HELP US LAUNCH A NEW, CHRIST-CENTERED CLASSICAL SCHOOL IN OMAHA
**This page was originally created in August 2015 to cast vision for what is now Trinity Classical Academy. For more, please visit tcaomaha.com
We are proposing starting a new school in Omaha – one that follows a classical, Christian, collaborative model of education.
What is unique about this model?
- A Christian school is one that is unashamedly committed to the core doctrines of the Christian faith (the Apostles’ Creed) and seeks to shape its students in accordance with these truths.
- A classical school is one that follows a classical model of education which mirrors the natural development of a child’s mind and curiosity. This model is built around three stages: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. If you are unfamiliar with classical learning, please read “An Introduction to Classical Education” by Christopher Perrin, available at http://classicalsubjects.com/resources/ICE.pdf
- A collaborative school (sometimes called a “university-style” school) is one in which students attend class with professional teachers 2-3 days per week, and then receive detailed at-home assignments to complete under the guidance of parents. This allows parents to participate in the instruction of their children and also gradually prepares students for a university environment.
When would this school begin?
By God’s grace, we are hoping to generate enough interest and support to launch this school in Fall 2016.
What would the average week look like?
Students would attend classes 2 days a week (Mondays and Wednesdays) from approximately 8am to 3pm. At-home instruction would take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
What would it cost?
Based on similar schools in other cities, we anticipate tuition costs of $3500-4500 per student per year, plus basic fees ($300-500), plus books (cost will vary depending on grade). We plan to work hard to keep costs low, making this school accessible for as many families as possible.
What will it take in order to make this a reality?
- God’s gracious providence
- A student body of 50 students (10 students per grade, grades K-4).
- A facility (ideally a church that’s willing to rent out classroom space for 2 days per week)
- A board of directors
- A school like this won’t “just happen.” It will take the commitment of dozens of families to get it off the ground. We are praying for the Lord to provide those families.
What can you do to help?
- Get informed. Read more about this model of education:
- Read “Character-Driven College Preparation” by Dr. John Turner at http://www.naums.net/images/NAUMS_Book_Chapter_1.pdf
- Read “An Introduction to Classical Education” by Dr. Christopher Perrin at http://classicalsubjects.com/resources/ICE.pdf
- Read Dorothy Sayers’ classic essay “The Lost Tools of Learning” at http://www.gbt.org/text/sayers.html
- Forward this hyperlink to everyone you know in Omaha who might be interested in this type of school, and ask them to do the same. Like anything of this sort, this idea rises or falls on whether we can generate a “critical mass” of students.
- NEW: Host an info night! If you’re intrigued by this proposal and can gather 4-6 other families who are interested as well, we’ll come to your house and spend an hour or two explaining the vision and answering questions.
- Commit to enrolling your child as a charter student. Charter students are the first group of K-4 students (10 per grade) that will launch the school. Charter students must meet the following criteria:
- Firmly committed to attend in fall 2016
- Parents willing and able to pay tuition in advance (payment will be due in early spring 2016. Future students may have a pay-by-month option, but charter students will have to pay tuition up front in order to provide working capital for the first year).
- If you have a K-4 child and know you want him or her to be a charter student, please email email@example.com or post on the comment thread. No formal commitment or funds will be due until we have clearly met all the criteria to get this school off the ground. But obviously a committed student body is one of those criteria! I will keep all charter parents informed of progress; you will have plenty of time to make alternate decisions if this school fails to come together for fall 2016.
- Consider serving on the board of directors. If you have energy, motivation, influence, and the will to work hard for the next 12 months to make this vision a reality, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m not familiar with this “collaborative” or “university” model. How does it work?
The collaborative model affirms the parents’ role as the primary influence in their children’s lives by redirecting time from the school to the family. It uses a university-style schedule adapted to the elementary school level. Paid professional teachers conduct central classroom instruction two days per week; students spend alternate days at home where parents continue the instruction or monitor student progress. Teachers provide parents with detailed lesson plans and instructions for days spent at home. Parents need not have teaching experience, but must commit the time to actively engage, direct, instruct and mentor their students.
How is this different from home schooling?
In homeschooling, parents bear responsibility for the entire educational process: choosing curriculum, planning lessons, teaching, grading, recordkeeping, etc. In a university-style school, the curriculum, lesson-planning, teaching, and grading are handled by the school, leaving parents free to participate in the most enjoyable part of education: co-teaching. Students receive a top-quality classical education using the best curriculum and practices, and parents get the joy of facilitating learning without having to manage the entire educational process.
I’m not familiar with classical education. What is it?
The classical method of education is focused on helping students master the art of learning. Sometimes referred to as the Trivium (Latin for “three ways”), the classical approach consists of three stages – grammar, logic, and rhetoric – each building upon its predecessor. In the grammar stage, students learn the basic factual content and rules — the “grammar” — of any given subject. In the logic and rhetoric stages, students learn how to think critically and argue persuasively. The curricular emphasis during the grammar school years is on learning basic facts and figures during the time when children love to memorize (and when they are best at doing so). The subsequent emphasis during the middle school years on logic trains students to think critically and deeply about subjects, both academic and otherwise. This emphasis corresponds with the middle-school student’s bent toward exploration, questioning, and a desire for deeper understanding. Finally, the emphasis during the high school years shifts toward honing rhetorical skills, including writing. This shift prepares students to write college-level theses, utilizing their grasp of proper grammar as well their ability to think logically and critically. The structure of the Trivium recognizes that though there is much overlap, an ideal time and place exists for each part of learning: memorization, argumentation, and self-expression.
Will scholarships be available?
No scholarships will be available for the initial (charter) year of the school’s existence. In subsequent years, scholarships will be available based on financial need. All families desiring financial assistance will fill out a third-party financial aid application, and a limited number of scholarships will be awarded to families who demonstrate financial need.
Will this school be accredited by the State of Nebraska?
No. The school will operate as an “exempt school” under Rule 13 of the Nebraska Administrative Code, which allows private, denominational, and parochial schools to sidestep state approval and accreditation requirements that would violate the sincerely held religious beliefs of parents. The reason for this exemption is twofold: 1) State accreditation comes with specific mandates (for instance, Common Core curriculum) that we feel interfere with parent-directed Christian education; and 2) the State of Nebraska’s accreditation process does not include a category for “part-time” university-style schools that combine classroom instruction with parental co-teaching. Because of this exemption, parents will be responsible to file Rule 12 or Rule 13 forms with the State of Nebraska each summer (these are the same forms home-schooling families have to fill out each year). For parents new to this process, we can assist and advise in navigating this paperwork.
So is this only going to be a K-4 school?
No! That’s just how it will begin. Our goal is to start small and build from there. The plan is to add a new grade every year until we become a full K-12 school.
Who else is doing this?
These types of schools are flourishing in larger cities all over the nation. For some comparative examples, check out:
- The National Association of University-Model Schools: http://naums.net/
- Trinity Classical School of Houston: http://www.tcshouston.org/
- Austin Classical School: http://www.austinclassical.org/
- There’s another school like this starting in Omaha, at the high school level, with a distinctly Roman Catholic focus: http://www.chestertonacademyofomaha.com/
Who will oversee this school?
We are currently putting together a Board of Directors to help bring the school into existence. During the next 12-18 months, this Board will play a vital role in overseeing and administering the school’s affairs. Our goal is to hire a full-time Head of School once our enrollment goal is met. Once a Head of School is in place, the Board will take an advisory role, and the Head of School will oversee the school’s regular operations.
Who should I contact with further questions?
I’m sure I haven’t answered all the questions that are out there. Feel free to direct any additional questions to me (email@example.com) and I’ll add them to this FAQ list!
When will we know for sure if this is happening?
The Board will be working throughout fall 2015 to lay the groundwork for this school and to generate potential interest among Christian parents throughout Omaha. Our firm “go/no-go” date will be January 1, 2016. If at that time we don’t have the critical mass to launch, we’ll pull the plug. So, if you express interest now, there will still be plenty of time to make alternate plans for your child in the early months of 2016. (As an example, open enrollment for Millard schools ends on March 15.)
“What is Classical Education?” by Susan Wise Bauer – an excellent short article
“An Introduction to Classical Education” by Dr. Christopher Perrin – downloadable PDF
“The Trivium and the Christian School” (PDF) – chapter 7 of Doug Wilson’s book Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning. This book was published in 1991 and still rings true a quarter-century later. I post this chapter here to entice you to go buy the book and read it…