Several local families are bringing a new model of school to Waco — one they say puts an emphasis on family time and Christian values.

The founding families hope to have the school, Valor Preparatory Academy, open by fall 2014. It will serve kindergarten through fifth grades, then expand as students are promoted.

It will follow the method of the National Association of University-Model Schools, or NAUMS. Students will go to class two or three days a week, where they receive instruction from a teacher in a traditional classroom setting, then will have assignments and additional studying to complete on their own under their parents’ supervision.

Marci Hartsock, one of Valor Prep’s founders, said the model allows parents to spend more quality time with their children, ensuring they can instill in them their values.

“We want (our students) to be disciples of Jesus and getting a great education,” Hartsock said. “We want them to walk out (of school) knowing what they’re called to be, and discover who God has made them to be.”

Sarah Lloyd, mother of three and one of Valor Prep’s founders, said she has a 5-year-old daughter readying to enter school, but doesn’t feel sending her away for seven hours a day to a public school is the right thing to do.

“Hewitt has great schools, but I would lose that influence and time,” Lloyd said. “I feel she’s so young.”

Additionally, the model prepares students for college from a young age, since their schedule mirrors that of a traditional university, NAUMS executive director Barbara Freeman said.

“The rigor is greater because for every hour in the classroom, students are expected to spend an hour in the satellite classroom (at home),” Freeman said.

For a school to call itself a “University-Model” school, it must be affiliated with NAUMS, which provides training, consultation, conferences and help getting accredited to school administrators.

There are 70 University-Model schools, including one in China. Valor Prep will be the first University-Model school in Waco.

Hartsock said the journey of starting a new school started with “God putting it in (her) heart.” Shortly after, she and Lloyd went to their first NAUMS conference.

Since then, they’ve been working to get Valor Prep designated as a nonprofit, looking for teachers and assessing interest among local families. They held an interest meeting three weeks ago at Antioch Community Church, and plan to have another Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the church.

For now, the five founding families are executing a mini version of what they hope to start in the fall. They hired a teacher, and children go to school in a spare room at Antioch two days a week.

“A number of people have said they’ve been praying for this type of school,” Heartsock said. “We feel really encouraged.”

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