ST. GEORGE – As parents, the choices we make regarding our children begin at birth. Among the choices made are: hospital or home birth, breast or bottle feeding, store-bought or cloth diapers and processed or homemade baby food.
These choices are scrutinized over and debated on “mommy blogs” around the world, and rightfully so. After all, it has been said that a parent is a child’s first and best advocate, so shouldn’t those choices continue as the child enters the education system?
With the recent implementation of the Common Core curriculum in Utah’s public and charter schools there have been some parents – who are not fans of the new state standards – left wondering what choice they have now.
Enter: Valor Hall Academy a private, nonprofit, nondenominational Christian school servicing students from pre-K through eighth grade since 1996.
Additionally, they offer extended day and all day pre-K and Kindergarten programs, programs that Valor Hall Director Tena Raleigh believes the community really wants and needs, she said.
Why Valor Hall?
Visit Valor Hall Academy’s Facebook or walk into their facility and you will find accolades and glowing reviews posted to both their virtual and actual walls – the school is ranked among the top five schools in Utah and received the Best of St. George award for best elementary school in both 2013 and 2014 – you will also see colorful classrooms and photos of children in a nurturing learning environment.
Inside the school you will find an academic education system guided by virtues that are both Biblically based and real world applicable in developing students who will become well-rounded members of their family, community and world.
“This is the place where morals and academics meet,” Raleigh said.
Delve a little deeper and you will see results from the Iowa Test Scores – a national testing system of public, charter and private schools – that consistently place the school in the top 10 percent in the nation.
What you won’t find are overcrowded classrooms, unstructured free-play – the school understands the importance of play but within a structured environment, Raleigh said – and perhaps most importantly, no Common Core.
And while all those things may be true, Raleigh said, what really makes the difference, and what sets their school apart is their ability and determination to teach to the individual and to find a way for those individuals to be able to afford a private school education.
Personalized tuition programs
“There are a lot of misconceptions about private schools,” Raleigh said, “and the first one is that you’ve got to be rich, that is the one we fight the most.”
While Raleigh recognizes that a private school education is not free, her desire, indeed the school’s desire, is to create a community where every student and parent that feels Valor Hall is the right place for them will have an opportunity to be able to afford it.
The school offers a personalized tuition program for every family ranging from full tuition payments and partial academic scholarships to military family scholarships and trade opportunities.
Trade for tuition can mean time, talents and skills that have value to the Valor Hall community, Raleigh said, and could include building maintenance, fundraising for the school, being a social media representative or helping as an aide in the classroom.
“I have one parent who is painting the exterior of the building,” Raleigh said.
But whatever your financial situation or skill set, Raleigh encourages parents to come in and talk to her, tell her your ideas and discuss how you can become a member of the Valor Hall community, she said.
“I took the pricing off the website,” Raleigh said, asking parents to call her, “don’t just assume you can’t afford it.”
Teaching to the individual
There is a common uttering, “my child fell through the cracks,” used to describe children in the education system that are on the fringe. Maybe they are struggling to keep up or maybe they are experiencing a lack of thriving because they are not being challenged enough, Valor Hall wants to change that.
With its small class sizes – 16 students to a class – and individualized learning plans the school believes it can accommodate any student and is not limited by age deadlines and strict academic milestones, Raleigh said.
“We don’t look at how old someone is to determine what grade they go into,” Raleigh said, “we look at what they are ready for and where their brains are, not where their age says they have to go.”
This kind of personalized learning plan takes into account both the child’s academic and maturity levels and develops an educational program that fits their needs, Raleigh said, and with only 16 kids to a class, teachers are able to get to know their students on a personal level so that they can help each student appropriately progress.
“It is the individualized attention that makes the difference,” Raleigh said, “here, they stretch and grow.”
Valor Hall remains autonomous from state or even federally mandated curricula allowing them to use a wide variety of education programs with the bulk of their educational material coming from the Bob Jones University curriculum.
That being said, the school teaches all the core academic subjects of math, reading, science and English and also offers Spanish, computers, music, art and physical education.
The school has opened its doors for the 2014-15 school year and still has some openings, Raleigh said, adding that she encourages parents to come in and talk to her to see if Valor Hall is the right choice for them and their child.
“I believe in Valor Hall,” Raleigh said, “it has literally changed kids’ lives.”
A D V E R T O R I A L
Valor Hall Academy
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