Historic Croft Schoolhouse goes back to school
by Staff Writer
CHARLOTTE – It’s been nearly eight decades since the sound of a school bell has rung through the Croft Schoolhouse in north Mecklenburg County.
But classes will be in session again when Pioneer Springs Community School, a minimal-tuition private school, opens Aug. 1 in the historic schoolhouse. Croft School opened in 1890 to serve the unincorporated community of Croft, a railroad-centered, rural business district between Huntersville and Charlotte.
Abigail Jennings, the new school’s financial director, said the board acquired the house “pretty much by accident.” She attended a meeting at the property at 9200 Bob Beatty Road, which was then being used as office space.
“The owners wanted it to go back to its original purpose,” Cheryl Demers, the school’s director, said.
Croft School first opened as a two-room, two-story schoolhouse, but Croft businessman Silas Davis decided to resolve matters by personally paying to expand the schoolhouse to four rooms in 1910.
Croft School closed in the 1930s when a new schoolhouse, which is now a VFW post, opened across N.C. 115. Croft Community School, a nearby public school in Charlotte, retains the name.
Next month the old school house’s doors will open to a new generation of students.
Pioneer Springs Community School’s board members and founders – Cheryl Demers, Abigail Jennings, Erin McDonald and Randolph Lewis – met while their children attended preschool at the Children’s Schoolhouse, a parent cooperative preschool in Huntersville. Parents of each student at the school pitch in, which gave the future board members a small – but helpful – taste of running a school.
Their children eventually went on to attend Corvian Community School after preschool, but the state awarded the then-private school charter status earlier this year. None of the students were chosen to keep attending Corvian through the charter school lottery, so the parents united to create their own school.
“We wanted another alternative to our home schools and there really wasn’t one,” Jennings said. “The schools that we felt best matched our educational philosophy were full.”
Demers also said the school plans to apply for charter status – which would allow it to operate as a publicly funded charter school – in a couple of years. The school will use the same education philosophy, Ernest Boyer’s The Basic School philosophy, used for Community School of Davidson and Corvian Community School. More than 3,500 children remain on those schools’ waiting lists, demonstrating a need for an alternative approach to education, Jennings said.
“It’s a very creative and holistic approach to learning, meaning students can be learning one lesson in a particular subject and within that one lesson they will be learning about reading, writing, art and music,” Jennings said. “Everything is built-in.”
The board plans to begin with one class each of 20 kindergarteners and 20 first-graders this year, adding a grade each school year.
Spaces are still available for students in both classes, Demers said. Tuition costs $550 a month or $5,500 a year.
Want to go?
What: Pioneer Springs Community School opening and ribbon cutting
Where: Historic Croft Schoolhouse, 9200 Bob Beatty Road, Charlotte
When: Aug. 1 at 4 p.m.
Details: www.PioneerSprings.org or PioneerSpringsCS@gmail.com.