ELEELE — Four years ago, Coryssa Silva decided she didn’t want to attend public school anymore.
An eighth grader at the time, she didn’t feel like she was reaching her potential.
“I like when a classroom is quieter,” she said. “I work better with less people around.”
Realizing her strengths, Coryssa and her mother, Elisa, saw an opportunity at King’s Chapel in Eleele, where her family attends church.
King’s Christian Academy, an online private school, was founded and Coryssa, along with her younger sister, Casera, enrolled immediately.
“It was different,” Coryssa said. “It was hard for me to adjust the first year because I was so used to having someone there instructing me all the time, so learning online was different but I liked it and adapted to it.”
King’s Christian Academy’s curriculum is done solely online through an education program called Ignitia. The curriculum follows Department of Education requirements and also helps students prepare for life after high school, said school administrator Monica Zenger.
“We’re a very different and unique private school as it’s all online curriculum,” she said. “It’s geared toward kids who are self-directed learners.”
Zenger said applicants must apply and go through an interview process. Classroom sizes are limited to 20 students.
“Last year we had 17 students, some of which have been in public education and who have been homeschooled. Those 17 students were made up of 11 families, so it’s a very close and intimate classroom setting.”
The school day is Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. On Fridays, students can do some additional studying, go on a field trip or serve the community.
Entering its fifth year, the school has done wonders for the Silva family. Coryssa’s mother has seen improvements in her daughter’s’ grades and has no doubts KCA is worth the cost.
“I put them in there and have been happy since. They’re doing well. I think Coryssa will be the first to graduate with honors,” she said. “They’re getting the attention that they need and it’s always there, not only for academics, but other needs that they have.”
Because KCA is an online school, the academy does not have certified teachers. Instead, they have learning coaches.
“My daughters have gotten really close with their learning coaches and built a great relationship with them,” Elisa said. “Since it’s a Christian-based school, I like that they have Bible study and get to learn about the Bible, they pray for one another and get the best out each other.”
And when it comes to monitoring how her daughters are doing in school, Elisa gets feedback on a regular basis.
“Monica always meets with us and tells us what their academic standing is and lets us know where they can go,” she said. “We follow what DOE requires so we’re very aware of what is expected of them in the classroom.”
KCA, which teaches grades 4-12, might not be for everyone, Zenger said, but it’s a great option for kids in need of more individual attention.
“We give them a nurturing environment because we’ve had some kids who have struggled with the dynamics of public education,” Zenger said. “Maybe a bullying issue, maybe just the classroom being too big where there’s a lot of distractions. When they come here, it’s so much more personal … Every child is assessed separately.”
Zenger said some of her students are from public schools, and some students leave KCA to attend public schools. Either way, students are taught curriculum the DOE follows with four years each of English, math, social studies and science.
Entering her senior year this fall, Coryssa will be taking classes at KCA and courses at Kauai Community College. During her junior year, Coryssa completed most of her senior classes, opening the door for her to earn college credit before graduating.
“You have to be very self-directed and self-motivated to do it,” she said. “It’s a positive environment. I like a smaller setting. It’s better for me. When we need help, the learning coaches can help us.”
KCA had a graduating class of four students this past school year. Zenger said while the school is still new and small, she hopes more families and kids will be interested in enrolling.
Coryssa hopes to attend Corban University, a private university in Oregon. But just because she’s almost graduated doesn’t mean her mother is cutting her any slack at home.
“Having that balance, it’s helpful for a parent,” Elisa said. “I know some parents like home-schooling, but then they have to be there and monitor their child. So it’s a benefit to have learning coaches and the church at school.”