Medgar Evers once said, “You can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea.” In 2018 we had an idea—what many considered a far-fetched idea. We were going to open a school unlike any other in the entire state of Tennessee. We wanted to sift through the red tape and traditions to determine what children really need in order to develop their potential and be well prepared to lead lives as balanced, compassionate, and confident individuals ready to change the world. We wanted our school to prioritize practices and values that directly link to the true goals of education. We wondered,
What could gifted learners accomplish if there were no arbitrary limits to their schooling?
We started with a building because we thought that having the ideal physical space in a beautiful building was important. Months later, due to strict fire code requirements and our tight timeline, we found ourselves out of a lease and into a single room inside of a church. With 17 students ranging from 6-12 years old, our founding families wondered if we could really educate their children well in this one-room school house setting. We were thankful for their willingness to trust us, confident that we would not let them down and anchored to the idea that started it all – to reimagine education.
a year later each one of those students grew by leaps and bounds, and that one single room became a symbol of making the impossible possible.
That year the dominoes began to fall. One reimagination led to the next and before we knew it we were reimagining the very foundation of what we knew education to be. At the core was our staff, equipped with passion, commitment, and love for our students. Instead of spending hours grading papers, they put their skills to use igniting children’s natural curiosities, creating an environment of acceptance and belonging, and most of all – inspiring joy in learning. We confirmed that the true assessment of understanding was not measured by homework or standardized testing, but through socratic discussions, personal goal setting and reflection, and completion of meaningful projects.
we would break down every barrier in our way, and we would work tirelessly on our quest for excellence--this vision was worth fighting for, and we were in it for the long haul.
Fast forward to March 2020 and the world redefined the word “obstacle.” Out of a church and into a building with classes and walls and students – we could not have imagined that a virus would cripple society as we know it and force us to yet again—reimagine. How do you do school without proximity? How do you teach without a person in front of you? How do you achieve comfort and love in the midst of stringent standards and constant sanitation? Most importantly, how do you provide assurance in the presence of massive unknowns? We had changed the face of education, but the COVID-19 pandemic would push us to limits we didn’t even know we had.
How do you do school without proximity? How do you teach without a person in front of you? How do you achieve comfort and love in the midst of stringent standards and constant sanitation? Most importantly, how do you provide assurance in the presence of massive unknowns? We had changed the face of education, but the COVID-19 pandemic would push us to limits we didn’t even know we had.
The challenges are massive and the need for creative solutions has been unceasing, but time and again we have gone back to what we built our foundation on – passion, commitment, and love for our students and families. Where these challenges have built walls of discouragement, our passion has torn them down brick by brick. Where uncertainty has clouded the vision, our commitment has created perseverance.
Most importantly, love has conquered every place that fear has tried to land.
No matter what tomorrow brings, we will rise to meet the challenge. We know what matters, and we will hold fast to those things. In 2020 our battle field escalated to the level of global pandemic – and we’re still here.