“Some of them are nice, some of them are not,” Josh Turner said. “Some of them could care less about humans.”
So began the lesson on huldufólk — hidden people — given by Turner, a professor at Kauffman Leadership Academy.
Huddled around Turner’s desk were three students — a seventh-grader, eighth-grader and junior, all equally interested and participating in the lesson. The summer course focuses on the paranormal and was suggested by one of Turner’s students.
“This class exists because students want it to,” said Greg Kauffman, KLA chief of operations and development. “The main thing at Kauffman Leadership Academy is to meet that need.”
Kauffman said anyone of any age can come up to the school to inquire about classes they’re interested in taking. The academy largely follows the “university model” of learning, in which students focus on what they want to learn. There are also the basic English, math, science and social studies classes that serve to supplement home-school students during the school year.
“We would do the same thing if someone wanted to do a Bible study,” Kauffman said. “We would find a room and someone to teach it ... I think there is an academic way to approach everything.”
The paranormal class has lessons on ghosts, spirits, cryptids — Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster, among others — and hidden people like leprechauns, elves, trolls and fairies.
“This is a little bit different than other stuff we have talked about,” Turner said. “It is much more ethnic. There is not a whole lot of biologic evidence.”
He said he teaches the class from an academic approach, incorporating many other types of sciences including biology and chemistry.
“We look at the paranormal and unusual through a scientific and academic lens,” he said.
Eighth-grader Evelyn Spyker, who is home-schooled, said she chose to take the summer course partly because Turner makes the class fun. It’s not the typical boring stuff you have to learn during the school year, she said. Spyker’s cousin, Smith Middle School seventh-grader Meredith Johnson, joined the class on Monday after spending some time volunteering in the KLA Turner Museum of Natural History, which features a collection of fossils, dinosaur models and other prehistoric items. Though she knows most kids her age wouldn’t enjoy having homework over the summer, she finds the idea of learning about paranormal events interesting.
And Cleburne High School junior Cheyanne Collins said she wanted to take the class to learn more about subjects she is interested in, but that aren’t taught in public school.
“We are very informal, very engaging,” Turner said. “You kind of learn to play to your audience.”
KLA administrators are working to secure funding and donations to complete the building’s air conditioning system. An air conditioning unit donated by Texas Christian University should help cool the gymnasium in the coming months, Kauffman said.
Donations of window units for classrooms are also appreciated as the summer months drag on, he said.
For more information about donating or about KLA classes, call 682-459-2800.