One Christian school in Texas provides such a great education opportunity for children that parents are cleaning toilets at the school to afford tuition.
Braveheart Christian Academy in Arlington, Texas, provides children in preschool through sixth grade with an individualized approach to education and classroom sizes with a student-teacher ratio of 8 to 1.
Administrators say Braveheart focuses on a holistic approach, attempting to build both content knowledge and Christian character in each student.
Headmistress Chrystal Bernard told The Daily Signal that Braveheart individualizes education by assessing students’ gaps in reading, math, and social skills when they arrive at the school via placement tests—then each student’s teacher and parents work together over regular meetings to ensure those gaps are filled.
Bernard says that parents are thrilled to have such individualized feedback.
“We go over what specific skills the student has mastered, what they’re familiar with, and what they need to be introduced to,” the headmistress said. “Parents then know what needs to be addressed, supported, and worked on at home.”
Student classrooms are comprised of grade bands, rather than individual grades. Preschool and kindergarten are grouped together, along with first-through-third and fourth-through-sixth. Students are sorted regularly into subject-tasked small groups where teachers provide specialized instruction.
Bernard, who used to teach math in public school, provides detailed instruction in math while others provide science projects, history lessons, physical education, and so on.
Bernard explained that grouping students into these “bands” provides a model of mentorship and discipleship among the students.
“It’s very community-heavy,” she said.
Bernard shared an example of her students’ success while testifying last week before the Texas Senate Education Committee. When one fourth grade student joined Braveheart, she said, his academic performance lagged at a first grade level. In just over a year, he has caught up academically with his peers.
Braveheart Christian Academy also runs a summer program to prevent learning loss between the spring and fall semesters. In the mornings, students participate in reading and math exercises to keep their minds sharp—then enjoy an afternoon full of fun activities such as moviegoing or swimming.
Rhese “academic retention summer camps,” Bernard told The Daily Signal, are well attended by local children enrolled in both private and public schools.
Braveheart was founded amid the fallout from the COVID-19 school-closure disaster. The Bernards had just started homeschooling their children before COVID-19 reached pandemic status. As schools were closed and students in public schools suffered, word of the Bernards’ homeschooling approaches began to travel.
Before long, parents were asking the Bernards to tutor their children. Tutoring children individually was a stellar success, and the demand continued to grow until the Bernards founded Braveheart Christian Academy in autumn of 2021.
“If we don’t help these kids, life is not going to be the best for their kids or their generation, or the following generation,” Bernard said. “It’s a legacy we’re investing in.”
Tuition at Braveheart is $7,000 per year, which goes toward paying teacher salaries and building costs. Bernard told The Daily Signal that neither she nor her husband Joshua draw a salary from the school.
Chrystal and Joshua Bernard also are co-pastors at Believer’s Connection Church in Arlington.
Although many parents desire to see their children attend Braveheart Christian Academy, they are unable to afford it. In an effort to provide some assistance, Braveheart runs a program in which parents may volunteer at the school for up to eight hours per month at a rate of $25 an hour.
Parents do office work, clean classrooms, scrub toilets and restrooms, and perform other tasks to make sure their kids can take advantage of the opportunities at Braveheart.
Parents aren’t the only ones willing to make sacrifices to be a part of Braveheart. Two teachers took pay cuts by leaving the Dallas public school system to teach there. Bernard laments being unable to pay her teachers more, requiring some to DoorDash, babysit, and nanny after hours.
For both her students and teachers, Bernard says, she is hopeful Texas will pass a bill providing education savings accounts for families to spend on opportunities such as Braveheart:
With an $8,000 ESA [education savings account], we would be able to pay our staff and building costs, and leave some leftover for transportation. Many have told me they’d love to come, but it’s a 25-minute drive. We’d love to provide a common meeting place or area to transport [students] from and to.
The state legislation to create education savings accounts in Texas, SB 8, has passed the state Senate and moved to the House.
Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, declared school choice as an emergency item for this Texas legislative session. It is expected that if the House passes the bill, Abbott will sign it into law.
It is clear, given the actions of the parents and teachers at Braveheart Christian Academy, that Bernard is doing something right. Her model of a holistic Christian education has resonated with the local community, and is more than capable of closing gaps left by the public education system.
During her time teaching in public classrooms, Bernard says, she was frustrated that by the time students reached her high school math classes, “they couldn’t even do ‘2×2’ without a calculator.”
The headmistress now hopes that Braveheart Christian Academy can fix that situation before students reach that stage.
“See what your kid really needs. It’s easier to fix now than later,” Bernard advised. “That takes a parent being very aware and honest; then they can go forward with looking for the perfect school for that child.”
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The post Parents Scrub Toilets So Their Kids Can Attend This Christian School appeared first on The Daily Signal.
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