Our Team

Bringing Classical Education to Southeast Ohio

We are a group of old friends and new friends, parents and grandparents, who have fallen in love with classical education. We love the traditional curriculum and the focus on truth and civic virtue. Our aim is to offer a high-quality education to students in Southeast Ohio at no cost to them.

What started as a wishful idea has developed into a team of people working toward one common goal–founding and opening a classical charter school. The plan is for SOCA to open for the 2024-2025 school year. SOCA will open with grades Kindergarten through 6th grade and will grow by one grade each year.

The SOCA Founding Board

Kim Vandlen

Kim has her Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Hope College and a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from The Ohio State University. She currently works part-time in bookkeeping/accounting at her church in Athens and spends the rest of her time caring for her three children. She was part of the second class to graduate from Hillsdale Academy in Hillsdale, Michigan in 2002 and has had a love for classical education ever since. She is thrilled to be bringing this type of educational option to southeast Ohio. Kim and her husband Jeff live in Athens and have three children ages 11, 9 and 6.

Rich Schmaltz

Rich is a board member for SOCA and looks forward to seeing students thrive personally and in their communities because of the rigorous curriculum, character development, and civic training they'll receive as part of a classical education. He graduated with a Master's in Education at Southern Illinois University and has worked in the field of human resources for many years. Rich has been married to his wife, Liz, for 12 years and they have three children.

Jon Eckles

Jon served in the United States Navy as a Senior Naval Aircrewman. Upon being Honorably Discharged from the Navy, he went to work for GE as a Systems Engineer and Systems Analyst in support of Naval Operations at the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Center in Puerto Rico, and then in Philadelphia for the Strategic Defense Initiative. He has continued his career by developing a software application used by the Exact Sciences Corporation that generates a detailed molecular profile report for late stage cancer patients. Jon has been married to Jeannette for thirty-nine years and they have two adult children. They moved to Athens to be near their daughter and first grandchild. Jon is excited to help bring classical education to his new hometown.

Courtney Kuhnert

Courtney is a member of the SOCA Board and is excited to help bring a quality school choice to Southeast Ohio. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois with a specialization in school social work. She worked for many years as a K-5 social worker and has extensive experience working in special education. She lives in Athens with her husband of 20 years and has five children.

Caleb Beasecker

Caleb has a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Industry from The Ohio State University and Master's Degrees in Business Administration and Sports Administration from Ohio University. Caleb is currently the Assistant Director of Career and Employer Engagement at Ohio University and he previously worked as an Associate Director in the OU Alumni Association as well as in the Ohio Bobcat Club. Caleb brings a background in fundraising that he is eager to use in helping found Southeast Ohio Classical Academy. He is most excited to see the positive impact founding a school will have on the lives of children in Southeast Ohio. Caleb, his wife Justine, and their goldendoodle Izzy proudly call Athens home.

Linda Rice

Linda has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts, Literature, and Secondary Education from Grove City College, a Master’s Degree in Administration from Westminster College, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Kent State University. She taught high school English for ten years in Ohio and Pennsylvania before moving to Athens to teach at Ohio University. Linda brings a passion for the Humanities and over 30 years of experience teaching English. She is especially excited about SOCA’s mission to train the hearts and minds of young men and women in the liberal arts and sciences, with an emphasis in civic virtue and moral character.