Explore School Choices this YearJan 20, 2023 12:00AM ● By By Debra Dingman
Students at the Valley of the Sacred Heart, located at 105 South Second Street in Dixon, experience a variety of Montessori and classical education styles. Photo by Chris Simpson
DIXON, CA (MPG) - Parents, organizations and particularly three Dixon schools, Neighborhood Christian School, Dixon Montessori Charter School, and St. Peter’s Catholic School will be marking National School Choice Week January 22-28. It’s a week that reminds parents that school choice is the process of families choosing K-12 options that best fit their children.
Valley of the Sacred Heart Academy
Valley of the Sacred Heart Academy is at the Catholic Church in Dixon, 105 South Second Street and you might note the sign across the street picturing their future goal of a school building. They offer a 2-year transitional Kindergarten program (“TK”) through 12th grade with Montessori style for elementary classes.
They teach classical education for junior high and high school combined. The 70 students enrolled also do faith formation one day a week. Out of the variety of subjects taught such as history, literature, philosophy, theology, and languages, a favorite time appears in the atrium where Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is offered.
“The students love that time. It’s very quiet, and is hands-on learning about scriptures and liturgy,” said School Director Chris Simpson who grew up in Dixon and with her husband, has raised their three children here. She has two teaching credentials and a Master’s in Education.
The distinct approach to the religious formation of the child she speaks of was made in Italy 60 years ago and the weekly sessions for the Dixon students are twice a week for a couple hours each time, Simpson explained.
“This is where they fall in love with God,” she said. “For other students, there are science programs, art, drama, and math but the integrated curriculum in science, art, and philosophy really challenges them. They are learning how to think, not just being told. It’s getting them to see why and what through the lens of faith.”
Interestingly, the private school also hosts a homeschool co-op all day on Fridays. That program started nine years ago and five years ago, the group pushed for a full-time school.
“That’s actually how we started,” Simpson said. Now, they are hoping to build the school across the street soon but need more money. “I live here and I love Dixon. There is a lot of prayer. We’re fundraising hard for the school. We’re submitting plans to the city. There’s money out there; I just got to find it.” Currently, tuition is $4,000 a year.
Dixon Montessori Charter School
Dixon Montessori is led by Executive Director Ben Ernest who also grew up in Dixon. There is a staff of about 50 full-time and support people. There is no charge to attend this school but there is usually a waiting list.
DMCS is a tuition-free public school committed to developing socially responsible life-long learners, according to their website. They are located at 355 North Almond Street in the former Silveyville Elementary School site.
“We made the choice to go to Dixon Montessori Charter School because they offer a variety of learning styles and we felt that would be a great fit for our daughter,” said Michelle Salow. “They have a more hands-on learning approach, and we thought it would get her interested in school. They can cater to the different student’s learning styles.” Their daughter started at DMCS in Kindergarten in 2017, and Salow became involved in the parent organization, soon serving as President.
“She’ll stay through 8th grade,” she said. “We love it.” To reach the school, call (707) 678-8953
Grandparent of seven children attending the school, Jill Orr, also had high accolades.
“All my grandkids go there, and they are great. They work with the children and make them feel comfortable – not incapable. The school builds their confidence and makes them feel capable so I cannot say enough good things about the staff, the teachers, and the parents who donate their time there,” she said. For more information, call (707) 678-8953.
Neighborhood Christian School
Another private school is Neighborhood Christian School which has undergone major changes in the past couple of years not only due to the pandemic, when several long-time teachers decided to retire, but also due to the move to its new location at the former church site of Dixon Community Church, 955 East A Street. Plus, David Vidmar, long-time director also retired, and David and Eden Callison became new directors.
The 40-year-old school has about 110 students in prekindergarten through 8th grade. Students come from Dixon as well as the surrounding cities of Vacaville, Winters, Woodland and even Sacramento. Unlike the Catholic school, church membership is not required.
“We are excited to speak [of] God’s love to these children and their families. We are not at capacity, but classes are capped at 15 students each. In the next three years, we hope to offer high school,” Eden said. “We are in a partnership with parents educating students for life. We do have a faith statement that is more about the unity of Christ and [students] are memorizing scripture.”
The school is Inter-denominational and is project based.
“Everything we learn we want to be able to apply in life,” Eden explained. They have partnered with Sustainable Solano which helped build a large garden in the front of the church grounds and she reports they have future plans to use the kitchen to expand lessons from the produce grown. Yes, even chickens are part of those future plans. For more information, call (707) 678-9336.