Kootenai Classical Academy is located east of Hwy 41 and just north of Prairie Avenue in Post Falls, Idaho.

Exceptional Public Education Provided Without Multi-million Dollar Levies

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POST FALLS, IDAHO – Kootenai Classical Academy (KCA) is providing exceptional education without multi-million dollar levies. Its operational funding is based on the standard per-student dollars issued by the state to all publicly funded schools throughout Idaho and it serves the typical demographic of students from North Idaho. The charter school, which opened in the fall of 2023, had been eagerly anticipated by parents and the broader community since 2018.

“It is rewarding to share this level of education with children from all backgrounds,” shared KCA Headmaster Dr. Ed Kaitz. 

Dr. Kaitz, who is a UC Berkeley educated professor of philosophy with almost thirty years experience, says he is extremely impressed with the Hillsdale College classical education curriculum which KCA uses to teach students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Dr. Ed Kaitz, Headmaster at Kootenai Classical Academy

When the call went out to find teachers for a charter school with classical curriculum, Melissa Espinoza was ready for the challenge. Espinoza, a veteran kindergarten teacher in her seventeenth year, says she is excited to come to work every Monday, and she exhibits a exuberant joy teaching at KCA. She says the method of classroom instruction is “unlike anything I have ever done before, it’s so science based and the results are incredible.”

Espinoza described the literacy essentials curriculum as the most effective and inspiring she has used to teach grammar, spelling, and writing. “We start with the hardest letters and sounds first so they are practiced more,” Espinoza stated. She explained how the literacy essentials curriculum is substantially different from teaching a letter a week and using sight words, which is the way she had been trained. She also said the clock stroke letter phonogram practice has taught her twenty-seven students to form letters without reversals, which is a typical and age-appropriate mistake.

“My students are understanding ‘the why’ behind letter sounds, recognizing open versus closed syllables,” shared Espinoza as she spoke about the classical methodology she has embraced this year. The classical education approach completely removes technology from the classroom, which enables one-on-one interactions she believes are critical to her students’ ability to learn. She is impressed with her students attentiveness, highlighting their ability to remain alert throughout the day. “This is the first year I have taught where my students do not have focus issues,” Espinoza asserted.

“We are designed for interpersonal connections,” stated Kaitz on the topic of technology in the classroom. “The teacher in the classroom should be the star of the show.” Dr. Kaitz went on to reiterate that the modern education system has created facilitators instead of teachers, and it is a pleasure to watch as KCA teachers shine and students engage, learn, and thrive.

Espinoza believes the uniformity between the grade levels using the literacy essentials curriculum will lead to incredible student achievement and she is excited to be a part of it all. “We [KCA faculty] believe in this classical model of education so much we are placing our own children here,” Espinoza shared.

Mondays at KCA are unique for teachers due to a professional development session led by Dr. Kaitz. They are currently reading and discussing Republic, the well-known work authored by Plato that is considered one of the world’s most influential works of philosophy and political theory.

“I have been through graduate and master’s programs and never once was Plato’s Republic part of the education,” said Espinoza. Not only will KCA students be well-versed in Plato’s classic writings, but their education will include reading and in-depth dialogue of the volume of work studied by America’s founders. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are introduced in elementary grades, while writings by John Locke, Edmund Burke, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Adam Smith are thoroughly explored in upper grades to fully understand America’s unique system of self-governance.

According to Dr. Kaitz, “KCA is an American Classical Education and our mission is to bring to life in our classrooms the very best of the liberal arts and sciences and to cultivate the high standards of moral conduct contained in many of these great texts.”

The entire educational program at KCA is centered around seven virtues; courage, courtesy, honesty, perseverance, self-government, service, and responsibility. According to the Hillsdale College K-12 Education website, “by teaching students to cultivate moral virtue, classical education guides us into freedom by making us self-reliant and responsible, capable of governing ourselves and taking part in the self-government of our communities.” Even in discipline situations, Dr. Kaitz explained how the virtues are used to help the students understand how their behavior or action violated a virtue and gives them an opportunity to articulate how they will strive for better moral conduct in the future.

Dr. Kaitz says KCA is unique from many other charter schools as it emphasizes strong physical education and does not overwhelm students with hours of homework. Conrad Woodall, the director of operations, started a jiu-jitsu program and it has become a popular after-school sporting option. There is also a girls basketball team and a wrestling program.

The school is situated on eleven acres and there are plans to grow KCA into a K-12 school, complete with a full track for athletics and hopes of having more competitive sports teams, including football. For now, Dr. Kaitz is asking the state to approve additional seventh and eighth grade classes, as well as expand into ninth grade classes. The first graduating class is set for 2028. 

The clamor for parents seeking better publicly funded education for their children has grown significantly over the past few years, and with KCA enrollment now open for the 2024-2025 school year, the school’s waitlist is expected to expand. Enrollment ends on March 8, 2024, and the public lottery pull will take place within seven days of enrollment ending.

In Idaho, school boards are given the responsibility to review and select all curriculum used in the classroom. According to Dr. Kaitz, who has earned B.A, M.A., and Ph.D. degrees and taught in colleges and universities in the US and abroad, “there is nothing better than Hillsdale’s classical education curriculum.” There is no prohibition on other publicly funded schools in Idaho from obtaining and teaching classical education curriculum, or from utilizing the literacy essentials program, which is designed for grades K-3 and has provided incredible results to at least one veteran kindergarten teacher and her twenty-seven students.