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Starboard founders Abby Keener, left, and Jennifer Stahler started Starboard Christian School as a way to offer parents more time with their kids. 

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Starboard's newest teacher Catie Beard

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Starboard's newest teach Gloria Akins 

About two years ago Abby Kenner and Jennifer Stahler met at a Mother of Preschoolers (MOPs) meetup and realized they shared a vision of opening a school in Denver. Both have little ones and were quickly realizing how fast time flies – they wanted a way to get time back with their kids while still providing a structured, challenging education.

So the duo founded Starboard Christian Academy – a University-Model school –  which opens for its first year this coming fall. The first two teachers have been hired, and Starboard is nearly ready for its inaugural year.

The inspiration

Being parents, both Kenner and Stahler both feel, led then to start a school in Denver.

“God just kind of put it on her heart and said ‘Why don’t you start a school here?’” Keener said of her fellow co-founder.

Keener said the University-Model was something she thought about often and knew exactly what Stahler was talking about when she told their MOPs group she wanted to open that type of school.

“It gives time back to families they wouldn’t otherwise have with their child in school 40-plus hours a week,” Keener said of why she felt called to do this. “A lot of times, you get the leftovers. I have a first-grader, and a lot of times I’d pick her up from school – and she loves school – but she’d be exhausted and tired.

“It’s hard to sit down and have those intental moments with them, really pour into them when their brains are already so saturated.”

The model

Starboard, in its first year, will have K-5 classes and eventually, Keener said, they will build up to 12th grade.

There will be three days on campus at Westport Baptist Church, where the school rents classroom space, and two days, Wednesday and Friday, will be home days.

The two home days give parents a “slowdown time to sit and teach their kid,” Keener said.

“Those days are still school days. They're not off days,” she said. “Parents are getting curriculum plans from the teachers, so they won’t have to come up with anything on their own. It takes the pressure of families.”

Campus days are from 8:10 a.m. to 2:40 p.m., and the at home days are more flexible, Keener said. Parents will be working one-on-one with their child, versus one teacher working with about a dozen children, so it may only take students a few hours to complete their schoolwork for that day.

What you see with this structure, Keener said, is the older students get, the more independently they work. For example, a kindergartener learning how to read is going to need more assistance from parents than a fifth-grader. At the high-school level, students should be self-motivated and work independently, similar to a college student, hence the University-Model name, Keener explained.

Starboard will offer art, physical education, music and worship time in addition to social studies, math, language arts and science core study areas.

The process

Keener said the goal for the 2018-19 school year is to have 35-40 kids enrolled, and some families are already well into the application process. Families must attend an information session before July 18 to meet the application deadline. Once applications are reviewed, families will be contacted for interviews, Keener said.

“The interviews give us a chance to make sure everyone is on the same page, to see what this will really look like,” Keener said. “We know it’ll be a little different for each family, and that’s OK.”

The path

“This first year we’ll be wearing lots of hats for sure,” Keener said of her role in the school. “We’ll be behind-the-scenes doing administrative stuff, even the teachers are going to have other stuff, like leading worship in the morning, specials (art music and PE).”

The goal is to get parents and the community involved with educating the children.

“I love the quote from Barbara Bush that states ‘You must read to your children and you must hug your children and you must love you children. Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house,’” Keener wrote in an email. “This model of education gifts families with that intentional time that is oftentimes lost in our society today.”



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