EARLY YEARS: New school offers private school education for at-risk children in the Roanoke Valley
It's a new school growing one class at a time.
The Academy is a private school that serves children living in poverty from all over the Roanoke Valley.
This group of five and six year olds represents the first class of students at the Academy, a private school which just opened on Belle Avenue this fall.
It's tuition free for those who attend, thanks to the McLeod Foundation.
McLeod Family Foundation Operations Director Teresea Schaeffer says, "This was actually an idea from our trustees and founders, John and Kathy McLeod. They just really wanted to do something where they could help the children and expose them to as much as possible, field trips, learning from people in our community."
Children aren't the only ones who learn here at The Academy.
It also offers money management classes for parents.
"We want to focus on the entire family. We are working with partner organizations to offer job training opportunities, vocational training, those kinds of things," says Schaeffer.
To be selected for the school, families are nominated by local organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, CHIP and others.
Schaeffer says, "These are children at risk. These are children that live at or below the poverty line. Some of them live with their grandparents. Some of them live with their parents."
As for the curriculum, The Academy follows the Virginia Standards of Learning, and also teaches character counts and life skills.
"Every child has full, free scholarship for the entire time that they're enrolled in the academy. They also receive three hot meals a day and free childcare before and after school and through the summer".
We have a link to an application for The Academy to the right of this story. Open enrollment starts in January.