The Teter family of Genesee worries because their children are always the new kids in school.
Michael Teter is active-duty military, so the family moves around a lot. But this school year, their children — who are in first, third and sixth …
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Michael Teter is active-duty military, so the family moves around a lot. But this school year, their children — who are in first, third and sixth grades — didn’t have to be the new kids.
The Teter children attend Golden View Classical Academy. And because the school is in its first year, “everybody was going to be the new kid in the class,” Teter said.
But that’s not the only reason the family chose Golden View Classical Academy, he said. Their sixth-grader has attended public schools, private schools and was even home-schooled for one year. They have seen “lots of different methods and styles,” Teter said. They “realize how wide the variances are.”
The Teter family prefers their children be taught in a school that offers the classical approach.
“It’s exciting to see the students rise to an expectation,” Teter said. “You see a certain amount of pride in the students.”
Golden View Classical Academy opened this fall with 496 students in kindergarten through 10th grade. The school will expand to serve 11th-graders next year and 12th-graders in 2017.
Golden View prides itself on providing a content-rich curriculum, while promoting good character and virtue, said principal Robert Garrow and Derec Shuler, founder and board chair, respectively.
“The main goal,” Garrow said, “is to create deep thinkers and decent citizens.”
The school is distinguished by its classical approach to education. Curriculum is based in the classical liberal arts and sciences, with a strong emphasis on civic education, according to the school’s website. Curriculum is integrated, Garrow said, so students get exposure to themes across all the subjects. Religious practices are not part of the curriculum, but religious studies, such as religious impacts on historical events, are included. Students also learn Latin and cursive early in their educational journey.
Classrooms are a disciplined place — students have rules they must follow, Garrow said. The rooms are set up to provide direct instruction, meaning desks are arranged in rows, and the teacher instructs from the front of room.
Curriculum is challenging, Shuler said.
But “if you set a high expectation for students, they’ll do it,” he said. “Kids will adapt and rise to the occasion.”
Jefferson County has 16 charter schools and Golden View is one of three in the greater Golden area.
Most classical schools tend to be private, said Tim Matlick, achievement director for charter schools in Jefferson County, so Golden View is a “huge plus for parents who want the public school classical education.”
Some community members had expressed concern early on that the school would be “pseudo-religious,” Matlick said. An organization that worked with Golden View and other charter schools on professional development is affiliated with a Christian college in Michigan, he said, and “people just assumed.”
As a public charter school, Golden View must, by law, adhere to the separation of church and state. Matlick said the school has done that.
Golden View fulfills the educational goals the Leonards of Evergreen have for their children: mastery of the English language; the learning of “big things,” such as a perspective of classic history, literature and philosophy; and that the development of a love of learning.
“The children are challenged — their time is not wasted,” Tim Leonard said. And “at the end of the day, they’re excited.”
Parents like the structure and the limited distractions in the classroom, he said. Students wear uniforms to school and no electronics are allowed. Mobile devices are turned off until the student is off campus, and teachers use traditional chalkboards, rather than a SMART Board.
Jennifer Golden of Golden believes the classical approach is “tried and true.” The Golden family home-schooled their children for a long time, she said, and wanted them to continue with a classical education.
“The rigor and consistency of the classical approach is a wonderful thing,” she said.
The family wants their children — now in the fifth, seventh and ninth grades — to work at the level they are capable of, Golden said. Golden View pushes them but also inspires them to work hard, she said.
K-5 music teacher Heather Eddy has 10 years’ experience teaching, and finds Golden View’s students to be “diligent,” she said.
“In general, the students are happy and eager to learn,” Eddy said.
Amanda Gilmore, who teaches upper-school grammar, composition and literature, agrees.
“Golden View students are a joy to teach because of their enthusiasm,” she said. “They spent first quarter adjusting and striving to meet the high standards that are in place, and are now starting to see the fruits of their efforts.”
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