Updated: Nov 13
In the small town of Abbyville, Kansas, just an hour outside of Wichita and with a population of 83 people, lies Re*Wild Family Academy. This microschool, run by Devan Dellenbach, offers a unique and nurturing learning environment for students. In this blog post, we explore Devan's journey from being a certified elementary school teacher to becoming a homeschooling parent and eventually establishing her own microschool. We'll also delve into the philosophy and structure of Re*Wild Family Academy.
From Teacher to Homeschooling Parent
Devan Dellenbach began her career as a certified elementary school teacher in the Kansas public schools, dedicating five years to the classroom. However, after becoming a stay-at-home mom to her two children, she transitioned into homeschooling. Embracing the homeschooling lifestyle, Devan saw the opportunity to provide personalized and nurturing education to her own children.
The Homeschooling Experience
As Devan explored homeschooling, she encountered other families in her community who were also homeschooling. She observed the strong connections and deep understanding between parents and their children, the flexibility in scheduling, and the diverse interests that could be explored beyond the traditional academic and sports-focused curriculum of public schools. Inspired by these experiences, Devan embarked on her own homeschooling journey, redefining her understanding of education within a home environment.
Transitioning to Microschooling
While homeschooling offered many benefits, Devan recognized its limitations, particularly in terms of social opportunities and the financial strain of living on a single income. Collaborating with another homeschooling mom, she started teaching classes together, fostering a supportive and social environment for both students and parents. Over time, this collaborative effort grew, and they eventually found a space in a disused school building. As interest continued to grow, and with changing circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Devan and her partner began envisioning a microschool model that would provide a more comprehensive educational experience for families in their community.
The Birth of Re*Wild Family Academy
With the encouragement of her friend, Dalena Wallace, who is an education entrepreneur herself, Devan decided to establish Re*Wild Family Academy. The microschool, located in a renovated church building, opened its doors earlier this year. Devan's vision was to create a welcoming and tranquil space for both children and adults, where learning could flourish. The academy offers a one-day program, currently catering to students from kindergarten to sixth grade, with plans to expand to a three-day program in the future.
A Day at Re*Wild Family Academy
The typical day at Re*Wild Family Academy follows a structured rhythm. Parents drop off their children between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m., and the day begins with an assembly where they discuss classical music, artists, scripture, goals, and class culture. Students then engage in independent studies, including math, reading, language arts, handwriting, and typing. They also have the freedom to choose their own books for at least 30 minutes of reading time. Throughout the day, there are breaks, lunchtime, outdoor play, literature study, nature study, and various interactive stations. The day concludes with a closing assembly where students reflect on their experiences.
Customization and Individualization
At Re*Wild Family Academy, customization and individualization are key. Parents have the flexibility to choose their preferred curriculum for their child's learning journey. Devan acts as a guide, providing suggestions and support whenever needed. Additionally, the academy employs a learning management system that enables parents, students, and teachers to track progress and ensure personalized academic growth.
Affordability and Future Plans
When it comes to affordability, Re*Wild Family Academy aims to provide accessible education options for families in the small town of Abbyville, Kansas. Devan Dellenbach, the founder and certified elementary school teacher, understands the financial constraints many families face. With this in mind, the cost structure at Rewild is set at a reasonable $25 per day.
Devan took into consideration various factors when determining the price. She researched different options such as private schools, daycares, and even substitute teaching, but wanted to offer a more affordable alternative for the local community. The goal was to make quality education attainable for families in the area, without the burden of high costs.
As for future plans, Re*Wild Family Academy is expanding its program to meet the growing demand. Currently, the microschool operates one day a week, from 9 am to 3 pm, catering to kindergarten through sixth-grade students. However, starting next fall, they will be transitioning to a three-day program. This expansion will provide families with even more flexibility and options for their children's education.
Devan's vision for Re*Wild goes beyond just expanding the number of days. She envisions a nurturing and tranquil learning environment that continues to foster individualized education. The microschool aims to create a space where children can thrive academically, emotionally, and socially. The focus on mixed-age groups promotes collaboration and mentorship among students, allowing them to learn from and support each other.
To ensure that each student receives a tailored educational experience, Devan offers guidance and assistance in curriculum selection. While parents have the freedom to choose the materials that best suit their child's learning style and needs, Devan is there to provide recommendations and help navigate the available options. She understands that every student is unique, and customization is crucial to their academic success.
To further enhance communication and track student progress, Re*Wild Family Academy utilizes a learning management system. This system enables both parents and students to have access to academic updates, allowing them to monitor growth and achievements. It fosters transparency and collaboration between the microschool and families, ensuring everyone is involved in the educational journey.
In addition to the academic curriculum, Re*Wild Family Academy also provides lunch for the students. This offering not only saves parents time and effort but also promotes a sense of community and shared experiences during mealtime. It contributes to the overall atmosphere of warmth and comfort that Devan has created within the converted church building.
With its affordable pricing, personalized approach, and plans for expansion, Re*wild Family Academy is making a positive impact in the community of Abbyville, Kansas. By embracing the principles of homeschooling and combining them with the benefits of a supportive learning environment, Devan Dellenbach has created a space where children can thrive, explore their curiosities, and develop a lifelong love for learning.
Looking ahead, Re*wild Family Academy is actively seeking partnerships and collaborations within the community. Devan believes in the power of collective efforts and aims to establish connections with local businesses, organizations, and professionals. These partnerships can bring additional resources, expertise, and opportunities to enrich the students' learning experiences.
Furthermore, Devan plans to organize regular field trips and outdoor activities to provide hands-on learning opportunities. Abbyville and its surrounding areas offer a wealth of natural beauty and historical landmarks, which can serve as engaging educational settings. By venturing outside the traditional classroom walls, students can develop a deeper understanding of the world around them and develop a strong connection with nature and their local community.
To support the growth and development of Re*Wild Family Academy, Devan is exploring the possibility of applying for grants and scholarships. This would help expand the financial aid options for families who may require additional assistance to access the microschool's education. By actively seeking external funding, Devan is committed to maintaining affordability and ensuring equal opportunities for all interested families.
Additionally, Devan plans to establish a network of like-minded educators who share her passion for individualized learning and holistic child development. By fostering a community of educators, she envisions a platform for knowledge sharing, collaboration, and ongoing professional development. This network can collectively work towards improving education and advocating for alternative approaches that prioritize student well-being and academic growth.
In the long term, Devan dreams of establishing a permanent campus for Re*Wild Family Academy. With a dedicated space designed specifically to meet the unique needs of the microschool, she envisions creating an environment that fosters curiosity, creativity, and a sense of belonging. The campus would feature flexible learning spaces, outdoor classrooms, gardens, and other elements that promote exploration and hands-on learning.
Ultimately, Devan's future plans for Re*Wild Family Academy revolve around nurturing a community of lifelong learners who are equipped with the skills, knowledge, and passion to thrive in an ever-changing world. By prioritizing affordability, personalized education, community partnerships, and continuous growth, Rewild is poised to make a lasting impact on the education landscape of Abbeville and beyond.
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