A new school for elementary and middle school students is hoping to give students a “presidential” education.
Presidential Preparatory School is a new, private religious kindergarten through eighth grade school, located in Landover Hills.
The school is taking over the location of the former Ascension Lutheran Day School facility, but has no affiliation with the church, said administrator Jiiko Caldwell.
Caldwell of Fort Washington comes to the school with 17 years in education, primarily teaching in Washington, D.C., public charter schools. This is her first administrative position.
Being “presidential” is part of the school’s philosophy, according to Caldwell.
“When thinking about a president, we think of someone who has no limits for themselves,” Caldwell said. Caldwell said there will be a focus each year on a different U.S. president, beginning with George Washington.
The school also is focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, fields, with robotics instruction at all grade levels and Latin beginning in kindergarten, Caldwell said.
“We’re working to get those minds to be at a level of higher learning and really engage their critical thinking skills right from the start,” Caldwell said. “We’re encouraging them to be forward thinking, to be decision-makers and to prepare them for the 21st-century economy.”
Part of its STEM program involves the introduction of algebraic thinking at kindergarten, said algebra teacher Tara Sewell.
“We’ll be working with ordinal numbers, addition and subtraction in different equations,” Sewell said. “If you start in kindergarten and give them a good base, and build on that through the grade levels, by the time they get into Algebra I, it’ll be old hat.”
Anne-Marie Stewart-White of Hyattsville said the STEM aspect was one of the reasons she decided to enroll her 10-year-old son, Khalil White, in Presidential Prep.
“He’s very interested in the technology, the science aspects. He loves computers,” Stewart-White said. “He really likes the idea of going to a school that is going to cater specifically to his interests.”
Caldwell said Presidential Prep is a Christian school, but is nondenominational, and does not proselytize. Nonetheless, Christianity is an important aspect, with student-led prayer and Bible classes.
“We do use Scripture as inspiration and as a morale guidepost,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell said society has come to accept mediocrity, but Presidential Prep expects more from its students, whom Caldwell said are called “candidates.”
“We want to tell them, you are in the running to be in the top of your business, the top of your industry, the top of your cause,” Caldwell said. “We’re training them to be future leaders.”
Caldwell said students will be actively involved in the governance of the school with a student Council of Governments that will help determine school policies, culture and activities, Caldwell said.
Tuition at the school is $5,000 per student, Caldwell said, and officials say they hope to have at least 50 students when the school opens Sept. 2.