Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the Principal of Thales Academy-Franklin Rachael Bradley to the newsmakers line.
During the second hour, Bradley described direct instruction methodology and urged parents to fill out an application online as slots are filling up quickly at the new school. She also said there is an upcoming parental informational meeting on June 30.
Leahy: We are joined on the phone now by our very good friend the Principal of Thales Academy-Franklin. The new affordable and high-quality education private school coming here to Franklin next month. Rachael good morning.
Bradley: Hey! Good morning Mike how are you?
Leahy: Are you guys still going to be teaching George Washington there because you know some schools don’t want to teach George Washington?
Bradley: (Laughs) Ohhh.
Leahy: I sent you that link yesterday about Harpeth Hall dropping the celebration of George Washington. I think a lot of parents are going to be looking for alternatives these days.
Bradley: Yes. Absolutely.
Leahy: So tell us about what is going on the launch of Thales Academy-Franklin on July 20 K-3. Tell us what’s going on.
Bradley: Well it’s really exciting Mike. We have really gathered a lot of interest over the last couple of weeks. We are in Franklin with our new campus, that being said I’ve got new students who live in Spring Hill, Columbia, Bell Buckle, Nashville and Brentwood.
So we are getting families from all over Williamson County and Davidson County. I think they are just seeing that they are really not happy with what’s being offered right now. And they are looking for alternatives. And that’s where we come in.
Leahy: I guess you are getting all your construction done. You’ve got your signs up there. It’s right on Carothers Parkway. You’ve had a couple of parental informational meetings. I’ve been there. Do you have any more planned between now and the opening? Or are you just rolling with it?
Bradley: I do. I really want to have another one. The problem is that our building is undergoing renovation and has picked up. It’s taken over my meeting space. But I’m hoping to schedule one Tuesday, June 30. And I’m looking for a neutral location. I met yesterday with the Franklin Mercantile Deli and waiting to hear back. Maybe to have a coffee with parents and talk about education.
Leahy: Well keep us up to speed on that for June 30 and we’ll announce it here.
Bradley: I will.
Leahy: By the way, if you want to learn more about Thales Academy just go to TennesseeStar.com. We have a couple of banners there that you can click on that. Also, you are on Facebook?
Bradley: Yes, absolutely. Thales Academy-Franklin.
Leahy: And tuition is only 5,300 bucks a year? Which is less than childcare for kids under five right?
Bradley: It’s really remarkable. Yes. $5,300 a year.
Leahy: The process if you are a parent out there and you want to come to this K-3 school at Thales Academy-Franklin, tell us about the process that parents would go through. They can click on our banner ad and they connect with you. What happens next?
Bradley: It’s really simple Mike. If you just get to thalesacademy.org there is a place that says apply here. And you do a quick online application. Once you are in our system we will reach out to you and we will set up a one on one admission assessment with your child. Just a general baseline and what their needs are and to make sure we can meet those needs. But we can move the process along pretty quickly. It takes seven to ten days.
Leahy: And you do an assessment of where each child is correct?
Bradley: Right. And we are looking primarily at reading and math.
Leahy: Got it. To see where they are. You have the most effective way to teach kids reading, writing, and arithmetic for well over 50 years. People don’t know about it for a number of reasons. But it’s been very effective. It’s called direct instruction, what direct instruction is, and why it’s the way to go for kids who need to learn reading and writing.
Bradley: Direct instruction is a research-based, data-driven, mastery-based teaching methodology. And all these three pieces are important. The mastery piece in particular is one of the things I really love about it. So we aren’t just going to teach something and then move on because we’ve checked that on our list. We are making sure all of our students are mastering the material.
Leahy: Yes. Exactly. I’m very curious, I think you’ve been seeing an uptick in applications because parents are getting tired of the uncertainty surround if we are going to have school or not going to have school. And you are 100 percent going to be opening and having your first day of class on July 20, right?
Bradley: We are. I’ve talked to a lot of moms who circle that date on their calendar. They are like please, take my child. They need to be in a classroom. It’s so true Mike. I’m a mom too. And these kids need to be in school. Sadly several of the first graders I’ve assessed this week you could very plainly tell that they had about three quarters of a school year. There is a gap there.
Leahy: That’s very important.
Bradley: Yes. We need to get on that right away.
Leahy: Everybody is saying distance learning can work and you can study PDFs. That doesn’t work, does it? Not the way it should.
Bradley: It’s not nearly as effective.
Leahy: You’ve got that interpersonal engagement. You’ve got a terrific staff of teachers there.
Bradley: We do.
Leahy: When last we spoke you said your kindergarten class was filling up. Do you still have any room in kindergarten?
Bradley: Gosh I don’t know. Maybe a few seats left. I have 18 confirmed but I have six more applications for kindergarten. As I said, I’ve been meeting with two or three families every day. They all feel the same way. They are just not happy with the uncertainty and they want their kids back in school.
Leahy: So first, second and third graders are starting to pick up as well with applications?
Bradley: Yes. Many families have multiple kids. So our whole enrollment is really picking up.
Leahy: I’m very concerned about the learning gap. Kindergarten, first grade, or second grade this past academic year haven’t really completed all the things they should have done no matter where they were from right?
Bradley: Exactly. I guess the only good news is is that most children are all in the same boat. It’s unfortunate that it happened but we’ll all have to make some adjustments coming back in.
Leahy: I don’t see how you can catch up unless you are there in person. I just don’t see it happening online.
Bradley: No. I’m really worried about that. I can’t imagine what it will look like if kids miss another quarter of school, or God forbid the first semester. That’s really going to take a toll.
Leahy: There are some schools that are looking at maybe we’ll continue online and have some other stair step with five million rules of how you can partially open. I don’t think that’s going to work. I think you just need to get back to school.
Bradley: The parents I’m talking to feel the same way, Mike. We’re fortunate that we have a small manageable student body. We have a large building that’s going to be essentially brand new on the inside with a top of the line HVAC which is a bonus for us because of our parent company. We have 100 percent air being flushed in.
Leahy: So the guy who started Bob Luddy, very successful entrepreneur. This is a non-profit and they’ve cut out a lot of extraneous things which is why it only costs $5,300 a year for tuition. And it can be paid all upfront or over the months. There is financial aid available I guess, right?
Bradley: There is. Sure.
Leahy: But Bob Luddy is the CEO and owner of Captive Air which is the number one provider of high-quality commercial kitchen ventilation equipment and air conditioning equipment for restaurants. I guess you’ve got the Captive Air stuff going on there.
Bradley: We do.
Leahy: Well that’s a big plus.
Bradley: (Chuckles) It really is.
Leahy: Especially now in this environment where air circulation matters. I hadn’t even thought about that. That’s great.
Bradley: It’s exciting. All of our campuses are going to get that equipment installed. It’s going to be a really great learning environment. Again, small and manageable. In this first year, we can operate safely without really harsh restrictions. Parents don’t want their children in a mask all day especially a five or six year old. It’s not feasible and it’s not conducive to learning.
Leahy: Absolutely. Thales Academy-Franklin. You can go to the tennessestar.com and click on the Thales Academy blue banner and go right, Rachael Bradley. Rachael, come back again next week and tell us the details on the final parent meeting Tuesday, June 30th. Thanks for joining us.
Bradley: Alrighty. Thanks, Mike!
Listen to the full second hour here:
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