Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s August 2017 issue. Never miss an issue, check out SFM’s digital editions, here!
article by Johanna Kennedy
photos by Lily and Clara Kennedy
One of the tremendous (and scary) duties we have as parents is being responsible for our children’s education. As their caregivers, we understand our kids more intimately than any other adults in their lives. Incidentally, we can assess their gifts, abilities, talents, and struggles and then use our assessment to choose the best academic route whether it is a public, private, online, or home education. By studying our children and deciphering how they are wired, we can guide their primary and secondary educational experiences in such a way to maximize their learning potential. Kathy Koch, the author of 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Child’s Intelligences, encourages parents by reminding us that, “Our job is to help our kids discover their unique contribution to this world.”
Recently, education has become a hot topic once again because of the Montana Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Montana Tax Credit Scholarship Act. This act allows parents to apply for scholarships from scholarship-granting organizations (called SSO’s) to assist families with private school tuition. Lisa Russell at Montana Family Foundation is encouraged. She says, “The new law will have a major impact on helping kids to go to the school that fits them best, including schools that are faith-based.” This law gives hope to those of us whose children do not thrive in a traditional classroom as it supports us in the search for the optimal learning setting for each of our children. We are blessed in the Billings area to have numerous alternative educational institutions available.
One such private option is Fortis Leadership Academy. Beginning its third year this month, Fortis fills a niche in Billings by providing a classically based, leadership-focused academic repertoire for children in the PreK-7th grade. In addition to the traditional scholastic menu established in schools (math, social studies, sciences), Fortis (Latin for strength) seeks to holistically cultivate students by requiring classes in Latin, music, art, physical education, as well as leadership. The Academy hosts four classes with combined grades taught by four core teachers. Next to the attractiveness of a Christian private education bent toward leadership training, parents are impressed with the small class sizes. Academy principal, Lorie Sullivan, allows for a maximum of 16 students in each class. A further distinction of this unique Academy is that the executive board that oversees Fortis is comprised solely of parents. Hence, parents are involved in decisions regarding curricula, policy, and general operating concerns. Additionally, parents are encouraged to participate by volunteering in the classrooms and even teaching at times.
Following my time spent with Mrs. Sullivan a quote by Jean Piaget came to mind. He said, “The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge, but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable of doing new things.” As I wandered through their open rooms filled with round tables, comfortable reading chairs, bookshelves, and a piano, I couldn’t help but think Fortis Leadership Academy has created a space for children to discover who they are and how they are gifted as they invent, discover, create, and learn throughout their primary years of education.
For questions or more information on enrollment at Fortis Leadership Academy, call 406.281.1133 or fill out the online form at fortisleadershipacademy.org.
about the author…Johanna Kennedy is a mom to four children, a wife to one man, a teacher, student, and a caffeine addict. She loves to experience all things adventurous whether it be traveling, learning something new, or reading a really great book. She is also the author of By the Waters (bythewaters.org). A lifestyle blog dedicated to encouraging women living out their lives in the midst of a pressure-filled world.