This small private school consist of about a handful of class rooms, a resource room with books and other materials, the computer lab, and a gym in the middle. Although it is small, Principal Tatum and his staff put a great deal of effort into ensuring that their students not only have access to everything that a public school might offer, but that they also receive the best education possible. Core subjects are supplemented by lessons that foster critical thinking, social skills, discipline, multiculturalism, and spiritual growth. Their approach of integrating technology a collegial model with traditional activities has proved successful as the student’s of Canaan Academy continue to perform at least two grade levels above the national average in all subjects.
Like any school, Canaan Academy counts on the teachers and staff who interact with the students daily to deliver both planned lessons and instill life lessons. What sets them apart from other schools is that, at times, each classroom has even been by run by two teachers at a time, greatly enhancing the effects of the small class sizes. Additionally, the Academy greatly encourages and depends upon integrating parent involvement in their sons’ and daughters’ education. Parents contribute their own talents to day-to-day lessons or volunteer to help with the after school program or special events and projects. It is the school’s assertion that a student’s personal and academic growth is dependent upon the saturation of their education in their school and home life.
College-aged volunteers also play a considerable role in the school’s activities. They are counted on to provide additional tutoring when needed and to help keep the after-school program running smoothly.
Student and parent volunteers are important resources that help alleviate the financial responsibilities of running a school; however, monetary funding is another category of resources that cannot be ignored. As a private school, Canaan Academy counts on a variety of sources to keep its doors open. They do charge tuition, but in order to keep it low, the school counts on fundraisers, grants, and donations to achieve many of their goals. In the past, these means of bringing in funding have allowed the school to update various curricula and replace or introduce technology. They also receive reimbursement from the state for holding their after-school program.
Activities and Outputs
Class is held on school days from 8:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. for younger students and 3:15 p.m. for fourth and fifth graders. Because they offer both before school activities and after school activities, some students are at the school from 7:15 in the morning to 6:00 at night. It is important to administration and staff that educational and recreational activities provide a positive and wholesome environment because of this. Activities are designed to be relevant to the issues and interests of the young students while using positive discipline and encouraging more advanced comprehension and problem-solving skills.
Technology also plays a significant role in day-to-day lessons. There is at least one computer in every classroom, and the computer lab is often utilized daily by each grade to research information for projects, practice typing skills, play educational math games, and more. Thus, while technology is not the focus of the curriculum, it facilitates a variety of activities and develops media literacy at the same time. To this end of information and media literacy, each grade level makes a weekly trip to the Urbana Free Library so that the students have regular access to resources not readily available in the school itself. Furthermore, the school has integrated technology into its programs by using iPods to allow the students to create short films, digital essays, and advertisements. The school also hopes to implement tablets into the curriculum in the near future to further encourage new kinds of projects and excite their students about learning.
As in any educational institution, Canaan Academy hopes to positively influence their students’ current lives and their futures by enhancing their spiritual, intellectual, social, and emotional capabilities. To achieve this ultimate goal, the Academy ensures that each student is constantly improving his or her comprehension and talents, has access to important resources, works well with others, and has constructive ways to spend his or her time outside of the classroom. In the future, the Academy would like to expand in order to reach more students by adding more classrooms per grade and by eventually offering middle school and high school classes for older students.