Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcasting live from Music Row on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy was joined on the newsmakers line by all-star panelist and the new Thales Academy in Franklin Principal, Rachael Bradley.
During the second hour, Bradley described the methodology of direct instruction which will be used at the new Thales Academy in Franklin as a teacher-led and carefully scripted environment that prevents misinformation from floating around the classroom. She described the flow of teaching as quick-moving where every minute of the school day is learning.
Leahy: We are joined now by our good friend and our newest all-star panelist on The Tennessee Star Report. The principal of the Thales Academy in Franklin K-3 school that’s opening in July 2020. Rachael Bradley. Good morning Rachael.
Bradley: Hey good morning Michael how are you?
Leahy: We are great. We are delighted to have you on this morning. Exciting things going on with the opening of Thales Academy Franklin K-3 school in July. There will be a parental informational meeting Tuesday, March 10th. And you are going to be there. Tell us a little bit about what parents will learn there.
Bradley: Well that’s going to be a great opportunity for parents and families to learn about how we’re able to ensure success for students. I really encourage people to come out and learn about Thales Academy. Parents. Grandparents. Anybody who’s interested in high-quality education.
Leahy: By the way, I just posted this. You can go to the Tennessee Star Facebook page and see the event. There is a Facebook event. It will be Tuesday, March the 10th at Thales Academy Franklin. That’s at 3835 Carothers Parkway in Franklin right off of the intersection of Highway 96 (Murfreesboro Road) and 65.
You can see it as you drive North on 65. Many of our listeners right now are driving north on 65. If you look right just before the 96 intersection, you’ll see The Gate Community Church which has now been purchased by Thales Academy. This is where it will be and is a wonderful venue.
You will be telling everyone there about the high quality affordable K-3 education there and direct instruction. Tell us a little bit about direct instruction and how it’s been so successful in the eight Thales Academy schools that are currently in existence in North Carolina.
Bradley: Sure thing. So direct instruction is a carefully planned, fast-paced method of teaching. It’s specifically geared for Pre-K through 5. And it was invented in the 1960s by Zigfried Engleman and it’s been continually researched and improved upon over the last 50 years.
What you’re going to see with direct instruction is that it consistently yields excellent results for student performance. and the great thing about it is many different types of learners at all different ability levels. We are reaching kids where they are and nobody is falling through the cracks.
Leahy: It’s very exciting to see how engaged the students are. And I think that’s part of the secret success of direct instruction. The teachers are very very high energy and get all of the kids engaged. Tell us a little bit about how kids actually respond when they are in this teaching environment.
Bradley: Students respond wonderfully. The great thing about it is it maximizes student engagement. So basically all of the children are engaged the whole time. Everybody is participating.
Nobody is able to just sort of fly under the radar and hang out in the back row doodling on their desk. We make sure all of the kids are participating. They are engaged. They are having fun. The teachers make it relevant to the children sitting in the classroom.
It essentially is teacher-led and carefully scripted so we are minimizing misinformation floating around the classroom. We are moving quickly. And we use every minute of the school day for learning.
Leahy: That is the key. I think kids if they are not challenged, they start wandering off in their minds and thinking about things. I noticed when I visited the Thales schools. And by the way, there are 3000 students who are now enrolled in the eight campuses found in North Carolina.
They’ve been around since 2007 and a proven success story. But I noticed that the kids, nobody is kind of gazing off into the air daydreaming. They are all engaged, aren’t they?
Bradley: They are. We set expectations high and the children are able to live up to them. We are ensuring participation. There are two methods for that. One is the whole group response. That’s when an answer is convergent. The teacher is going to ask the whole group to respond in unison.
And again, that’s just ensuring participation. And if you need to check in with an individual learner to make sure they are engaged and check for understanding, that’s when the teachers use individual terms.
Leahy: The other thing I like about this is that it’s very affordable. I think for a full year’s tuition, the classes start in July. Parents can sign up right now. I guess at our first event in February there was a parent who currently has second-grader enrolled in Thales Academy in North Carolina. He’s transferred to Franklin. (Chuckles) Didn’t he sign up for third grade for his daughter that night when he was there?
Bradley: He did. He signed up. We actually have a dozen applications already.
Leahy: Really? Really?
Bradley: Yes! We’ve already accepted several students. My personal son will be a third-grader in the new Thales Academy. He’s excited to be in the new building. I’ve already hired four highly qualified teachers to teach in our new school.
Leahy: Let me say something about Rachael Bradley. She gets it done. (Bradley laughs) Less than three weeks ago, Rachel, we were here and had a parent-teacher meeting. You only had one. Now you have four. Tell me about the qualifications of those teachers.
Bradley: They are all early childhood education majors. Licensed in the state of Tennessee. So those are two things I’m looking for. Boxes to check. You keep mentioning that you need to be energetic and engaged with students. And so these are young energetic and passionate teachers. They are ready to get in there and go and build something new with me at Thales Academy-Franklin.
Leahy: And it’s not that expensive compared to even daycare. People will spend a lot of money on pre-k daycare. What are the costs for a full year of tuition for a student K-3 enrolling at Thales Academy-Franklin?
Bradley: Our cost is $6,000 for a full year’s tuition.
Leahy: Whoa whoa whoa! $6,000.00? Here in Williamson County, most private schools like the minimum are $12,000 dollars a year. Somewhere in that range.
Bradley: $12,000.00? I’ve seen private schools around $25,000.00. We are offering high-quality education at a fraction of the cost for families.
Leahy: I think you mentioned in our last parents’ meeting last month that there is a discount available from that $6,000.00 if you sign up now?
Bradley: There is. We’re offering a founder’s discount for the first 100 students enrolled. And previously I shared that it was $300.00 which was an error on my account. It’s actually five hundred dollars for the founders discount.
Leahy: Wow. So that would be $5,500. Is there another discount for pre-paying the year?
Bradley: There is. If you choose to prepay in full before the first day of school you are eligible for another $5,200.00 for the entire school year.
Leahy: Depending on how you pay for it. If you pay it all upfront it’s $5,2000.00 for the school year. Or if you want to do it over time it’s $5,500.00. Either way, that’s less than pre-k just childcare I think.
Bradley: It is. We actually looked up the medium childcare cost in Williamson County and it’s hovering around $1,200.00 a month.
Bradley: We’re talking about offering K-5 education for $550.00 a month.
Leahy: Wow! That sounds great! Rachael Bradley, I will see you Tuesday, March 10th Thales Academy parental informational meeting in Franklin. Have a great day and thanks for joining us.
Listen to the full second hour:
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