Great Hearts Microschools Offer Flexibility and a Sense of Community

Great Hearts Microschools children projects

We are proud to present this guest post by the Great Hearts Nova leadership team, describing the benefits of Great Hearts Microschools for families who are seeking the best aspects of full-time online school and homeschooling.

Over the past few years, families have experienced—by necessity—new educational models, including distance learning and online school. What if we could take the best aspects of virtual school, such as flexibility and family togetherness, and provide additional support and a sense of community? This is what we are building into Great Hearts Microschools, based on the Great Hearts Online platform.

Growing Community at Great Hearts Microschools

Imagine . . .

  • Gathering your children with a few others in your community to do school together in a shared physical space.
  • This strong-knit group of families and children, across multiple grade levels, living life and doing school together.
  • This small community joins their teachers and other students across the state for a few hours each morning in meaningful, live virtual classes.
  • Your kindergartener has a kindergarten teacher, specific to them, and a world-class kindergarten classical curriculum. Your fourth grader has a fourth grade teacher, specific to them, and a world-class classical fourth grade curriculum.
  • Each student in your in-person group has their own online teacher, their own virtual community, and their own individualized feedback and instruction.
  • After live, virtual classes, your unique community is learning and growing together in-person through hands-on projects, reading great books, playing sports, and designing science experiments.

Welcome to a Great Hearts Microschool! For families who are willing and able, their students will receive a rigorous, grade- and content-specific online education with world class curriculum and instructors alongside a close-knit, in-person, and flexible community. We are piloting Great Hearts Microschools during the 2021–2022 school year to promote additional community and flexibility for families, while building on the platform of Great Hearts Online.

Great Hearts Microschools student online class

Building on Great Hearts Online

All students in Great Hearts Microschools will be enrolled in Great Hearts Online, a virtual classical academy that launched in Texas in January 2021 and launched in Arizona in August 2021.

We believe that school communities matter deeply—for student formation, for family well-being, for academic success, and for student happiness. With Great Hearts Online, we create communities virtually through small class sizes, live classes, daily homerooms, lunch gatherings with families, an active Parent Service Organization, and small intervention groups. We train and develop our faculty in creating genuine virtual communities, and students share that they are excited to come to school and see their friends every day. Additionally, we are facilitating the gathering of families and students—virtually and in-person—through school events as well as grade-level and regional parent-organized gatherings.

Great Hearts Microschools provide an additional community and support layer wrapped around the core academic program of Great Hearts Online, offering in-person support and enrichment for students and their families.

Great Hearts Microschools children desks

Piloting Great Hearts Microschools

In pursuit of additional community and school flexibility options, we are piloting new Great Hearts Microschools and seeking input and participation from families. What we are building, with Great Hearts Online as the foundation, is a national body of families and students, connected by a common purpose, in community and citizenship together. We will offer excellence in virtual classical education with a focus on tight-knit online and in-person communities.

The Great Hearts Microschool model is a location-based, flexible community with corresponding quality control, training, support, and enrichment. At a Great Hearst Microschool, scholars will attend live virtual classes with students across the state, socialize and play together with their in-person Microschool peers, receive asynchronous assignment support, and participate in a variety of clubs and enrichment opportunities.

Great Hearts Microschools children projects outside

Starting with the 2021–22 school year, Great Hearts Microschools started recruiting for our first Founders—leaders who are brought into our Great Hearts Microschools fellowship to help develop their vision for an in-person community of Great Hearts Online students.  Through our fellowship, we build a playbook to address the questions that Founders face in developing their own Great Hearts Microschools. In early 2022, the first Great Hearts Microschool opened to Great Hearts Online families in Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix Classical Microschool is an in-person learning community led by Erica McQuown, a Great Hearts Online mother, who had a vision to create a vibrant in-person community for her daughter.  

Great Hearts Microschools has two additional Microschools (one in Texas and one in Arizona) in the planning stages, and we are looking for one more Microschool Founder in Texas. We are learning a lot from co-creating these spaces. We are continually looking for how to improve the experience of our online school and create stronger communities.  

Families who want to learn more about Great Hearts Microschools can visit the website, and there they will find contact information for Andrew Shahan, Director of Microschools for Great Hearts Nova. His email address is andrew.shahan@greatheartsmicroschools.org. Potential microschool founders should reach out to Andrew as well. Parents who are curious about Great Hearts Microschools can also like the Facebook page. In the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook, there are ongoing conversations about Great Hearts Microschools and more innovative education settings.

Andrew Shahan Great Hearts Microschools
Andrew Shahan

Charter Moms Chats

Andrew Shahan, Director of Microschools at Great Hearts Nova, joins Inga Cotton to discuss Great Hearts Microschools on Charter Moms Chats on March 29, 2022 at 4:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.

Andrew Shahan serves as the Director of Microschools at Great Hearts Nova. Mr. Shahan works with families to build small school communities around Great Hearts Online students. Mr. Shahan has been working with microschools for the past four years as the Director at Atlanta Micro Schools. This project grew out of a desire to create a unique opportunity for his own children’s learning. Before getting into microschools, Mr. Shahan was the Founder and CEO of ARISE Schools in New Orleans, Louisiana. Before founding ARISE Schools, Mr. Shahan was the Founder and Principal of ARISE Academy in New Orleans. Under Mr. Shahan’s leadership, ARISE Academy was named “A Top Gains School” by the Department of Education for the increases in learning by its students.

Mr. Shahan is most excited to serve families and communities by working together to create unique learning communities—microschools—built on the Great Hearts classical tradition. These learning communities can be tailored to meet specific needs of families, take advantage of local resources for learning, and be rooted in the Great Hearts philosophy of truth, goodness, and beauty.

Andrew is married to Isa Shahan. They have three kids, four cats, and one dog. When he is not taking kids to soccer games, Mr. Shahan really enjoys sneaking out for a run or playing tennis.

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