ERATH (May 14, 2017) – Erath County’s newest school, White Horse Christian Academy, graduated its first class on Friday. The seven seniors and three kindergartners are the product of White Horse Christian Academy’s first year as an accredited school, which has both full and part-time students. White Horse Christian Academy opened in Aug. 2016.
“It has been a dream of mine for years just to be able to provide opportunity for kids to have flexibility and to have a curriculum that is more tailored to each individual student,” White Horse Christian Academy director and high school teacher Vanessa Halford said. “When a student comes here, everybody doesn’t do the same thing. Each student is an individual.”
White Horse Christian Academy serves students from kindergarten through the 12th grade. Their curriculum, facility, students and educational approach is unique. For example, mud boots are on the list of school supplies, a cat named Fuzz frequently visits and a Black lab lives on the grounds.
“We have all different types of kids,” Halford said. “We have a lot of kids that do stock shows that need flexibility. We have rodeo kids who need the flexibility. We have kids that do upper-level drama camps or Casa Manana, dance, stuff in the Fort Worth area. So, this allows them the freedom to be able to do their creative things outside of school.”
Currently 88 students are enrolled at this school. Fifty-five of those students attend either full or part-time, and the rest are distance learners. Part-time students alternate between coming to the White Horse Christian Academy facility and being home schooled. Seven of the distance learners are under a teacher at a satellite school in New Mexico.
“We provide curriculum and outlines for [distance learners] to do, and they follow those,” Halford said.
Of those 88 students, 21 are currently enrolled either full or part time in the elementary classroom, which is led by retired Stephenville ISD teacher Becky Bray.
“I was fortunate to finish my public career at Hook Elementary with some of the finest teachers anywhere,” Bray said. “The purpose of my life, and certainly my teaching career, has been to serve [God’s] children and WHCA allows me to continue this in a new way.”
Bray’s students gave multiple reasons for enjoying their class, ranging from liking to “learn about God” to “no bullies” to people there are “nice” and “friendly.”
“This is a one room schoolhouse where we all learn and work together,” Bray said. “The Christian-based curriculum allows God to be included in every subject, and we praise him throughout the day.”
Bray works individually with her students to create a curriculum that best suits their learning style and needs, whether they are advanced in certain areas or struggling.
“Some students don’t fit the mold of a traditional classroom, and some parent’s just wanted an alternative,” Bray said. “The parents wanted more involvement in their child’s education, and they wanted a Christian curriculum.”
The same reasons apply to the secondary students and parents as well.
“It just gives them a different option,” Halford said. “We believe that Stephenville ISD is great, but this just provides a different option for kids that don’t fit the public school mold.”
Currently there is a waiting list for White Horse Christian Academy’s elementary class, but applications are still being accepted for the secondary class.
“We are going to try for a couple of years to stay where we are as far as numbers, because, if you grow too fast, you have too many branches and not enough roots,” Halford said. “You’ve got to have those roots.”