Skylark School soars into second year
If enrollment is any indication, Skylark School’s first year was a hit.
The private, nonprofit Christian school opened in 2014 with 16 students. This year, 36 students will fill out the classrooms at Mountain View Church near Glenwood Springs.
“The first year, we laid a solid foundation,” said Principal Nicole Wenger. “What we’ve heard from parents is that they really like diversity of classes that we teach.”
In addition to the standards including math, science and reading, students at Skylark study poetry, violin, citizenship and more. They tackle practical crafts such as sewing and cooking in handwork, and get to try out archery and snowshoeing instead of traditional physical education.
It’s part of a teaching philosophy originally espoused by British educator Charlotte Mason around the turn of the century.
“We founded this school because we wanted a different type of education for our children — one that helped them really think, that introduced them to a feast of ideas,” Wenger said. “We don’t look at children as sponges. We look at them as beings that have the capability to think, express themselves, and take any idea and have a conversation about it.”
The program also hopes to instill traits including punctuality, respect, kindness, attentiveness and organization.
The school owes its name to Percy Shelly’s “Ode to a Skylark,” and the little brown bird that seems just like every other such bird until it breaks into song.
So far, the philosophy seems to be taking root.
“Parents see a difference. They see that the children are engaged,” Wenger said. “They exhibit a love of learning and parents see that when they come in. At the end of the day, what we look for is the growth of the children in terms of their relationship to themselves, ideas, others, and God.”
Wenger challenged the idea that a Christian education is an attempt to keep children isolated.
“We’re trying to prepare them for the world,” she said. “God is in the center of all we do. We don’t consider him separate from poetry, from mathematics, from archery.”
“We are a Christian School,” agreed Director Andrea Barth. ”We don’t shy away from that, but we’re comfortable in our faith, so we don’t shy away from studying authors and scientists who may not have the same ideas that we do.”
The new students come with more teachers, which will give Wenger and Barth a chance to devote more time to managing the growing school. They’ve arranged a shuttle to bring kids up from as far as New Castle, and hope to add a ninth grade next year, allowing the school to grow with the students until it’s a full K-12.
Tuition runs $5,000 to $6,000 a year, depending on age, and financial assistance is available.
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Tucked into an overgrowth of sage south of Sopris Elementary School along Airport Road, two dilapidated, concrete walls raise new questions about the Cardiff town site.