Bent Mountain Christian Academy close to becoming a reality
CAVE SPRING–“The people who lived here decided they didn’t want this community not having some kind of school,” Ed Elswick, Windsor Hills representative on the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, said about Bent Mountain.
When the Roanoke County School Board announced that Bent Mountain Elementary would close at the end of the school year, the Bent Mountain community’s world came crashing down. Bent Mountain has had its own school for more than 100 years. The school is the hub of the community, a gathering place.
But instead of giving up, the people of Bent Mountain decided to change the fate they had been handed. They decided to open their own school.
After much deliberation, a group of Bent Mountain citizens decided to open a private Christian school, rather than a charter school. And now, instead of focusing on SOLs, the people of Bent Mountain will be teaching their children what really matters to them. The students at Bent Mountain Christian Academy (BMCA) will spend less time on standardized testing, and more time getting their hands dirty, learning first hand. There will be a heavy emphasis on the basics.
“We want these subjects to come alive and be applicable to these kids,” Karen Scott said.
Scott is the Chairman of the Board, and interim administrator at Bent Mountain Christian Academy, which will open this fall. The school will begin in the basement of Lawrence Memorial United Methodist Church, which ironically is next door to Bent Mountain Elementary School. Bent Mountain Christian Academy will offer kindergarten through eighth grade, and beginning in fall 2011, they will add one high school grade per year. Until then, high school students are invited to attend Parkway Christian Academy near Vinton, for the same low tuition rate of no more than $2,000.
On top of a Christian education, the students at BMCA will be allowed two full recess periods, because the board does not believe children have enough time to just be kids. One day a week will be set aside for field trips and electives; and instead of nine grades, there will be three sections of students.
“It’s similar to a one room schoolhouse situation—each child will move at their own level,” Scott said.
The tentative plan is to break students up into three sections: kindergarten through second, third through fifth, and sixth through eighth grades.
At this point, BMCA is screening Christian teachers who would be a good fit for the school. Instructors must have at least a Bachelor’s degree. Initially, they will work on a volunteer basis, teaching one or two subjects on a block schedule. Once the faculty is hired, the school will apply for accreditation.
While they have not yet begun the application and interview process, they have already had about 20 students express interest in attending the school. Students and their families are not required to be Christians to attend the school.
And while BMCA will be in a basement this year, the board has big plans for their school. Their own building, paid teachers, and free tuition are just some of the initiatives the board is already looking into. They are well on their way.