By Mila Besich
When the school year first started in August of 2023, 16 young girls began attending the Winkelman Preparatory Academy in Dripping Springs. The new private school offered a different choice from the local public school available for students in the Copper Basin region.
The development of a private school wasn’t the first plan of Jeremi and Rebecca Brewer, but they saw a need for additional education choices and they opened Winkelman Preparatory Academy for girls.
Winkelman Preparatory Academy was founded and developed by Rebecca Brewer PhD and her husband, Jeremi Brewer PhD. The couple has founded and owned many businesses, globally. Always with a focus on education, they have helped to build different curriculums to support entrepreneurs and business leaders. After selling their previous business, they returned to Arizona and invested in a local meat processing facility. AAs they began visiting and working in the area, they realized they wanted to live in the area full time and raise their two daughters. The two purchased the ranch previously owned by Joe and Jolene Philips, and currently they raise 4,000 chickens, producing eggs and poultry.
As they became more involved in the community, Rebecca applied to be the superintendent for the Ray Unified School District. While that opportunity did not come to fruition, she decided to open a private school for girls. The couple had home schooled their daughters, and had other parents asking if their students could attend her home schooling. The school had their first day in August of 2023 in the farm house on the 200-acre property.
There is not a cost for students to attend the private school because parents and guardians can use their State of Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) to pay for tuition for the school.
“We are not operating this school to make a profit. We are building this school to provide options for other students,” explained Jeremi.
The curriculum does meet the State of Arizona academic requirements, but students can learn at their own pace, till they are proficient in the required skill they are also not required to pass standardized testing as required at public schools. The school will still administer the test, but is also focusing on preparing the students to take the college entrance exams such as the SAT.
Having a school on a working farm means that students are learning on real time such as learning how to figure out averages by measuring the weight of eggs and also learning business skills. The students are growing gardens and hiking in nature to learn more about life sciences such as biology and geology. They also have Spanish classes, piano and financial education. Winkelman Preparatory stresses critical thinking and its curriculum is designed to teach to the individual student, not the masses. Each student moves on to the next level as they reach mastery of the subject.
“We also want to create new opportunities for the students and expose them to different careers and experiences.” The 16 students in grades five through high school are fundraising for a trip to visit Washington D.C. to visit the Nation’s Capitol.
The success from this first year of operation has led the couple to purchase a building in Kearny where they will plan to expand the school to accommodate 60 students. Both boys and girls will be eligible to attend the school. The school will follow the school calendar for the local public school.
Winkelman Preparatory Academy is not affiliated with any religious organizations. The location of the new school location will be announced soon and those interested in applying for the new school can contact Jeremi and Rebecca at 480-226-3197.
Students pictured are, from left, Dalilah Adkins, Lucy Hernandez, Cherish Allen, Juliann Brewer, Baylee Fuller and Micheal Hernandez.