We’ve all heard the old adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Shaping a child’s education not only in the realm of academics, but within the world around them, requires a community of parents and educators who are dedicated to the cause. At Village Academics, a “hybrid homeschooling” facility in Mount Pleasant, S.C. families can expect exactly that experience.
Since Village Academics opened its doors in September 2017, founders Steve and Patti Wilbourne have been serving families who seek a flexible alternative to brick-and-mortar schools, educating with a community-based approach to learning, rather than traditional homeschooling.
The idea behind Village Academics came about in 2016 when the Wilbournes started gathering with another family to homeschool their children together on a daily basis. Working out of a pool house, they exercised control over the curriculum and had the flexibility to emphasize mathematics, writing, and wellness. For these two families, this model worked exceptionally well. Three years later, Village Academics currently serves thirteen scholars from ten different families, three of whom are brand new to the concept of homeschooling.
To ensure that students have the tools that they need to succeed academically, Village Academics has partnered with Laurel Springs School, an accredited online private school, to provide the facility’s core curriculum.
“The stimulating curriculum, combined with a team of supportive teachers and staff at Laurel Springs, has been the anchor for what we offer at Village Academics,” explained Elliott Locklear, Director of Operations. “Our Learning Coaches work closely together with Laurel Springs’ teachers to answer subject-specific questions on the spot. Laurel Springs’ staff are very responsive, and they always follow up to make sure all questions are answered and the material is understood. Laurel Springs’ teachers also coach in conjunction with our Learning Coaches and recognize when students have met goals—or when they may need extra support. It is a win-win design for our scholars and our families.”
As a community, Village Academics has many moving parts—it’s not a traditional academic environment, but it is a learning facility that aims to produce high-achieving, well-rounded scholars. Active engagement from students, families, and staff is paramount in their effort to consistently realize that goal.
Students are expected to learn the art of self-management and accountability. For example, scholars take ownership of their Learning Lab by rotating weekly chores, including emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, and watering the garden, among others.
The staff at Village Academics includes two Learning Coaches, a physical fitness instructor, literacy and math coaches, and an administrator. The VA model includes weekly Reading and Writing Workshop, Purposeful Movement, and one-on-one mathematics scaffolding and intervention. Enrichment opportunities are rotated throughout the year based on interests and academic needs.
“Our Learning Coaches, for example, play the most influential role in a VA scholar’s daily experience and success,” said Locklear. “The Learning Coach encourages and facilitates a connected, collaborative community, brings learning to life, and help keep scholars organized through note-taking and self-pacing throughout the day.”
“Great expectations are assigned to each of these important roles at Village Academics, promoting best practice, relevance, rigor, efficiency, and powerful language with scholars,” continued Locklear.
Parents also have important responsibilities, such as serving on the Parental Advisory Board (PAB). The PAB provides an organized platform for family involvement and allows Village Academics’ families to have some influence over decision-making through regular meetings and discussions. Parents are expected to lead or serve on an advisory committee, which includes fundraising, curriculum, field trips, and community building. Each member works to ensure that their designated role is fulfilled and operations are run smoothly.
The leader of each PAB committee is charged with specific responsibilities to lead that committee and execute the intentions of that role. For example, the leader of the field trip committee is tasked with scheduling and coordinating meaningful, creative field trips for the year, often connected to curricular studies, collaborating with Learning Coaches, and staying within budget. VA scholars engage in one or two field trips per month, requiring ongoing participation and leadership.
As Village Academics grows, and its approach evolves, the benefits to its scholars remain clear— not only do they receive a strong academic foundation, but they also learn to build and nurture relationships, feel connected to their communities, experience authentic support among their peers and mentors, and appreciate enrichment opportunities.
“No two scholars look alike, learn alike, work alike, or succeed alike,” said Locklear. “We give thoughtful attention to this as we differentiate our direct instruction, provide optimal learning experiences through multiple exposures and work closely with families and scholars to instill accountability and individualized goal-setting, planning and executing. We may be small, but we are mighty!”
To learn more about Laurel Springs School, please visit LaurelSprings.com/PartnerWithUs.
To learn more about Village Academics, please visit VillageAcademics.com.