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Billings music teacher looks to start classical education school

Hillsdale Academy.JPG
Posted at 8:53 PM, Jan 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-14 22:53:38-05

A woman who has taught for nearly a half century has become inspired to start a classical education school for kindergarten through 12th graders.

She invited two students from Hillsdale College in Michigan to talk about their experiences with classical education.

Virginia Stene Raines used classical education to teach her own children.

She believes it provides a strong base and is now inspired to help other families find the joy in learning.

For the last three days, she and the Hillsdale students spoke at Emmanuel Baptist Church In Billings, Joliet Baptist Church and Absarokee Evangelical Church.

Her dream to eventually build a school in Carbon County.

Virginia Stene Raines has taught piano for 47 years and knows the benefits of music for students.

"It teaches them how to approach a problem with the confidence to know they can," Stene Raines said.

Music along with math, science, history literature, Latin, Greek, philosophy are some of the subjects that will be part of the curriculum at the Eastern Montana Classical Academy.

The plan is to base it on the curriculum of the Hillsdale Academy in Michigan.

"It's rigorous," Stene Raines said about the the curriculum.

"To live in good faith, we must build schools," said Eziekel Loseke, a potential head master for the school.

Loseke is a US Navy veteran and a PhD candidate in political science at Hillsdale College.

"It's a liberal education, which means it's an education that teaches you how to live well and how to be free," Loeseke said.

J.W. Hart is a US Air Force veteran, works in Washington D.C. and will soon graduate from Hillsdale College

"In physics class, we're not just learning force equals mass times acceleration because it does," Hart said. "We want to know, why does it matter?"

Hart and Loseke say the kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum parallels the college's classical education.

It teaches using the idea of the trivium which starts with the grammar stage.

"You just give them information," Stene Raines said about the grammar stage.

Then it goes to the logic stage.

"Then they start processing information," she said.

And it finishes with the rhetoric stage.

"Being able to write critically," she said.

This will be a private school, but will use the curriculum from Hillsdale's Barney Charter School Initiative.

Loseke and Hart say they do not represent Hillsdale officially.

However, the Hillsdale communications department sent a statement.

“We are happy to hear of this group's intent to apply as a member school of Hillsdale's Barney Charter School Initiative," Dr. Kathleen O'Toole, associate provost of K-12 education stated in an email. "Any new founding effort requires local support from families and community members seeking to bring classical education to their area, and we look forward to seeing their application in the first step in the process.”

And that's the reason for the meetings, to determine the interest and support.

"Something that's really important, for them to have the opportunity,"

She says the earliest possible start date would be in 2024.