A private secondary school emphasizing a traditional liberal arts education and a tutorial teaching method will open in Alexandria this September.
All Hallows Academy, located at 528 North Washington St., will require Greek and Latin courses to graduate, says the new school's headmaster, David A. Elliott Horsman. Class sizes will be no larger than four students, and in some cases there will be a student-teacher ratio of 1:1, Horsman said.
Horsman said that he and about six other teachers hope to revive the kind of classical education that characterized well-known English public schools of the past by emphasing the classics of Western civilization and a one-on-one approach between teachers and students.
"I feel it's my mission to make that type of education available to the average student. It will also help bright students who are shy and don't do well in competitive situations or students who need to make up for lost time because of some family trauma," Horsman said. Each student will be able to work at his own pace, he added. The school will be coeducational, but so far most of the applicants have been boys, Horsman said.
Although the school is not officially affiliated with any religion, it will be modeled more or less after Episcopalian schools with morning and evening prayer services in Latin conducted for faculty, but optional for students. Religion courses will not be required, but Horsman said that religion will take its place in some courses because excluding it would not make sense. "You can't teach ancient history without teaching the Old Testament, and you can't teach medieval history without teaching church history," Horsman said.
Horsman most recently was a humanities professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and was also a language and communications professor for 10 years at University of South Florida. He obtained a master's degree and a PhD in language and communication from New York University. He also holds a master's degree from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass.
Tuition will be $11,000 a year, not including books or lunches. Horsman said that although the tuition is high, the small number of students make it a necessity.
A private day school in the District, St. Alban's School for Boys, charges an annual tuition of $6,435, which includes lunches. Georgetown Preparatory School in Montgomery County charges $5,600 per year for tuition and lunches. Book fees are not included in either figure.
Horsman said that All Hallows Academy would probably not attract the same type of student that attends other college preparatory schools in the area. "The kind of student that would be happy there wouldn't be happy at All Hallows and vica versa. I consider this something of a missing link (in secondary education)," Horsman said.
After several years, All Hallows Academy plans to seek accreditation from the National Association of Independent Schools, but getting students into first-rank universities, one of its objectives, will ultimately judge the worth of the school, Horsman said. Afterits first year of operation, the school also will be eligible to seek accreditation from the state Department of Education.
Two other secondary schools, the Searing School in New York and the Oxford Academy in Connecticut, also use the tutorial method of teaching. The Oxford Academy, where tuition, room and board runs $22,400 a year, is a boys remedial school that helps underachievers catch up to their peers so they can enter regular college prepatory schools, said a school spokesman. The Searing School, a day school that encourages small classes and self-paced studies, charges $11,800 a year in tuition.
Horsman, still in the process of recruiting students, said that the yellow town house where the school is located has a capacity of 20 students, but said he expects half that number to enroll this fall.