NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A historic church in the Ghent area of Norfolk could soon be home to a new private school.
The Hague School could be up and running as soon as next Fall. It would hold 9th through 12th-graders with small class sizes.
The school’s founders, Paul Warren and his wife Jennifer, say the grades would roll out one per year, meaning 9th-graders would begin in 2019.
“There’s probably 100 other similar schools, mostly private schools, but some public, some colleges throughout the United States that use the conference method, but that’s there’s not one here in Hampton Roads,” said Warren.
The Warrens and their founding team plan on making it the first of it’s kind in the area.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in classrooms with teachers, standing up at the front, delivering info to the students and I’ve witnessed firsthand just how fast students can become disengaged very quickly,” said founding member, Amy Lorvidhaya.
“There’s multiple styles of learning and students don’t like to have information constantly thrown at them,” added their Director of Curriculum Development Brandi Kostal.
The conference method puts students in a round table discussion, set up to increase engagement and learning. “All the research our group has done shows that it increase retention by 50 percent or more,” Paul stated.
Paul says they’ve already started renovating the classrooms and ultimately hope to add on to the back of the building.
Although the school would sit in a flood prone area, they’re not worried. Jennifer Warren says the flooding never reaches the building itself and their architect is working with the city on how to alleviate the flooding issues.
Paul Warren tells 10 On Your Side all of the finances are in place for the school, and they’ve already started extensive interior renovations.
Odell says it went to planning commission on Thursday, and will go back in October, then it will be voted on by city council members.
Anne Odell, an official with the Coastal Virginia Unitarian Universalists. who owns the building, says they’re in favor of the proposal and think it’s a good use for the building.
The Unitarian Church of Norfolk, the building’s previous tenants, moved to a bigger space back in July to have more room for the kids of the church. In the process, they changed their church name to the Coastal Virginia Unitarian Universalists.
This isn’t the first time prospects have tried to move into the vacant building, Odell says. Most recently, a brewery tried to move in, but it didn’t work out because the neighbors to the building were opposed to it.