Cannon School

Founded: 1969 (originally Cabarrus Academy)
Grades served: Junior kindergarten-12
Total enrollment: 880

Cannon School has grown tremendously and undergone many changes in the four decades since it opened as Cabarrus Academy in downtown Concord. The school, which attracts students from Cabarrus and northern Mecklenburg counties, is now located on a sixty-five-acre campus in Concord and offers junior kindergarten through twelfth grade.

The school focuses on new methods of learning to prepare students for the unpredictable world they'll inherit, says Matt Gossage, head of school. "The formulaic way of learning and teaching…that's just not going to be the set of challenges that our kids will be confronting," Gossage says.

Teachers emphasize flexible thinking, teamwork, and problem solving, he says. In the classroom, students often reflect on what they've learned and identify how they learn best. Parents are drawn to the school's small classes and sense of community, Gossage says. "There are opportunities students can have here that they may not have at a bigger school."

Each upper-school class takes a trip, including a junior trip to Boston and a senior retreat to the western North Carolina mountains to plan for the year. Cannon also has an exchange program with a school in Tianli, China, and offers Mandarin in upper school. The school has a wireless campus and is beginning to invest in SMART Boards, in addition to creating a new Junior Kindergarten-12 technology curriculum. All ninth-graders receive a laptop that they use throughout their upper-school careers for note taking, research, and presentations.

Cannon, which will celebrate its fortieth anniversary next year, continues to change and grow. The school recently opened an 18,000-square-foot addition to the upper school and a new track. It also had a football team for the first time this year and plans to expand the program.

By The Numbers

Average class size: 15

Student-teacher ratio: 9:1

Average years of teacher experience: 12

Average SAT score: 1250 (on a 1600 scale)

Percentage of teachers with advanced degrees in their field: 45%

Tuition costs (2008-2009)
JK: $9,500
1-4: $12,800
5-8: $14,300  
9-12: $16,100

Percentage of applicants accepted: 67%

Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 10%

Number of AP courses offered: 17

Categories: Feature