The organizers of Seven Oaks Classical School have succeeded in a four-year quest to gain approval to bring a new educational facility to Monroe County.
On Jan. 13, Grace College, a liberal arts college in Winona Lake, Indiana, announced that as a state-approved authorizer, it would grant authority to Seven Oaks to become a charter school. This approval clears the way for the new school to begin operation as early as August, 2016. It also sets in motion the complicated process to open the school-house doors to more than 400 students from Monroe and surrounding counties, initially in Kindergarten through eighth grade.
"We couldn’t be more pleased with Grace College’s decision,” said Terry English, a Bloomington attorney and a member of the Seven Oaks board of directors. “We’ve never lost sight of our vision to bring quality education to families who are seeking an alternative to other public schools in the area.”
English emphasized that Seven Oaks will operate as a tuition-free public school and will accept students from a wide variety of financial and socio-economic backgrounds from all counties in the region. “Open-enrollment will begin on February 1 and will extend through March 17,” English said. “We encourage parents who believe that our educational model will be beneficial to their children to contact us."
Seven Oaks’ curriculum will use the Latin language as a foundation for instruction in the liberal arts and sciences. “This approach to education has proven successful for decades in a variety of settings and locales,” English said, “and has been crucial in developing analytical techniques, critical thinking, logical reasoning, and rhetorical skills in students. Instruction in Latin will begin in the primary school grades and will extend through high school.” According to English, ninth grade classes will be added to Seven Oaks Classical School’s offerings beginning as early as August, 2017. In each of the three years following, additional high school grade levels will be phased in.
Seven Oaks will be relying on the expertise of Hillsdale College in Michigan in instituting its expansive classical education model, English related. “Hillsdale College has been a nationally recognized university since its founding in 1844 and has focused on providing its students the highest quality education in the liberal arts over the past 170 years,” he noted.
English also emphasized that the education which Seven Oaks’ students will receive will not be infused with a religious “slant." “To the contrary,” English said, “we will comply with state and federal laws for public education and operate a secular school.”
English emphasized that discipline will be stressed in the Seven Oaks school in order to allow all students the uninterrupted opportunity to learn.
“Students who attend classes at Seven Oaks will be expected to wear uniforms daily and demonstrate respect for their teachers and peers.”
Matt Wolf, vice-president of the Seven Oaks board, noted that getting Charter authorization from Grace College is only the first critical step in opening the school's doors to students in eight months.
“We have to finalize the purchase or leasing of a facility in Bloomington,” Wolf said, “and we’ll need to rehabilitate it to state standards to accommodate our projected student population. We’ll also need to hire the most qualified teachers and supervisors we can locate and make sure our policies, both governance and administrative, are established and widely understood.”
“The multitude of tasks moving forward is daunting but we feel they can all be accomplished,” Wolf said. “We’ve managed to come this far.”
Other members of the board of directors providing oversight to the process are Lindsey Weaver, Brigitta Powers, Fred Prall, Jazzmin Vegeler, and Dr. William Scott.