New Bay Area academy combines aspects of private school, homeschooling | #education | #technology | #training

As many families prepare to send their kids back to school, one group of parents and educators in the Clear Lake area is looking to establish a different concept for learning in the region.

“It’s been over a year of working on getting things ready to open the doors,” said Amelia Chiara, head of Deep Waters Academy.

The school will open Aug. 16 at Hope Church, 770 Pineloch Drive, Houston, for students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The academy is part of University-Model Schools, a Christian college-preparatory education system that combines elements of home schooling and private school and has over 90 institutions throughout the nation.

Deep Waters Academy will begin its inaugural year with approximately 20 students and seven instructors. Classes will be at Hope Church on Mondays and Wednesdays with Tuesdays and Thursdays designated for home education.

Annual tuition is $3,000, and the academy is currently accepting late enrollment at $3,250.

Chiara said University-Model works out the “nuts and bolts” of establishing the academy, which includes providing training for staff members and support for the school through the accreditation and certification process.

Deep Waters Academy, a faith-based school combining elements of private school and homeschooling, opens this fall for grades K-6in the Clear Lake area.

Address: 770 Pineloch Drive, Houston


Kids will attend class two days each week and receive instruction from certified educators in core subjects including math, English, social studies and science as well as art and music.

The remaining weekdays are spent at home where parents take over. It’s the best of both worlds, said Chiara, 33, who has taught grades 2-6 grade in various subjects at both Clear Creek ISD and St. Michael’s Catholic School in Houston.

“We want to create a different option for families, where you get the best of a private (Christian school), plus the best of home schooling and marry those two environments into one school,” she said.

“A lot of what we do is introduce a concept, and the next thing you do is practice that concept, and then review that concept and then maybe learn something new on Wednesday, practice it again on Thursday,” Chiara said. “So, you’re still learning the same amount (as a five-day school week) if not more because of the smaller classes.”

One of the leading factors in a child’s early education, said Chiara, is parent involvement. At Deep Waters, parents are co-teachers.

Kira Czar was looking for an early education academy for her son that would be closer to her own kindergarten experience. Czar, 34, attended a half-day kindergarten and didn’t like the idea of send her 5-year old to school for 40 hours a week. With many parents relying on dual incomes, Czar discovered that the availability of half-day kindergarten models was limited and she didn’t have the confidence to attempt home schooling on her own.

“I know every parent values their child’s education, and not every parent has the opportunity to be as involved in their child’s education as they would like to be,” she said. “We value our time as a family together and also value his education, and with Deep Waters I feel like we don’t have to choose either or.”

Parents are given a lesson plan for the days when the student is at home.

“Teachers are fantastic and can do so many wonderful things, but nobody can replace a parent, and our parents will work in partnership with the teachers,” said Chiara, who taught at both public and private schools. “In both private and public schools, a teacher can’t necessarily rely on a parent to do anything at home.

“What we’re doing (at Deep Waters) is a different mindset — I’m going to trust the parent to do things at home, and we’re going to follow up and discuss. The parent is a child’s first teacher whether they know it or not; so we’re allowing the parent to stay in that primary role (in a child’s education). That’s a unique approach to education you don’t find in other schooling options.”

One out-of-the-box element of the University-Model is the lack of computer access for students. Though teachers will use computers for certain tasks such as storing data and grades or for communication purposes, there will be very few computers in a Deep Waters classroom for students.

While the seventh-graders will be able to use computers to type certain assignments, Chiara feels that technology-centered education has drawbacks. .

“We need less screens in our children’s lives, and I see public schools pushing more screens and more technology,” she said. “Tablets, apps — I don’t believe that’s how students are going to learn best.”

Interacting in smaller groups, working as teams and writing letters in cursive reflect a more traditional teaching model that Chiara said gets lost in the push for more technology.

“Technology brings a lot of pluses, but students also benefit from learning by multisensory approach, hands-on learning,” she said.

For instance, Chiara said, the activity of a young student moving a star into a star shape on a screen is not the same as if the child works a real puzzle through hand and eye movement. Handwriting, she said, stimulates the brain.

“Technology can pull us away from the basics, and at Deep Waters, we want to get back to the basics, and that’s at the heart of what we want to do,” she said. “We are a classic approach to education that meets the needs of 21st century kids.”

For Czar, who is a licensed physical therapist, the academy’s tech-free stance was a critical factor in choosing Deep Waters over other early education institutions.

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