Is it possible to blend the flexibility of home life with the advantages and curriculum of the classical classroom? Yes! Parents and educators are excited about a new hybrid model that provides the best of both worlds. Listen in to hear about the latest option that parents, students and teachers give a five thumbs up!
Melody Tracy – Dean of The Ambrose School Bridge Program
I have the best job because I get to read the greatest stories ever written and talk about them with hungry minds. These stories are so beautiful and profound, one cannot help but be changed by reading them. I love teaching at a classical school because the emphasis is on teaching students to be wise: to encounter and decipher the truth from error, beauty from perversion, and good from evil. My hope is that as we read, discuss and write that I get to be a part of forming my student’s minds and desires to love and search for what is good, true and beautiful beyond the classroom.
Mandi Moore – Assistant Dean of The Ambrose School Bridge Program
I became convinced that classical Christian education was the most effective method for raising our children to love the Lord whole-heartedly, think deeply from a Biblical worldview, discern truth, effectively communicate the gospel, and deeply influence the world. This conviction led us to serve on the founding board of Cross Classical Academy (CCA), the first of its kind in the Heart of Texas region, in order to make Classical Christian Education available to families of our community.
Our daughter and son attended CCA and I served as Administrator from 2010 through 2015, when we relocated to Idaho.
Best of Both Worlds…
A New Educational Model Gets
5 Thumbs Up
~A Conversation with Melody Tracy and Mandi Moore
Estimated reading time: 3 min, 46 sec. (756 words)
What do you get when you combine homeschoolers and five-day schoolers? You get…two and a half day schoolers!
You heard that right. This fresh approach to the “University Model” has been appearing all over the country. Parents and educators are discovering a way to blend the flexibility of coveted home life with the advantages and curriculum of the classical classroom.
Davies Owens, BaseCamp Live host, interviews the directors of one model school during a recent episode. Melody Tracy, Dean of the Bridge Program and Mandi Moore, Assistant Dean, share the inside story of this growing and vibrant hybrid school. Also joining them are a Bridge mom, Tiffany Twait, and a 9th grade Bridge student, Silas Link.
The need for a cost-effective classical Christian education
Bridge was born out of a conversation that took place between Kirk Vander Leest, the previous Head of School at Ambrose, and a colleague. They were discussing how they wished classical Christian education were available to a larger group of people but often isn’t because of the cost. Realizing that a possible solution might include co-teaching with parents, Vander Leest soon launched the Bridge Program alongside the current five-day Ambrose School.
Today, Bridge is a model for other schools across the country seeking the same solution. Moore mentions the University Model Schools (umsi.org) that introduced her to a similar idea in Texas years ago. Many UM schools are aligned with the classical educational methods in some form.
The Ambrose School Bridge Program is serving 90 K-9 students in its second year. That’s almost double enrollment from last year.
K-9 graders attend school on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays. Grades 7/8/9 add on a half day on Wednesdays for more complex subjects, like composition, math, and logic. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, they complete schoolwork from home following lesson plans provided by the teachers.
“It’s not like a co-op where you just come to the classes on those days and then do whatever you want to do at home,” says Tracy. “You have to follow the lesson plans that we provide but that’s supposed to be a help to parents, as well. That way the home days and the school days have a coherent flow to them.”
Challenges exist but with creativity you can overcome them, says Tracy. For example, “taking the Ambrose curriculum and reimagining it to fit Bridge” works well.
Aligning the needs of families with school
Tiffany Twait, mother of seven and homeschooler for 16 years, reached a season where she needed extra help and found the answer at Bridge. Her 4th, 6th and 8th graders now attend and she reports they are loving it. She calls it “a great blend and the best of both worlds” because you get home time, teacher support and classical Christian education, all in one.
After years of putting together her children’s entire curriculum by herself, she particularly appreciates the lesson plans that the teachers email each Friday at noon for the following week. “There’s no question about what needs to be done,” she reports.
Silas Link, a 9th grader who had been previously homeschooled, appreciates the discussions and viewpoints he receives at Bridge whereas before he could only consider the perspectives of the curriculum and his parents. The social benefits he receives mean that, “You get community yet get to be home…you still have lots of family time.”
Tracy and Moore emphasize the substantial effort made to align the school with the needs of families. For example, the intentional decision to rotate throughout the history curriculum as a school means that all siblings can contribute at the dinner table.
The staff works closely to iron out any kinks, listening for feedback but also offering in-house training regularly.
According to Moore, “It is one of our top values at Bridge to make things doable for families. We don’t ask families to be superhuman and so we really try to boil classical education down to the essentials and focus deeply on those things. We try to do in all of our planning what will benefit our parents and families the most. ”
Listen to the podcast to hear more about Bridge, how they overcame the challenges and how your community could benefit. If you are considering adding on a hybrid model to complement your five-day school, visit the links below.
Key Links and Resources
The Ambrose School
The Ambrose School Bridge Program
University Model Schools
Association of Classical Christian Schools
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