EnCompass Academy is planning what officials call an inclusive, personalized learning program at The Venues church.
Photo courtesy Google Maps
EnCompass Academy is planning what officials call an inclusive, personalized learning program at The Venues church.

New private school prepares for fall launch

Posted online

A new private school is set to launch this fall in southeast Springfield.

EnCompass Academy is designed to offer an inclusive, personalized learning environment for students, including those who are gifted or disabled, said Dean of Schools Nacy Ryerson. The program will target each student’s individual learning needs, she said. Classes start Aug. 24.

“A lot of students are really struggling with the online component,” Ryerson said of current learning opportunities in Springfield. “COVID-19 has shown us more than ever that a personalized learning environment is needed … because no one learns the same. In a class of 30, it’s really hard to meet everyone where they are.”

The school is renting space from The Venues church at 2616 E. Battlefield Road and will hold class five days a week with social distancing protocols in place. Ryerson said the school has a COVID-19 committee that meets regularly to evaluate the safety of its students. The school has a staff of seven, according to its website at EnCompassA.org.

Ryerson said 30 students have enrolled in EnCompass Academy and the school will accept up to 45 students the first year. Monthly tuition for prekindergarten students is $1,000 and $750 for K-12.

Executive Director Wendy Jackson said the school’s startup costs have been $28,000, of which $15,000 came from private donations. Jackson said the school has not had to take out a line of credit to fund its startup. The school’s annual budget is just over $500,000 and officials are seeking additional grants and fundraising opportunities, she said.

Outside of its seated classrooms, EnCompass Academy also is launching a learning support program for about 50 Springfield Public Schools students. Parents of district students were given the choice to send their children to SPS classrooms for two days a week with three days of virtual learning or to do full-time virtual learning.

Jackson said EnCompass officials applied for a grant through the Community Foundation of the Ozarks Inc.’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to be able to provide the program to roughly 50 children of essential workers and district teachers. If they are not awarded the grant, Jackson said the school still will provide the learning support, just for a smaller group of children. Program costs for one week are $100, officials say.

“We’ll have a teacher there to supervise … and they’ll be able to help the students with any issues they have with virtual learning options,” said Hector Cruz, board member of EnCompass Academy. “That way, parents have a place where their kids can go, be supervised and not be put in a position where they have to choose to work or not.”

The Discovery Center of Springfield Inc. announced last month that it also was launching a private school this fall dubbed Discovery School at the Center, as well as a learning support program for SPS students. The 20-student private school will focus on science, technology, engineering and math programming, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. The center also will provide child care and education through the learning support program for $125 per week with a capacity of 140-160 kids.