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Hed: Certifiably smart
Subhed: Private hybrid school achieves national certification
Combining the luxury of a private school education and the enjoyment of homeschooling, Covenant Christian Academy in Vint Hill just got certified.
Since 2007, the hybrid school has worked to live up to the paradigm set by National Association of University-Model® Schools. Receiving this certification is akin to getting an A+, and paves the way for accreditation.
“NAUMS standards are very high,” said Amanda Bryson, assistant principal. “For example, every NAUMS school must prove that they meet or exceed state academic standards, and prove a college-preparatory level of rigor and instructional quality.”
Bryson said the school went through a review and evaluation against 42 standards relating to the academic program, athletics program, character development, school safety and much more.
“The certification means we’re fully accepted as members of the NAUMS community, and prepared for the accreditation process,” Bryson said. “On a personal level, it’s very gratifying to submit a 600+ page project and earn a passing grade.”
In an effort to earn approval, faculty added volleyball and basketball teams — a decision that gave back more than they expected.
“I would’ve never guessed how much an athletic team could strengthen and unify our school body,” said Amber Sabia, the principal. “I remember one game being brought to tears as I scanned the gym floor filled with students and parents cheering for the Lady Eagles.”
In addition to their burgeoning sports program, CCA just expanded into ninth grade, and in the years ahead they plan to grow right along with the pupils.
The unique schedule is the academy’s main draw. Elementary students are on location two days a week, and the middle and high school students attend three days a week. They all spend “satellite” or homeschool days completing assigned work and taking field trips with their family and classmates.
“Our college-simulated schedule encourages independent learning, a strong work ethic and the development of effective study skills,” Bryson said. “The University-Model’s gradual increase in personal responsibility for learning allows students to adjust quickly and easily to a college load. I’m excited to see where the Lord leads them in the future.”
The children, faculty and parents love the flexibility, and so far the academics are above par. Over the last five years, an average of 79 percent of CCA students were above the 50th percentile based on Stanford Achievement Test results.
However, a lot of the curriculum shies away from test-based learning, instead challenging the students to find creative approaches to learning, and applying that knowledge to real-life situations.
Over the last eight years, the school has grown from 14 children to over 100. Sabia, who is also a founding member, said the vision for CCA has remained unchanged over the last eight years.
“We all came from different backgrounds,” Sabia said. “Some of us were homeschooling, some were teaching in private schools and some were teaching in public schools. We all had one thing in common: we all felt like there had to be something better.”
She said in 2011, the school’s new year was about to begin, but registration was too low.
“The entire board and I met together and prayed,” said Sabia. “We all felt that God wanted us to step out in faith and stay open.”
Needing a minimum of 32 students to break even, 45 signed up that year.
Sabia said, “God has continuously provided. It has been an amazing faith journey.”
Around the world there are 80 University-Model schools, but only two in Virginia. The other Virginia school is in Stafford.
CCA students come from five different counties, and all educational backgrounds. Registration for the school is open year round. For more information visit their website at covenantva.org or call 540-680-4111.
Photo 1: Biology lab, 9th grade
Photo 2: Girls Volleyball Team