ST. GEORGE – Tonight, prospective students and their parents can check out an innovative new K-12 school that will open its doors this fall.
Providence Academy will host a parent meeting Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Abbey Inn, 1129 S. Bluff St., to give interested families a taste of what the school will offer come Sept. 2.
“We want (students) to come to learn how to be leaders,” Providence Academy Administrator Quin Denning said. “We want them to think for themselves.”
Providence Academy is a private school with its curriculum centered around principles taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – but that is not the school’s only unique attribute. Providence Academy will take a somewhat unconventional approach to instructing students – one Denning believes will help pupils excel and be truly prepared for the real world when they graduate.
“Our whole curriculum is designed so that a student can progress as fast as they are capable, and we like to enhance that capability through the programs that we offer,” Denning said.
Grouped by brain development
Providence Academy students will not be grouped together in the traditional way, Denning said. Rather than being classified as kindergartners, first-graders, etc., Providence Academy students will be placed in three different divisions according to the typical brain development for their age group.
“We don’t use the normal divisions of age for grades,” Denning said. “We go with studies that have shown where brain development is.”
Brain development is very similar for kids ages 5 through 7, Denning said, as is brain development for kids ages 8 through 11. At age 12 and older, mental development begins to resemble an adult, he said. Providence Academy students are grouped according to those age ranges: 5-7, 8-11 and 12 and older.
Students at Providence Academy will learn at their own pace, and there will be a focus on advancing students according to their individual capabilities.
Students will also be able to concurrently enroll in online college classes, if they desire to, and can be working on their college degrees while attending Providence Academy.
“Any (college) that has an online presence, we can generally put a student into that school while they’re at (Providence Academy),” Denning said.
In addition to core subjects like math and English, Providence Academy will offer students hands-on education in a variety of real-world disciplines.
The average class at Providence Academy will be 40 minutes in length, Denning said, with the first five to 10 minutes being focused on instruction and the remaining class time dedicated to real-world application of the principle the students just learned.
Hands-on learning will be a key focus. There will be a real estate class, for instance, in which students, as a class, will purchase an actual property and go through all the steps of selling it. Local real estate agents, lenders, title company employees and others will speak to the class, and students will do all the hands-on work of buying, selling, marketing and even staging the property.
“For each thing that we do, we’re going to know why we’re doing it,” Denning said.
Hands-on business classes will also be offered, and students will form their own real businesses. The school will partner with local business professionals who will give students real-world instruction, and students will complete internships with local businesses to get hands-on experience in the working world.
“Our kids will be better qualified than the kids coming out of college because they’ll have that experience behind them,” Denning said.
Though Providence Academy will offer curriculum that is based on LDS principles, the school is not sanctioned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Denning said. The church’s only direct involvement is providing a seminary program for Providence Academy students to participate in, just as the church does for other public high schools throughout the state.
“We focus on principles, not doctrines,” Denning said. “We believe that principles are eternal in their nature and that they’re important. Principles transcend everything in life.”
Classes at Providence Academy will open with prayer, and all the standard works used within the LDS Church, including the Bible and the Book of Mormon, will be used in class. However, Denning said non-LDS students attending the school will have a Bible-based curriculum individually tailored for them; classes will be Christian-focused, and no one will be required to study LDS literature if they don’t want to.
“In everything, we invite the Spirit of the Lord in our classes,” Denning said. “We pray; we say the Pledge of Allegiance; we study the Constitution; we study the great writings of men and women throughout history who have written wonderful things.”
Tuition and “trade bank”
Providence Academy is a tuition-based private school. Denning said the school is currently reaching out to businesses to form mutually beneficial partnerships and sponsorships, and the school is developing programs that will provide scholarships for students in need of financial assistance.
“Our goal is that any student that wants to come to our school, we’ll find a way to be able to help them to pay for it,” Denning said.
The school will operate on the principles of a “creative foundation,” Denning said, which means the focus is on helping others and gaining more in the process.
The school will have a “trade bank,” and parents who can’t afford the cost of their child’s tuition can provide goods and services instead. For instance, a parent who is a mechanic can offer mechanic services to the trade bank.
“We’re actually going to take a trade system and we’re going to cash in on the trade, because we’ve got to have cash to run the school,” Denning said.
Opening fall 2014
Providence Academy is currently in negotiations for a property to house the school. Denning said he also has a backup property in view in case the current deal falls through.
“We’ve got a couple of options available to use, so we will be able to open this fall,” he said.
Enrollment is tentatively scheduled to begin at the end of June. So far, between 50 and 60 students have verbally expressed their intention to enroll at Providence Academy, and Denning said he’s anticipating a student body of around 150 for the fall term, based on his market research.
It is planned that Providence Academy’s inaugural semester will begin Sept. 2.
Enrollment information and other details can be found on the school’s website.
- What: Providence Academy parent meeting
- When: Thursday, June 5, 7 p.m.
- Where: Abbey Inn, 1129 S. Bluff St., St. George
- For additional information, visit the Providence Academy website or call 435-602-4040
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