Several years ago, I was introduced to classical education and immediately fell in love with it. I was so impressed with all that the students were capable of, from drawing maps from memory and reciting the names of all the presidents, to engaging in civic dialogue with one another. I began to research the model, and realized: this was what I had been looking for, for my children.
The problem was that the only options for a classical education here in Tallahassee were either homeschooling or private school. For our family, neither of those was an option for financial reasons. Since starting this journey, I have met others who were interested in classical education but couldn’t participate. For some, it was because the homeschooling co-op was full, or their religion was different, or their child had special needs that could not be met by either of those educational options – or simply those options just didn’t quite work for their family. I became resigned to the fact that my children would not be able to have this type of amazing education, and enrolled my oldest at a public school – an incredible one, by the way.
Then, over Spring Break 2016, we traveled to Texas to celebrate my grandfather’s birthday and my cousin happened to mention that her children attended a classical charter school. I could hardly believe what I’d heard – classical education? In a public setting? That sounded exactly like what I had been looking for, without even knowing it. The idea for Tallahassee Classical was born.
Upon our return to Tallahassee, I immediately approached a couple of people who might be able to help with this idea; it was several months later when Adrienne Campbell and I sat down and wrote the mission statement for the school. We began researching other classical charters around the country and the state, and discovered that there were already five – FIVE! – operating in Florida. We took time off of work and made childcare arrangements so that we could go tour at True North Classical Academy in Miami, Mason Classical Academy in Naples, and Classical Preparatory Academy north of Tampa. We formed a non-profit, opened a post office box, and began sharing with friends what we were doing. We were committed to classical education in a public school and we didn’t want to wait for someone else to do it, so we simply did it ourselves.
I want to also say this: I like public education. I got a good education in public schools. Public school teachers have a difficult and often thankless job. This is not about disliking public education. For me, this is about wanting a richer, deeper educational experience for my children.
The school board meeting and vote is tomorrow night. We have come this far and we are not giving up now. Regardless of how tomorrow night goes – this will not be the end of the road for Tallahassee Classical. And I am the richer for having pursued this dream.