Friday, April 20 , 2018, 4:13 pm | Fair 63º


At Providence Hall of Santa Barbara, New School, New Headmaster, Same Mission

The expanding school recently relocated to a temporary facility and will continue to look for a permanent home to accommodate its growth

It has been a summer of change for Providence Hall of Santa Barbara.

The young Christian school has moved from its beginnings on Micheltorena Street to Canon Perdido Street, and a new headmaster, David O’Neil, has started at the school. Despite all of the transition, the school remains focused on a classical approach to education and its motto, “Truth, Beauty, Excellence.”

Noozhawk got a glimpse of the school’s new home on Wednesday. It now occupies four buildings on the Boys & Girls Club property at 630 E. Canon Perdido St.

With the school expanding to include seventh and eighth grades this year, in addition to its high school, space was tight at its leased facility on the Notre Dame campus.

“It’s a better space for the school. There’s a vibrancy about it,” O’Neil said of the new location as he joined student Cielo Prischak in leading a tour of each of the school’s classrooms.

The tour started with an economics class, where students were just finishing up their first quiz of the year. Teacher Bruce Rottman transitioned into an engaging lecture with the students that left them laughing and asking questions about capitalism and morality.

Another room found physical education teacher Andy Gill, performing arts teacher Rebecca Hodson and college adviser Jen Loomer working together. Gill said the students are experiencing the outdoors in many of their P.E. classes. One group recently returned from a surfing outing, and each class has a service component, Gill said, so a beach cleanup day is on the way.

Down the hall, five students shared teacher Sarah Bentley in a Spanish 2 class.

“I’m not too confident in Spanish, so this smaller class size is great,” said sophomore Olivia Barroca, one of the students in the class. With nearly 90 students at the school this year, small class sizes remain a strength, and Barroca said she feels more freedom to ask questions.

Though Providence Hall’s teaching is based on Christian values, O’Neil said the school encourages a variety of opinions.

“We’re here to teach the students how to think, not what to think,” he said.

About 20 students make up the new seventh- and eighth-grade classes that began this year, and seventh-graders were preparing for their daily Latin class when Noozhawk popped in Wednesday.

The use of new tools to teach the classics is also under way, and the school’s planned use of technology is impressive. The entire campus is wireless, and O’Neil looks forward to incorporating teaching with iPads and iPhones. He also hopes to use Google Apps to get Providence Hall students collaborating with others across the world. 

Several of the school’s classrooms have front walls coated in Idea paint, which allows the entire wall to be transformed as a whiteboard, so as many as 15 students can be at the board at a time. Epson interactive projectors are also used by several of the teachers and can project onto the white walls, creating a large wall-to-wall screen for students.

Many of the rooms are unfinished, including the science lab. New equipment is arriving every day for the facility, and O’Neil is confident the space will be state-of-the-art for math and science classes.

He said the location on Canon Perdido isn’t a permanent one, and ultimately, the school will be looking for a space that can support about 250 students in seventh through 12th grades as it continues to expand. 

“Until then, this will be a great home for us,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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