New school takes a creative approach

He also said the new building could last the school for more than 15 years as the 25,000-square-foot structure would allow for growth.

The academy plans to add a grade level each year until fifth grade.

Christensen said he is optimistic about the retention of students throughout their elementary education because he said the education will advance the student academically and prepare them to be leaders.

Christensen said he would like to eventually expand the school to include a middle school and high school, but that working through this year was his first priority. He also said it is more difficult to establish middle and high schools because of the greater costs involved.

"I think what we have done for the Capital District is unique," Christensen said.

He said the board has looked at price points for different types of schools including private schools and day-care organizations. By comparison, he said, the$4,000 tuition at the Saratoga Academy is reasonable.

The high cost of most private schools prevents suburban middle class families from sending their children, eliminating options for those students, Christensen said, which is what he aims to prevent at the Saratoga Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The $4,000 tuition covers the 4-year-old pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade programs, while half-day 3-year-old pre-kindergarten is $3,000 per year.

He said in developing the concept for the school he had to evaluate the way children are taught at the primary and elementary levels in America.

Christensen said a focus on independent learning is important in education. He plans to implement the independent style into the education offered at the academy by allowing children to work in student groups will minimal teacher involvement.

"It's about planting the seeds for learning," Christensen said.

His plan is to break students into groups, which would go to different stations throughout the day with varying levels of instruction.

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