When West Virginia’s Expression Prep Academy opened with 15 students in 2022, its team had already overcome significant challenges just to launch in time for the school year.
“We started late,” said Expression Church’s Senior Pastor Kevin West, who founded the microschool. “It was May before we actually started the enrollment process, and kids were coming to school in August.”
Students spanned grades K-8 and came from a variety of backgrounds, including public school, private school and homeschool.
“Every kid that was enrolled progressed to the next level, which is a big deal for the first year,” West said.
This fall, however, the microschool’s capacity will expand even more. Enrollment has tripled, and Expression Prep Academy has added high school classes and athletics to its existing options.
“This allows us to offer individual learning programs for each kid,” West said. “We have a pretty good setup right now. We’re excited about it.”
West Virginia’s Hope Scholarship program gave the church the opportunity to move forward with its microschool, West said. “One of the greatest needs is people being able to get a semi-private school, a Christian education if you will, but not being able to afford it.”
“The Hope Scholarship afforded us to be able to build this hybrid model, which is where we really find our niche,” West said.
The microschool encourages parents to apply for the program to reduce enrollment costs, which are already lower than many private schools in the area.
“Most tuition for private schools is about $8,500,” West said. “We’re only $5,500, so we’re about $3,000 less.”
‘A biblical worldview’
Parents also want their children to attend a private Christian school instead of public school, West said.
“It allows us to teach what we believe is a biblical worldview,” he said, adding the microschool encourages parental involvement and uses a Bible-based curriculum.
All the school’s teachers are certified and trained to provide individualized instruction in classrooms with 15 students or fewer.
“It’s tailored individually; it has great parental involvement,” West said. “So, it’s not something the school just does, and the parents watch. … Those kids are able to come and get a structured setting, but the parents are heavily involved as far as communication from the parents to the teachers, and teachers to the parents.”
This is the third article in a series about microschools, which are transforming the landscape of U.S. education. See also: