A perfect little red schoolhouse stands on a plot of land outside Petersburg, Virginia, complete with four walls, a flagpole, and that classic schoolhouse look. Its classes follow that old-fashioned school model to the letter in that they teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, learn the Constitution, and say the Pledge of Allegiance.
As for the status quo, that same little schoolhouse blows the protocols of public schools out of the water. It certainly forbids LGBTQ ideology and CRT from being taught and refuses to celebrate Pride Month—now espoused in so many American public schools.
Dennita Miskimen, who excelled as a public-school teacher for 23 years, founded The Little Red Schoolhouse in 2022 after becoming disillusioned with her then employer. She saw drag queens walking the hallways where she taught and thought that shouldn’t be allowed; nor should showing American allegiance be replaced by LGBTQ Pride ceremonies.
“That’s not allowed at my school,” Ms. Miskimen told The Epoch Times. “We support our men and women in uniform, and we say the Pledge every day. We pray to God every day.”
Ms. Miskimen’s colleagues, friends, and family were shocked when she opted to upend her career so close to retirement, but she believed it was her calling from above. “God, He said to me, ‘Build a school,’” she said. “I can stay and retire and be miserable every single day in my life, or I can then enjoy teaching and teach until the last day of my life.” Choosing the latter instead of becoming a public school superintendent as she could have done, the teacher of classes from kindergarten through 12th grade submitted her resignation in April 2022.
Eventually, besides teaching the Bible, patriotism, and real American history, The Little Red Schoolhouse would see its students excel academically. A religious private school with certification, it employs the “more rigorous” Bob Jones University curriculum. Students will learn phonics instead of sight words; Ms. Miskimen’s system has seen kindergarten students reading at second-grade to fifth-grade levels.
“Public school is lucrative business,” she told the newspaper, speaking of why it dumbs down its students instead of spurring excellence. “I don’t know whose idea it was way back in time to decide that children should go through school from kindergarten to grade 12, but it’s ludicrous.”
Outside the red school’s four walls, Ms. Miskimen and her husband also keep animals—including cows, pigs, ducks, chickens, and a donkey—and grow fruits and vegetables on the 25-acre plot, called The Red Barn Farm. Here, students will also learn about another essential subject: agriculture.
“If you learn how to take care of your own self, then you become a little bit more self-sufficient in a world that’s changing direction that none of us are prepared to go down.”
The challenge of building a school from the ground up for Ms. Miskimen posed daunting obstacles. From taking out a $50,000 bank loan to delving into the coded construction despite having no general contracting experience, she felt wholly out of her depth. Yet she said she persisted with God’s help—and the support of likeminded members of the community.
Pouring the cement foundation cost nearly $30,000 alone. Finding an architect proved nearly impossible as none wanted the job—not without charging exorbitant fees as high as $50,000. But after canvassing several dozen, she eventually found a Christian architect who charged her $3,000. Meanwhile, a nearby Methodist church allowed her to rent a space to teach her first classes as the school neared completion and awaited its permit, which finally came last October. In spring 2023, The Little Red Schoolhouse opened its doors to students for the first time.
It started out with just 15 students, plus a few local homeschool students who volunteered. In terms of staff, besides herself, Ms. Miskimen hired one other teacher, Judy, a few years her senior. “She’s the sweetest. She’s got the patience of Job,” Ms. Miskimen said. “I call her Job’s sister.” This year their class has grown to 25, with many students hailing from military families.
Ms. Miskimen’s family is military also. Her husband is a retired Army and Navy veteran; both their two sons currently serve, one in the Navy, the other in the Marines. That’s one reason she feels it’s so vital to continue teaching children where freedom comes from.
“You should respect those who’ve worked so hard, selflessly, to make certain that we are the land of the free. It comes with a heavy price,” she said. “We’re learning about the people that came here from England and what it was like for them. Why did they leave? What is taxation without representation?”
Today, Ms. Miskimen is planning to make The Little Red Schoolhouse a nationwide franchise, having spoken to a lawyer last month about getting the ball rolling. “We’re talking about what this is going to look like,” she said. Down the road, more teachers aching to get out of public schools could soon be hearing daily prayers to God and Pledges of Allegiance in classrooms once again, inside their very own Little Red Schoolhouse.