by Jessica Oren, Director, Educator and Chaplain
Arbor Academy TX, a Scholé Group started in a beautiful park in Allen, Texas surrounded by trees and laughing children. Two moms decided that day they could make their homeschooling lessons together a cooperative community in their area. We wanted to share that joy and laughter and digging in the dirt with anyone who was a kindred spirit.
In 2013, on that day in the park we had a dream to share this school day with everyone who was interested. At the time, there was no other classical or Charlotte Masonesque Cooperative in our area or one that would allow us to join without a statement of faith or a large bank account. In our vision, we would allow parents to come freely no matter their beliefs, as long as they knew ours, and without having to pay a large tuition.
We started in the home, very small at first cultivating a flow and researching curricula. Our first little place we meet was a country Methodist church off the beaten path a ways. That first year we had 3 or 4 families depending on the day and weather. We started with two ability level classes where my partner taught the eldest and I the younger.
Year by year, month by month our own families grew as well as the little school. by 2019 we had 15 families with 30 students and 5 separate classes, including an on staff artist. Then the big C hit in early 2020. A curve ball was thrown and lack of knowledge led us to meet on Zoom the rest of the year.
Circle forward to Fall 2020 and it was our biggest year ever! We had so many public school refugees coming out of the public school system and online learning platforms. We still had our 5 classes but our students went up to 40 with about 20 families.
It was our best year yet but my partner had moved to the East Coast and two founding families who were all staples had moved away. Even though we were grieving their loss, we really did have an EPIC year.
Spring 2021 we saw a drop in attendance and by the summer we lost 6 families to a FREE charter classical school only about 15 minutes away from our little school. At first this seemed like a devastating blow, but God showed us that we could be tiny but mighty. Anyone familiar with the story of Gideon?
By Fall 2022 we were significantly smaller but the families the Lord gave us were such treasurers. They were indeed the mighty volunteers, the patient parents, and the beautiful hearts that we needed. This year we have maintained a high 20s in our attendance with almost 20 families strong. The only fallback we had this school year was the logistics of space. We have had to move 3 times this school term and it has been challenging for everyone. However, when we moved to my house I felt a shift in communal spirit and look at it now as a blessing in disguise.
Next year we have a home in North Anna on ten acres that was a blessing from above! I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years have in store.