A Shuttle Approach

Weyers Cave ‘Hybrid’ School To Mix Home, Class Teaching

Posted: July 24, 2013

HARRISONBURG — A Mount Solon woman is hoping to bring a new kind of educational opportunity to area students this fall.

Mary Ann Heerschap, 56, says she is creating a new “hybrid school” where students would be home-schooled for a few days a week and spend two days per week with other students.

An information session about the school will take place Saturday at the main branch of the Massanutten Regional Library in downtown Harrisonburg at 12:30 p.m.

Called The School of Our Lady, Queen of Peace and Reconciliation, the concept was taken from a similar hybrid school in Atlanta, Heerschap said.

The classical private school would be taught “in the tradition of the Catholic Church,” and all students would have a uniform curriculum to follow while at home and when they convene two days per week.

Heerschap said she is trying to nail down a Weyers Cave location for the school, which will serve prekindergarten through 12th-grade students.

“I think some people wanted something that was more affordable [than a private school],” said Heerschap, who said rates to attend would be $2,950 for an entire family as long as parents agree to work with students while they are at the school. A charge of $1,000 more per student would apply to kids being dropped off, Heerschap said.

That rate includes the group instruction sessions and the curriculum. Private school costs include the cost to attend a school full time.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2007-08, the most recent years for which data is available, the average cost to attend private school was $8,549.

The number of children being home-schooled has been on the rise over the past 30 years, a 2010 report by the National Home Education Research Institute shows. In 2010, there were an estimated 2 million students being home-schooled, the report says.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the number of 5- to 17-year-olds being home-schooled grew by about 2.1 percent from 2007 to 2010, according to the report.

The number of local home-schooled children also is on the rise.

Between 2007-08 and 2011-12, the number of students being educated at home in Harrisonburg grew by eight students, for a total of 74, according to data from the Virginia Department of Education. In Rockingham County, 401 students were home-schooled in 2011-12, an increase of 114 students since 2007-08, the VDOE data shows.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, parents have varying reasons for home-schooling children.

In 2007, the most common reason parents gave for home-schooling was to provide religious or moral instruction. Other parents said they wanted to keep their children away from negative peer pressure or drugs, they were dissatisfied with the public education system or because of family time, finances, travel or distance.

Heerschap said her school will provide a necessary outlet for local home-schooled kids.

“Many times, home-schoolers just don’t have time to do a lot of activities,” she said. “That would be something that would be incorporated into the program. [Families] have the benefit of being in this type of environment with other people who are home educating their children.”

Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or esharrer@dnronline.com

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