By Spencer Parkinson
A University for Children is a private school with a distinct philosophy – smaller classes allowing for better education.
With 65 students and 15 certified teachers, the school is designed to teach children more effectively by using smaller classes and one-on-one teacher to student instruction, said Dr. Lillian Zarndt, principal of the Springville school.
“A University for Children is a school which helps students find their own best ways to learn and to achieve their potential physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually,” Zarndt said. “The purpose of this school is to encourage students to think and to become makers of meaning and vision.”
“The instruction is individualized,” she said. “Each student”s abilities, needs, interests, learning style and pace are considered.”
Zarndt said class sizes vary according to need and subject, but are generally quite small.
The public education system of Utah has had problems in the past with the size of classes, said Carl Nielsen, superintendent of the Nebo School District.
“Utah has the highest average for number of students per teacher in the nation,” Nielsen said. “And Nebo School District has one of the highest in the state.”
Nielsen said the national average is around 16 students per teacher while in Utah it is closer to 24 students per teacher.
“The state and federal governments have committed to some funding for reducing class size,” Nielsen said. “And we have seen improvements. It is everyone”s goal to reduce class sizes. The smaller the classes are, the better.”
BYU graduate Kim Crosby has been teaching at A University for Children for three years. She said the small class size allows her to help students reach their full potential.
“I have a lot more freedom to explore new ways of teaching and learning,” Crosby said. “Learning in this school is more individual, so the students are able to progress and learn at their own rate.”
Crosby said she loves to lead the students who struggle to success.
“They just take off,” she said.
“Joe” Ng Siu Kwan, 17, an international student from Hong Kong, is new to the University for Children.
He said the problems public schools face in Hong Kong are similar to those faced by the public school system in the United States.
“The teachers don”t have enough time to spend on each student,” Joe said. “The students don”t have a lot of chances to talk to the teachers, so the teacher does not really understand you.”
Joe said he likes the smaller classes at A University for Children and the way the teachers spend a lot of time with each student.
“They understand you very well,” he said. “They know what you are good at and what you are weak in. They really take care of you.”
Joe said he was an average student in Hong Kong.
“I didn”t know what I could do or what I was good at,” Joe said. “But after just five months in this school, I understand myself more.”