It’s hard to believe that there are 60 days left until the 2013-14 school year begins at Jubilee Academy, and only 29 until the enrollment deadline. This summer is flying by! I began this journey in March, and it’s been filled with anticipation and excitement. Here are my reflections on the process so far:
After praying about the decision to start a cottage school, I came to the conclusion that it would be an excellent way to combine my love of classroom teaching with my desire to educate my own children. Ever since I got my teaching degree, I have wanted to open my own school. I didn’t expect to be able to do it for many more years, but circumstances pointed to this being the right time. I’m glad, because that means my own children will benefit from the fulfillment of my dream and will be able to share in it.
Once the decision was made, I put my plans and my educational philosophy into writing. This was a good deal of work. I knew my philosophy of education, but needed to be able to articulate it so that others would understand. The short version is that I like a blend of progressive and traditional methods. I combine the best of public school methodology with a Christian worldview. My students work in groups and independently. In the tradition of Charlotte Mason, I use real books and real life to teach whenever it makes sense to do so. My students memorize math facts and they learn phonics. They also learn to think deeply and to explain their thinking. Reading and writing follow the workshop model, which means I give a “mini-lesson” with thorough instruction, but I don’t lecture. Then the students are released to try out what they’ve learned. They are free to make mistakes, because that’s how they grow as learners and thinkers. I correct mistakes as needed, but I don’t expect perfection. Students feel freer to try out new things and they tend to enjoy the process of learning when they aren’t worried about getting everything perfect. Perfectionists tend to shy away from taking risks, but risk-taking is essential to learning.
I also had to decide what subjects to cover and how I would cover them. I settled on reading, writing, and math, because they’re the foundation for learning. Science and social studies will be integrated into the curriculum wherever they naturally fit, but they won’t be the focus. Scripture will govern all we do and it will be incorporated throughout each day, both intentionally and as a natural outflow of the Christian life.
I am including grades K-6, because I am elementary certified and because I like the idea of a variety of age groups working together. I also am including both typical students and students with mild disabilities, such as ADHD, learning disabilities, and high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders. I have taught special education for two years and have two children with ADHD, so I am comfortable educating children who struggle. I am blending typical and disabled students because I think this is a representation of how life is. Students need to have opportunities to blend with a variety of people. They need to have chances to struggle and to excel. They need to have occasions to accept help and to show empathy. Since all of us struggle at some things and excel at others, I want my classroom to provide those kinds of opportunities for all children.
Once I decided on those details, I had to find a location. I called to inquire about many potential sites and I visited a few. I remembered a series of retreats I’d attended years ago at Kavanaugh Life Enrichment Center in Crestwood. Kavanaugh is less than 10 minutes from my house, so it’s convenient. But the main thing I remembered about Kavanaugh is its beauty. There is a rich natural environment with trails to explore and wide-open spaces to run around. It also has a playground and a basketball court, which are perfect for recess, and picnic tables, which are great for lunchtime. I was so pleased when the director at Kavanaugh agreed to rent me a classroom at an affordable rate. The staff has been fantastic, allowing me to set up the classroom and to host open houses over the summer.
I set up the classroom to provide an atmosphere for a variety of learning activities. There are tables where the students can work, as well as a table where I will work with them in small groups. There is an area with a special carpet and a whiteboard for whole group and small group lessons. There are some special student reading areas with special chairs for students to read and complete partner work. There’s a bulletin board that will highlight student achievement, where students may celebrate their victories throughout the year. And there are lots of shelves with books, which I’ve leveled so students can easily find books on their levels.
After the location was secured, I had to advertise. I promoted Jubilee Academy over a couple of local homeschool email loops and by word of mouth. I also had business cards and brochures made, and I signed up to promote my business at a couple of events for homeschoolers. I had several students sign up at my first open house, which was exciting. I met with other parents by appointment and have signed up students through these meetings as well.
I’m excited at the response I have gotten so far. There are still a few openings left at this point, and I have meetings with a few prospective families this week. The enrollment deadline is August 4, which is just four weeks away! But it’s possible that our limit will be met before that. So if you’re considering Jubilee Academy for your child, I’d love to hear from you soon.
For more information, check out the Jubilee Academy Policy and Information page. I also will be glad to meet with you to give you a tour and to answer your questions. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-439-4400. I look forward to hearing from you!
- My Vision for Jubilee Academy (apluseducationalsolutions.com)