Ivywood Classical Academy began with a dad and a mission.
In a search of the best school for his children, Tyler Horning decided he needed to build one from the ground up. He, alongside three other passionate friends, Jim Musgrave, Myranda Fabian and Troy Morris founded Ivywood Classical Academy with the sole purpose of providing a free, classical, liberal arts education to students in the areas of Plymouth, Northville, Livonia and beyond. Now the school has opened its doors to its first classes of kindergarten through fifth graders and will be expanding into sixth grade in 2020.
Ivywood Classical Academy is a tuition-free, public school academy located in Plymouth. It is open to students from all over the metro Detroit area who are looking for an education with an emphasis on humanities, math, sciences, arts and virtues.
Three of the board members attended a liberal arts college and saw the importance of a classical education so that concept was the foundation for Ivywood Classical Academy.
“At Ivywood, we are developing critical thinkers by using a time-tested curriculum that is rooted in the classic liberal arts,” Musgrave says.
For example, instead of learning the alphabet as a set of letters, students will learn phonograms.
“It’s a different way of teaching. The teachers are teaching not to the test, but to the students and how they learn. At Ivywood, we really want to develop children that will be lifelong learners, no matter where they go in the future,” Musgrave says.
Using the Socratic Instructional Method, the teachers ask questions and encourage students to develop their own questions, as well.
The classical liberal arts education focuses on teaching the whole student – with a concentration on math, science, history and literature. Students also have physical education, art and music as part of their everyday education. There is a plan to have clubs and athletics to help create well-rounded students.
At Ivywood, students are taught the virtues of courage, respect, excellence, integrity, humility, self-government and wonder.
“We’re not just teaching character, but showing kids and being intentional and consistent with what the virtues mean." Musgrave says.
Parent involvement is crucial to the success of the school, especially through the first years, Musgrave adds.
“Parents will be helping their students learn this new model of education. We expect the students will be teaching their parents about many things, as well,” he says. “We want the students to want to talk to their parents about their day and have rich conversations about what they have learned.”
While the school now offers kindergarten through fifth grade and are adding a sixth grade next school year, there are plans to further expand. The Ivywood school building will have 10 classrooms, a library, a flex space and a cafeteria. There is a green space next to the building and it backs up to a wooded area. As the school grows, it will expand to the second floor of the building, adding more classrooms and student spaces.
The board members of Ivywood Classical Academy are devoted to the success of the school. They have worked with several collaborating partners to lay the foundation for the school. Central Michigan University is the authorizer, allowing Ivywood the ability to become a tuition-free public school academy in Plymouth. Hillsdale’s Barney Charter School Initiative is the architect of the curriculum and will provide training to teachers and principals in the classical studies method. The school has also teamed up with Choice Schools Associates educational services.
“I believe that public education is a cornerstone of any community, and our community lacks an option for students and parents looking for a classical liberal arts education,” says Musgrave. “Ivywood Classical Academy will fill that void and introduce a whole new generation of students to the good, the true and the beautiful. I am honored to be a part of a team that is dedicated and passionate about this mission.”
While the school is located in Plymouth, the school is open to students who are able to get to the school each day. Musgrave says there is no ZIP code requirement for students.