Think you’re stuck with Common Core? Think private school is too expensive? Think again

ST. GEORGE – The Utah Office of Education adopted Common Core curriculum in 2010, called the core curriculum standards in the state’s code, with effective implementation beginning this past school year. For parents who do not embrace Common Core, alternatives to public education are largely limited to home-schooling or private school, which can sometimes prove costly. But there are options for parents in choosing their children’s education, as well as ways to manage and meet tuition obligations.

Students participate in shape art at Valor Hall, St. George, Utah, September 3, 2013 | Photo provided by Valor Hall, St. George News
Students participate in shape art at Valor Hall, St. George, Utah, Sept. 3, 2013 | Photo courtesy of Valor Hall, St. George News

One of those options in Washington County is Valor Hall Academy, a private nonprofit nondenominational Christian elementary school – pre-K through eighth grade, and extended-day pre-K and Kindergarden options. The school offers scholarship opportunities, discounts and installment payment programs, and options for parents to invest time into the school process to satisfy part of the tuition.

The thing parents need to know, Valor Hall Director Tena Raleigh said, is they have choices in their children’s education.

“We want to empower parents,” she said.

Although there is much debate over Common Core, there remain only seven states in the Union that have not adopted the curriculum. Utah not being among the holdouts, having adopted it in 2010, controversy over it is growing and, at least for some, resistance comes because they feel it is being forced upon them.

Further, there are parents and teachers who feel that the responsibility of teaching has been removed from the local classroom and replaced by a national system far removed from understanding the needs of individual students.

Then again the curriculum has its advocates. They say Common Core was designed to prepare students to compete for entry-level careers, freshman-level college courses and workforce training programs.

Whatever the case may be, Valor Hall provides an alternative to the mandated curriculum. As an independent private school, it is not limited to one curriculum over another, and is not beholden to any one organization, Raleigh said. She is always looking at curriculum options.

Valor Hall received an a "Best School Award" for 2013, St. George, Utah, April 7, 2014, | Photo provided by Valor Hall, St. George News
Valor Hall received an a “Best School Award” for 2013, St. George, Utah, April 7, 2014, | Photo courtsy of  Valor Hall, St. George News

About Vaor Hall

Valor Hall was founded in 1996 by a group who believed in the need for a nondenominational Christian elementary school in the St. George area. The school is operated by a nonprofit corporation, Valor Hall, Inc., and answers to a board of directors.

It has received the Best of St. George Award in 2013 from the St. George Award Program, in which it was ranked No. 1 in Washington County. It has also ranked in the state’s top five schools for the past 10 years according to Iowa Test Scores results. The Iowa Testing included public, charter and private schools across the nation, Raleigh said, demonstrating that Valor Hall holds its own against any of the school options. Whereas the average school raking nationwide was 50 percent, Valor Hall ranked at 70 percent to 80 percent – 30 percent higher than the national average.

There are three things that make Valor Hall successful, Raleigh said: a positive, loving environment; a strong curriculum; and class size is limited to 16 students.

“We have a leveled approach to learning,” Raleigh said.

English, reading and math classes are all taught at the same time in the morning, allowing students to progress through levels at their own pace as they individually excel.

Students working in the computer lab at Valor Hall, St. George, Utah, August 27, 2013 | Photo provided by Valor Hall, St. George News
Students working in the computer lab at Valor Hall, St. George, Utah, August 27, 2013 | Photo courtesy of Valor Hall, St. George News

Valor Hall is a nondenominational Christian school in that they teach the positive attributes of assertiveness, caring, commitment, compassion, courtesy and loyalty, among many other positive attributes. Most of the curriculum they use comes from Bob Jones University.

There are no religious classes taught at the school, but each class is taught with those positive attributes as the backdrop. During daily devotions in the morning, one of the attributes is introduced as the attribute of the day. There are 50 positive attributes listed on the back of Raleigh’s business card.

Along with the required math, reading, science and English, Valor Hall offers Spanish, computers, music, art and physical education.

Options to manage tuition

Valor Hall offers a variety of scholarships including a scholarship for military families.

“We want a diverse student body,” Raleigh said. They also offer a trade-for-services option for parents to reduce their tuition costs.

Valor Hall also offers multiple child discounts. Tuition fees can be divided into 10 monthly payments, and there is a discount offered for tuition fees paid in full at the beginning of the school year.

For information on tuition fees click here.

“Parents have the option to give of their time and talents to decrease their student tuition,” Raleigh said. “We can use time and talents of parents.” There is always a need for help around the school.

Anyone interested in Valor Hall should contact Tena Raleigh to set up a meeting. She encourages anyone who would like to learn more about the school to call her and see what kind of scholarships or trade-for-fee agreements can be offered.

“We can’t offer a free education,” she said. “But we are willing to work with parents who are interested in choices for their children’s education.”


Valor Hall Academy

Students learn about bones at Valor Hall, St. George, Utah, August 26, 2013 | Photo provided by Valor Hall, St. George News
Students learn about bones at Valor Hall, St. George, Utah, Aug. 26, 2013 | Photo courtesy of Valor Hall, St. George News

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  • CHRIS June 27, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    What about Trinity Lutheran Church and School?
    They provide an excellent education with a very spiritual curriculum.

    • Brian June 28, 2014 at 7:59 am

      This is an advertisement, not an article (see the author and tags). I’m sure Trinity Lutheran Church and School is more than welcome to pay for advertising here as well…

  • Chris June 28, 2014 at 11:21 am

    I think CHRIS (not myself, Chris) may be wondering why an advertorial is included in the opinion section.

  • Trinity June 28, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Trinity Lutheran is a far better option

    Also, the “advertorial” is a troubling concept

  • Matthew Sevald July 2, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    I’m a proud Trinity Lutheran Church & School parent of two.
    Here’s my free advertorial.

    Excellent administration, excellent teachers who care and keep parents in the loop, tiny class size ratios: only about 45 kids in the school Pre-K through 8th grade.
    Homework is not overwhelming, but is age appropriate and pushes the children out of their comfort zone. Starting in Kindergarten students make dioramas and write reports themselves, even going so far as to incorporate Power Point and internet research (with the assistance of their 8th grade buddies).
    Biblical Christianity is taught, the children attend church services once a week, Pastor Manweiler is a great role model and teacher for the children. The children have the opportunity to learn musical instruments and perform in a hand bell choir that performs publicly.
    The church that supports the school is always involved, attends plays and concerts, volunteers time and money to help the school.
    Educational field trips are always happening and recreational trips to Brian Head and the 2450 E park occur throughout the year to foster athleticism, camaraderie, community, and enjoyment of the outdoors.
    Parental involvement is sought and encouraged. Many volunteer opportunities exist to be part of your child’s environment and keep a close eye on the goings-on (everything is above board).
    The school teaches Spanish as part of its weekly curriculum with the aid of native speaking, volunteer parents.
    I spent 13 years in Catholic Schools back in Michigan and Trinity Lutheran is the closest, and in some ways a better option than what I experienced growing up. It’s a shame that more people don’t take advantage of the education available there, and that the kids have to be sent off to public schools for 8/9 – high school.

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