Our Mission

To train the mind and develop the character of each student according to a rigorous, integrated and content-rich, liberal arts curriculum from the Western, classical tradition in an academic setting that honors and inculcates moral, intellectual and civic virtue.

Our Vision

To form wise and virtuous American citizens who seek the truth, love what is beautiful, and do what is good.


Heart of Ohio Classical Academy is a community (charter) school founding project led by dedicated parents and concerned citizens in Central Ohio who believe that modern schooling in America has lost sight of the proper purposes of a formal education: The teaching of intellectual, moral and civic virtue.

As a Hillsdale College Candidate Member School, HOCA enjoys the support of the Barney Charter School Initiative, which assists groups of local citizens with the launch and operation of classical K-12 charter schools in their communities all around the country. That support includes access to the extraordinarily rich and academically rigorous K-12 American classical curriculum that Hillsdale has developed, as well as consultation and training for boards, administrators and teachers at no cost to its member schools.

A curriculum guide overview of the material taught at each grade in Hillsdale member schools is available here.

Heart of Ohio Classical Academy is currently on track to open its doors in the fall of 2023 to students in grades K-5, adding a grade each year, up to grade twelve. It will be public, tuition free, open to any student who is eligible to attend any public school in Ohio (space permitting), and will be located in the Columbus metro area.

For additional information, visit the FAQ Page or send the Founders a message here.

Governing Authority

Michele Coldiron was born and raised in western Canada. She traveled to New York for a PhD in Systematics and Evolution. After marrying Ronn and beginning a family she left for California with an en route Masters in Science from the Graduate Center of the CUNY while working at the American Museum of Natural History. She lived in Los Altos, CA for 40 years, raising 4 children and now grandmother of 2. She earned a Masters in Education from Stanford University and taught in public and private schools and as a tutor at the junior and senior high school level. She dedicated the past 15 years as an advocate for family and the meaning of personhood as foundational for a vibrant society, co-founding the non-profit Creative Catholic Works. In 2020 Michele and her husband moved to Ohio to be closer to their youngest daughter.

Dr. Jim Cowardin is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy (BS) and The Ohio State University with a Doctorate in Special Education. He has served as a classroom teacher, a school administrator and teacher trainer, and he has been the main developer of three Community Schools in the Central Ohio area. Dr. Cowardin’s academic area of concentration is Applied Behavior Analysis and automated learning systems.

Dr. David Gallit is a graduate of Kent State University, where he was a University Fellow, with Doctorate in Physical Education. He has worked with a number of Special needs children in a clinical setting. Dr. Gallit’s academic areas of concentration are History and Philosophy. He has had extensive experience in project management and community service, having served as Treasurer of the Ohio District of Kiwanis.

Jim Hull is a graduate of Harding University and a Dublin City Schools teacher since 1991. Most of his classes focused on the History of Western Civilization. Mr. Hull established several new extracurriculars like Student Council, Jerome High School’s state-championship golf program, an Investment Club, student life initiatives, and new custom classical archaeological tours for students and parents. Apart from school, Mr. Hull managed rental properties for 29 years and served on the neighborhood board of directors.

Greg Lawson is a research fellow at an independent research and educational nonprofit institution in Columbus, where he is an expert in Ohio’s state budget, state and local taxes, and education policy and funding, among other areas. He previously served on two Columbus-based community (charter) school boards, is the author of numerous white papers and reports, and has been published in Ohio’s major newspapers and in national publications, including Forbes. Greg lives in Westerville with his wife and their three, school-age children.

Beth Lear is an education policy expert with 15 years of experience advocating for school choice, a return to an academic focus in education, increased parental oversight and access to curriculum and protection of students’ rights. She is a veteran of the Ohio Air National Guard, a graduate of The Ohio State University and a central Ohio native.

Shawn Parker is a lifelong resident of Columbus and is the founder of his own real estate and asset management firm. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University, where he has also completed graduate coursework at the Fisher College of Business. Shawn previously served as an Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 117 of the Boy Scouts of America and is a current member of the Knights of Columbus and a volunteer Director of Ohio State’s Delta Chi House Corporation.


What is a “classical” education?

Classical education is, above all, the teaching of virtue. It was the prevailing philosophy of education in the West for over 2000 years, from Plato and Aristotle and continuing through the American founding until around the turn of the twentieth century. Classical education values knowledge for its own sake; maintains that truth, beauty and goodness are objective; upholds standards of correctness and excellence; develops moral virtue in its students; and prepares them to be responsible citizens in their political community.

What is a Community School?

Community schools, often called charter schools in other states, are public nonprofit, nonsectarian schools that operate independently of any school district but under a contract with an authorized sponsoring entity that is established by statute or approved by the State Board of Education. Community schools are public schools of choice and are state and federally funded.

What will students be taught?

HOCA will use the Hillsdale College K-12 classical curriculum, which includes:

  • Core Knowledge history and geography
  • Classical literature and philosophy from the Western canon
  • Singapore math
  • Core Knowledge science
  • Explicit grammar and phonics
  • American civics
  • Latin
  • Music and the arts
  • Physical education

A more complete curriculum guide overview is available here.

When will the school open?

HOCA is on track to open in the fall of 2023.

Who can attend?

Any student who resides in Ohio is eligible to enroll in a public community school, including HOCA, space permitting.

What will it cost?

HOCA is a public school and will be tuition free.

Where will the school be located?

The school will be located in the Columbus metro area. The founders are in the process of identifying possible sites for the school, based on facility size and suitability, acreage, safety, accessibility and desirability of location, as well as cost.

Who will be the principal, teachers and staff?

The founders are currently in the process of hiring a headmaster; please apply by referencing this document. Once the principal is hired, that individual will be responsible for the recruitment and hiring of teachers and staff for the school.

If you have any interest in a position with HOCA and are qualified to teach or serve in an administrative capacity, please feel free to contact the founders.

What can I do to support the opening of the school?

There are at least three ways that you can help:

  1. Donate – opening a new school requires significant, up-front capital to pay for:
    • Facility lease or purchase and renovations
    • Desks, classroom supplies, and administrative office needs
    • Legal, consulting, and marketing fees
    • Principal and teacher salaries prior to opening

    If you are willing and able to donate or pledge your financial support for the school, please visit the Contribute page.

  2. Spread the word – let your friends, neighbors and colleagues know about HOCA, including by sending an email to them with a link to our website, so that they can learn more about the school and how to support it.
  3. Volunteer – if you have time and expertise in the field(s) of education, marketing, real estate, finance, or are just a concerned parent or citizen who would like to be more involved in the founding effort, be sure to Contact us and include in your message that you would like to explore ways to become more actively involved.
How much money needs to be raised in order for the school to open?

Our goal is to raise $2 million in funds and pledges by the time the school opens in the fall of 2023. Although HOCA likely could open its doors on a smaller budget, a strong fundraising campaign will expand the facility options and position the school especially well to grow significantly as it serves more grades each year. However, whatever amount we are able to raise, HOCA is committed to opening in 2023 if at all possible.

Is HOCA a tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization?

The application for tax exempt status is in process. See the Contribute page for details.

Upcoming Events

Governing Authority Meeting

  • Date: Third Tuesday of every month (unless otherwise noted)
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Location: Parker Realty Associates, 110 Northwoods Blvd, Worthington, OH 43235

Meeting of Headmaster Committee

  • Date: June 27, 2022
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Location: 7550 N High St, Columbus, OH 43235


We are currently accepting applications for the Headmaster position. Please contact us if you are interested in a faculty or staff position.


Thank you for your interest in and willingness to donate to Heart of Ohio Classical Academy. Your gift will support the formation of wise and virtuous American citizens, right here in Central Ohio.

Heart of Ohio Classical Academy was incorporated and organized as an Ohio nonprofit corporation on June 22, 2021. Heart of Ohio Classical Academy submitted its application to the Internal Revenue Service March 4, 2022, requesting recognition of its exempt status as a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational organization. We expect but cannot guarantee that the IRS will approve that application, and unless and until such application is approved and an exemption determination letter is issued by the IRS, Heart of Ohio Classical Academy will only be able to accept donations through our fiscal sponsor.

A fiscal sponsor is a nonprofit organization that provides fiduciary oversight, financial management, and other administrative services to help build the capacity of charitable projects, including during the period between application and approval by the IRS as a tax-exempt organization. Our fiscal sponsor, In(form)ed, LLC, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Community Shares of Mid Ohio, and has generously agreed to partner with HOCA for a nominal administrative fee to accept charitable contributions intended for the school, which funds can then be issued as grants to the school to support its cause. A copy of our fiscal sponsor agreement can be found here. If you desire to learn more about our fiscal sponsor, including by checking out their parent organization’s Form 990 on file with IRS, In(form)ed’s EIN is 31-1363943.

If and when Heart of Ohio Classical Academy receives an IRS exemption determination letter it will revisit its need for continued fiscal sponsorship and will update this page with any changes to the donation process.

Thank you again for your interest in supporting this important mission.


We can be reached at hoca@heartofohioclassical.org. Sign up below if you would like to be added to our email list:



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