Koch family to open unconventional private school in Wichita
Wichita ? Two members of the Koch family are financing a new private school in Kansas that will incorporate aspects of the “Maker movement” and other education innovations.
Chase and Annie Koch are opening a new pre-K-through-12th-grade school on Wichita State University’s campus. The couple are related to Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch, the Wichita Eagle reported . Chase is Charles’ son and Annie his daughter-in-law.
The school, called Wonder, is scheduled to open for preschool and elementary-age children in September. Middle- and high-school programs are expected to be phased in over time.
“You start to realize, ‘Actually, my kids spend more time at school than they spend with me,'” said Annie Koch, 33. “And so, being able to bring what we see as the best of what’s out there to them … I couldn’t be more excited.”
Zach Lahn is partner and co-founder of the project. Lahn was the former state director for Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-backed conservative political advocacy group.
“We’re not inventors. We’re just parent catalysts,” said Lahn, 31.
At Wonder, students will be grouped into multi-age studios instead of traditional grade levels as part of a mastery-based approach. There also won’t be any teachers, but rather “guides” and “coaches,” Lahn said.
“We think that children are not challenged to the fullest extent that they could be right now,” he said. “We want to challenge them to take on new tasks and greater ownership over what they’re doing.”
There also won’t be traditional grades, report cards or homework, Koch said.
“We think there’s so much value in spending time with your family, having free time, playing,” she said. “We really want to preserve that for the kids.”
The lease agreement between Wonder and the Wichita State Innovation Alliance says that total launch costs are estimated at about $1.5 million, which includes renovations and equipment. Tuition for elementary-age children will be $10,000 a year.