You may have more questions about JECA. We understand and have put together a helpful list of frequently asked questions that you can view below.
So, you started a school. Are you crazy?
It has been said that “it’s hard to tell the difference between a visionary and someone who is hallucinating.” Twelve years in, we love our trajectory. We started K-5th and have been adding a grade per year since 2009. The 2017-18 school year was our first year with a 12th grade and our first graduating class. We currently have a dozen alumni.
JECA is a school unlike anything most people have seen before. We are based on a distinctly Christian foundation while, at the same time, strongly committed to the classical model of education. It’s the education we all wish we had when we were in school. We strongly recommend that our friends and partners learn more about what we are doing. This website is a great place to start.
Is this education going to make a difference in these students?
Absolutely. We are persuaded by results we see from other good classical schools that this sort of school produces excellent academic results. At the same time, we wish to make it clear that this is just a foothold. We are all still learning, and while this model and culture will make a strong impression on our children, it is not going to impact our children nearly as much as it will as if they reproduce this model with their children and those children with their children. We seek to have a multi-generational vision in every part of our thinking.
Say more about results.
Ok. Every few years the Cardus Institute and Notre Dame team up to produce a Life Outcomes Report of alumni ages 24-42 from public, private, private Christian, homeschool, and Catholic schools. In 2019, the study included students from classical, Christian schools for the first time. The findings are exceptionally affirming. You can read more here.
What are your hours?
The school day is from 8am-3pm. For occasional half-days, dismissal is at 11:30am.
Do you serve hot lunch?
Students bring sack lunches to school.
An optional hot lunch is available for purchase most Fridays from restaurants like Chef’s Market, Mission BBQ, Chick-Fil-A, Joey’s House of Pizza, and Demos’.
When we can provide an on-site hot lunch in a way that complements the style and spirit of the rest of our education, we will pursue that.
Why do you teach Latin?
The study of Latin is an integral part of a classical education. From antiquity through the nineteenth century, Western educators understood its power to sharpen one’s grasp of language and to teach clear thinking and speaking. Today, moreover, Latin is of inestimable value in conveying an appreciation for Western culture and history. In sum, Latin contributes beautifully to accomplishing all of the goals of the trivium.
The study of Latin greatly enhances the young child’s grasp of the English language. Since many English words are derived from Latin, an understanding of these roots increases the range and depth of a student’s vocabulary. Mastering the subtleties and nuances of Latin grammar also aids in the comprehension of complex English sentences. Latin study, therefore, contributes enormously to the grammar stage of classical education.
Latin is a complex but very systematic language. Reading it requires more than just memorization. It entails the comparison and analysis of subtle forms and differences. It involves the practical application of rules and principles. We see, therefore, that it teaches logical thinking.
The study of Latin also involves the study of Latin authors. Experiencing these authors means encountering the greatest writers and thinkers of two thousand years of Western culture. In teaching Latin, we are exposing our students to the best of the rhetorical tradition. What better way to learn the art of skillful communication than from the masters of our own intellectual history?
Finally, we note that Latin is the linguistic soul of our culture. Most of the languages of Western Europe evolved, to some extent, from Latin. Over fifty percent of our own English vocabulary is derived from Latin, and students studying Latin typically increase their English vocabulary by 500-1,000 words.
Are you friendly to homeschoolers?
We love when parents take their responsibilities to educate their children seriously. Some do that by educating at home. Some do that by asking a school for help. We are primarily a school looking for families to join with us in a full-time school setting.
In our first seven years, we did offer an option for 1st-4th graders to attend school 3 days a week. That option is now available only for Kindergarteners.
If you are a homeschooling family and would like to borrow reading lists or recitation folders (K-6th), would like to visit to watch the classroom in action or would like to pick the brains of our teachers, we welcome your inquiry. If there are things that we can do to assist you, we have an interest in helping.
Do you accept students with special needs?While we do not have the resources to provide for students with severe learning disabilities, we will earnestly consider each student and will strive to bring each student along in concert with the whole class. Beginning fall 2020, our inaugural Student Support department will be dedicated to assisting parents of students with special considerations and providing the support and intervention necessary to give every JECA student every opportunity to succeed academically.
Do your students ever see the sun?
Yes, we love recess. In fact, we think it’s so important that we call it “playtime.”
All of our grammar school students (K-6th) have an opportunity almost every day to enjoy at least two playtimes. Preferably playtimes are outdoors, but we will resort to the gym if the weather insists.
Is classical education only for gifted students?
Ability is God-given and the classical model is beneficial to many levels of ability. “Learning how to learn” will be a benefit to students who will grow up to become professional physicians and educators as well as mechanics, technicians, and laborers. Students will be taught to see Christ in all of life and apply a Christian worldview to all of life. This will be evident in the way that they work and worship and have a strong appreciation for all of the trades our children will endeavor to flourish in.
Do families generally use a school like JECA as a starter school and then transfer in Jr. High or another grade?
No. JECA has very high retention rates in all grades. Our grammar school (K-6) leads naturally to our logic school (7-8) which leads to our rhetoric school (9-12). The flow is progressive [if we may borrow that word from history], and we do not have a history of students leaving us other than moving away or other family circumstances.
We hope that all enrolling families intend to graduate their children from JECA.
Could we speak directly to families who have children at JECA?
We love this question and thought you would never ask. We have a directory full of strong advocates for our school. We will spin the wheel and choose someone for you.
We would love to let you talk to first-year parents or seasoned parents, parents with children that match your children’s grades, or parents that have children in grades that your children will advance to. Ask them about teachers, homework load, school culture, how JECA resolves problems, or anything else. We are not a perfect school, but we are open to the needs of our parents and want to keep making our school better by resolving problems with biblical grace.
Just ask and let us know.
How are your standardized testing results?
We have very little confidence in standardized testing. There is both wisdom and warning in the making of these comparisons between ourselves and others. We give almost no regard to this testing beforehand and stake very little on them afterward.
It is important to note that these test results do not measure what JECA is about. JECA is not here first to impart knowledge. The end of what we expect is a student who lives a life of beautiful rhetoric/wisdom, and grammar/knowledge is a core step to that end. Standardized tests don’t measure Gospel readiness, humility, love of neighbor, or love of God, so in that respect, we remember to take these tests for what they are.
The value of these tests is that they provide a measurable standard for JECA to look at each year. It allows us to hold ourselves accountable to both our internal standards and to the external standards such as the ERB, future families, and future college admissions offices.
Per the recommendation of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, we administer the CTP-5 by ERB. We do so willingly.
The 2016 administration of this test found our students (1st-9th grades) scored above the 70th percentile nationally on 92% of our subtests. We scored above the 80th percentile nationally on the majority of our subtests. This number is similar to previous years.
We hope that parents considering enrollment at JECA will be mostly enamored with our mission statement and vision statements. We want to be held accountable for how well we are doing those things and what it looks like on a day-to-day basis.
We will implement DIBELS Reading and CBM: CCSS Math beginning fall of 2020 for K-8th grades. We will use this tool to get an overall picture of how a student is performing academically in these core subjects. These quick check assessments will be administered beginning, middle, and end of the academic school year. The Student Support Department, in cooperation with faculty, will use this data to inform instruction and any necessary interventions.
Education is about information, right?
Education is less about information and more about formation and discipleship. It’s less about college-readiness than it is about shaping the loves of our students.
To that end, we must remind parents that their children will look like their teachers. They will be influenced by their teachers’ strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and dislikes. The teachers have a key role at JECA in shaping loves and affections (just like parents and pastors and aunts and uncles do in their realms).
Consider this from James K.A. Smith in Desiring the Kingdom: “I propose that the primary goal of Christian education is the formation of a peculiar people–a people who desire the kingdom of God and thus undertake their vocations as an expression of that desire. The task of a Christian school […] is not just to provide a ‘safe’ place for the dissemination of information that one can get […] down the street. Nor is it merely to provide a ‘Christian perspective’ on what the world thinks counts as knowledge in order to become successful and productive citizens of a disordered society. Rather, the Christian [school’s] mission is more radical than that: in some significant way, it involves the formation of disciples” (34).
Educating children is the school's job, right?
No, we consider parents to be responsible for every part of their children’s education. This responsibility is given to no one else in Scripture.
With a high esteem for the role of the church and as members of various churches, we feel that we have a Great Commission role to teach and make disciples. We see legitimacy in offering our talents to assist parents in their roles and not assume the roles as our own.
Is your school church-sponsored? If not, speak to accountability.
We are an independent school and not affiliated or subsidiary to any denomination or church.
Our school board is comprised of eight members (all of whom have children in the school) who serve as the caretakers of JECA’s mission and vision. They meet regularly (usually monthly) and have one employee (the headmaster) who executes their mission and vision by administrating and overseeing the budget, faculty, staff, curriculum, processes, policies, gatekeeping, etc. involved with the running of a school.
JECA has 501(c)3 status. We also submit ourselves to an annual independent financial audit.
JECA holds membership in the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools (TACS) and the American Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS). These associations hold us to various quality standards and expectations.