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City Council hears about new school option

At its first meeting of the new year, Albemarle City Council heard plans for establishment of a
new private school in Albemarle.

Amy Phibbs, who, along with husband Jason, is implementing plans for the opening of a new
private, Christian-based school, presented the school’s values, instructional philosophy and
goals to the board.

“Our school will be called Heritage Christian Academy, and our plans are to start with kindergarten this year, and add one grade a year,” Phibbs said. “With this schedule, our first class of high school graduates will be the class of 2033.”

Phibbs cited a number of statistics indicating that instructional methods and philosophies
commonly utilized in public education are falling short of their goals.

“It’s not the funding, and it’s not the facilities…it is the foundation,” said Phibbs, who referenced
reading levels among all Stanly County Schools students as well as those classified as economically
disadvantaged.

Phibbs contrasted the progressive education model, the prevailing philosophy of public schools,
to the classical model, which HCA would use.

“Under the progressive movement, teaching is man-centered, with a goal of preparing students
for college and careers,” she said. “The classical model, which will be utilized by Heritage Christian
Academy, originated with the Greek and Roman societies, and will incorporate values into the
learning process.”

Phibbs also noted that the classical model recognizes three levels of learning development.

“These are the grammar stage (primary and elementary grades), the logic state (middle grades)
and the rhetoric stage (high school grades),” she said.

In a departure from traditional modern education methods, Phibbs said that “very little
technology” would be used in the classroom, citing that many technology experts believe it
important that youngsters develop learning skills without dependence on computers and other
technology.

Testing, as well, will be limited, according to Phibbs.

“Seventy-six percent of teachers believe that there is too much testing required of today’s students,” she said, adding that appropriate standardized tests for the school’s students will be developed and that curriculum and subject offerings will include history, literature, music and art, and that Latin will be among the foreign language selections.

“The classical model is a holistic method of education,” Phibbs said, noting that HCA would be modeled similarly to two other classical schools, Brookstone School in Charlotte and
Hope Christian Academy in Minneapolis.

“We will set high standards for both education and behavior,” she said, “and we will seek to
make HCA affordable by use of a sliding tuition scale based on income.”

In closing, Phibbs added that the school’s first kindergarten classes would begin in August
at The Gathering on First Street. An open house and informational meeting for parents
is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 27.

In other business, City Council:

● Approved a text amendment categorizing non-residential building and vacant property
maintenance standards.

● Made appointments to the Historic Resources Commission, Planning and Zoning Board,
and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

● Heard a report from Public Housing Maintenance Director Danny Poplin on the
replacement of doors in housing units.

● Heard a report from Joey Gathings, a resident of Second Avenue, regarding code
violations at two residences on his street.

● Heard a report from Peter Asciutto, a candidate for Stanly County commissioner,
regarding City-County relations.

● Discussed, but took no action on, plans for development of the Albemarle Business
Center property located on Old U.S. 52 South.

● Entered a closed session to discuss personnel matters

Next meeting of Albemarle City Council will take place at 7 p.m. Jan. 21.