RACINE — A new private school slated to open for the coming school year will be run by two men whose teaching experiences include college classes, legal training and Sunday school.

Grant Meier, who trains adults on legal research and teaches Sunday school, and Bry Coleman, a college professor of business management, plan to start Evergreen Elementary School in the fall with about 150 students in 4-year-old kindergarten through fifth grade, Meier verified Thursday.

The state announced Wednesday that Evergreen had been approved as a 2013-14 voucher school, which means it can accept state-funded tuition vouchers for enrolling low- to middle-income students living in the Racine Unified attendance area. Meier spoke to The Journal Times about his vision for the school Thursday.

“One of the attractions, we hope, will be the class sizes,” Meier said. “No class will exceed 18. I’m thinking most as we start will have approximately 10 students.”

Evergreen will also have a “robust music and art program,” tutoring and a large emphasis on reading, Meier said.

He will serve as Evergreen principal and Coleman will be the business and operations manager; others will be hired to teach. Teachers from Racine schools have already expressed interest in switching to Evergreen, Meier said.

No location has been purchased or reserved for the school yet but Meier said he is looking at two buildings, one in Racine near the zoo and one in Sturtevant. He could not provide addresses Wednesday.

Meier and Coleman have about $100,000 in private funds, mostly from themselves, set aside to start the school. They hope to also get grants and will get state voucher money or parents’ tuition money, Meier said. Tuition will be set at the state’s voucher amount: $6,442, he added.

Meier became interested in founding a school for three key reasons, first among them the idea that vouchers give poor minority students a chance to attend potentially better private schools instead of failing public ones.

“I just think when it comes to education (minorities) are underserved. That’s (reason) A,” Meier said. “B is I really do like kids. I mean I really do. I happen to have 22 grandchildren ... And then C is I like to teach. I like to train. I do that every day.”

Meier, a 72-year-old Milwaukee native now living in St. Paul, Minn., has a law degree and works for Thomson Reuters training new hires on selling research materials to attorneys, he said.

“I have classes virtually every week, all year long, teaching on the law,” Meier said. “Adult learning is a little different (than child learning) but not as much as people think.”

Despite that opinion, Meier did acknowledge his work background “doesn’t really give me any experience with elementary school teaching.” But he added, “I should point out I have spent over 600 hours teaching 7-and 8-year-olds in Sunday school.”

Meier is part of the Mormon church, he said. Evergreen Elementary will not be affiliated with any religion though, Meier said.

Coleman, of Caledonia, could not be reached Thursday. Meier said Coleman is a professor for at least one area college but he did not know which one.

Meier will retire from his Thomson Reuters job at the end of March and plans to move to the Racine area, he said, to focus full time on starting Evergreen. The school will begin accepting students in May and a location will be locked in by August at the latest, Meier said.

Interested parents can call Meier for more information by calling (651) 687-4389.


CORRECTION: This article originally misidentified Evergreen Elementary School co-founder Bry Coleman’s religious affiliation because The Journal Times was given incorrect information. Coleman is not Mormon. The article has been corrected above.

(70) comments

MamaMeier

I am the wife of Grant Meuse and I am a little upset by the negative comments expressed here; especially the one about lining our pockets. I've known this man for over 50 years and you won't find a more honerable, kind, understanding, generous man than Grant. Besides fulfilling a life -long dream of having a school where kids have the opportunity to learn in a kid friendly atmosphere, emphasis on reading, writing and leadership, Grant and both feel that school teachers are grossly underpaid and we hope to remedy that, also, at Evergreen Elementary. WE are not looking to "line " our pockets. That is the furthest thing from our minds. We DO hope to be able to pay our teachers substantially more than they are making now. Afterall

MamaMeier

Grant "Meier" is my husband...haha I'm not too good with this on a Kindel and accidentally sent it without proof reading or finishing it so please understand...if I misspelled or left out I as in Grant and I both feel....
let me finish....
After all, we are entrusting our children to these teachers.....they are with our kids more than we are...they should get better salaries.

49erFan

“I just think when it comes to education (minorities) are underserved. That’s (reason) A,” Meier said. “B is I really do like kids. I mean I really do. I happen to have 22 grandchildren ... And then C is I like to teach. I like to train. I do that every day.”

Am here to help those poor minority kids. That's the bait on the hook. Who's fault is that minority kids are underserved? They sit in the same classroom with kids who go on to college and grad school. Why aren't they getting out of their education what the other kids in the classroom are? And why are my tax dollars for public schools going to a private school?

tell-the-truth-please

It seems very obvious at this point that many supporters of the Mormon faith are coming out in support of this new venture. From my understand there are approximately 400-500 members of the Mormon Church between Racine and Kenosha and yes the curch is indeed located on the north side of Kenosha. It will be extraordinarily difficult for this school, if it does in fact come to fruition for them to conceal the fact that it is created, lead and directed by individuals that are mostly all members of the Mormon church in my opinion. At some point they will need to disclose pertinent information about their operation including finances, administration, curriculum, and philosophy just as the Catholic, Lutheran and other religious schools do. All of this must be made known to the Department of Public Instruction in Madison and easily available to the general public. It sounds as if many members of the Mormon faith are really pumped up about this and I wish them well. Congratulations in advance to what will ultimately become the first Mormon inspired Parental School Choice program in Wisconsin ! I would think that many parents in Racine know little to nothing about the Mormon faith and this may be a great opprtunity for children and families in Racine to learn more in my opinion.

LogieD

Do you enjoy being a cyber bully, because that's what you appear to be!!!

mrsbcook2004

I would also like to add why does it matter what religion he is? Do we ask all are teachers what religion they are and that determines if they will succeed or pressure are children into their believes? Come on now, we should be grateful.

Watcher

Still wondering how many voucher students stay in their chosen schools?

mrsbcook2004

I am so ashamed to read all these horrible comments that people are writing regarding the new school opening. I think it is wonderful to hear that Meir is moving to open a new school to help are children receive a better education.

I think it is ridiculous that people are bringing up religion, he stated it will not be affiliated with any type of religion. Maybe you all should get your facts straight. Just because he shared he is a Sunday School teacher does not mean he is going to push his believes on our children.

I am very excited to check out this new school and I am sure it will be a great success. Meir is a wonderful person for helping are children. I am very positive he will hire a great staff and the school will be a large impact for our city.

My daughter currently goes to a private school and the TEACHERS are great we are very happy with her education she is receiving and how much smaller the class sizes are. I am very blessed for the voucher program it will be a wonderful when my son who has special needs is able to go to school. I would never send him to RUSD they are horrible.

I do believe that the administrative is important for the school, but as long as he has great teachers that are dedicated and they respect each other it will be for sure success.

Thank you Mr. Meir and Mr. Coleman for giving us other choices to help are children. It is a shame all these people making these horrible comments. I am sure you will succeed and have a great school. Looking forward to hearing more about the new school, hopefully the horrible comments will stop.

Urban Pioneer

Here! Here! Mrs Cook!

tell-the-truth-please

Well I have said all I need to say about this. l am sure Joseph Smith will ultimately be the one who determines whether this new venture to help the poor minority children of Racine will blosom into a sucess or a dismal failure.

rtolson

You are literally too stupid to insult.

tell-the-truth-please

I must also add that I think it is truly awesome that a 72 year old Mormon lawyer working in Minnesota teaching new hires from Thompson Reuters how to sell research materials to other lawyers has this burning passion to 1) Help underserved minority children receive better education. 2) Loves kids as is evidenced by having 22 grandchildren. 3) Loves to teach, because in his own words there really isnt as much difference between teaching children and as adults you would think. How many minority children does the Mormon Chirch in Racine help by the way ? I wonder.

Urban Pioneer

There isn't a Morman Church in Racine. The Racine and Kenosha Mormons share a church in North side of Kenosha. But these guys are NOT opening a Mormon school. I wouldn't care if they did..and I'd be fine if they accepted vouchers along with it. If the goal is educating students and making them productive, and giving parents a choice whats wrong with it? Especially since the cost 40% less than the Public system .

tell-the-truth-please

Unfortunately I have had some terrible experiences with Mormons. I am sure many of them are good, but my experience was not. Much of the we are honest good God fearing folk that treat each other the way we wish to be treated was quite homestly a load of bunk. I was lied to, taken advantage of and in the end betrayed and deceived by members of this faith whose greed and selfishness took precedent over following ethical principals. This is my opinion,

LogieD

I am extremely disheartened to read some of these comments, rather than being jaded and cynical, is it incomprehensible to see this as a positive opportunity for our community and children who struggle within the system? The fact that this school with have small classroom sizes is huge. Kids that struggle academically will get the attention that they deserve to be successful throughout their academic career.

Administration is important but the true success comes from the dedication of inspiring teachers who truly care for the children! Without the commitment of the teachers and the parents, any school could be considered a sinking ship.

As far as this being a front for the Mormon Church, really?? I have to say, if they did decide to incorporate religion into their curriculum how is that different than other private schools that accept voucher students? I choose to send my children to a private Catholic School and I pay my tuition. Admittedly, I wasn't sold on the voucher program at first, but it was my lack of knowledge and understanding of the program that forced me to think that way. In these economic times, small private schools are struggling because families don't have the financial means to send their children to a private school. Without the voucher program many of these schools would be forced to close.

The Mormon folks that I know are honest, incredibly committed to their family-they don't curse or drink. Are those qualities that society frowns upon? I don't think so! Perhaps some of you people could take a few pointers and instead of being so judgmental, be supportive and think about the how many families that this opportunity could benefit!

I wish all involved the best of luck and I hope that your school is a success!

tell-the-truth-please

I did some research on the Wisconsin Court Access website (CCAP) and noticed a Grant Meier filed for foreclosure back in December 1998. Is the same person ? If not my apologies.

letitride

Didn't you already post this last night and it got deleted? I wondered why because there was a pretty funny reply about your terrible grammar "their" not "there" and "it's" not "its". Maybe you would have benefited from a voucher school yourself.....lol. You should have left it alone! 15 years and all you can find is a home foreclosure???? That's laughable. Thanks for mentioning that website, I'm going to do some "research" and look up the names of the owners of the other school choice owners.

rtolson

Good for you! Congratulations on finding a 15 year old home foreclosure!

DomeJ

Let me get this straight: You're for the voucher system (based on your previous comments), just not this one? And what brilliant reasons have you come up with?

Idiotic point 1 - he's Mormon, therefore this is obviously some kind of front for the church.
Idiotic point 2 - he has 22 grandchildren therefore this is obviously some kind of scheme to collect state funds on each of them. We'll just ignore the fact that most of them aren't elementary age and live in different states.
Idiotic point 3 - he had a credit issue 15 years ago. I suppose he should be precluded from conducting business with the State of Wisconsin for life?

Do you really believe these things (which means you are delusional and stupid) or do you have some other motivation you're not being up front about?

whomever

to those "believers" in vouchers...

please look up the statistics of voucher school test scores compared to RUSD. Then tell me what your opinion is? Under educated, poorer test scores, non-comparible educational programing, as well as TEST SCORES that are not required as are standard to RUSD!

As for those who say that Unified does NOT produce "rocket scientists", I beg to differ with you. Many a physicists, psychiatrists, lawyers, engineers, educators, accountants, nurses, doctors, MBA's, and countless more were well educated by RUSD! Please don't disregard the best of the best. Yes, there are those troubled and special education students whose numbers increase year after year and that is a social issue as well as an educational issue today. Compare those numbers to numbers 20-10 and 5 years ago, it is an alarming one at that! Don't shut your eyes nor ears to the wants of increasing educational costs of today. Compare our taxes to those of surrounding states and you may be surprised by the results!

And believe it or not, I for one am NOT an educator, but rather one of those special need parents of children whom I believe are taught by the brightest that our state can provide. I dare all of you to enter a school today and see just what all of these teachers are up against! I believe that your worlds would be shocked! Give it a try, I dare you.

rtolson

This sounds like an excellent oppurtunity for students with not so good public school experiences.

Comment deleted.
DomeJ

All I know about Bry Coleman is that his whereabouts during the Kennedy assassination are unknown.

racineguy

About 5 seconds of internet looking and here are the credentials of one of the founders of this new school. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/bry-coleman-cst-mba/29/9a9/881

Mike The Great

Not bad!

racineguy

Not bad? you cannot be serious. I wouldn't hire him to run a lemonade stand no less a K through 5 school.

DomeJ

Right. Because a professional educator with an MBA, working on his doctorate isn't remotely qualified. Good call.

Urban Pioneer

I wouldn't hire most Public school teachers or PS Administrators to run a lemonade stand either. They can't figure out a simple Math problem like:

If Johnny goes to a public sholl in RUSD and the cost is 12,000 per year times 13 years = 156,000 Per head. If Johnny's parents CHOOSE to send Johnny to avoucher school for $6,500.00 per year how much money does Johnny's parents save the tax=payer for the same or better results?

Answer $71,500 per child!! That is almost one entire PS teachers job salary and benefits saved by a SINGLE student going to a private voucher school!

tell-the-truth-please

Hmmm Mormon Church ?? .22 grandchildren that could be reinbursed at $6442.00 each not to metion extended family, friends etc. What guarantees are there that this school isnt simply some front for a few Mormon families to cash in on their own children and friends Does the local Mormon Church have ANY involvement or funding assistance If so this must be made public.Very funny how they state the school will not teach any religion...ya right. Kudos to the JT for thoroughly investigating this. I am sure more interesting information about these fellows will suface soon. Thank God we still have seperation of church and state in this great country. or these types of operations would be infecting every level of government.

DomeJ

The reporter mentioned his religious affiliation and from that you've determined that this is a vast "Mormon conspiracy?"


This comment is too dumb to even respond to.

Mike The Great

Actually, only one of the men starting the school is mormon, they made a mistake. And I highly doubt that all his children live in this area to go to that school, and he is from mn..... think a little. Also, how many schools are started from a church. THIS is not the case here... but you should think before you type.

Meier19

12 of his grandchildren that are minors live in the area. 13 live elsewhere. And this is a secular school

letitride

So you didn't vote Republican in the presidential race? I, for one, know a couple of Mormons and think they are great people. If honesty, integrity, kindness, charity and good strong morals are part of a religion, then maybe other schools "shouldn't" teach religion. Maybe more schools should incorporate religion.

DomeJ

I can't tell if his idiotic commentary is specifically anti-mormon or just anti-religion. Last I checked teachers were allowed to practice religion of their choice, right? Does this moron believe that all other charter schools are run by atheists only? No? Well then I suppose they are all being surreptitiously funded by the religions their administrators are associated with.

locolola

Practice what you preach. Separation of church and state should include the fact that these men's religious views really have nothing to do with running a school. It is simply an interesting fact that the reporter chose to include in the article. (Personally, I felt that little detail could have been left out, but hey, first ammendment and all.) I like how you "thank God" for seperation of church and state. Kind of a funny statement. And it is s-e-p-A-r-a-t-i-o-n. Just saying....maybe these two dummies could learn yer kids how to spell better. There is hope for the future.

Meier19

I am one of his 22 (25 now) grandchildren and my grandfather is the most honest, down to earth man you could ever meet. He is not using us, his grandchildren for economic gain (laughable). And he already said, the Mormon church/the members in the area have nothing to do with this.

JDoug

So these two guys are going to run a school? How is this Grant guy going into business with someone when he doesn't even know where currently teaches? Not exactly confidence inspiring.

Watcher

How many of these voucher students stay at their chosen schools?

Magnumpro
Magnumpro

Two guys with no elementary teaching experience, no building, no curriculum just decide to open an elementary school. Does anyone think this is a problem?

ggodmuls
ggodmuls

What's the worst they could do -FAIL?

What's the experts at RUSD have? Just shy of a $300,000,000 budget and all they deliver is failure.

The country had a higher level of education and learning back before government schools, when groups of children were taught by wandering teachers with no credentials. These are children - being taught basics. RUSD doesn't graduate rocket scientists.

Think about it.

Mike The Great

Totally agree! Excellent post.

locolola

No

locolola

no

pdboyer

Here's a worry. This "expert" in education has been "training" adults for a corporation, but "Meier said. “Adult learning is a little different (than child learning) but not as much as people think.”" Gee, does it really matter what "people think" when there's a whole body of scholarship delineating the differences and the damage that neglecting them can lead to? OMG.

locolola

That is why Meier will hire the best teachers to teach the children. Makes sense to me

LuvHaytRaytown

RUSD worked for me! No arrests, employed full time, home owner, 2 cars owned, happily married, contributing to my own pension, divorced parents, lower middle class upbringing... Not a day of private/voucher school.

Mike The Great

Well then the voucher school wouldn't be for you. This gives other people who weren't as blessed/lucky as you were. Congratulations on being successful! Shouldn't EVERYONE have that same opportunity?

locolola

Good for you, yes. Keep in mind, your education was still free to you. Funded by the tax payers. So I don't really see your point.

jnj3225

$6500 for each child???
Sounds like a good deal compared to RUSD gets $14,000 a child. And when that child goes to the other school. RUSD gets to keep the$8000 and doesn't have to use it on that child anymore. Idiots.

locolola

exactly

Marly

Wow, how frightening! A want-a-be Sunday school teacher who thinks he knows how to run an elementary school. It is alarming to see how easy the State is willing to give out taxpayer money for what has to be labelled as a skeptical venture to say the least.

Mike The Great

You obviously don't know this man and how can you be a "want-a-be" Sunday school teacher when he IS a Sunday school teacher? Of course it's a skeptical venture.....what isn't?

DomeJ

How dare you, sir. I believe that the children are our future. Investing in children is never a risky venture. Shame on you.

locolola

Sunday School teacher is the least of Mr. Meier's credentials.

How about another religious man, who first considered becoming a priest (he studied theology for four years), then went to law school instead. Would a guy like that know how to run a school? How about an entire city? I don't know, ask New York City how Rudy Giuliani did.

UGgirlie

So here are two people who have no credentials to teach elementary school who are going to open one anyhow. Why not? What could possibly go wrong? Just like the failed John Fisher Academy this is a nothing more than a scheme to get taxpayer dollar into their own pockets. And then then taxpayers will get to pay for the kids again when they have to go back to a real school when this "school" closes it's doors. Brilliant!

anony

Too bad I know some of the family, and you are probably right! They know how to work the system! Scary!

JDoug

What do you mean?

locolola

And they have bad breath, but are not dishonest

Mike The Great

Yes...what do you mean? Throwing out a comment like that deserves some specifics!

DomeJ

I don't think you know this family. I know them well. They may be unattractive but they are honest and decent people.

locolola

Chicken poo comment. Put your name up there.

Meier19

I am a member of this family and these negative comments are as far as the truth as you can get. We are law obeying people.

Urban Pioneer

Of course some of our public schools have failed year after year for almost 2 generations and we simply move the deck chairs around. The school will succeed or fail based upon the satisfaction of the PARENTS of the students. I support this new school and welcome all comers to help get our kids educated. The RUSD public schools are failing far too many of our kids. Good luck to both of you..I'll throw a donation your way if you need it. Every kid educated in a choice school SAVES the taxpayer $4-6,000.00!! There is no evidence the John Fisher academy did an inferior job of educating it was simply a matter of cash flow. It happens in many businesses that rely on REAL customers rather than forced Taxpayers at gun point!

Mike The Great

You must be a true educator! Someone who applauds a school that's trying to make a difference in kids lives. I applaud you. I do know this school will be a non profit school so donations will be taken. If you're serious about donating, call Meier's number at the bottom of the article.

Gearhead
Gearhead

@ Urban. Actually we don't save diddly cuz RUSD still gets the other $6400 for NOT teaching that kid. Where is the equity in that? But we at least end up with a better educated child, which indeed is a benefit.

Urban Pioneer

Thanks GH. Actually though as 1500 students leave the RUSD system for vouchers..and 2000 next year or soon after that. The ultimate demand for teachers in RUSD, and administrators in RUSD and the need for new buildings etc is postponed or depleted. Over time the pension costs, health care costs and the outsourcing of many RUSD positions can be put in effect. Thus they can freeze or even be expected to cut their budgets as the years go on. Let inflation work in our favor..but more importantly we can get these kids educated as well or better for less money over the long run.

Mike The Great

Clearly you have NO idea how this system works. Go to the DPI website and do some research. This is NOT a get rich scheme. This is an opportunity for kids/parents who have had terrible experiences in RUSD (and believe me, there are many out there) to go to a school with smaller class sizes and maybe teachers who have a different way of thinking. Things aren't offered in these private schools that you can get in public schools (the funds just aren't there), but parents are willing to overlook those things to hopefully have a better experience for their kids. You should give it a chance before ripping it apart. Look at the school in 1 year and then make your judgement.

Comment deleted.
I Come In Peace

Your racist comments are classless as well.

Comment deleted.
I Come In Peace

I know facts are hard to come by for some people, but studies have shown in Racine and Milwaukee that public schools slightly outperform voucher schools. What you are doing is ignoring the poverty factor. A convenient fact ignored so frequently by Republicans. I suggest turning off Charlie Sykes and doing a little independent research. Knowledge is a good thing.

You Wish

This sounds like an excellent opportunity for some kids.

I wonder if Jackbean will volunteer some of his free time to help out??

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