As a real estate agent in Ocean City, MD, I get asked all the time how the schools are in Worcester County. People act surprised and I can tell they don’t always believe me when I say there are some really great options – both public and private. It’s almost as if they can’t trust that a traditionally seasonal town like Ocean City could have that many award-winning schools.

Let me be honest with you – I didn’t go to college. I lasted half of one semester (for a full story on that, read my first blog!). College isn’t for everyone (please don’t tell my daughters this!) but that doesn’t mean you don’t want your children to have access to the best possible education.

When it comes to public vs. private schools in the area, there isn’t really a right answer to the question of which is better considering all the schools in Worcester County provide a high-quality education. It really is a matter of what school will be best for your child and their needs, as well as the obvious about how much your family can afford.

Public Schools in Worcester County

The makeup of Worcester County Public Schools includes 5 elementary schools, 1 intermediate school, 3 middle schools, 1 special school, 3 high schools and 1 career & technical high school. Worcester County has a long tradition of excellence, leading the state in test scores with five schools receiving National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence – Ocean City, Pocomoke, Showell and Snow Hill Elementary Schools in addition to Stephen Decatur Middle School. Worcester County’s graduation rate is 93%, above the state average of 87%. Of the students that graduate, 79% of them plan on attending a college, university or special training school. And with school safety on every parent’s mind after recent school tragedies, it’s comforting to know that each of the fourteen schools in the County has a Sheriff stationed there, as well as an electronic entry system.

At the elementary school level, students in Worcester County build basic skills in reading, language and writing that will be the foundation of their literacy in secondary school. At the middle and high school levels, students are approaching college and getting prepared for their future careers. Every grade in every school offers an emphasis on the key education components – reading, writing, language, mathematics and the sciences with additional instruction on social studies, dramatic, visual and musical arts, physical education, health education and Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) education.

If your child is in need of Special Education, Worcester County Public Schools offers the development of an individualized education program (IEP) for your child. Instructional and testing accommodations are given as well as direct services within general education and special education classroom settings.

For more information about the curriculum and each individual public school located within Worcester County, please visit http://www.worcesterk12.org

Private Schools in Worcester County

With robust and competitive public schools, you might not feel the need to look into private schools in Worcester County. Still, the area has some excellent options for parents looking to send their children to private school for a variety of reasons – religion, smaller class sizes, varied curriculum and/or more attention to a troubled student. There are three very good options for private schooling Pre-K through Grade 12 in Worcester County.

Worcester Preparatory School (WPS) in Berlin, Maryland enrolls more than 500 students in Pre-K through Grade 12 and offer the only private option in the area for students enrolled in high school. They attract students from Maryland, Delaware and Virginia with some traveling more than an hour each way to attend. Without a doubt, it is the mission of WPS to get their students ready for college. 100% of students graduate with at least one acceptance letter to college. Yes, I said that correctly. 100%! The school is more than just academics; 90% of the students play a sport, students are required to go through a manners class and technology is a strong focus, even at the primary level. The tuition at WPS isn’t for the faint of heart though – it’s the highest in the County beginning at $8,350/year for ½ day Pre-K and increasing to $14,390/year for Grades 9-12. For more information about Worcester Prep, please visit their website atwww.worcesterprep.org

Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic School (MBS) in Berlin, Maryland enrolls approximately 250 students grades Pre-K through Grade 8 and offers a learning environment grounded in the Catholic faith. Programs focus on strong academics and religious focus, nurturing students to be the next generation of bright and moral leaders for tomorrow. Students attend mass once a week and faith is intertwined throughout the school’s academic and extracurricular programs. Student to teacher ratio is quite impressive at 9:1 and the principal is known to greet every child by name. If you attend a parish affiliated with MBS, tuition rates start at $4,770/year for Pre-K ½ day and go up to $6,300 for the other grades. If you’re not affiliated with a parish, rates jump up to $5,940 and $9,010 respectively/year. For more information, please visitwww.mbsbr.org

Seaside Christian Academy located in West Ocean City is the smallest private school in the area enrolling only 33 students. Currently, the school includes Pre-K through Grade 8 but is in talks to expand to cover Grade 9 as well. If you want your child to grow up with an emphasis on a faith-based education and think they require one-on-one attention, Seaside Christian Academy could be a perfect fit. It is also the most reasonable of private schools in the area with tuition just under $5,000/year. For more information about Seaside Christian Academy, please visit their website at www.seasidechristianacademy.com

Pre-schools in Worcester County

In addition to the Pre-K programs mentioned above, Worcester County also has a few additional options for lower school that include a Montessori-based learning environment in Coastal Early Learning Center (www.coastalearlylearning.com), a non-denominational faith based pre-school in The Training Station (www.trainingstationpreschool.com) and a traditional daycare with a pre-school style classroom in Bundles of Joy (http://www.bundlesofjoyuniversity.com/berlin-campus).

While every school in Worcester County is rooted in providing an excellent education, each has certain qualities that stand out and set them apart. So, if you’re considering making a full-time move to Worcester County, I’m not just making it up when I say the schools alone make the move worthwhile!