Like many harried parents, Keturah Hughes was looking for a way to slow down the hectic cycle of school-homework-activities for her three children.
She tried homeschooling, but didn’t find that to be a good fit. She also tried a private school in Palm Bay, but the drive from her home in Indialantic didn’t help achieve her goal of a slower pace.
Last year she enrolled her kids in Coastal Community School. The private Christian school in Satellite Beach takes a unique approach to education, allowing students to attend classes three days a week and work at home on the others.
“It’s made the peace level in our house just unbelievable,” Hughes said. “We’re able to let them play Little League, sports, and it’s not a huge ‘Oh my gosh, we have to get homework done and shove food down our face before we go.’”
Principal Sarah Angrisani and her husband started the school in 2014 with 17 students and three teachers. It’s since grown to 90 students in grades pre-kindergarten through sixth, and 19 staff members. Base tuition runs from $3,150 to $4,050 per year, depending on grade level.
Many of the teachers and staff have students who attend the school, and several parents also volunteer their time.
“These families not only enjoy the support of an experienced and professional staff, but are able to grow and nurture so many relationships in the community of children and parents,” Angrisani said.
Coastal is a nonprofit entity registered with the state Department of Education as a private school, and is accredited by Christian Schools International and Christian Schools of Florida. Though the school rents space from Trinity Wellspring Church on S. Patrick Drive, it is nondenominational and is not affiliated with Trinity Wellspring or any other church. The curriculum is Christian-based.
Students attend academic classes on Tuesday and Thursday. Wednesday is an optional enrichment day, when electives like foreign languages, violin, art and cooking are offered. Students work at their own pace at home on Mondays and Fridays, following assignments from their teachers. There is no homework other than any extra studying the student needs to do for a test.
“We really liked the idea of being at home on Mondays and Fridays, and really being able to spend time with the kids and kind of see what they’re thinking and what they’re learning and really just spend extra time with them,” said Hughes, whose kids are in kindergarten, fourth grade and sixth grade.
“But they still go to school three days a week. They get to be with their friends and I get a little break.”
Assistant principal Nora Huggins said the enrichment day is especially popular because of all the activities kids can do in one day.
“We’re giving them one place to go instead of them having to drive around to six or seven,” Huggins said.
Hughes said it’s a good alternative for parents who want to be more involved in their children’s education and schedules, but don’t necessarily have the time or wherewithal to homeschool.
“It’s not what I would think of as a traditional home school where I have to devise the lesson plan and come up with how to do it,” she said. “You can get creative with it but you don’t have to. The framework is there.”
Students at Coastal are considered by the state to be full-time students, so there is no need for parents to register with the district as homeschoolers or submit an annual evaluation. The school also offers bilingual Spanish pre-kindergarten that is part of the state’s VPK program.
A middle school is in the works as well.