AUSTIN, LUBBOCK, CORPUS CHRISTI, and EL PASO Texas (PRWEB) September 12, 2020
On Friday, Great Hearts Academies announced its plans to launch a classical online academy and will enroll students from across the state of Texas during the current 2020-21 school year. Great Hearts Academies has operated schools for 20 years. This will be the charter school network’s first fully online offering.
Great Hearts offers a tuition-free, rigorous, classical liberal arts curriculum including advanced math and science, robust arts and foreign language classes, and a wide range of extra-curricular activities. The core purpose of Great Hearts is to cultivate the hearts and minds of students through the pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Great Hearts Texas is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and, as a state authorized open enrollment public charter school, extends offers to eligible applicants through a lottery system. Great Hearts is a public school; therefore, there is no cost to apply or attend – and the same offering extends to the classical online academy. In addition, there is no student assessment required prior to entry into the program. In fact, public charter schools are prohibited by state law to determine a student’s eligibility for enrollment based on previous performance on standardized tests.
On Friday, September 4, Co-Founder and CEO Jay Heiler, along with the Texas Board of Directors, approved the decision to take its highly rated Great Hearts classical model online following the situation they, and many other school leaders, found themselves in last spring when Governor Abbott ordered school closures across the state in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Great Hearts co-founder and interim Superintendent Dr. Daniel Scoggin shared why he supports the decision to provide this offering to hundreds more Texas students this year.
“Those of us steeped in classical education, operated with the mindset – at least up until now – that the Great Hearts model could only be offered in the traditional sense, meaning in a face-to-face classroom setting. I, along with many of my colleagues, felt a great deal of nervousness about our ability to meet the challenge we were faced with last spring when we were forced to turn our traditional model into a fully functional and 100% online school without jeopardizing the quality of instruction or our students’ pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty. However, our talented and classically trained educators rose to the occasion and met this challenge with the utmost amount of grace, determination, and flexibility. Together, our teachers and instructional leaders made possible what once seemed implausible when they created a quality online classical program that – quite remarkably - grows more impressive each day.”
When surveyed in late May, a notable 91% of Great Hearts parents participated in the voluntary survey with 88% responding favorably, meaning that they were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their child’s online experience in the spring. In the same survey, 90% of parents responded that they were pleased with the quality of online instruction.
On the question of parent demand and the appetite for a Great Hearts Online, Sr. Vice President Dejah Behnke who oversees marketing, communication and development for the organization, responded saying,
“Given the growing number of students on our waitlists, and the rising number of families seeking a quality online offering, the parent demand for both classical and virtual education is - and will continue to be - very much present in our state. As a parent who has experienced the gamut of educational offerings from ISDs, private schools, and public charter schools like Great Hearts, I believe we have an obligation to do whatever is within our ability to grant access to as many children as possible, and to give parents the opportunity and flexibility to choose the kind of classical education that, until Great Hearts came along, was only offered in private schools.”
The Great Hearts Texas board of directors have tapped Kurtis Indorf, currently serving at the Executive Director of Instruction across Texas academies, to lead the efforts to launch and build the Great Hearts Online offering. Co-Founder and CEO Jay Heiler shared that,
“Kurtis Indorf is the right leader to spearhead this new venture first in Texas in the coming year, and then to develop a business plan with our executive team and board to grow Great Hearts Online as a new and permanent branch of our organization.”
Network-wide, there are over 22,000 students enrolled in 33 academies across Texas and Arizona, and waitlists continue to grow. In Texas alone, there are currently 7,000 students enrolled in grades K-12, and as of August 18, Great Hearts Texas reported that 5,500 students across Irving, Fort Worth and San Antonio remain on the waitlist.
Great Hearts Online will initially serve between 200 and 500 students across multiple grades and plans to begin classes between November 2020 and January 2021. Great Hearts is open to all students and encourages families from all over the state of Texas to apply for this one-of-a-kind offering. Great Hearts is currently in the process of compiling an interest list to determine parental interest and grade level demand in Great Hearts Online.
Parents who are interested in learning more about Great Hearts’ online academy are encouraged to visit online.greatheartsamerica.org/interest-list/ to complete a quick interest questionnaire.
In addition to joining the interest list, there are a few important dates to note. The Great Hearts Online application and open enrollment process is set to begin as early as September 21. Students who are currently on a Great Hearts Texas Academy waitlist for the 2020-21 school year will receive priority by applying during the early bird period of September 21 – October 4; however, waitlisted students will not surrender their physical seats by applying to Great Hearts Online. Starting October 5, offers to all eligible applicants will be generated in the order in which they are received, or until all available virtual seats are filled.
More information can be found at http://www.GreatHeartsOnline.org.