Snowflake is a small Arizona town of nearly 7,000, with a public school, charter school and Lutheran school. Next year, it will have its first microschool.
When local resident Laurie Cosper asked her pastor why the church did not have a school, he told her to start one.
“I guess they had tried to start one a couple of years ago, and then the people were just not the right people at the right time,” Cosper told The Lion. “Maybe, you know, God’s timing is always the best timing. And so he gave me all those papers and he says, ‘Make it happen.’”
Calvary Chapel Christian Academy Snowflake will begin with at least 11 students in the fall, with plans to grow.
The school is enrolling grades K-12 and will utilize a popular Christian curriculum called Abeka. The school will also have a STEAM focus (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), where students prepare projects for their families each quarter of the academic year.
While the school is Christian and will teach from a “Biblical worldview,” it accepts students regardless of their family’s faith profession, its website states.
Christian schools are forming in the nearby city of Show Low, 20 miles away, but Cosper says she wants another Christian option for students in Snowflake.
Being in a rural town, which Cosper says is more conservative-leaning, she feels a responsibility to be “conservative, faith-based, and getting down to basics,” in contrast to other schools that teach progressive, left-leaning ideologies.
“We can all see what’s happening in public schools with the critical race theory and the weirdness they’re doing with sex education, all the way down to kindergarten,” she said. “There are just highly inappropriate things happening in public schools, and they’re disguising it as social emotional health.”
And while some small towns may not be seeing it yet, the threat looms nearby in many cases, Cosper adds.
“A lot of people say, well, that’s not happening in Snowflake, but it is happening in Show Low.”
Educational choice in rural areas
The startup’s existence, along with the town’s other educational options, also flies in the face of those who argue “education choice will not benefit students in rural areas because there are no alternatives to the public school system” – an argument summarized in a report on education choice in rural American by the Heritage Foundation’s Jason Bedrick and Arizona Charter Schools Association’s Matthew Ladner.
Around seven in 10 rural families live within 10 miles of a private elementary school nationwide, according to Bedrick and Ladner.
And in Arizona, thanks to a school choice program that recently became universal, students may benefit from Empowerment Scholarship Accounts worth around $7,000 on average – funds which can help pay for private school tuition, which at Calvary Chapel, will run $6,500.