The Early Years…
The services that would eventually be offered at Sayers Classical Academy (SCA) began in 1990 when the founder and director, Mrs. Sandra Lawson, began home schooling her two younger children. Both of the children were attending private schools: a traditional Christian school and a school for dyslexic children. After a while, she and her husband decided it best to withdraw their children. They made a great sacrifice to pay the pricy tuition on a budget that was already overloaded with serious medical debt, and they felt that the education being offered to their children was not of the standard expected for such a sacrifice.
In their search of a new school, the Lawsons met several home schooling families. This seemed to be a viable alternative, and Mrs. Lawson began home schooling one child in January of 1990. While researching educational pedagogy and curricula, Mrs. Lawson was introduced to classical methodology, and she slowly began to implement the classical approach into her child’s studies of literature, composition and history. Mrs. Lawson loved home schooling but had one major problem; it took her five times longer to prepare to teach than to actually teach a subject. This was especially true with Latin.
At this time the Lawson’s fourth grade son was enrolled in a school for children with learning disabilities. In May of 1990, the yearly test results for this child were received, and, although he had been enrolled at the school for four years, he was showing almost no gain, with scores of first grade, second month in reading. Soon after, Mrs. Lawson happened upon a talk radio program originating from Texas and heard a father tell about the reading success of his learning disabled son, as well as 70% of his classmates. After using an explicit phonics program for only one year, the students had achieved an average reading score. She immediately purchased the materials and made the decision to home school her son. The Lawsons were delighted when nine months later their son tested at fifth grade, eighth month in reading. This son went on to receive a master’s degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The achievements of this first year encouraged Mrs. Lawson to invite a master teacher in the phonogram curriculum for further training. Unable to meet the required number of attendees to pay the trainer, the seminar had to be canceled. However, through this effort, she met a lady who had home schooled her two sons for a couple of years and taught them Latin. Mrs. Lawson contacted her about tutoring a Latin class for home schooled children, and she agreed to hold a weekly class. Mrs. Lawson handled all the logistics and secured classroom space in her home church. The first class began in January of 1991 with about 25 students.
As the semester went by, the benefits of tutoring became clear to Mrs. Lawson. She liked the fact that her children were not away from home nine hours a day, five days a week and that they were being fully engaged in the subjects being taught in the classroom. Furthermore, Mrs. Lawson was not burdened with the responsibility of preparing to teach a subject. Additionally, the tutor set the standards and gave all of the tests. Her job was simply to make sure her children were prepared for class.
By the end of the first semester, Mrs. Lawson presented the idea of having a tutor teach math and science. The positive responses led to offering these subjects to students in grades five through twelve on the same day as the Latin class. Before long, 75 students were enrolled in the various subjects. This little gathering of students quickly became known as “the cottage school.” Mrs. Lawson and her close friend, Suzanne Kinnaird, took responsibility for this growing endeavor.
In 1994 Mrs. Lawson suggested naming the gathering Dorothy Sayers Cottage School, since it was Sayers’ essay, “The Lost Tools of Learning,” that had been pivotal in starting the tutoring classes in the first place, and “school” literally means, “A building where young people receive education.” This name would best describe the philosophy held by the founder, and the word “school” certainly expressed her convictions for the “place” of teaching. Learning was “to happen” everywhere, at all times, and most especially at home.
In the mid 90’s, a program for kindergarten through fourth grade was developed. The decision was made to offer a program for students to receive classroom instruction in all core subjects. Students attended these classes part-time and returned home with very detailed lessons plans for the parents to teach and ready the child for the next class time. This proved to be very successful and from this success, with the encouragement of a parent council, Mrs. Lawson moved forward in making changes in the middle school program. These changes moved the curriculum toward a more purely classical approach to education. The requirement for all students to take the full classical coursework began in 1999 for grades five through eight and in 2003 for grades nine through twelve.
View SCA’s current Academic Programs.
Continuing the tradition…
Over the past twenty years the vision has grown from a class of 25, to a cottage school, to Dorothy Sayers Classical School, and now Sayers Classical Academy. However, the goal consistently remains the same; to offer an exceptional classical education at the lowest possible cost. Parents help to make this possible by providing guidance, oversight, and educational instruction to their child by following the coursework instructions sent home by the SCA tutors.
SCA has an unwavering confidence and devotion to families seeking an exceptional classical, Christian education while having their children home more than 50% of the time. Providing a rigorous classical education at home requires an adult to be there to facilitate the process. SCA never forgets that the average home schooling family is living on the income of one working parent. For many families, this is a great sacrifice. For this reason and many others, SCA works uncommonly hard to hold expenses to a minimum.
The SCA program gives students the education they need and deserve. Parents are insured that their student has more than exceeded the state requirements for graduation and are fully prepared for college. Classically-educated students are prepared for college beyond academic prowess. Possessing discipline and highly developed study skills, students are prepared to master the requirements and achieve success in the field of their choice. Every profession or vocation benefits greatly from the members which were educated in the classical tradition of the liberal arts. It is our aim to graduate students that, above all, seek to know and follow the call of God.
SCA is recognized as one of the premier schools in the region. It offers students the opportunity to accomplish high academic goals as they also learn and develop their talents in the arts, athletics, and Christian outreach through mission trips and other service oriented activities.
This work began because of a personal need and a desire to help other Christian home schooling families. This unfaltering commitment continues. With a strong sense of purpose, SCA continues to provide students with an exceptional, classical Christian education while allowing them to be home more than 50% of the time whether the student is enrolled in the 2-Day Program or the 3-Day Program.
SCA presents its students with varied opportunities to understand what it means to be wholly human, combining the works of the mind, soul, and spirit. This intertwining of the academic and the spiritual is meant to encourage students to press on in their studies in preparation to live a full and useful life for the glory and purpose of God.