“I can’t sleep if I don’t try it” was the mindset that propelled the Lexington Latin School into existence.
Jeannie Davis, founder and headmistress of the school, wanted so badly to share her passion for Classical Christian education with the families of Central Kentucky that it kept her up at night.
So, inspired by a lifelong friend in Louisville who founded Highlands Latin School, Davis launched LLS in 2006 as a hybrid school combining structured education with homeschooling.
The school started with 18 students. Less than a decade later, enrollment has soared to 245 with a staff of 36, including 30 teachers, allowing for a 9 to 1 student-teacher ratio.
Classes from JrK through sixth grade meet Tuesday-Thursday at Ashland Baptist Church on West Reynolds Road. High schoolers meet nearby at Quest Community Church.
Last spring, LLS had its first graduate – Sebastian Bradley, a National Merit Scholarship Finalist who is attending the University of Texas at Dallas.
Davis has a background in education and as a clinical social worker, and was near retirement age with two grown daughters when she opened the school not knowing whether it could survive.
“Classical education is so beautiful that I wanted children in Lexington to be educated with that curriculum,” she said.
Children study Latin and the ancient myths, and read Greek and Roman authors such as Homer, Sophocles and Virgil. Modern writers C.S. Lewis, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens also are part of the curriculum.
LLS also offers choir, archery, chess club, a cross-country club and a golf team.
Parents have embraced Davis’ concept, although she is quick to point out, “It’s not me, it’s the curriculum.”
“Classical education teaches virtue and wisdom,” said Melinda Asbridge, who has four children at the school. “It focuses on what’s good, true and beautiful.”
What about the quality of education?
“Oh my gosh,” she said. “Classes are challenging and hard, but class sizes are small so teachers work individually with students.”
Jessica Short, a former public school teacher with two children at LLS, echoes that sentiment. Short is also the LLS Lower School director.
“The curriculum is what my daughters needed and more,” she said. “The school trains children to use self-discipline and to learn time management. I’m also amazed at how much they can memorize.”
Memorization is a core skill at LLS. Children memorize Scripture, Latin, poems and songs, and each school year is capped with Recitation Day.
“One student recited a poem and it went for about 20 minutes. It was amazing,” Asbridge said.
The approach must be working. LLS students scored in the top 4% on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills.
Parents love these results, especially when they get to spend time with their children to boot.
“There is no homework on Tuesday through Thursday, so students start homework when they are fresh in the morning on Mondays and Fridays,” Short said.
“When they finish their work, we can go out to lunch or do activities or plan a trip to the zoo.
“If you enjoy spending time with your kids, this is your best option.”
Davis is choked with tears when she hears about the joy families feel about the school.
She has a similar reaction during the ceremony on the first day of school. A bagpiper plays as uniformed students parade into the sanctuary for prayer and an exhortation.
“It’s humbling that people put their faith in us and we have the responsibility for their education,” Davis said.
“I can hardly contain myself. I feel joy that children are getting this education.”
Two of those students are her grandchildren, Davis, 7, and Hill, 5. Davis drives them to school every day and soon will add 3-year-old Caroline to the trip.
Davis knows they will receive age-appropriate lessons laced with the tenets of the faith upon which all Christians agree.
That’s why Davis shows up at work when she could be enjoying retirement.
“This curriculum appeals to the heart, mind and soul,” she said. “The Christian foundation is important to the school. I know we are preparing our students for eternity first and academics second.” Y