
25-42 49th Street  Astoria, NY 11103
(718) 274-9060

Les Enfants Montessori
2921 Newtown Avenue  Long Island City, NY 11102
(718) 626-9549

Queens Lutheran Astoria School
31-20 21st Avenue Astoria, NY 11105
Nursery -Grade 6

Immaculate Conception  Catholic School
21-63 29th Street
Astoria, NY 11105

Most Precious Blood
32-52 37th Street, 11106

St. Francis of Assisi School
21-18 46th, Street Astoria, NY 11105
Preschool & UPK-8

Private Schools in Queens:

Queens Paideia School, LIC
44-02 23rd Street, 11101

Garden School

33-16 79th Street, 11372
Pre-K through 12

Kew-Forest School

119-17 Union Turnpike
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Pre-K through 12

writer: Siveem El Nashar , Organizer Astoria Moms Meetup Group and Co-Director of School Symposium
Interviewees:  Moms -Margarita Soto, Soraya Gafary, Erin Carman, and Mary Leakes (Principal Astoria Lutheran School).