Group looks to start new private school in Quincy

ULMUS

QUINCY — About 50 people attended an informational meeting Monday night to hear about a new private school being started in Quincy.

A nine-member board led the presentation of the vision of The Ulmus Academy. The board is made up of parents with concerns about today’s educational system and the lack of input and control parents have at existing schools.

The Ulmus (Latin for Elm) Academy will focus on the Classical Method of Education. The organizing principle is known as the Trivium (Latin for “three ways”). This three-stage approach is comprised of grammar, logic (also known as dialectic), and rhetoric stages and strives to impart upon students the “tools of learning” — skill in knowledge, skill in logical analysis, and skill in oral and written communication. Students are taught how to learn and how to think, utilizing their strengths at each stage to cultivate a lifetime love of learning.

“One of the things that I like about classical versus modern education is just simply that we’re not just talking about modern problems. We’re looking at the history of where these problems came from,” said Jen Wiemelt, co-chair of the Ulmus Academy. “Public schools have their place, certainly talking about the problems of today. (But) I want that historical context for children, which is why I’m looking at more of that classical model.”

Weimelt also said she believes today’s modern methodology of teaching has gotten away from “truth.”

“We hear that in our culture everywhere that truth is subjective,” she said. “We have to look at it from different perspectives. And there are certainly times that is true. We’re trying to equip them (the students) with being able to have that deep psychological debate, because how someone feels … we can’t tell them that what they believe is true or not true.  But we can try to understand where they’re coming from.

“For instance, we can have this debate about what is objectively true. If you were born a male or born a female, that is a big debate right now in our in our schools, right? 100 years from now, when you are buried, when we look at your bones, we’re going to know if you’re a male or female. Okay, that is objective truth. What is subjective is how this person feels, what they’ve gone through, what are the mitigating circumstances. We do want our students to have that deep conversation. That is certainly a social issue in our time that needs to be addressed. So we’re not trying to isolate them in any way. We are to determine what is objectively true and what is up for a conversation.”

Wiemelt said the Ulmus Academy is open to a hybrid model where students take some classes at the academy and others at a public or private school. 

“We know a lot of our homeschool families already do a hybrid model,” she said. “Certainly, something that if we have an interest in. It’s already in the handbook. We know if they take 4 credit hours, they can participate in sports. We know that every kid has a right to a public-school education. Is it worth that meeting if we have that big of an interest to partner with them (another school)? Absolutely. Absolutely.”

The academy will be open to all faiths, with tuition in the range of $2,500 to $4,500.  They will not accept government funding or be affiliated with any church. Plans are for the school to open in the fall.

Board members acknowledge the launching of Ulmus Academy faces many hurdles, including where classes will take place and finding instructors. Initially parents will have to provide transportation and provide lunch for their students. 

Board members say there’s a need for another education alternative, and they have already spent countless hours accepting the challenge of creating a path for a Classical Education Model for the community.

Wiemelt believes it’s time.

“This is why I think that teaching history contextually is so important,” she said. “This is maybe what they (our forefathers) were struggling with. Human nature has a good side and a bad side. We certainly have a sinful side. We need to learn about what they did well and what they did that we need to repair as the United States. Then we want to learn about not just the good that our country did but where did we stumble and how did we recover, because that is so important to our students to create that critically thinking mind.”

For more information, email The Ulmus Academy at info@ulmusacademy.com.

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