New LDS school offers unconventional learning; parent meeting tonight

ST. GEORGE – Tonight, prospective students and their parents can check out an innovative new K-12 school that will open its doors this fall.

Providence Academy will host a parent meeting Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Abbey Inn, 1129 S. Bluff St., to give interested families a taste of what the school will offer come Sept. 2.

“We want (students) to come to learn how to be leaders,” Providence Academy Administrator Quin Denning said. “We want them to think for themselves.”

Providence Academy is a private school with its curriculum centered around principles taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – but that is not the school’s only unique attribute. Providence Academy will take a somewhat unconventional approach to instructing students – one Denning believes will help pupils excel and be truly prepared for the real world when they graduate.

“Our whole curriculum is designed so that a student can progress as fast as they are capable, and we like to enhance that capability through the programs that we offer,” Denning said.

Grouped by brain development

Providence Academy students will not be grouped together in the traditional way, Denning said. Rather than being classified as kindergartners, first-graders, etc., Providence Academy students will be placed in three different divisions according to the typical brain development for their age group.

“We don’t use the normal divisions of age for grades,” Denning said. “We go with studies that have shown where brain development is.”

Brain development is very similar for kids ages 5 through 7, Denning said, as is brain development for kids ages 8 through 11. At age 12 and older, mental development begins to resemble an adult, he said. Providence Academy students are grouped according to those age ranges: 5-7, 8-11 and 12 and older.

Students at Providence Academy will learn at their own pace, and there will be a focus on advancing students according to their individual capabilities.

Students will also be able to concurrently enroll in online college classes, if they desire to, and can be working on their college degrees while attending Providence Academy.

“Any (college) that has an online presence, we can generally put a student into that school while they’re at (Providence Academy),” Denning said.

Real-world application

In addition to core subjects like math and English, Providence Academy will offer students hands-on education in a variety of real-world disciplines.

The average class at Providence Academy will be 40 minutes in length, Denning said, with the first five to 10 minutes being focused on instruction and the remaining class time dedicated to real-world application of the principle the students just learned.

Hands-on learning will be a key focus. There will be a real estate class, for instance, in which students, as a class, will purchase an actual property and go through all the steps of selling it. Local real estate agents, lenders, title company employees and others will speak to the class, and students will do all the hands-on work of buying, selling, marketing and even staging the property.

For each thing that we do, we’re going to know why we’re doing it,” Denning said.

Hands-on business classes will also be offered, and students will form their own real businesses. The school will partner with local business professionals who will give students real-world instruction, and students will complete internships with local businesses to get hands-on experience in the working world.

“Our kids will be better qualified than the kids coming out of college because they’ll have that experience behind them,” Denning said.

Principles-based curriculum

Though Providence Academy will offer curriculum that is based on LDS principles, the school is not sanctioned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Denning said. The church’s only direct involvement is providing a seminary program for Providence Academy students to participate in, just as the church does for other public high schools throughout the state.

“We focus on principles, not doctrines,” Denning said. “We believe that principles are eternal in their nature and that they’re important. Principles transcend everything in life.”

Classes at Providence Academy will open with prayer, and all the standard works used within the LDS Church, including the Bible and the Book of Mormon, will be used in class. However, Denning said non-LDS students attending the school will have a Bible-based curriculum individually tailored for them; classes will be Christian-focused, and no one will be required to study LDS literature if they don’t want to.

“In everything, we invite the Spirit of the Lord in our classes,” Denning said. “We pray; we say the Pledge of Allegiance; we study the Constitution; we study the great writings of men and women throughout history who have written wonderful things.”

Tuition and “trade bank”

Providence Academy is a tuition-based private school. Denning said the school is currently reaching out to businesses to form mutually beneficial partnerships and sponsorships, and the school is developing programs that will provide scholarships for students in need of financial assistance.

“Our goal is that any student that wants to come to our school, we’ll find a way to be able to help them to pay for it,” Denning said.

The school will operate on the principles of a “creative foundation,” Denning said, which means the focus is on helping others and gaining more in the process.

The school will have a “trade bank,” and parents who can’t afford the cost of their child’s tuition can provide goods and services instead. For instance, a parent who is a mechanic can offer mechanic services to the trade bank.

“We’re actually going to take a trade system and we’re going to cash in on the trade, because we’ve got to have cash to run the school,” Denning said.

Opening fall 2014

Providence Academy is currently in negotiations for a property to house the school. Denning said he also has a backup property in view in case the current deal falls through.

“We’ve got a couple of options available to use, so we will be able to open this fall,” he said.

Enrollment is tentatively scheduled to begin at the end of June. So far, between 50 and 60 students have verbally expressed their intention to enroll at Providence Academy, and Denning said he’s anticipating a student body of around 150 for the fall term, based on his market research.

It is planned that Providence Academy’s inaugural semester will begin Sept. 2.

Enrollment information and other details can be found on the school’s website.

Event details

  • What: Providence Academy parent meeting
  • When: Thursday, June 5, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Abbey Inn,  1129 S. Bluff St., St. George


  • For additional information, visit the Providence Academy website or call 435-602-4040

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Twitter: @STGnews

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  • Bender June 5, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Mormon madrasa. Shrink your kid’s world.

  • Adam M June 5, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    “We want (students) to come to learn how to be leaders,” Providence Academy Administrator Quin Denning said. “We want them to think for themselves.”

    Pretty interesting since its curriculum is centered around principles taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which teaches “When the Prophet speaks, … the debate is over” (Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 108).

    • Brian June 6, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Actually, a lot of study, prayer, and thinking for myself led me to the personal conclusion and conviction that the prophet is actually a prophet, in every sense, and does speak for God, who is real, exists, and is my Father with my best interests in mind. So yes, for me “When the Prophet speaks, … the debate is over”, and that is 100% consistent with thinking for myself and learning to be a leader. It has also led me to a life of happiness, peace, and prosperity and helped me avoid the pitfalls that inevitably come with drugs, immorality, dishonesty, etc that are so rampant in society and helped me to be a self-reliant, productive, patriotic citizen and parent. You’re right, that’s horrible, I’m sure me and my family would be much better off by rejoining the enlightened masses and filling our lives with pot and porn.

  • Finally Truth June 5, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    I wish they could teach everyone in the world. Then life would be better. 2 billion fish minus 13 million fish leaves a lot of dumbass

    • Pheo June 6, 2014 at 11:25 am

      Everyone who is not Mormon is a … Got it.

      (And there are 7.2 billion people in the world. Just taste the irony.)

      Ed. ellipsis.

  • Jacer June 6, 2014 at 7:58 am

    I like the approach they are taking on education. This is not only a smart way to educate. It’s efficient and will produce positive results.

  • Frank June 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Come see why our students graduate faster, more confident, and better prepared for a work environment than any other student in public education. This is a sentence from their website’s home page. Can anyone else find the grammatical error in it? I don’t want my kids learning English from a school that can’t even construct a proper sentence on their site.

  • Roy J June 6, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    From their website,
    “Organized like a college, family members can enroll in one or more classes up to a full-time schedule. Registrations are accepted anytime during the school year.” ???

    Who is the faculty? What is the curriculum? I heard part of the radioshow with these guys awhile back, and they spent alot of time bashing other methods of education, but then when you go to their own webpage for information as to what they are all about there’s nothing? Give me a break. I hope nobody is foolish enough to spend money on something like this without getting some outside and objective data first.

  • Just Saying June 7, 2014 at 7:21 am

    If they are a new school. How can we see their students graduate faster and with more confidence?

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