Gateway Christian Academy gives parents more options
By Janet Rail
Home educators are on the rise in McNairy County.
Gateway Christian Academy, founded in 1995 with about 10 students, has grown to an average of 100 students annually for grades K–12.
Students are tested diagnostically upon entering the program and then placed in an individualized curriculum in each subject based on their level of performance.
This is ideal for many students as it allows them to advance from unit to unit as they demonstrate mastery. Students can independently work through the curriculum under the supervision of instructors who provide tutoring at the optimum moment of learning.
Principal Deborah Price believes that this is a great option for many as home schools offer an accelerated Christian education. After twenty years, she believes parents and caregivers deserve the option to teach at home. “Home schooling done correctly can be very beneficial,” Price said.
Gateway receives referrals across the state as well as North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Missouri. “We receive many referrals from other school boards in states with troubled children who can’t keep up in public schools or have behavioral issues. Often we help the children catch up so they can return to the public schools system and some choose to continue home schooling,” she continued.
A recent referral from East Tennessee concerned teen two girls who are now in foster care. They had no social security number and could not write their names. “We started these girls in kindergarten as they did not have the basics. The foster parents report they can now write their names and they are improving daily on their test scores,” said Price.
Approximately 30-40 percent of the students are local but the majority are from a variety of places. Price and her daughter, assistant principal Shelly Settlemires, are both trained educators through the School Tomorrow Accelerated Christian Education program in Lewisville, Texas.
The program reports to the local Board of Education and provides a curriculum and testing material which meets public school requirements. If a child is not keeping up with their curriculum or drops out, they are turned over to the Truancy Officer in the county. Out of state students have to get approval from their local Board of Education.
Some parents are intimidated at first, but they provide many resources and support to assure the success of each child’s education. Parents or guardians that teach must have a GED or diploma at the minimum; however, many have bachelor’s degrees or advanced education. “We communicate with parents frequently to assure they have the support to get the teaching done,” said Settlemires.
Accelerated Christian education concepts are based on five basic laws of learning: a child must be at a level where they can perform; have reasonable goals; learning must be controlled with a motivated child; learning must be measurable and rewarded for performance.
Gateway has a website: www.gatewaychristianacademy95.com and can be reached at (731) 934-9476 or at their local address at 2342 Refuge Road, Bethel Springs, TN. Annual registration is $50 with $85 per month for tuition.