Obviously, we have something to do with home-schooling…that is part of our name. But throw in the ‘academy’ piece and it almost sounds as if we are a school. So, that is where we want to begin. We ARE NOT a school. There are several ways we could define our program, but we are a cooperative. Cooperative is defined as working or acting together willingly for a common purpose or benefit (dictionary.com). All of our families are expected to ‘cooperate’ in some way. That may be teaching, assisting with administrative duties, working in nursery, etc. We are working together for the purpose of educating our children.
It is also helpful to define ‘academy.’ Again, as defined by dictionary.com, ‘academy’ can be a school, especially a private one. However, one definition works particularly well for our situation: an association or institution for the advancement of art, literature, science, etc. We are an institution that is working to advance all of these things and more!
So, what do we do? To begin, we meet two days a week and provide classroom instruction (no more than 13 students per class). While many folks successfully homeschool around the kitchen table, with mom leading the way, some children need extra accountability and do well with someone teaching them upfront. We don’t have ‘teachers,’ but consider our instructors to be ‘tutors.’ They are assisting in the homeschooling by tutoring your children two days a week. Some of these tutors are previous teachers from public or private schools, some worked in the area in which they now teach and some have been ‘late bloomers’ to a particular subject, studying on their own to learn the subject matter. Most of our high school tutors have a background in their particular subject matter. Many moms/dads tutor, but we also hire folks from the outside.
Our classical ‘roots’ dictate our meeting together…just like Socrates questioned his students and opened up discussion, so we see the ‘meeting together,’ discussing and questioning as crucially important to the learning process. Plus, we can make a mess in the classroom with science experiments, history timelines, and art appreciation.
While we value the pursuit of truth, beauty and goodness in our pursuit of academic study, we also have fun together…friendships grow and flourish as students meet together to learn. We offer school activities like drama, art. Also, activities like prom and father/daughter dance, graduation ceremonies (K, 8 and 12), crazy hat days, spelling bee. It is important to learn well, but it is also important to explore creative sides and enjoy community relationships.
What DON’T we do? We are NOT the final authority. We are, instead your servants…you are STILL the parent and you are in charge of your child’s education the other three days. By participating in our program, you agree to help your child at home, working with the curriculums we have chosen and completing assigned homework. But you have some flexibility and hopefully, creativity, to help your child on home days. For example, your child may be a poor reader and you may need to read aloud to him. Or, writing may be slow and painful, so he dictates part of the work to you. Is the homework long one day? Perhaps you discuss with the tutor a way to modify for that day. We do test children as they come into the program, so hopefully they are on target with other children in the class. But we do have some systems in place for the 2016-2017 school year to further enhance the academic experience.
We also want to clarify that we DO NOT provide official transcripts. We do provide an online grading system to help you keep track of assignments and do have certain percentages for students to achieve in order to move onto a next level of education. This is an important tool for our parents and our tutors, but you will continue to be under an umbrella group or school system for oversite.
We are a community. We try to provide support, a structure and a place for your child to make friends and grow in academic knowledge and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But please know that we are imperfect people and sinners saved by grace. As in any community, we will strive to work well together, to apologize when we wrong each other and to encourage each other in success and failure.
In the next few weeks, we will look at what it means to be classical, how we study history, what do we mean by ‘great books,’ what we want our graduates to look like and how we are organized and led. Stay tuned!