tampabay.com

Learning as a family affair

A small Christian school blends classroom time and home learning to involve parents.

By RITA FARLOW
Published February 13, 2007


PINELLAS PARK - To spend more time with her son, Debbie Kleinman volunteered at his school in Indian Rocks Beach. A lot.

"I was spending so much time there that I was never home, and then he'd come home and have an hour of homework, so that wasn't good, either," she said.

The Seminole mother wasn't ready to take the full plunge into homeschooling. Instead, she and her husband enrolled son Michael at Veritas Preparatory Academy, a small Christian school in Pinellas Park that combines traditional class time with supervised home study.

Veritas is what's called a University-Model School, based on a program that began in Arlington, Texas, in 1993. Ten states now have University-Model Schools, which aim to give parents the chance to be more involved in their child's education without the pressure of full-time homeschooling.

"As parents learn about this model of education, those that desire more time with their children and want to remain more influential in their children's lives will find this to be a great option," said Kira Wilson, principal of Veritas Preparatory Academy.

Students in grades K-12 attend classes two or three days a week on the Veritas campus at First Church of the Nazarene in Pinellas Park. On the other days, parents work with their children at home on assignments provided by academy teachers.

Since enrolling her son in 2005, Kleinman has come to love it. She has been able to spend more time with 11-year-old Michael, she said, and be confident that his academic and social needs are being met.

Several academy students said the things they like best about it were small class sizes and the ability to work at their own pace.

Garrett Crawford, 10, said it's not hard to get motivated to do his homework because once he's done, he can read, watch television or go outside and play. "It gives you more free time," he said.

The school opened in fall 2005 with 95 kids. It now has 145. Many academy students were homeschooled, but a good number have transferred from public and private schools, Wilson said.

The school, which is the only one like it in the state, draws students from across the region, Wilson said. The farthest student travels from Weeki Wachee.

Tuition is $1,800 per year for kindergarten through sixth grade and $2,500 for grades 7 and up. Parents also pay for books and a fee for afterschool activities like sports, art, dance, choir and yearbook.

Learn more

School information

For information on University-Model Schools, visit www.naums.net. For information on Veritas Preparatory Academy, visit www.veritasprepacademy.com or call the school at 548-6294.