Microschool project comes to Rice

Published 8:53 pm Thursday, June 1, 2023

RICE – Some people thought the days of one-room schoolhouses were long past. That’s not exactly true in Prince Edward County, where a “microschool” concept is taking root in Rice. What started in 2016 as Full Circle School, located at 1787 Lockett Road, will look a bit different in the fall. 

“We listened to what parents have been saying and redesigned how our program is delivered.” explained Full Circle Director Angela Whittaker. “We are restructuring our method of delivery. Parents voiced their desire to have a shorter school week and more flexible enrollment options. To answer the growing demand, we are evolving into a microschool or what I have described as a homeschool co-op on steroids.” 

The school, now called Full Circle Education Center, will launch in August with a four-week pilot program. That means holding classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. On the “off days”, students either get tutored on subjects they’re struggling with or learn through things like field trips. 

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The overall concept is a bit different as well. 

“Much of our curriculum is aimed at applied learning in an outdoor classroom setting.” Whittaker added. “Within this design, we meet students where they are and maximize progress because they have a voice around what is being taught.” 

What is a microschool? 

The idea is described by Whittaker and others as similar to the learning pods students had during the pandemic. During that time, families got together to set up groups, sometimes bringing in a private tutor. The group effort makes it a bit different from homeschooling and why, after the pandemic restrictions lifted, people started calling these types of programs “microschools”. Well, due to that and the small space inside the actual facility. Most have no more than 10 to 15 students in a classroom.  

Whittaker said her group was inspired to make the switch after seeing people leave local school districts. 

“We see that parents are leaving the traditional public school model in record numbers,  searching for something that supports what they want for their children,” Whittaker added. 

The group also offers classes for adults to take with their children, like bike repair, Yoga, Brain Gym, Heart Math and meditation. 

Residents can get more information about the Rice project by visiting the website at fullcircleschools.com.