Meet the Ward Family
Updated: Dec 15, 2020
The Ward family joined CCA in 2013. At the time, they were a family of five. We asked mom, Cindy, how they have grown in the last eight years and why they continue to call CCA home.
Tell us a little about where you came from and how you found CCA.
We first toured CCA when our boys were in 3rd, 1st and preschool. The public school the older two boys were attending was implementing Common Core and there was a huge focus on test scores. I was less concerned with my sons’ reading level, and more focused on wanting them to enjoy getting lost in a good book. I was less worried about the standardized test scores, and more focused on them having time to play outside and make friends. It was really apparent that our priorities didn’t align with our school’s priorities.
So, we started looking. I really just did an online search for private, Christian schools in our area. We toured a lot of schools. While we asked about curriculum, honors programs and recess times - we were watching carefully. During a tour of a different Christian school, we saw a student get teased by her entire class for spelling a word incorrectly and watched in dismay as the teacher did nothing about it. At another school, we saw a high school computer class without adult supervision... because teens would never be tempted to use technology inappropriately, right? We were disheartened: none of these environments was what we wanted for our sons.
Then we toured CCA. It is this small, simple school. It’s not flashy, but its heart is big. To be honest, I think my husband and I were both surprised when we left the tour and finally felt good about what we experienced. We didn’t see state-of-the-art sports facilities – because there aren’t any. We didn’t see a huge cafeteria with gourmet food options – because everyone packs a lunch. At CCA, we saw high school students look us in the eye as they greeted us. We saw educators who stopped a class to redirect student behavior. We met administrators who valued teaching methods that had centuries of success - not the latest standard and fad. We also saw a school that prioritized God and family. We saw a place that felt comfortable to us.
What was it like moving from a public school to a hybrid school?
Terrifying, if I’m being honest. I mean, I was hopeful that this would be a good fit for all of us, but I was really nervous about the homeschooling days and having so much responsibility for my kids’ educations. I was coming from a school that sent home a test cover page with a score on it (because we weren’t trusted to see the tests themselves), to having the tools to administer a test at home. It felt like a bit of whiplash – but I welcomed it. I quickly learned that I wasn’t alone! I had in-class teachers, administrators, and a network of other parents who had already done this and shared with me their tips and tricks. Their support eased my journey.
While I was scared of my own performance as a teacher (I’m not a trained educator, by any means), I was confident in the school. I trusted that they evaluated curriculum to make sure it met the standards. I knew they were familiar with the requirements to graduate and move onto college. Their knowledge – and partnership – gave me the confidence I needed to work past my fears and grow alongside my kids in their education.
What is your favorite part of the on-campus part of the hybrid program?
I trust the staff. I know I’m surrounding my children with other Christian believers. I don’t see that as sheltering my kids. They spend plenty of time with people who have different worldviews. The benefit of having other believers teaching my kids is that my boys will know what they believe, why they believe it, and how to defend their beliefs. CCA is different because it’s not a Christian school that accepts anyone with the hope of converting non-believers to Christianity. CCA is a community of like-minded families who already believe - and it makes a difference in the cultural fabric of the school.
What is your favorite part of the homeschool part of the hybrid program?
Hands-down, it’s having no homework. Our boys never have homework. Yes, we homeschool two days a week - so they do work at home - but they never have late-night stress over getting hours of assignments completed. We eat meals together. They go to team practices. They all go to bed at reasonable times. We say that family time is a priority and we’re able to live that truth.
The flexible schedule is a very close second for our family. All of our boys play travel sports, and about once a month they travel to out-of-state/city competitions. When that happens, they often miss a day or two of school. Can you imagine missing school every month? But I don’t stress about it - and neither do their teachers. We are partners. I have the teacher’s manuals for every class, and I know what they’re studying. I can teach their lessons. I can administer tests (no, they don’t ace them!). They don’t “miss” all of those hours of instruction. We just do them together - in a hotel room. CCA is flexibility at its finest!
How has your family changed in the last 9 years?
Well, we’ve aged and increased. Now our boys are in 11th, 9th and 7th grades – and our bonus baby will start kindergarten at CCA next year. I think our homeschool days are lot easier now than they were when we started. With kids in high school, people are often surprised by that. Teaching kindergarten is easy because, as parents, we know the material; but it’s difficult in how much attention and hands-on help it requires: the lesson plans need to be explained, and every direction needs to be read out loud, pencil grip needs to be corrected five-million times a day. LOL.
Now, we get to reap the benefit of the work we put in teaching our boys how to study and learn in those early, formative years. Our boys can figure out their lessons on their own. When they don’t understand something, they go searching for the answer. They hardly ever come to me expecting me to explain a concept to them. They’ve learned how to learn. That’s a life skill - and an important one. When you can learn, you can do anything. Yes, that includes writing a critique of classical literature; but, it also includes changing a part in an appliance, or figuring out how to prepare a new recipe – all of the things our kids will need to do in the future.
What would you tell people considering CCA for their student?
Being a CCA parent takes a little bit of self-confidence. You will NOT find a bulletin board tracking students’ test scores; there aren’t gifted programs; we don’t have a valedictorian - basically there is no universal measuring stick used to compare your student against everyone else. That means there isn’t a measuring stick to see how you are doing as a parent/teacher either. Coming from public school, that’s hard. But it’s also intentional. While I would love to know how my kids “stack up,” I think it’s better for them to find their worth in the Lord, and to compare themselves against their personal best instead of their peers’ wins and losses.
I’ve heard it said before, and I believe it’s true: no school is perfect. When I look at what I want for my kids and for my family, CCA aligns with our priorities and helps us live our best life. I’m thankful we have choices and options for our kids’ education - and I’m grateful we found Classical Christian Academy. I think you will be, too.
ABOUT CLASSICAL CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
Classical Christian Academy is the premier hybrid school in Southwest Florida. CCA offers families an academically rigorous and Christ-centered K-12 education option that blends the best aspects of private and home schooling. Classical Christian Academy is a registered 501c (3) organization. For more information, visit www.discovercca.org and follow CCA on www.facebook/com/DiscoverCCA.