One Parent’s Journey to Hunter Classical Christian School

This article was written by a parent at Hunter Classical Christian School.  If you are interested in learning more about HCCS, please call 804.708.0048 or visit Walk-in Wednesdays between 9:00 and 11.00am.  Next Open Houses on Oct. 26th at 9:30am; Nov. 19th at 4pm.  HCCS is located at 635 Manakin Road, Manakin-Sabot, VA.

Looking at Schools

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”  As someone who comes from a family of educators, there is little more important to me and my family than education, and I took my son’s education very seriously.  From a young age, the world was his classroom. We took nature walks daily and would get lost in books for hours together. So when it came time to think about sending him to school, I wanted to know all of our options. We wanted somewhere that would allow individual attention for our child, and somewhere that placed importance on community and growth of character as well as academics. When I started looking at schools, our son was only three and one-half years old, but he was already a budding reader, and he loved to play spelling and word games. His birthday is in October, and just past the public school cut off for his age group; public school was not an option for him. We took our time and researched educational institutions and philosophies: Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, Catholic Schools, all boys schools… and then someone steered us toward Hunter Classical Christian School (HCCS). “What is a classical approach?” you might ask (I certainly did). Classical education helps to teach children by following the natural developmental progression of their minds, firstly forming a solid foundation of facts and truths, and culminating in the ability to make sound arguments, think critically, and solve problems. The child is taught not just what is to be learned, but how to learn, and the process of independent thinking. Check box one for HCCS. We called and made an appointment to tour the school.

Visiting & Getting to Know HCCS

On the drive to the school for the first time, tall stately trees swept past our car. And in a clearing, the school opened to our right. We were minutes away from Short Pump, Route 288, and Midlothian, yet the school site felt protected, insular. We met with Dr. Ann McLean, founder and head of school, not only that day, but on multiple occasions, and found her open, patient and personable. On our tour there, Dr. McLean greeted every child that passed us by name. One child had a special smile and greeted us cheerfully. Later, Dr McLean told us that he was reading at a third grade level, despite being in first grade. “He goes over to the third grade classroom for reading”, she explained. “This is the kind of individualized education plan we can offer”. The flexibility doesn’t stop there though – classrooms are sometimes taken outside when weather permits, both for lunch / snack and when exploring something hands-on in its natural setting augments the curriculum.

Dr. McLean understood how important this decision was for us, and she allowed my husband and me to sit in on the kindergarten classroom, and the children’s daily chapel routine, which we took advantage of several times. We had the opportunity to observe the kindergarten teacher, Ms. Blissert, in her element, and were very impressed by her easy command of the classroom and the way she related to the children. Dr. McLean and Ms. Blissert also encouraged our son to come in and be a “student for a day” to ensure he was comfortable and that the environment was a good fit. He felt really welcomed there, and on the drive home, asked when he could go back. “And mom, they have two playground times!” As a parent, there is nothing better than having your child enjoy learning and being at school. And in a time when many schools are cutting out PE and recess, it is a breath of fresh air to see a school value the social learning that is done on the playground. Not to mention the enhanced ability to focus that comes after some major energy is expended working large muscle groups!

The real clincher for us though, was observing the “Lessons and Carols” Christmas program that the school puts on. Children, of every grade, went up to the lectern in the chapel and recited verses from scripture to the pews packed with proud parents, grandparents and faculty. Dr. McLean had spoken to me of HCCS’ mission of educating the whole child, but this truly underscored their high expectations and the ability of the staff to lift up and support these children to achieve success. With every interaction since, we have observed the teachers at HCCS to be engaged and caring. And finally, to top it off, HCCS was very affordable in comparison to the many other private schools in our area.


Since we made our decision to send our son there, Mrs. Mills, a loving and experienced educator, has taken over the kindergarten classroom. Our son has come home smiling every day. One day in particular, when asked what his favorite part of the day had been, he answered, “Mrs. Mills.” And even bigger than his love for Mrs. Mills, is the caring community we have found at HCCS. Mrs. Mills called our home after the second week of school inquiring about how we felt the transition was going for us. She asked that we feel free to keep the lines of communication open, for everything: celebrations and concerns. She has already helped us to navigate and make sense of some of the transitions Liam was experiencing as a new kindergartener. This type of individual attention is possible here because of the small class sizes, which allow children to grow not just in academics, but also socially and emotionally. HCCS views parental participation as integral to the student’s learning experience: a partnership between the family and school such that time at each place is an extension of the other. Manners, kindness, and forgiveness are part of the curriculum. Every morning, Liam is expected to greet faculty at the door with a handshake and look them in the eye. Going to school is so much more here than just learning to read and write. And at HCCS, these other activities are character-building, not the assimilation of bad habits that sometimes can come home insidiously from a larger classroom where it’s just not possible for a teacher to know everything going on at all times.

Perhaps the biggest and most pleasant surprise for me though, was the strong parent cohesion at HCCS. I expected that my child would grow and learn at school, but I feel like I have found support here as well. Many other mothers and fathers sending their children here share similar concerns about their children’s education, and there is a wonderful sense of community as we start off the school year together. The school expects feedback from the parents, and families here are given a voice to help shape the future of our children in a way that would not be possible in a larger institution.

At HCCS, my heart swells at drop off and pick up: I know he is in good hands. We feel confident that our son is being challenged and cared for. We feel like he has found a home away from home. If you are interested in an intimate school setting where your child is truly known, loved, and growing not only academically but also personally, in a grounded Christian environment, let Hunter Classical Christian School lead your child down the path towards intelligence and character.