Three women are leading the charge to establish a new school in Rock Hill – a school that’s more focused on Latin and the words of Plato than on technology and the newest trends in education.
Providence Classical School, a private Christian classical school, will open this fall if all goes according to plan, said Marcie Davis, the founder and future head of school at Providence.
“There isn’t anything like it in the area,” she said.
The school doesn’t have a home yet, but Davis expects to finalize a lease agreement within “a few more weeks.” An open house for prospective students and parents is scheduled for Tuesday.
A classical school “uses methods and content that develop thinking, articulate, well-rounded graduates” and “provides the best possible education to help every child reach their God-given potential,” according to the national Association of Classical and Christian Schools. There’s an emphasis on classic languages, such as Greek and Latin, and ancient teaching methods.
The years of a classical education are broken up into three stages that form a trivium of grammar, logic and rhetoric, Davis said. Elementary-age students focus on grammar, or basic facts of all disciplines; middle school students focus on logic, or the “why” behind those facts; and high school-age students focus on rhetoric, or thoughtfully expressing and defending their ideas.
“Memorization is what they’re good at,” Davis said of young children. Teachers and schools shouldn’t be asking students to explain themselves, because they can’t do that yet. What they can do is memorize facts like sponges, but in a way that can still be fun and engaging.
In addition to math, reading, science and social studies, Providence students will study Latin, logic and subjects like astronomy, mythology, Roman history and philosophy, among others.
It’s a method that’s proven successful since Socrates, Davis said.
Studies have shown that students who study under the classical style far outperform their traditionally-educated peers on the SAT and ACT college admission tests.
“We feel like they’re going to be exposed to lifestyle of learning,” said Judy Heinzl, one of the women spearheading the effort to open Providence and a future Latin and grammar teacher at the school.
Heinzl teaches at another private school in Rock Hill. She met Davis, a fellow teacher whose children attended classical schools before her family moved to Rock Hill two years ago, and the two found a shared interest in establishing a place locally where families could find a classical Christian education.
They were joined by Jeannie Williams, who will be an administrative assistant at Providence and had four children whom she educated classically through a popular homeschooling curriculum. For her, the opening of Providence is also deeply personal.
Her son, Jeffrey Williams, died from carbon monoxide poisoning in a Boone, N.C., hotel room in June 2013. Jeannie Williams survived, but barely.
She said she sees Providence as a chance to help other students finish their education since she’ll never get that chance with Jeffrey.
For Jeannie Williams, Heinzl and Davis, the opening of Providence is a “calling from God.”
“It’s been a complete stepping out in faith,” said Davis, who said she hopes Providence students develop a strong foundation for whatever they want to do in life, as well as the ability to value a biblical world view.
And the women are confident there are people in the community who will want that for their children. There’s a large local community of classical-style homeschooling, Williams said.
Several students have already applied for admission and a few dozen other families have expressed interest, organizers say.
Rachel Southmayd • 803-329-4072
About Providence Classical School
What: A classical, Christian school
When: Opening Sept. 1, Providence Classical will operate 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, with optional study time on Mondays.
Where: A location will be announced soon.
Who: The school expects to enroll students in kindergarten through ninth grade. A handful of students have already applied for admission and a few dozen families have expressed interest. Tuition ranges from $4,600 to $4,900 a year, plus fees and costs. Discounts are available for families with multiple children.
Information: Go to providenceclassicalrockhill.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to go?
Providence Classical School will host an open house from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Park Baptist Church, 717 E. Main St., Rock Hill.