Friday, December 9, 2022

This local private school is seeing huge growth amid the pandemic

Greenwood Christian Academy plans to reopen in the fall and expects more students than ever. (WYDaily/Courtesy David Schenaker)
Greenwood Christian Academy plans to reopen in the fall and expects more students than ever. (WYDaily/Courtesy David Schenaker)

The pandemic has caused many schools to go virtual for the fall but one local private school is not only planning to welcome back students, but more students than ever.

Greenwood Chrisitan Academy has been educating students in Williamsburg for the past six decades, said David Schenaker, the school’s business administrator and marketing director. While the school ended the year with about 75 students after the coronavirus pandemic, it has grown exponentially in the past few months and expects around 120 students when it opens on Aug. 24.

Part of that growth comes from a level of uncertainty from parents regarding education in general and also a desire from parents to send their students somewhere that seems more steady, he said.

“So some of the people coming to us are because of the lack of certainty and direction or fear of shutting down and students getting behind,” he said. “We have a core group of families who know each other and that’s really where the growth is coming from. So all these families know us and how we responded to [the coronavirus] last year and it made families feel secure. That’s why they’re coming back.”

Schenaker said right before schools shut down last spring, Greenwood had just switched over to Microsoft systems for education. The school was able to use that change to allow students to see their classmates virtually and since the school had been preparing to implement Microsoft programs into the curriculum, teachers were already trained for virtual education.

“Being able to do that electronically last year helped keep students engaged,” he said. “When you’re still able to teach and engage at [each student’s] level, you get a better experience.”

Now that the school is preparing to return in the fall, Greenwood has also had to implement new health and safety protocols that include the school’s recent growth.

Greenwood will move to two new locations that break up the lower and upper grades at the school. Students were previously learning at a space off John Tyler Highway but now grades three through eight will be taught at the Kingsway campus of Crosswalk Church while the lower grades will be taught at the church’s main campus on John Tyler Highway. 

The school is also hiring approximately six more teachers to help with the growth.

But Greenwood will also have to place a state-mandated capacity limit of 12 students in each class, Schenaker said. 

The school will open for five days a week and implement new sanitizing processes and try to distance the students at least three-feet apart at all times. Parents and visitors will be cautioned against entering the buildings but if they do, they will be temperature checked beforehand. If a child is sick, parents are required to agree not to bring them to school.

But Schenaker said Greenwood is also trying to find opportunities for students to socialize by spending more time outside.

“It’s about having more attention to detail and what you say,” he said. “It’s not to be sticklers but for the betterment of the students.”

A full description of the school’s reopening procedures can be found online.

The school’s goal this year is also to provide general education support for the community. Schenaker said Greenwood administration realizes that a lot of families are in a difficult position when it comes to education and childcare, especially if both parents work full-time jobs. 

“So if you’re not able to do full-time in the public school system, then the only other option is to home school but if you have a kindergartner, they can’t just sit in a room by themselves. So you’re asking a parent to take on the role of the teacher,” he said. “I don’t envy parents in this position…so we want to put out a message that there are people who are ready to help.”

Schenaker said Greenwood helps by providing families the option for a small, private education and by growing its staff and location, that option is available to more families.

But as the coronavirus pandemic continues, Greenwood is moving forward with plans to continue growing for those interested in a private, Christian education. 

“I tell everyone that I want them to pray about it and want them to pursue us,” he said. “We’re trying to build a core…and we’re ready to help people.”

To learn more, visit Greenwood Christian Academy online.

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Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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