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    prayers and advice for starting a hybrid school

    Hi forum readers! I'm here to ask for your prayers and advice as we undertake the task of opening a hybrid school. I live on Long Island where we are seeing Catholic schools close at a rate of 2-3 schools per year. Recently it was announced that a school about 20 minutes away from me was closing, and I was especially saddened by the news because I had been thinking of switching my children to the school. The school was under the diocese but it was run by a religious order (the "Canons") who had been doing amazing work at the school. I've been intrigued by the idea of a hybrid school for some time but have only found supplemental co-ops in this area. I presented to the Canons the idea of using the old school building to open a hybrid school under their leadership. They are very open to the idea and we are seeking interested families. What works out really well here is that although the school had been under the diocese, the Canons, who are a separate 501(c)(3), run the parish and the parish owns the building.

    Here is my vision for the structure of the school: 2 days a week at school with an optional 3rd day for clubs/enrichment. The school would use mostly Memoria Press materials but the Canons, as they had done in the old school, would teach Catechism. One of them was also teaching Latin. The school would provide trained teachers to cover core academic subjects on the two days at school, while the parent at home would be working on practice, review, and mastery of the knowledge and skills covered in class. There are two types of families in my target population: 1) current public or parochial school families who are looking for a simpler lifestyle to help build the domestic church, parents who desire a Catholic education but can't afford it, and/or parents who do not like the current structure of the public/parochial schools (both of which have adopted the common core); 2) homeschool parents who are looking for extra academic support, more accountability, or just a break!

    Here's my first question: if we find families that are interested, do we put out a survey asking them what they're looking for in terms of curriculum, which days of the week, school hours, etc. Or do we try to solidify a vision and stick to the original plan? Would a survey open up Pandora's box?

    Thanks so much and I look forward to your help and collaboration.

    Meredith

    Son- 4th grade, homeschooled, full core
    2 younger children in Catholic school
    1 more munchkin up to no good

    #2
    Meredith! What an undertaking! You have my support and prayers.

    My vote would be that you and the Canons design and market the school as *you* want it to be. In my experience (both as a homeschool mom and a school director), many parents cannot articulate what they want. I could not articulate what I wanted until I received a Classical Teacher magalog in my mailbox.

    What you can offer on your third day will hinge on the ages you serve. The older the students, the more time they will need for school work on the other three days. In other words, they might not be able to spend a third day away from home doing enrichment and clubs, even though they sound attractive. You might instead spread to a 2.5 day model and pull an enrichment/club piece into a small part of your full days (music or a PE class comes to mind) but leave that third morning for high school specifics like History/Logic/etc while the younger kids do more fun things. The HLS model in Indy is 3.5 days and could serve as a guide for you.

    If you use mostly MP, you will need to make sure families have time to do all the academic work. That's always meant about 4.5 days of work for us.

    Best wishes and please keep us posted!
    Festina lentē,
    Jessica P

    SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
    @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
    S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
    D · 8th
    D · 5th
    S · 2nd

    Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by pickandgrin View Post
      Meredith! What an undertaking! You have my support and prayers.


      What you can offer on your third day will hinge on the ages you serve. The older the students, the more time they will need for school work on the other three days. In other words, they might not be able to spend a third day away from home doing enrichment and clubs, even though they sound attractive. You might instead spread to a 2.5 day model and pull an enrichment/club piece into a small part of your full days (music or a PE class comes to mind) but leave that third morning for high school specifics like History/Logic/etc while the younger kids do more fun things. The HLS model in Indy is 3.5 days and could serve as a guide for you.

      By older students do you mean high school? At the moment we're only targeting through 8th grade, mostly since that's what the old school served. What amount of time is recommended for middle school? High school isn't off the table, but I would need someone else to spearhead that effort because the NY regs get a lot more intense.
      Son- 4th grade, homeschooled, full core
      2 younger children in Catholic school
      1 more munchkin up to no good

      Comment


        #4
        Hi Meredith! I don't have much to offer in terms of advice, but you definitely have my prayers. Perhaps we can pray for one another because I am in a similar process of trying to start a hybrid school. Ours, 4 half-days a week and starting with grades 1-5. How wonderful that you have the support of the Cannons. It sounds very smart to build upon what they already started. I am on the opposite side of the country from you (California) and probably in an opposite demographic. (Teeny-small town rural.) But, we face similar issues. We have zero private school options--all too expensive to be supported by our community. So the hybrid school has the potential to really fill a need for homeschoolers who need help and public schoolers who want out but are not suited for full-time homeschooling.

        I've been involved in a half-academic/half-enrichment co-op this year. There are about 100 things wrong with our model, but it has been a GREAT investment in learning! LOL! It led me to MP and the hybrid school model.

        One thing I am learning is that it is better to decide what the school should be and not leave it up for discussion (except among your inner circle of teachers). Jessica is right. Homeschoolers often don't know what they want and things can get very convoluted very quickly. As I roll out the plan for next year, it will be just that...The Plan...not a group discussion.

        Also, I've found the need to make a very clear distinction between the academic program that I am offering next year and potential parent expectations of social and enrichment experiences. Right now, we have an academic program in the mornings (taught by me), and an "enrichment" program in the afternoons, taught by rotating parent volunteers. The constant social and enrichment have actually made my job a lot harder in the mornings as the kids aren't quite sure why they are there every day....is it to work hard and learn? Or is it have a fun unit-study project St. Valentine's day party and hands-on science project? Because really, who wants to do copywork when there is chocolate to eat! LOL!

        So for me, next year academics will be academics. In 4 mornings a week, I can teach A LOT of the primary or grammar core, and do it in a way that is very economical and efficient for families. But I cannot do that AND be a cruise-ship activity director too! (Does that make sense?)

        Shawna

        Comment


          #5
          Yes, knowing what you are (and aren't) and articulating that to families is very important so they know what they are enrolling in and paying for. Calling yourself an "academic homeschool tutorial" or "academic program" can be helpful. I'd stay away from "community" as that conveys certain expectations. Students WILL have community, but it'll be academic peers and not the entire-family-community that some programs emphasize. Both are valid goals, but knowing what you are and aren't helps families decide.

          Shawna--a quote for you: You can't make everyone happy; you're not pizza.
          Festina lentē,
          Jessica P

          SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
          @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
          S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
          D · 8th
          D · 5th
          S · 2nd

          Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by musdir26 View Post

            By older students do you mean high school? At the moment we're only targeting through 8th grade, mostly since that's what the old school served. What amount of time is recommended for middle school? High school isn't off the table, but I would need someone else to spearhead that effort because the NY regs get a lot more intense.
            Sorry about that--I overlooked this part of your question. I'm talking about everyone from roughly fifth/sixth grade and up. It's hard to quote an "hours a day" because every student is so different with their study habits and families attack work and daily schedules uniquely. I think sixth grade through 8th should have roughly 4-6 hours of work per day depending on how quickly they read, how long they take to do math, and if they are writing essays or studying for quizzes and tests. In my house, that's never a solid block of time though. There is work early, breaks, wrapping up things in the afternoon, etc.
            Festina lentē,
            Jessica P

            SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
            @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
            S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
            D · 8th
            D · 5th
            S · 2nd

            Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

            Comment

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