SPIRE Academy | Academics

SPIRE is one of the most unique and impressive sports facilities in the country. But today, there is so much more to SPIRE than just sports.

The Academy is designed to facilitate knowledge acquisition in academic, personal growth, passion interests and profession interests, which are all of equal value to each student. Its educational delivery model is built on the foundation that with the abundance of knowledge available through technology, the old, unfortunate silo approach to learning…and the essential levels of motivation demonstrated by high school, college and young professionals today…indicate that a major learning re-direct is necessary.

SPIRE provides this ideal academic re-direct.

It’s learning environment balances daily academic, passions, professional and career aspirations within facilities and programs that nurture personal growth and stimulate the desires to challenge oneself.  And all of this is done while helping individuals identify and experience professions and career development opportunities that better prepare them for all of life’s journey.

The coaching team (formally called teachers) are engaged to guide, not dictate, learning and facilitate achievement above self-expectations.  The program offerings provide core academic exposure, plus experiential and relational related group learning options. They also offer personal, professional and career program guidance necessary to meet graduation requirements.

SPIRE Academy is an affiliate of Grand River Academy, accredited by ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States).  Grand River Academy is a member of NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools), OAIS (Ohio Association of Independent School), and Ohio Department of Education.

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2023-24 Course List

  • English

    Introduction to Literature and Composition

    • This course links short pieces of literature from many perspectives and time periods to introduce students to different genres, themes, and styles. Students will develop writing skills by progressing from shorter pieces of writing to more complex and longer writing. Throughout the course, students will have an opportunity to select from a variety of readings which will afford an opportunity for dialogue across texts using guided discussions. This course provides a solid foundation for future English courses by introducing students to college preparatory reading, analyzing, and writing about literature, while focusing on the fundamentals such as vocabulary development, spelling, comprehension and study skills, grammar, usage, and the mechanics of writing.

    World Literature and Composition 

    • This course links pieces of writing from around the world and through history to expose students to different genres, themes, and styles. While a number of the works will be selected by the faculty, students will have opportunities to research and bring pieces they find to anchor their learning. This course integrates technology as students see the global nature of writing and the impact these pieces have on our understanding of cultures. Throughout this course, students will develop their analytical writing skills, as well as focus on the writing process from brainstorming to drafting and editing. 

    American Literature and Composition 

    • Students typically pair this course with American History as they complement each other thematically. During this course, students have the opportunity to read novels, poetry, and short stories written by American authors. Readings will frequently coincide with the period of time students are learning in history and projects naturally will overlap between the two courses. Research writing skills will be a primary focus of this course, along with further development of analytical writing.

    Western Literature and Composition

    • This course looks at literature through the lens of Western societies and cultures. Students will compare and contrast pieces of literature and develop written expression through short and longer essays. Students will have a choice in some of the pieces of writing they complete. Additionally, students will incorporate technology within the curriculum.

    Creative Writing Elective

    • This is a workshop course where students have the opportunity to explore their own fiction and non-fiction writing skills. Students will read a number of short stories in order to gain inspiration and analyze the style of writing. Through reading various pieces students will then have the opportunity to write a number of short pieces in a guided fashion. 

    Narrative Studies

    • This is an elective course focusing on “voice” in literature. Students will read dystopian novels, as well as have the opportunity to pick a novel of their choice to read. As students read they will develop their understanding of literary terms and how authors intentionally develop storylines. Students will have a chance to rewrite a story of their choice.

    Sports and Literature

    • This is an elective course looking at sports within the literature. A focus of this class will be historical pieces of sports literature, with students having opportunities to select stories they find a connection to. Throughout the course, students will discuss and see how sports have played a part in the literary experience over time. As part of this course, students will develop analytical and critical thinking skills, along with improved writing skills.


    • Students will have a chance to read and analyze non-fiction sports writing and journalism through this course. As part of this course, students will interview and connect with sports journalists. In addition to writing, this course will address the laws, ethics, history, and basics of news literacy. Students will create pieces of journalism based on events happening at SPIRE.

    Writing for Life

    • This course is designed to expose students to technical and professional writing skills (both written and digital), as well as spoken discourse. The objective of this course is to prepare the students for success in college and future careers. Areas of study include, but are not limited to: resume writing (and interview process), applications, letters, memos, proposals. Digital media, website design, social media writing will also be explored throughout this course. Students will learn how to use social media as a tool for productivity, and the development of an e-portfolio and website. 

    Grammar and Composition

    • This course emphasizes the study of grammar and composition and is presented in two parts. The first section of the course introduces and explores word origins and various parts of speech to prepare students for critical reading and writing. The second part of the course provides an analytical overview of grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure to help students improve writing skills, including writing efficiently and effectively. The focus of this course is on research reading and writing for college.

    AP English Language and Composition

    • During this college level course, students will read, analyze and dissect a range of fiction and non-fiction pieces. Students will cultivate critical thinking skills and develop complex written pieces. The level of mastery of this course will be shown through written expression, oral presentations, projects, and course discussions. As this is a College Board course students will have time throughout to practice and prepare for the end of year College Board AP exam.

    AP English Literature and Composition

    • This college level course is designed to provide students with college-level instruction in reading, interpreting, and analyzing a range of texts. Students will read pieces of literature from different periods, disciplines, and styles and annotate and analyze the works. Additionally, students will develop elements of poetry and the novel including language, style, and tone. The course follows the AP course description as outlined by College Board in order to help prepare students for the AP exam in the spring.
  • History

    World History 

    • Students will explore history using original documents supplemented with analysis of these primary sources. This course offers an opportunity for the class to guide the depth of time periods within history based on the interests of the group. The Harkness Method is often employed in order to provoke deep and meaningful conversation among students. Additionally, students will link the literature they read in English to the historical time periods studied in order to see links between literature and history. Furthermore, students will learn the fundamentals of research writing.

    American History

    • During this course, students will examine many aspects of U.S. History from pre-colonization to current times. Students will select individual projects to delve deeply into an aspect of American History they are intrigued by, thus allowing the whole class the opportunity to learn based on the interests of others. Students will utilize technology and cultivate their listening, speaking, and writing skills throughout this course. By looking at current events students will also link what happened historically not only in the United States but also throughout the world to see the intersections between history, countries, and the influences on the United States.

    Economics (semester)

    • Looking at the theory of economics, while also exploring the reality of finance, students will have the opportunity to learn how economies work around the world. Students will link their research to an understanding of their personal finances and how to manage money and prepare for retirement. Students will look at the current economic practices of countries to see how these practices influence daily life.

    History Through Sports (semester)

    • This one semester elective explores history through the lens of sports. For example,  students will study the Olympics and how global events have influenced this sporting event. Further, students will look at how sports have influenced policy and global economics, and diplomacy. Throughout this course, students will continue to develop written expression, the ability to think critically and globally and improve auditory expression.

    Government (semester)

    • This semester course looks at the foundation of the United States government and its evolution since the founding of the country. As part of this course, students will also look at how governments are influenced by each other across the world. Students have the opportunity to see how policies are created at the local, state, and national levels. Understanding government helps students be informed. Students will utilize their hometowns and countries as a tool to discuss similarities and differences in the political process. Through discourse and writing, students will continue to delve into the understanding of cultures, depth of knowledge, and the importance of being informed of the political process.

    Current Events (semester)

    • Using current events, this elective course focuses on world and local issues impacting students’ everyday lives, such as economics, government, and conflict. This course uses newspapers, online media, cartoons, newscasts, podcasts, and other mediums to support class discussion. Students participate in group projects, presentations, and work on primary source materials in order to understand the world around them. Given the contemporary nature of the subject, topics will vary based on the news cycle. Students will be challenged to defend their opinions on many different levels.

    Psychology (semester)

    • This introductory to psychology course allows students a chance to see how the brain works as well as the numerous areas within the broader field of psychology. Throughout this course, students will select a division of psychology to study, which will also inform the rest of the class. Group work, introduction to the research process and reading psychological studies will help students have a better understanding of this field of study. Intersections of psychology to sports will be a topic that is also interwoven throughout the course.

    Sociology (semester)

    • This introduction to sociology brings students’ awareness into the field of human interaction and how human behavior informs others. Students will read research studies and connect their understanding of sociology and its relevance across the curriculum. An exploration of sex and gender, the role of technology in society, economic inequality, as well as ethnicity, and racism.

    AP United States History

    • The AP U.S. History course is designed to provide students with the analytical skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the problems and materials in United States history. The class prepares students for intermediate and advanced college courses by creating learning opportunities equivalent to those made by a full-year introductory college course. Students learn to assess historical materials, their relevance to a given interpretive problem, reliability, and importance – and to weigh the evidence and interpretations presented in historical scholarship.
  • Mathematics

    Algebra 1

    • Throughout this course, students will learn the fundamentals of algebra. They will explore linear equations and the fundamentals of the algebraic system. Students will learn how to create equations and how to manipulate them. A focus on proficiency with algebraic algorithms is primary to this course. Linking algebra to physics and chemistry supports students in cross curricular learning. Projects include real world applications of algebraic themes.

    Algebra 2

    • This is the continuation of Algebra 1, where students learn to understand and solve quadratic and linear sets of equations. Graphing is a fundamental part of algebra 2 and students will utilize technology to learn how to solve systems of equations both algebraically and graphically. Throughout the year students utilize problem solving skills and apply their learning across the curriculum. Students will utilize data from their sports practices to see the link of algebraic theories to daily life.


    • Students will learn inductive and deductive reasoning during this course. A clear link between athletics to geometry is made through projects, content, and coursework. Many of the projects within this course link to future career opportunities and life experiences. Technology is integrated throughout this class, including 3-D printing, coding, and internet-based programs.

    Applied Mathematics for Financial Planning

    • This upper level math course covers analytic tools and mathematical techniques used in personal financial planning. Students will understand and apply quantitative concepts and statistical analysis as it relates to present/future value analysis, measurements and investment performance, analysis of equities and fixed-income investments, evaluation of mortgages, and cash-flow planning for education and retirement. The course involves practical problem solving using mathematical thinking.


    • This course covers topics in algebra ranging from polynomial, rational and exponential functions. Trigonometry concepts such as Law of Sines and Law of Cosines will be explored. Students will utilize graphing calculators and graphing software to further their understanding of these concepts. 

    AP Calculus AB

    • Throughout this course, students will explore calculus concepts including limits and continuity, derivatives, definite integrals, exponential and logarithmic functions, and trigonometric functions. By the end of the course, students will have an understanding of calculus utilizing one variable. Exploring real-world calculus applications is an important component of this course. Students will utilize technology as they work to master the concepts of calculus. This course follows the AP Calculus AB course standards in order to prepare students to take the AP exam in the spring.

    AP Computer Science

    • This college level course is designed to provide a foundation in object-oriented programming and logical problem-solving techniques. Students develop and strengthen their ability to conceptualize and solve problems. Students will use Java programming language to explore data encapsulation, class and method constructs, standard programming methodology, and syntax structures. This course follows the AP Computer Science course standards in order to prepare students to take the AP exam in the spring.
  • Science


    • This course is a foundational course for all other science courses. Biology is the study of life and therefore a fundamental starting point for students in their exploration of science. Students will not only study units on genetics, botany, zoology, evolution and microbiology, but also will gain a solid foundation of the scientific methods. There is a lab component to this course, affording students a chance to utilize the local area to explore and understand biology in the natural environment.


    • Set up as an inquiry-based course, chemistry is the study of matter and the changes it undergoes. Students will see the link between work they complete in math courses with work completed throughout this course. Understanding the periodic table, the structure of atoms and chemical compounds and chemical and physical transformations are explored throughout this course. Labs help bring the concepts taught in the course to deeper understanding.


    • Students will learn about motion, forces, energy, momentum, heat, waves and electricity. Linking concepts taught in math and experiences in athletics helps to anchor the learning within this course. Labs will utilize the SPIRE facilities as students work to understand scientific inquiry and investigations. 


    • This beginning course in robotics introduces students to basic programming, as well as problem solving strategies. Students work in teams to design, build and document their progress. Throughout this course students may have the opportunity to explore concepts of motor control, gear rations, torque, sensors, timing, program loops, propulsion system and timing sequences. They utilize decision making and problem solving skills to further develop their understanding of robotics. Students will have opportunities to see real-world applications of robotics. 


    • This interdisciplinary science course allows students to see the intersections of science with other disciplines including English, history and math. Students learn how to observe, collect, analyze and evaluate evidence associated with criminal cases. Virtual labs accompany this course. Throughout the course students use the scientific method to evaluate cases.

    Anatomy and Physiology

    • This course looks at the structures and functions of the human body including cells, tissues, and organs of the following systems: integumentary, skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, nervous system, and special senses. This course prepares students for advanced biological studies, biomedical nursing, and other science based careers. Students will explore the following topics: the major body systems, how the systems work together to ensure homeostasis, body functions in the healthy and diseased states, blood typing, muscle action, cranial nerve functioning, and bioethics.

    Sports Science

    • This integrated science course is designed for students interested in fields such as athletic training, physical therapy, medicine, fitness, physiology of exercise, kinesiology, and other sports medicine related fields. Throughout the course students will incorporate biology, chemistry and physics as they explore projects related to sports science. Opportunities to delve into careers around sports science, along with application of sports science to other areas of the student’s life will be addressed.

    AP Environmental Science

    • This college level course looks at the interactions between earth’s natural systems and the demands placed on them by the human population. Through labs, case studies and projects students look at the causes, risks and consequences for environmental problems. Throughout the course students will have opportunities to practice and prepare for the College Board AP exam at the end of the year. 
  • World Language

    French I

    • French I is designed to develop proficiency in speaking and understanding spoken French. This class is taught almost exclusively in French, immersing students in the French language. This approach challenges students to think in French throughout the duration of the class. Students also utilize videos, tapes, and records to work on their comprehension of spoken French.

    French II

    • French II continues along with the objectives of French I. Additional vocabulary is integrated into the course, along with grammatical concepts. Listening and speaking skills are enhanced through audio and film activities. Reading is more advanced.  Students develop both oral and auditory skills.

    French III

    • French III continues along with the objectives of French II and is an intermediate pre-AP course designed for students to use skills learned previously in French. The goal is to develop their communication skills and become intermediate communicators. Emphasis is placed on the acquisition of vocabulary and grammar through reading, writing, speaking, and listening. In addition, the study of people, culture, customs, and geography of French-speaking countries are integrated into this course. 
  • Health


    • All students are required to take seminars each semester. A completed year of seminar will earn a half credit of health and fulfills the requirements governed by the State of Ohio.  During this course, students focus on health and wellness. They will prepare and understand the immediate and future consequences of their actions. Additionally, students’ developmental conditioning skills throughout this class. Throughout the year students will also spend time with college counseling and ensure they are on track with their college and career planning.
  • Fine Arts

    Fine Art

    • This course provides students with a variety of media experiences including drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, and crafts. Each unit begins with the basics and progresses with each student’s level of development. Individual critiques and group critiques assist students in clarifying personal interests and goals.


    • This course provides students with an introduction to music theory, music appreciation, and different genres of music. Based on the unique interests of the students within the course, the teacher will develop progress and units around global music trends and understanding. 
  • Self-Directed Studies

    For students who are passionate about courses not offered above, there will be an option to pursue online courses through self-directed studies. Students will have a set schedule for completing these courses and will have opportunities to share what they are learning in these courses with other students at SPIRE. SPIRE works with a preferred online provider with a reputation and understanding of student athletes.



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Academics, Personal Development and Career Exploration

College & Career


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Phil Darrin

Head of Academics

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Manager of Res. Life

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Ginny Gontero


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Brendan Daily


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Mckenzie Wallace

English/Comp Science

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Charles Kaczynski


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  • Tell me about the educational delivery model.

    SPIRE Academy provides core academic exposure, plus experiential and relational group learning options in conjunction with our educational partner, Grand River Academy.
    SPIRE’s learning environment balances academic and athletic training and development within facilities and programs that nurture personal growth and stimulate the desire to challenge oneself. And all of this is done while helping individuals identify and experience professions and career development opportunities that better prepare them for all of life’s journey.
    The coaching team, formally called teachers, are engaged to guide (not dictate) learning and facilitate achievement above self-expectations. SPIRE also offers personal, professional and career guidance.

    The SPIRE Four Pillar Model

    • Academics – College preparatory academics delivered using an integrated, cross-curricular, project-based model culminating in the earning of a transcript for submission and acceptance to college/university.
    • Passion Pursuit – Discover and or advance skills in a particular area of intense interest. Essentially – work toward living the dream.
    • Career Exploration Opportunities (CEO) – Opportunities to gain understanding and working knowledge of professions delivered by experts who have worked in these field for many years.
    • Personal Skill Development – Learning about the whole self, collaborating and interacting with others,  trust, respect, managing failure, etc.
  • What does a day look like?

    Academy boarding and day students will spend approximately half the day (4-5 hours) being coached by seasoned educators as well as experienced professionals in specialty fields. These academic and business experts will share their combined knowledge, expertise and compassionate guidance. 

    As students work to embrace core academic material, they will also gain valuable hands on experience in areas meant to inspire them toward possible professional paths. In addition, students will grow in their understanding of self and learn to work well with others, while achieving personal goals and gaining a better understanding of where they will fit in the world.  

    The balance of a student’s day (4-5 hours) will be spent pursuing their area of personal passion (i.e. a particular sport). Included within this technical and tactical skill development training program is an integrated amount of performance training, which encompasses physical conditioning, mental skills training and nutrition/hydration guidance.

  • Where do student athletes live on campus? Will I have a roommate?

    SPIRE Village consists of 2,300 sq. ft. homes built specifically for SPIRE Academy student athletes. Each unit has six bedrooms and one house parent suite and a student lounge area. Each bedroom accommodates two twin beds, a nightstand, wardrobe, two study tables with chairs and a shared six-drawer chest. The student lounge has a big screen TV, a couch, chairs and a dining room table with chairs for house meetings. There are three student bathrooms and a washer and dryer.

  • How much is the tuition?

    Contact us by emailing [email protected].

  • How does SPIRE assist with college planning and placement?

    At SPIRE, we believe that the college planning and placement process is one of the most important aspects of Academy life—and you can’t start this process too early! 

    Our college planning process begins freshman year and only concludes when a student has graduated from college or chosen and achieved their goals on a different path.  

    SPIRE works with student athletes to find a university that is a good fit academically, athletically and socially.  Students are taught how to search for colleges and universities with their intended major as well as their desired sport using the guidance of their coaches, teachers and advisors.  This includes how to communicate with schools and coaches, fill out the Common Application and other applications, including filing FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

  • Does SPIRE offer scholarships and financial assistance?

    SPIRE offers a limited amount of financial aid. Recipients are selected based on academics, athletics, character and financial review. For more information, please reference our admissions page.

  • Where can I find additional information about living at SPIRE Academy?

    Click here to find all resources related to living on the SPIRE Campus.

  • Do Academy students have access to drone racing and esports programs?


  • Is the Admissions process competitive?

    SPIRE looks at each student individually to determine if they would be a good fit.  The admissions process includes submitting an official transcript, letters of recommendation from an English teacher, math teacher, and principal or coach, an interview with the coach and Director of Admissions (either virtual or in-person) and a completed application.  Each applicant is reviewed by the Admissions Committee which is composed of administrators, teachers, and coaches to determine if the student meets SPIRE’s admissions requirements.

  • How good do I have to be in my sport?

    SPIRE accepts athletes of varying ability, but they all have one thing in common.  They come to SPIRE because they have the heart and desire to become better student athletes.  SPIRE student athletes come from various competitive backgrounds and all have different goals they want to achieve while here and beyond, whether it is to continue their sport after high school or beyond.

  • Does SPIRE Academy offer scholarships?

    SPIRE offers financial assistance for families who qualify.  Families must complete the Parent’s Financial Statement (PFS) through the School and Student Service for Financial Aid (SSS) which can be found at 


    SPIRE has a limited number of athletically based scholarships and need based assistance. Every family can apply.

  • Do you have any other question or need additional help with admissions?

    Please contact our Admissions Department at [email protected]

  • When is the deadline to apply?

    SPIRE works on rolling admission, meaning we accept applications until spaces are filled. We are currently accepting applications for the 23-24 school year through September 30, 2023.

  • Would participation in a post grad year affect my four-year NCAA eligibility?

    No, a post graduate year does not affect NCAA eligibility.

For more information about

SPIRE Academy, view our resource center

SPIRE Contact info:

Phone: (440) 466-1002

Email: [email protected]

Address: 5201 SPIRE Circle, Geneva, OH 44041