Pursuing Their Passions

Posted on February 7, 2018

White Bear Lake Magazine - February 7th, 2018

The Northeast Suburban area's newest high school was started by hockey parents/Gradient Financial Group, LLC owners, Charles and Tami Lucius. Their mission was to give students “time during their school day in their chosen area of passion,” says Gentry Academy's education director Jennifer Kurth. But the goal of Gentry Academy, a “new generation” private school in Vadnais Heights, extends far beyond hockey or any other sport.

Gentry's accelerated programs are designed to enable students in grades five through 12 to excel in their chosen areas of interest, whether those be academics, technology, sports, creative activities—such as photography, graphic design and film production—or future success in the business world.

Kurth emphasizes the school's varied offerings. “We have high-end athletes in all areas of athletics offered. We also have students who chose not to participate in any athletics during the school day, and follow their passions in academics and the arts,” Kurth says. Students are only allowed to participate in athletics if they are “caught up” in academics and excelling in the classroom, she explains.

Gentry provides a traditional classroom setting taught by licensed teachers, with class size limited to 20 students. Each classroom is taught by a licensed teacher and offers para-educators to ensure students receive individualized attention. Gentry's curriculum follows the Minnesota K–12 State Standards for learning, focusing on the four core areas of learning: math, language arts, social studies and science.

One of Gentry's unique aspects is its flexible What I Need (W.I.N.) time learning model, which augments the core curriculum. Students are given two hours daily to direct their learning, tailoring their school day to fit their individual goals for skill acquisition and enrichment.

Kurth also cites the school's proprietary leadership curriculum, facilitated by influential teacher and speaker Megan Stone, author of the book, Own Your Education! By applying the leadership principles taught by Stone, Gentry Academy “creates an environment where each student owns his or her education, and this ownership allows for the proper educational development of every student,” Kurth says.

In the spring of 2017, Gentry students and faculty moved to a high-tech “active learning” facility built on the Vadnais Sports Center Campus, in Vadnais Heights. It has more than 50,000 square feet including interactive classrooms, with smart boards and demountable white board walls. Students also use a media center equipped with computer stations, areas for brainstorming and independent learning.

Gentry's athletic director Joe Jensen played hockey at St. Cloud State, minor league pro hockey, and six games in the National Hockey League, before spending several years playing professionally in Europe. The hockey program has eight other specialist-coaches, including former Minnesota North Star player Scott Bjugstad, who spent 10 years in the NHL. Other sports are also well represented in on-staff expertise, Kurth says.

The Lucius' sons, Chaz and Cruz, born in 2003 and 2004, are eighth-graders at Gentry. While they still have four years of high school ahead of them, they are already looking beyond that, to playing college hockey. They have already been recruited by the University of Minnesota hockey program and are believed to be the youngest recruits in Gopher hockey history.
 
Parents Pete and Jill Sajevic of Shoreview, who have two children attending Gentry—ninth-grader Nick and seventh-grader Cara—are happy with the school and the leadership classes their kids have been getting. “Our kids have learned to run weekly meetings with their parents, and to run meetings with their teachers and parents as part of their school conferences, which makes them accountable for what they have done,” Pete says. “These are the skills that we believe will help them succeed in life.”

Gentry's annual tuition is $14,900 per student. Financial assistance and scholarships are available.


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