The History of Live Oak Academy

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. - Isaiah 61

Live Oak Academy began as a home school family-run cooperative in the early 1990s. For several years, small classes met in the home of founding family, John and Annie Rose. Over the years, LOA has experienced steady and measured growth both in numbers of students and grades offered, and the current location of First Presbyterian Church of Santa Clara is its sixth church facility. LOA has carefully developed a rigorous and classical course of study, earning a high reputation for the pursuit of excellence in academics while remaining true to its classical roots and faithful to its Christian witness.

During the years 2000-2002, the cooperative identified some key issues that informed the decision to incorporate. The first was that the students needed a consistent course of study. They did not benefit from curriculum redesign each year. A firm foundation needed to be laid, upon which the next years’ classes might be built. Second, relatively few parents felt qualified to teach high school classes. This put pressure on families to find other schooling opportunities as their students reached high school. At the same time, California community colleges were making it increasingly difficult for high school students to participate in their classes. Thus, home schooling families with high school students were in a bind. They needed a safe environment that provided academically challenging courses for their students.

In response to these concerns, the members of the cooperative did four things. First, they formed a proto-board to guide long-term curriculum and vision. This team created course descriptions and developed the educational philosophy. Next, they actively recruited more teaching families from a wider circle of homeschoolers. Third, they looked for a new facility that would accommodate the growth. And finally, by the fall of 2003, after much work, papers were filed, the proto-board became a board, and Live Oak Academy officially became a nonprofit public benefit corporation.

Live Oak Academy received its name from founding board member John Rose, who was inspired by the verses from the prophet Isaiah proclaiming that God’s people will be called “oaks of righteousness,” and that He will use His people to “rebuild the ancient ruins” and restore their nation. The live oak, of course, is a native tree to California.

The founding board consisted of the following members: John R. Rose, Annie Rose, Jean Cherniss, Jeff Cherniss, Cindy Stansbury, Tayloe Stansbury and Chris Owen. Jeff and Jean Cherniss ended their board terms in 2006. Additional board members joined as follows: Libby Mayer in 2006, Alicia Owen in 2008, and Salvatore and Josephine Caruso in 2012.

The homeschooling vision of the founding board was to provide a safe, virtue-loving community for children to grow their faith in orthodox Christianity, to train their minds into competence for responsible citizenship, and to form their consciences toward the love of what is right, instead of what is pleasurable or fashionable. To this end, children are given both practical and theoretic instruction in Christian worldview (as well as competing worldviews). They are also encouraged to adopt sound values, and to live out their faith in authentic ways. Finally, they are challenged with rigorous academics. None of this is new; it is the way Christendom has aspired to train its young for two millennia. Even more than Latin classes and a respect for great thinkers, this is the embodiment of Live Oak Academy’s “classical” identity.

In its earliest years, LOA had combined classes for early kindergarten, early elementary and upper elementary. Over the years, additional grades were added to accommodate steady and healthy growth. By fall of 2009, LOA added the 12th grade and has since held graduations in the years 2010 onward. In the fall of 2011, nearly all grades K-12 were doubled to two sections.

Live Oak Academy has always relied heavily on the generosity and tireless service of its board members for the operational, strategic, and development needs of the Academy. Founding board members served as headmaster as follows: Cindy Stansbury (2001-2004) and Chris Owen (2004-2007). Chris Owen also served as Academy President during his tenure. Cindy Stansbury was the first Chair of the Board, and Tayloe Stansbury has served as Chair of the Board since 2003. In the fall of 2007, LOA hired its first salaried headmaster, Steve DePangher, who had already been a Live Oak parent and teacher for several years; he was also named President in 2008. Teaching parents have always been a strength of LOA and continue to comprise approximately half of the faculty.

As a result of its steady growth, the Academy has had the privilege of enjoying the following church facilities: Joint Ventures Church (2000-2002), Hope Church (2002-2004), South Valley Christian Church (2004-2005), Foxworthy Baptist Church (2005-2008), Calvary Chapel (2008- 2011); due to space limitations, our campus was split between First Baptist Church of Campbell for grades K-6 and Calvary Chapel for grades 7th-12th (2011-2012); all grades were again brought back together on one campus at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Clara in fall 2012.

Live Oak Academy stands strong today, a “planting of the Lord,” with an ever-fervent desire to assist homeschooling families as they raise their children to be thoughtful leaders and faithful servants to the Lord.