MOULTRIE — Come fall 2015, some eager students in Colquitt County will step onto a new school campus and into a building that never has welcomed a fresh crop of scholars. No, not that campus on Darbyshire Road. This campus is a bit smaller than its counterpart, and at 7,600 square feet the building that will hold grades K-12 is a just a fraction of the size of the new public school Goliath.
Being the David of that scenario is just fine for Colquitt Christian Academy, although its goal is not to slay the giant so much as provide an alternative for parents who want their children’s education more grounded in religion.
So far, about 30 students have enrolled in the private Christian school, with officials there entertaining a goal of adding about 50 percent more before opening for its first year on Sept. 8.
“Our main focus is to be another education option for the students of Colquitt County,” Head of School Kelly Coyle said. “We want to develop the lifelong love of learning for our students (and) develop a foundation for them to be confident in the future when they go on to college.”
A big part of that foundation will be religious in nature, with a Christian-based curriculum. Discussions with interested parents began about seven months ago, with about 30 in attending the initial meeting hosted at St. Marks Anglican Church, Father Will McQueen said.
During that meeting small groups were split into small groups at separate tables to come up with a list of what features they would most like to see in a private school.“They were asked if a private school opened what things about it would make it attractive to you,” McQueen said. “Christian world view was what each table thought is the number one thing. Number two was parental involvement.”
A subsequent informational meeting in mid-January drew a group of about 80 parents, 49 of whom expressed interest in enrolling their children in the proposed school.“Basically this just started from a conversation,” McQueen said. “We all had separate thoughts about a school -- and specifically a Christian school.”
The board established to oversee the school took the final plunge on March 19 with the purchase of the former Baker-Harrell-Faircloth Funeral Home building on South Main Street. Plans call to house 10 classrooms, a library, area for art and science experiments, office and reception area.The building has a covered exterior drive where parents can drop off students in inclement weather and another covered exterior space where tables can be placed for dining and holding outdoor classes, McQueen said. The previous owners also have agreed to allow the use of four acres of grassed area behind the building as a playground and for other outdoor activities.
Three full-time and two part-time teachers have been hired, with Coyle, who has a biology degree and masters in education degree, also taking a teaching role in math and science.
Of the 30 or so students who have been enrolled, the bulk are in grades K-6, with one each in grades seven through 10.
Tuition costs are $3,900 per year for kindergarten, $5,500 for grades one through eight and $5,900 for grades nine through 12. Parents who enroll their children for the first year will not pay tuition increases, if any are made, for three years.The school has a $75 application fee and $500 deposit which will be applied to tuition costs.
The heavier enrollment in lower grades was expected, and will work toward the “Christian-classical” curriculum that has three stages, starting with the grammar stage.“The first several years will be filling kids’ minds with facts, not necessarily knowing how all the details fit together,” McQueen said. “You will figure out (later) how this all fits together.“The next phase -- middle school, junior high -- is the dialectic stage. That’s where the (concepts) you learned in elementary school, you expand that knowledge base.”
In the high school rhetoric stage, the earlier learning is fit together as a whole and includes debating and creative writing elements.
“That’s where we feel like we shape those students to be good citizens, to be well-informed, to know how to reason so they will be able to say ‘This is what I believe and this is why I believe it,’” McQueen said.
The school will incorporate community resources where it will help expand educational opportunities, with Coyle already having discussions with the county 4-H representative and Colquitt County Arts Center. It also will include athletic opportunities available in Moultrie and could look at a less-common activity such as archery.
“Our goal is to develop the whole child,” Coyle said. “With our Christ-centered focus, we also want to give them the opportunity to develop themselves outside of textbooks and curriculum.”
McQueen said that the school is something that a number of people in the community have desired for years, and a primary focus will be filling this void. In the past Colquitt Regional Medical Center officials have said that one doctor left because of the lack of a Christian school option, and others declined to accept positions for the same reason.
“We want to make clear two things: What we’re offering is the Christian approach to education and the classical approach to education,” McQueen said. “We also want to provide for a need.
“We’re going to be contacting all the churches in town asking them if they will partner with us to offer Christian education in Colquitt County.”
Although St. Marks has been part of the planning process by providing meeting space, it will not be an Anglican academy, he said.