The first class of 50 Warriors began school at The Church Academy at Addis, a private state-accredited academy this week.
“We want to provide a Christian education with a good curriculum that is state approved and accredited for less than what you pay for daycare,” Rev. Tom Shepard said.
Thirty-five 3-year-olds through sixth graders will attend classes at the Addis campus. Fifteen middle and high school students will be bussed to the Baton Rouge campus for classes during the Academy’s first year.
The Church Academy already has campuses in Livingston, East Baton Rouge and St. Amant with plans for a Lafayette campus as well.
Although there are several campuses, the school has autonomy which sets it apart from public education, Shepard said.
“We’re growing so fast, we’re amazed,” Shepard said.
An administration building and two classroom buildings were added to the Addis campus in preparation for the first year. But with growth and expansion, they won’t be there long, Headmaster Jean Putnam said.
Within three years, Shepard hopes to move the campus to a 14-acre lot across the street from the church. The campus will mimic a junior college, Shepard said.
Expanding is important to the school, but profit is not the motive, he said. The school’s objective is to be a ministry to the community, not to collect a check, he said.
The school is the only Microsoft school in the state. Microsoft schools utilizes the latest technology notebooks so that students can interface with teachers and each other, making it an almost paperless system, Shepard said.
“We’ll be utilizing that technology to reduce homework times,” he said
The students will also get to communicate with students at a sister church in Condega, Nicaraugua, providing them with an international experience, Shepard said.
The Academy also hopes to give parents a voice through a curriculum that does not incorporate Common Core standards by maintaining an open-door policy for parents and by keeping the teacher-student ratio at one to 20, she said.
“We are hoping to expand and increase numbers but also to work alongside parents in the education process, letting them have a voice in their child’s education,” Putnam said.
Students at the Academy will take classes in etiquette separated by gender as well as a life skills class, Shepard said. These classes will ensure students are well-rounded and prepared for success in interviews and jobs, he said.
“The curriculum is prepping them for success in college and in the business world,” Shepard said.
The goal of the curriculum is “age appropriate education and development,” Putnam said.
“There is value in letting kids be kids without having to justify moral absolutes that we as adults are facing these days,” Putnam said.
Although classes have begun, enrollment is not closed.
“Enrollment is always open, we’re not going to turn anyone away,” Putnam said.
Although classes will be academically rigorous, instilling recess will allow students to still be kids, Shepard said.
“Studies show kids being able to get out and be a kid for a little bit is important,” he said.
(ABOVE) Photo by Quinn Welsch/The West Side Journal
Pastor Tom Shepard stands in front of a newly built classroom at The Church at Addis.