New in-person educational program opens in Staunton

STAUNTON – When Stuart Hall laid off some of his teaching staff at the end of last spring, anticipating a new way of teaching this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the teachers approached Christi Crittenden with a idea.

She wanted to work with Crittenden to create both a childcare program and a school for in-person learning.

“Virtual learning just isn’t easy for kids as young as 3 and 4 through grade three,” Crittenden said.

For the past two years, Crittenden had worked to create a non-profit preschool, even going so far as to write grants to pay for equipment. Other former Stuart Hall teachers joined the process this summer. The group has met once a week all summer with an ambitious goal of launching the school this fall.

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It can happen. They found a location, housing the school called Anna’s House in Battle Hall at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. They are also in the process of getting the full license. Without any guarantees, the hope is to open right after Labor Day.

“It’s unique in that I think there are only a few programs that actually offer education and child care,” Crittenden said.

They try to be as safe as possible, starting with a student-teacher ratio of 9: 1. That way, even if Virginia goes back a phase in its reopening, the school can still function. Masks will also be worn by students and staff.

The courses offered are Preschool, Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2/3 combined.

“We know this is a chaotic time for families and hope to provide peace of mind and quality education and care for the children in our community,” said Crittenden.

Two students are visiting Anna's home this summer to explore the facility.  This is a non-profit school and daycare in Staunton and is slated to open this fall.

Not only will a teacher work on a program with the students, but Anna’s House will also provide a space for virtual learners from other schools to come and do their work.

Children will learn all the major subjects as well as music, art, physical education and Spanish. Teachers include Carolyn Holland, Sarah Sale, LaVerne Traynaham, and Crystal Blakeney.

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“Opening Anna’s House has been an incredible journey with incredible support from the communities of Staunton, Augusta and Waynesboro,” said Crittenden. “It will be a fantastic year for the students of our program.”

Tuition for the academic program (8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) is $ 7,500 per year with additional costs for the extended day program (2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.). Both are five days a week. A three day program is also available. Financial assistance is available.

There are currently 20 students enrolled, but Crittenden would like to see enrollment increase before the program begins. She said 45 is the upper limit she would be comfortable with in the first year.

For more information, call (850) 294-1122 or visit www.annashouseschool.org.

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