One of the great things about the increase in microschools, hybrid schools, and similar options is the flexibility they give families. Rather than being locked into a Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. schedule, parents can find the options that meet the individual needs of their children. Streams of Hope Christian School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, takes flexibility to a whole new level.
Despite being only in its fourth year, Streams of Hope offers an amazing range of education options: full‐time school; part‐time school, which meets each morning and covers all core subjects; homeschool enrichment classes, which meet in the afternoon; online classes; and a Friday homeschool co‐op. A new hybrid option, which will meet in person two or three days a week and provide at‐home lessons for the other days, is in the works.
Executive Director Jill Haskins says the school was started by a teacher who had been offering classes from her home for 30 years. The pastor of Heartland Church in Fort Wayne asked the teacher to start a school at the church. Jill, a former public school teacher who had been homeschooling her children for six years at that point, enrolled her youngest son in Streams of Hope when it opened in 2020. The following March, Jill became a teacher at the school; she took over as Executive Director earlier this year.
“We’re still working on figuring out what a couple of the programs will look like,” she says. “I don’t know what will stick and what won’t long term. We’re just trying to figure out what the need is and how to meet that need.”
According to Jill, the 2020 opening was unrelated to the pandemic and accompanying school closures. “They had been planning on opening prior to Covid hitting and never once closed down during Covid, which was amazing,” she notes. “We’ve grown kind of massively in the past four years. I think Covid is probably one of the catalysts that helped bring that growth.”
While each day and each class is different, the school follows a general schedule. A typical day starts with morning prayer and announcements and individual teacher/student check‐ins. Then students work independently, in small groups, and in whole class groups. Half‐day students leave at noon, while full‐day students eat lunch. After lunch, full‐day and homeschool students participate in afternoon classes, which are focused on enrichment and creative pursuits.
Streams of Hope has multi‐age classrooms. Jill currently has 26 students in her class; the youngest is in 6th grade and the oldest is in 12th. There are two additional classrooms with fewer students and narrower age spans. Jill says they plan to even out the age ranges in each classroom as the other teachers gain more experience.
There are currently 42 students enrolled in the full‐ and half‐day private school option that covers all of the core curriculum. In the afternoon enrichment sessions there are 25 students, which includes a mix of full‐time and homeschool students. While many of the students take individual online classes, only two are enrolled exclusively online. And there are 33 children in the homeschool co‐op.
Some private school leaders are hesitant to adopt creative scheduling options that include part‐time and à la carte classes because they fear it will be too complicated. “From the administrative, back‐end side of things, it creates a bit of extra work,” Jill acknowledges. There are different enrollment forms, and the school really emphasizes the distinction for families. “We’re very specific to clarify ‘You’re enrolling in the private school option, you are a private schooler. You are not a home schooler.’ Or ‘You are enrolling in an à la carte homeschool class. You are still a homeschooling family.’” And there are logistic challenges of which child is being dropped off and picked up at what time. But she says it’s not too complicated overall, and it’s seamless for the students.
“We’re still kind of exploring what our hybrid option is going to look like,” she continues. “Our hybrid students will be enrolled at our private school, so they wouldn’t be homeschooled. But will they be doing two or three days here and two or three days at home? And are we going to do that project based? Is it going to look completely different than how we do things here or are we going to give them the planner pages like our regularly enrolled students do and then just have them continue that at home? We don’t quite know yet. That’s something we’re trying to develop and figure out.”
The front page of the Streams of Hope website proclaims, “We approach education in ways that meet the needs of each individual student & family.” It’s clear from the multitude of options available at the school that they really strive to live up to that goal.