Our Family's Journey to Caldwell Academy

Posted by Amanda Bailess P '32, '35
Is it time to switch schools?
The Bailess family prayed over this question for some time. Read how the Lord walked with and before them in their journey to Caldwell Academy.
Making the decision about your child’s education is no little feat. It is one that should be bathed in prayer, it takes humility and obedience. Public school was always our plan for our children’s education. We even made the decision to sell and move into the preferred school district. However, God began pulling at our hearts that something wasn’t quite right.
When my husband and I decided to leave public school, we outlined what we preferred for the next school: small class size, parent involvement, hands-on learning, outside time (especially for our five-year-old), fine arts, and competitive sports. We focused on our immediate elementary school (TK and 2nd grade) needs, but we also considered the long-term into high school. We had only one absolute mandatory for the next school experience – it must be built upon Christian principles. This narrowed down our choices to private school or homeschool.

In February, we became serious about making a change. Many of the private schools now have convenient virtual tours and videos available. The websites are thorough and answer most questions. These resources made it possible to initially research without leaving our home. I strongly recommend visiting Caldwell’s Learn More and the Welcome to Caldwell Academy pages.

We wanted “real-life” feedback and reached out to friends who had connections with Caldwell. The responses were all similar - Caldwell was Christ-centered, feels like family, loves our kids, and offers a strong education. Caldwell really fit into our expectations for our next school.

Our initial research was all very positive, so we reached out to Enrollment Director April Hedman to begin the admissions conversation. She was incredibly helpful and patient with all of my questions. And I had a lot of questions! What does a typical day look like? What curriculum? Class size? What are the expectations of the parents? How is Christ incorporated into the curriculum? How long does carpool take? What is the health and safety protocol? For every question I asked, April provided a thorough answer.

By the first week of March, we were ready (and excited) to see Caldwell in person. April toured our family through the campus. We saw the Grammar School classrooms, art and music areas, the library – all brilliant spaces. We were able to watch the teachers in action, the kids learning and creating. The tour slowed down once we got outside. We had to stop to look at the flowers and vegetables growing in the garden. Our kids gave the playgrounds a big thumbs up! April explained more about the uses of the outdoor covered pavilion and the benefit of the many outdoor classrooms. At this point, our kids were tugging on our arms and giving us the “cute” faces so they could stay for the rest of the day. Once we got back to our car, we prayed and had a quick family meeting – it was decided that Caldwell was our very top choice!

Caldwell seemed perfect and the decision should have been easy. It felt like we had a clear path. However, change is hard. It meant letting go of what was comfortable, school friends, bus transportation, public school events, and cost. It took much more prayer. We prayed for discernment, and then for the courage to step away from what we knew and into what we know is better.

It took two weeks of prayer for us to know without a doubt to move forward with Caldwell. Once we began the application process, April remained by our side. The application is thorough, set aside an hour to complete it. Once Caldwell received the records and reviewed our applications, we scheduled the assessments. Both of our kids were slightly nervous. But that didn’t last long, because when they came out of the rooms they were all smiles! It was a positive experience and afterward, they were more confident.

In May we were officially approved for enrollment! Yay! We moved into the next stage – preparing for school. Caldwell’s emails are incredibly comprehensive. I received uniform details, the school calendar, the school supplies list, and was introduced to current Caldwell families.

The most challenging part of this whole process was waiting for school to start! Thankfully Caldwell hosted “Popsicles in the Playground” during the summer to bring the new families together. These playdates meant my kids were making friends, and they would have familiar faces when they walked into their new school. Very reassuring for a parent!

Fast forward to October. We are almost done with the first quarter. My children are settled and enjoying everything about Caldwell. You will eventually acclimate to the terms Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric. The uniforms make life less complicated, and the carpool line is a good way to sneak in a deep exhale.
    • A Transitional Kindergarten student stands next to a sign board used in Caldwell Academy's carpool line.

    • Two Transitional Kindergarten students walking hand-in-hand in the McDonald Pavilion.

    • A young Caldwell Academy student reads a report from the front of the class.