Frequently Asked Questions
Ivy Classical Academy Live Q&A
Ivy Classical Academy’s Head of School, Dr. Withun, hosted a live Q&A on February 8, 2024, to answer some of the most frequently asked questions from prospective parent’s who want to know more about the coming school year.
If you have a question that hasn’t been answered or is specific to your situation and your child, please send your question to [email protected].
What are the required qualifications for teachers at Ivy Classical Academy?
We are looking for teachers who are well-educated, intellectually engaged, and models of the moral and intellectual virtues we seek to instill in our students. All teachers at Ivy Classical Academy must possess, at a minimum, a Bachelor’s degree. We have a strong preference for teachers with advanced degrees in the subject areas in which they teach, particularly in the Upper School.
What does instruction look like in classrooms at Ivy Classical Academy?
At Ivy Classical Academy, instruction is teacher-led, multimodal, and content-rich. Teachers are subject matter experts who lead their classes in stimulating explanations, demonstrations, and discussions. All instruction engages the minds and senses of the students through seeing, hearing, reading, discussing, and writing about the subject matter they are studying. Instructional methods may include Socratic seminars, interactive lectures, writing exercises, presentations, science experiments, and other related activities, as appropriate to the grade and subject being taught. Furthermore, all instruction at Ivy is expected to be content-rich and focused on important and fascinating topics that equip students with the knowledge and skills to understand our world and succeed in all of their future endeavors.
What does my child’s day look like?
While the schedules of each grade level and classroom differ, there are a few general rules that apply:
- In the Lower School (K-5), each day students have approximately 110-130 minutes of literacy instruction (including phonics, grammar, composition, poetry memorization, and literature), 80-90 minutes of math, 20-30 minutes each of history and science, 40 minutes of art, music, Spanish, or remediation/enrichment, 30 minutes of active physical education, 30 minutes of recess, and 30 minutes of lunch.
- In the Upper School (6-12), each day students will 45-50 minutes of Literature, Composition, History, Latin or a Modern Foreign Language, Math, Art or Music (or another elective in high school), and either Government or Philosophy, depending on the grade level.
You will receive a copy of your child’s class schedule from their teacher at the beginning of each school year.
What are the qualifications for students at Ivy Classical Academy?
Ivy Classical Academy holds an open enrollment period each year from December through February with a lottery in February. During this open enrollment period, any student who is a resident of the state of Alabama and assigned to the grades served by Ivy Classical Academy may apply for the lottery. When the lottery is conducted, open seats are randomly offered to students who have applied. If more students have applied than there are seats available at a given grade level, remaining students are added to our wait list in random order. Students who apply after the lottery are added to the waitlist on a first come first serve basis. The only enrollment preferences given to applying students are a preference for students who are residents of Elmore County and the children of Ivy Classical faculty, staff, and board members. Students are enrolled and admitted without regard to demographics, past performance at previous schools, or any other factors outside of residency in Alabama.
What are Ivy Classical Academy’s discipline policies?
Our school’s culture, including discipline policies, is governed by our three school-wide rules: 1. Be on time, 2. Be prepared, and 3. Be respectful. In addition, we seek to establish a culture of mutual respect and joyful learning among our students and faculty through expectations of politeness, kindness, and engaged learning. Our full discipline policy, including both consequences and rewards, as well as expectations for school culture and decorum, may be found in the Ivy Classical Academy Family Handbook.
What is Ivy Classical Academy’s attendance policy?
Classical education is highly interactive and requires students to be present consistently. Because much instruction in a classical classroom relies upon student and teacher interaction, students who are frequently absent will fall behind quickly and it will often be impossible to make up for lost learning experiences. In addition, Ivy Classical Academy’s attendance policy is governed by Alabama law contained in the Code of Alabama (16-28-15). Our full attendance policy may be found in the Ivy Classical Academy Family Handbook.
Will Ivy Classical Academy have a high school?
Yes, Ivy Classical Academy will grow by adding one grade level each year until we serve Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Will Ivy Classical Academy students wear uniforms?
Yes, all Ivy Classical Academy students are required to wear uniforms. More information about uniforms, including a full uniform guide, will be provided to parents.
Will Ivy Classical Academy provide transportation?
Unfortunately, Ivy Classical Academy is not able to provide bus transportation at this time. The Grandview Family YMCA will be providing before and after school care for our students on their campus, however. Students who participate in this program will be dropped off and/or picked up by their parents at the Grandview Family YMCA and provided with transportation between the Grandview Family YMCA and Ivy Classical Academy.
Will Ivy Classical Academy provide breakfast and lunch?
Ivy Classical Academy will provide breakfast and lunch for our students through an agreement with Elmore County Public School’s food services program. It is important that all parents complete the application for Free and Reduced Lunch, even if you believe you will not qualify, as the completion of this form aids the school in making meals affordable for all of our students. Parents are also invited to join their child for lunch. You may sign in and out at the front office.
What will safety and security look like at Ivy Classical Academy, including weather safety?
The safety and wellbeing of our students is the highest priority for Ivy Classical Academy. We will follow all Alabama laws governing safety and security for public schools, including mandated drills, security features such as a single exit and entrance, cameras, required sign-in with background checks for all visitors, and additional security requirements. In addition, we are working closely with our facility advisors and construction group to ensure that our campus is secure and equipped with the latest safety and security features and equipment. Furthermore, we will follow the Elmore county public school system in regard to delays and closures due to severe weather.
What extracurricular activities, including sports and clubs, will Ivy Classical Academy have?
Ivy Classical Academy is excited to form a partnership with the Grandview Family YMCA to provide a full sports program to our students. Sports provided through this partnership will include basketball, cheerleading, football, martial arts, soccer, tennis, volleyball, and others. More information about how to participate in these sports will be provided before the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year. Ivy Classical Academy will also feature a number of clubs and other afterschool activities, including chess, dance, drama, computer programming, and others are grade level appropriate. A full list of club options will be provided at the beginning of each semester.
What field trips will Ivy Classical Academy have for students?
Ivy Classical Academy will host two field trips for each grade level each school year, typically with one in the fall semester and one in the spring semester. All field trips will be directly tied to the curriculum studied at that grade level. For the Lower School (K-5), these trips will include visits to local sites of historical, cultural, and natural significance. Upper School students will have several opportunities for lengthier overnight trips, including a trip to Washington, D.C. in 8th grade and an overseas trip in the summer preceding their senior year of high school.
Will Ivy Classical Academy offer art and music?
Yes, Ivy Classical Academy will offer both art and music classes to all of our students. At Ivy Classical Academy, art and music are never referred to as “extracurricular” or “resource” classes. Instead, art and music are a core component of our curriculum and often overlap with the history and literature being taught at that grade level. In the Lower School (K-5), students will have art and music once each week. In grades 6-8, students will rotate between art and music each day. In high school, students will have opportunities to take art and music electives. In addition to requiring all of our students to participate in art and music classes, Ivy Classical will grow a full art and music program, including art shows, plays and other performance art displays, and an orchestra and chorus.
What will be Ivy Classical Academy’s hours?
The school day at Ivy Classical Academy runs 8:00 am to 3:00 pm for students. Dropoff in the morning begins at 7:30 am. We are partnering with the Grandview Family YMCA to provide before and after school care. Before care and after care will take place at the Grandview Family YMCA and students will be provided transportation between Ivy Classical Academy and the Grandview Family YMCA. Before care will begin at 6:15 am at the Grandview Family YMCA and after care will end at 6:00 pm.
What is the school calendar?
Ivy Classical Academy will follow Elmore County Public School’s calendar in determining the beginning and end of the school year, half days, holiday breaks, and report card periods. We will publish a full school calendar, including planned events, soon.
Will Ivy Classical Academy have a playground?
Ivy Classical Academy currently has plans for multiple playgrounds for our Lower School students as well as additional outdoor green space for our Upper School students. All Lower School students have at least 30 minutes of recess and 30 minutes of active physical education each day.
How many classes will Ivy Classical Academy have at each grade level and what are the class sizes?
The final number of classes at each grade level will be determined, in part, by total enrollment. At this time, the planned amount of classes and class sizes for each grade level in the 2024-2025 school year are:
Students per Class
What volunteer opportunities will Ivy Classical Academy have for parents?
Ivy Classical Academy will have a PTC (Parent-Teacher Coalition) charged with supporting and encouraging teachers, fundraising for the school, and planning and implementation of school events. Ivy Classical Academy will host an inaugural PTC meeting on August 1 at 6:00 pm. At this inaugural meeting, Dr. Withun will discuss the mission and role of the PTC and the opportunities to serve the PTC available to parents. Parents will have the opportunity both to join the PTC and to volunteer to serve various roles in the PTC. Elections for PTC officers will be held at the following PTC meeting on September 5 at 6:00 pm. Both of these dates are also listed on our school calendar. In addition to opportunities to assist with the PTC, Ivy Classical Academy will also compile a list of parents interested in other volunteer opportunities, including supervising lunch, car line, reading with Lower School students, assisting in the front office, and chaperoning events and field trips.
What is Ivy Classical Academy’s relationship with Hillsdale College?
Hillsdale College K-12 Education provides support to Ivy Classical Academy in the form of training and professional development for teachers, leaders, and board members and through the establishment of a network of classical charter schools upon which Ivy can call for guidance and advice. Hillsdale College K-12 also provides Ivy Classical Academy with guidance in establishing a rigorous, coherent K-12 curriculum and school culture. The Hillsdale K-12 team will lead professional development for Ivy Classical teachers, host Zoom sessions with teachers at classical schools across the country, gather classical educators for conferences on their campus, and occasionally visit our school to observe and provide feedback. In return, Ivy Classical Academy makes a pledge to Hillsdale College that we will provide our students with an excellent classical education.
What is the status of Ivy Classical Academy’s facility?
Our facility renovations are underway and on schedule at this time. Phase I of the facility project is the two-story elementary school building, which will be completed before students arrive in August. Phase II will then involve the renovation of the neighboring one-story building, which will house our middle schoolers as we add 6th grade in the 2025-2026 school year. Future phases will include renovating other nearby buildings for a high school and additional green space for our students. We will offer tours of our new campus as soon as it is possible to do so.
Will computers be used in the classroom at Ivy Classical Academy?
Classical education entails the prudent use of technology in the classroom. In a classical classroom, the teacher is the authority and the source of information. The teacher may use technology to supplement and enhance their teaching by, for example, showing historical art works and photography, maps, or projections of their own notes. Technology, however, does not replace or supersede the teacher in the classroom. Ivy Classical Academy students, therefore, will generally not use computers in the classroom, though they may occasionally use them for testing or for the completion of typed written assignments.
What should parents expect as their child or children transition to classical learning and how can they help?
The faculty and staff of Ivy Classical Academy understand that a transition to a new school with a new curriculum and a new way of learning can be difficult for children. It is important to remember that many of our teachers are themselves new to classical education. Frequent and open communication with a spirit of collaboration and cooperation between parents, students, teachers, and administrators is of the utmost importance, especially in the first few years in the life of our school. When questions arise, directing those questions to the appropriate person and pursuing dialogue and understanding are essential. Parents are encouraged to attend our monthly PTC meetings and curriculum nights as well as Coffee with the Head of School events to learn more about classical education and why Ivy Classical Academy has the curriculum, pedagogy, culture, and policies that we do. In addition to fostering openness and teamwork between home and school, parents are strongly encouraged to engage with the curriculum their children are learning by, for example, discussing the historical and scientific concepts they are studying and reading the literature and poetry alongside them.
What is the homework load?
Ivy Classical Academy places a strong emphasis on after school time being family and play time. For this reason, we limit the amount and scope of homework assigned to students, particularly in the Lower School. Our full homework policy can be found in our Family Handbook.
What role does religion play at Ivy Classical Academy?
As a public charter school, Ivy Classical Academy is nonsectarian. Religion, however, is a part of the human experience and has played an important role in the events of history, the development of ideas, and the works of art, music, and literature that have been produced. For this reason, students at Ivy Classical Academy will encounter, learn about, and discuss world religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, within their historical and cultural contexts. Students will also encounter works of art, literature, and music with religious themes and these cultural productions will be analyzed, appreciated, and discussed in a manner that is appropriate to the subject and grade level. In addition, Ivy Classical Academy recognizes the right of all students to freely practice their family’s religious beliefs. If any religious accommodations are necessary for your child, please contact the Head of School to discuss.
What role does politics play at Ivy Classical?
Etymologically, the word “politics” derives from the Greek word polis, which refers to the ancient Greek city-state itself as well as the need for human beings to live in communities with each other, starting with the family and including the local community, the nation, and the community of the world. So far as politics refers to our attempts to establish communities and to find out how to best govern and live in harmony with one another within those communities, political topics may arise naturally from the history, philosophy, government, and literature within our curriculum. Students in the Lower School for example, will learn about the influence of Greek democracy and the Roman Republic on our Constitution and will learn about the form and substance of the American government under the Constitution. Students in the Upper School, for example, will read and discuss such explicitly political works as George Orwell’s 1984 and Aristotle’s Politics. In each instance, the teacher will encourage a classroom culture that facilitates the open exchange of ideas among students and will not advocate for a partisan political position of their own. In addition, political topics and other controversial subjects will be handled in an academic and age-appropriate manner.
Will Ivy Classical Academy offer Special Education services including a Gifted program?
Ivy Classical Academy will have a special education team that consists of a Student Services Director, 3-4 special education teachers, and at least one Teacher of the Gifted. Our model of education entails that all of our students will be placed in regular classrooms and special education teachers, including our Teacher of the Gifted, will push into those classrooms or pull students out occasionally to provide the appropriate services and supports. In addition, all of our teachers will be trained on how to assist students with Special Education needs and how best to serve Gifted students.
How do I enroll my child at Ivy Classical Academy? Is it too late?
Starting February 13th, Ivy Classical Academy will accept applications for new students on a first come first serve basis. When seats are available, new students will be admitted in the order in which they apply. When seats are unavailable at a given grade level, new applicants will be added to our wait list in the order in which they apply.
Will students at Ivy Classical Academy be required to take the state standardized tests?
Yes, as a public charter school, Ivy Classical Academy will administer the state standardized tests to its students at the appropriate time each school year. However, the tests do not drive our curriculum and pedagogy. Instead, we regard them as an opportunity for our students to demonstrate the excellence of the classical education they are receiving.
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Our curriculum places a strong emphasis on language, content-rich subjects, a solid foundation of core knowledge, and an in-depth exploration of the historical, literary, and scientific legacies of both the United States and Western civilization.