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Posted On: 2017-11-14 08:53 AM
Cara O'Donnell, for Edkey® Inc.
Every morning at George Washington Academy begins the same way: A flag ceremony, a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence. Which is fitting for a school whose founding principle is patriotism.
"We're using the ideas of patriotism, our founding fathers, the principles of American values, to help create strong citizens," Assistant Superintendent Tony Rineheart said. "That's my ultimate goal. It's not just making good high school kids or college kids, but making successful adults and citizens in this country."
Located in Snowflake, Arizona, George Washington Academy is a charter school that serves grades K-6. Approximately 140 students attend the academy, which is in its fourth year.
The underlying principle behind the academics at George Washington Academy is patriotism. Students learn about developing character, learn about United States and constitutional history and are reminded about the fundamental aspects of our country.
"The curriculum gets more in-depth as they mature and learn more about our country," Rineheart said. "The conversations get deeper and they expand. We want them to become thinkers and doers when they graduate."
It all started as an alternative to home schooling. George Washington Academy opened in an actual three-bedroom home, where each bedroom served as a classroom and the cafeteria was located in the garage. Today, the academy has a thriving campus and is part of the Edkey® Inc. family of charter schools in Arizona.
"In the beginning, it was about 40 students, and now we can accommodate almost 200 with a full campus," Rineheart said. "The growth has been tremendous. It's been very parent-driven in terms of what the culture of the school is. They have a lot of say in what happens. This last week, I've had a lot of meetings with parents who want to talk about the vision."
George Washington Academy students learn language arts through the Spalding Method and receive mathematics instruction using Saxon-based methods.
"It's a traditional, back-to-basics curriculum," Rineheart said. "They've been proven, year after year, and it's an example of what the parents wanted. We're hearing from parents who had students who were struggling, who felt out of place. After coming to George Washington Academy, they've blossomed. Our students are showing a desire to be in school."
Parents are encouraged to be involved with their students' education as well. The school's parents' advisory council makes recommendations on curriculum, special events and educational themes.
"It's a very small school," Rineheart said. "Parents know each other, the staff and the students know each other. That makes a difference for a lot of students."
In addition to its strong academic programs, George Washington Academy also has added a sports program for students. Boys and girls in grades 3-6 can participate in co-ed cross country, volleyball, basketball or soccer.
"The kids have really enjoyed having this – it's part of building things outside of the classroom, outside of a textbook," Rineheart said. "We want to continue to grow."
It's all part of a well-rounded education for students, surpassing the "3 Rs" and offering other areas to explore and learn.
"We talk all the time about how teachers and adults are modeling the kind of behavior and morals that we expect the kids to learn," Rineheart said. "It's how we resolve conflict, how we speak with each other, how we solve problems. They should all tie together."
Students also may participate in the school band or orchestra. It's not the end of the activities, either. The George Washington Academy campus has three undeveloped acres of land that could be used for additional buildings as the school grows.
"We would like to continue to grow, and we definitely have plans to," Rineheart said.
To learn more about George Washington Academy, visit GeorgeWashingtonAcademy.org.
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