There will be another local option for home-schooled students at the high-school level this fall.
King’s Light Christian Academy, founded by Teresa and Jason Murnock, plans to open its doors in September. Located at New Salem Baptist Church, 8233 Sperryville Pike in Culpeper, KLCA will provide an option for private, Christian education for ninth- and 10th-graders.
The plan to develop and grow a private high school was placed on Murnock’s heart two years ago, though at that time the idea was a bit overwhelming and she felt over her head. Knowing there were no Christian high schools in Culpeper and the closest being Covenant Academy in Warrenton and Grace Preparatory in Stafford, her desire to do something grew.
After touring Covenant Academy, a University-Model school, Murnock joined University-Model School International (UMSI) and found herself encouraged to begin planning KLCA. Now, two years later, Murnock still feels a bit overwhelmed but expresses confidence when sharing about the academy that is well on its way to fruition and planned to open on Sept. 16.
The Murnocks have two children and have been homeschooling them from day one. They plan to continue homeschooling their youngest this fall and their oldest is planning to attend KLCA in September. “I love homeschooling and putting our faith and values in our kids,” said Murnock. The latter is the main reason they have decided to start the academy, which is a blend of homeschooling and traditional schooling. “We need to instill our values before the world tells our kids what’s important,” she said.
Murnock said homeschooling is more challenging at the high-school level because parents aren’t necessarily thoroughly knowledgeable in certain subject areas, which poses challenges in teaching their children. Murnock wanted a well-versed teacher for her rising ninth-grade daughter, which helped fuel her decision to plan KLCA.
KLCA will utilize the University-Model which, Murnock said, prepares students so that they can go out in the world and do anything; not just go to college. Under this model, teachers are not necessarily teaching; they are coaching. “Using this model, we are teaching independence with values and morals. Parents and teachers work together in the University-Model,” said Murnock, Administrator for the academy.
When looking for a home for KLCA, Murnock reached out to Mike Dodson, Pastor at New Salem Baptist Church, reconnecting after many years when their daughters were in American Heritage Girls together at New Salem.
“I looked at several churches and Pastor Dodson was one pastor that didn’t blink his eye,” said Murnock. Dodson said he knows the need for Christian schools, particularly a high school, and sees this as an opportunity to provide that. “I am excited for this opportunity,” said Dodson.
Dodson’s two oldest sons attended Christian school through high school and he plans for his youngest daughter to attend KLCA when she enters high school. “I think God has opened this door and it’s a great opportunity for our children and a great opportunity for families,” he said. Dodson and his wife, Liesa, plan to serve on the academy’s board.
KLCA will use the Ignitia curriculum, an online Christian curriculum from Alpha Omega Publications. The curriculum was chosen because it has a Christian foundation; students and teachers can communicate online on satellite days; teachers can supplement the curriculum; and they can use Google Class should this pandemic continue and interfere with the academic year.
KLCA will provide instruction in five core subjects: math, Bible, science, English and geography. There will be three electives students can choose from which include art, civics or a language. Murnock has already secured a teacher for math and bible and has upcoming interviews for a Spanish and history teacher.
In addition, Pastor Brad Hales of Reformation Lutheran Church has offered to be a substitute teacher and Aniscia Bellusci is on board as Assistant Administrator. Students will attend onsite classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Tuesday and Thursday will be satellite days when they do online classes at home. Murnock is networking with local leagues for students to get connected on an extracurricular level since there are no athletics in place.
Tuition for KLCA will be $4,500, which is all inclusive covering teachers, curriculum and licensing fee. Uniforms, which will be required, will be an additional expense and each student will need to purchase their own chrome book. Murnock boasts that the cost is significantly lower than other private Christian schools, which average $6,500 — and higher for high school.
“There are very few options for private high school in our area, especially those that don’t cost a fortune. We are hoping to change that,” said Jason Murnock, Vice Board Chair for the school.
The academy’s 5013C, for non-profit status, is almost completed. Murnock needs to have everything solidified by the end of July. She pointed out that eight students are needed per class to start the school and they will max out at twenty, giving them a 20:1 ratio. Murnock anticipates a fall enrollment of 10 to 15 students per class this year.
“We are trying to cultivate a community. We don’t want to be competition. We have reached out to other schools including Culpeper Christian and Epiphany to develop relationships,” said Murnock.
Speaking passionately, with tears in her eyes, Murnock said the most exciting part of this whole experience is “doing something that is going to bless this community for years to come”.
“I go to bed praying and I wake up in the morning praying,” said Murnock.
For further information about KLCA, visit www.kingslight.org.