WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — There’s a new independent school opening in Wichita. Some call it an alternative to public and private education.

The founder of “Freedom Preparatory” told KSN News that they’ve already enrolled about 60 students for the next school year, and they anticipate having between 100 and 150 students for the inaugural school year. Candace Fish, who is currently a teacher with Wichita Public Schools, says the pandemic was her confirmation that families in Kansas needed an alternative.

“It’s not about being against the public school. It’s about the fact that not all kids learn that way,” said Fish. “We have a lot of students coming to us with dyslexia, that the curriculum that they’re used to doesn’t meet their needs. I kind of felt like I can do this in a different way, to meet needs of a different group of kids that I think kind of fall through the cracks.”

After years of teaching in both the public and private school setting, Fish is starting a new, independent Christian school on the west side of Wichita, near Central and I-235. At the time of our interview, Fish wouldn’t specify exactly where the tentative campus will be located because the land deal was not finalized. Freedom Preparatory plans to open in August with a home-school curriculum, Christian education, mixed-age classrooms, and a four-day school week.

“Fridays are full of enrichment activities, not just more time in the classroom kids aren’t going to sit in desks all day. They’re going to be allowed to move. They’re going to be very active in their education,” said Fish. Those Fridays include what some call “adulting courses” like balancing checkbooks, learning how to change a tire, learning how to change oil, and applying for loans.

This is coming at a time when our country is facing a nationwide teacher shortage. A recent Emporia State University survey, where they asked questions to about 20,000 students, found that about one in six teachers said they are “more” or “very likely” to leave public education. It also found about one in seven teachers said they plan on retiring in the next three years.

“They’re frustrated with maybe the schools they are in, and they want to see something different, they want kids to love learning again, and that’s what I feel like we’ve kind of lost over the years, is that kids don’t enjoy learning,” said Fish, speaking about how some teachers who taught in both the public and private settings have decided to join her new school.

“We just really said from the beginning that we want this to be an affordable option for families. In order to do that, our teachers are taking pay cuts. That’s just what we’re doing because we feel passionate about it,” added Fish.

The school hasn’t announced what the tuition rates will be yet. However, on Sunday, April 24, 2022, the school leaders plan on having an informational meeting about the inaugural school year at Cross Road Church, located at 2319 S. Maize Road.