Archive for Sunday, September 18, 2005

Education alternatives offered for families

Check out curriculum, cost, uniforms at local schools

September 18, 2005


Jamie Fischer, an eighth-grader at Bishop Seabury Academy, takes notes during an algebra class taught by Orlando Ventura, right. The private school touts its academic curriculum, including Latin language study for seventh- and eighth-graders.

Jamie Fischer, an eighth-grader at Bishop Seabury Academy, takes notes during an algebra class taught by Orlando Ventura, right. The private school touts its academic curriculum, including Latin language study for seventh- and eighth-graders.

Parents in Lawrence and the surrounding areas may be interested in what educational alternative are available for school-age children. Here's a roundup of local options:

Bishop Seabury Academy, 4120 Clinton Parkway, 832-1717

The school, which opened in 1997, serves about 130 students in grades 7-12. It offers a challenging college preparatory curriculum, headmaster Chris Carter said. All students in grades 7-8 are required to study Latin, Carter said. They are required to take a total of three high school years of a language.

"I think all of our academic offerings are very solid," Carter said.

He said, for example, history students write a lot more than in other schools, and in the science lab, there is an emphasis on hands-on instruction. All students have a faculty adviser.

"It's our belief that every student needs to be personally known by his or her teachers," Carter said. "Our goal is to provide very individualized instruction and support."

The school has grown steadily since its opening. Carter said the ultimate goal was for the school to serve about 180 students.

Tuition is $683 per month, with a 10 percent discount for a second child and a 20 percent discount for a third child.

Century School, 816 Ky., 832-0101

This small school at 816 Ky. prides itself on its individualized instruction and unique teaching, said Tracie Mann, a managing teacher. Teachers act more like coaches or tutors to students, who are quite independent, Mann said.

The school has been open for 11 years.

Century has 23 children in its preschool program and 49 in its elementary program for grades K-6. The school has four sections at the elementary level, with each class including a mix of age ranges from 5-12.

Tuition is $475/month with a 5 percent discount on the total cost for families with more than one child attending the school.

Lawrence Catholic School, St. John's campus at 1208 Ky., 843-9511, and Corpus Christi campus at 6001 West Bob Billings Parkway, 331-3374

The school opened in 1956 and in 2000 expanded to a second campus on Bob Billings Parkway. The St. John campus serves students in grades K-6. The Corpus Christi campus, which serves students in K-5, will add a sixth grade next year. There are about 440 students attending.

There is Mass once a week and religion class once a day.

The school this year launched a school uniform policy.

"The kids look really nice and neat and clean-cut, but they all look a little different," said Patricia Newton, the school's principal. "They look like children."

Tuition is $3,900 per year per student for those who do not belong to the parishes. For those who are members, tuition is included in donations to the church.

Veritas Christian School, 256 N. Michigan, 749-0083

The school, once known as Douglas County Christian School, opened in 1980. Veritas is a nondenominational Christian School. It follows the classic approach, administrator Jeff Barclay said.

"We teach the grammar of all subjects," Barclay said.

Teaching of the Bible is integrated into lessons.

Barclay said the school approached subjects with a more absolutist point of view.

"The Bible is authoritative in the things it talks about," he said. "There are clear right and wrongs."

Class sizes are small. The school graduated two seniors in 2005.

Tuition depends on age. Tuition costs $413/month for students in grades 9-12; $375/month for grades 7-8; $325/month for grades 1-6; and $183/month for half-day kindergarten. There is a $60 registration fee.

Lawrence Virtual School, 2145 La., 832-5620

Students from Lawrence and across the state can attend Lawrence Virtual School, a school that offers courses online for students in grades K-12.

Students follow lessons online from any remote location. But they also can stop by the school, located in Centennial Learning Center at 2145 La.

Principal Gary Lewis said the school's key offering was flexibility for students.

"This environment allows them to be in their home office or home environment and focus strictly on their education and not anybody else's," he said.

The school opened in 2004 and expanded recently to offer programs for high school students. The school offers course recovery for students who need to review part of a course they failed or didn't learn sufficiently in another setting. The school also offers course acquisition for students who want to take full courses to complete high school requirements.

The school currently serves about 400 students and 100 in course recovery programs.

Fees are $43.50/year for kindergarten and $97/year for grades 1-12. Course recovery costs $85. Course acquisition costs $150 per semester credit.


Richard Heckler 12 years, 7 months ago

If a family has the time and resources Homeschool is very effective. We like the Waldorf inspired approach. There are support groups.

Also USD 497 and KU provide some support as well through classes. The Art Center is also available. This is a great community for homeschooling.

usaschools 12 years, 7 months ago

I teach in the public school system, and I have had several students in the last few years who were homeschooled for a couple of years. They have all done very well in my class. Although I appreciate the Waldorf approach, there is not a research base (no matter what anyone tells you) to support their philosophy of reading instruction (taken as a whole). In fact, there is a large body of research that does not support their approach to reading instruction. Reading instruction in the Lawrence Public schools is research-based and individualized. I do like other aspects of the Waldorf philosophy as described in their literature.

If your child is having difficulty learning to read, for the sake of your child, enroll them in a public school. This is the one problem with private schools and home schooling. Teaching reading IS rocket science. It is very complex. You need knowledge and resources; it is not something just anyone can do. When a child needs extra support in reading, they need expert support. A good heart and reasonable intelligence is not enough. In Lawrence, only the public schools offer the needed expertise (although there are some professional resources in the community, there is nothing that could substitute for the needed daily instruction). Do not try teaching a child who is struggling to learn to read in your home. They will not learn "when they are ready." You can be confident that you ARE hurting your child's chances to be a literate adult if you fail to provide them with appropriate and individualized reading instruction.

I do not mean this as a criticism of home schooling, nor of private schools (which typically serve children without learning problems and who typically lack the staffing and expertise to do otherwise.). Beware of claims to the contrary by private schools, some of which have their own axes to grind, their own agendas, and, in at least one case here in town, exaggerate the ability of their program to keep children from needing special services in the first place. I am only writing out of concern for children and because I do personally know what it takes to provide effective reading instruction.

One final thought - don't homeschool if your motivation is that you are mad at the public school your child attended due to discipline issues at the school. Children who leave public school for this reason tend to show back up within a year, often at another school, with the discipline issues unresolved and further behind in the curriculum than when they left.

Best of luck.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.