Andrew Campanella: I came across an article about a capstone project one of your students did, which focused on boosting literacy in the community. Is service and giving back to the community an important value for your school?
Jeanne Borders: Absolutely. In fact, this week all our high school students are off campus for “IMPACT Week.” Almost 200 of them have chosen from 15 different trips they could go on and there’s a service component to each. The goal of this particular week is learning, leading, and serving. There are components of each of those values built into each trip.
Andrew: That’s awesome. And do you think the focus on service, whether it’s through IMPACT Week or the capstone projects, contributes to a happier and more productive school environment?
Jeanne: Definitely. IMPACT week— the kids look forward to this all year. The capstone project, they grumble a little bit about that. But when it’s all said and done, it’s a tremendous learning experience for them. And yes, I think it creates a better school environment.
Andrew: What makes Cornerstone Preparatory Academy unique?
Jeanne: We are an unusual school. We’re called a “University Model” school. Our mission statement starts with three words: partnering with parents. Our secondary students have classes on campus three days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), like at a university. They do their work from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays with our assignments given to them. Then we have our elementary kids here on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we partner with their parents to deliver lessons and co-teach on the days that they’re at home. Tuition for both groups of students is much less, and parents and families are involved in the children’s education. So that is part of what makes us unique.
Andrew: What do you think school choice means to families who choose your school?
Jeanne The families drawn to Cornerstone are ones that want to be actively involved in their children’s education. We’re not a school where you just drop the kids off on Monday and pick them up at the end of the day, and parents aren’t aware of or involved in the education. Choosing Cornerstone means parents have involvement in and knowledge about what their child is learning, as well as time to mentor and disciple their child at home.
Andrew: How has your school participated in School Choice Week?
Jeanne: When we did our State of the School Address in 2018, we talked about school choice and how important that was to us. And our theme of that particular year was, “We’re all in this together.” All of our staff and board members had the National School Choice Week scarves. We had some of our athletic teams as well as our fine arts students connect our theme to the High School Musical song of the same name, and they did a performance for us. It tied together athletics and academics, as well as the model of school that we have, and played up the fact that we’re all in this together.