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 Noble Education Initiative Founder and CEO Sherry Hage and President Richard Page to the newsmakers line to talk about their new tuition-free public charter school Nashville Collegiate Prep in Southeast Nashville.
Leahy: We are joined on the newsmaker line by Sherry Hage the founder and CEO of the Noble Education Institute and Richard Page who is the president. This is a company that manages charter schools. You manage a charter school called Knowledge Academies, which is for grades five to twelve. You have been operating in the Antioch area since 2012 and had 70 students graduate there in 2019. Now you’re opening up Nashville Collegiate Prep a new K-8 tuition-free public charter school. Welcome to The Tennessee Star Report, Sherry and Richard.
Hage: Good morning. Thank you for allowing us to spend a few minutes with you this morning.
Leahy: Well, we’re always happy to have people who are involved in charter schools here on to talk about this. We were trying to get you in studio, but the weather didn’t really cooperate did it?
Hage: It has not. It’s been crazy the last couple of days.
Leahy: Sherry, so tell us about Knowledge Academies and Nashville Collegiate Prep.
Hage: So we’re just super excited to be providing an educational choice to families there in Antioch and then on the Southeast side of Nashville with our new school that’s opening in the fall, Nashville Collegiate Prep. We are just determined that the families of Nashville have more options and more choices for their child’s education. Knowledge Academies is serving this year about 400 students and families that have chosen to be at Knowledge.
And we’re just excited that we’ve been able to serve them both in-person and online. We had to really think through during this pandemic what quality education really looks like and how we can serve students in person as well as in the mobile environment or a hybrid environment. And so our team has done really well. Our teachers have been amazing. And we’re really proud of the work they’ve done since being in person since October there in Antioch.
Leahy: Knowledge Academies is on the web at knowledgeacademies.org. That’s for grades five through 12 with in-person instruction since the fall. So congratulations on that. Now you’re also opening a K through eight tuition-free Public Charter School in August on the web at nashvillecollegiate.org. You’re calling it Nashville Collegiate Prep. Let me ask Richard Page who is the president of your organization. Richard, why are you opening up a second school in Nashville? And why K-8 after you’ve had such great success with five through 12 at Knowledge Academies?
Page: Thank you. This is Richard. Yes, great question. As Sherry said, you know our whole vision and mission and our organization is to support the expansion of high-quality options in communities. We started working in the Nashville community a few years ago in supporting the Knowledge Academies. They asked us to come in and help turn that school around.
And while working there we really ran into other folks who said we need more and we need other options. We need an elementary option for example and need to provide additional choices. This is not enough. So that’s how we got involved with Rethink Forward, which is the foundation that holds this new charter that we work within the K-8 school. So it was really just a matter of expanding out more choices and more options to a greater sphere of people to serve in the community.
Leahy: So where will the new Nashville Collegiate Prep K-8 charter school be physically located?
Page: Well, we have a property under contract in Southeast Nashville. It’s in the vicinity of Nolensville Pike and Old Hickory. But right now we’re still going through the final approval processes to get the building and to begin the renovations on it. So we haven’t formally announced that until we get through it. But we are well on pace to open in the fall because we’re just doing a renovation of an existing building.
Leahy: So are you taking applications now Richard?
Page: Yes we are. We have a temporary office open on Bell Road. Enrollment has been open since early January and we are accepting applications in K-4. So this year we will open kinder through fourth grade and then we’ll open additional grade levels each year going forward. So you can go to the website and learn more.
You can submit an application there. We do information sessions on a regular basis. We also have full-time staff who have already started, our principal, and registrar. You can come in and set up an appointment and have advisement with one of our leaders that will walk you through everything you want to know about the school and whether it’s a fit for your child.
Leahy: Sherry Hage, you are the founder and CEO of Noble Education Initiative. Tell us a little bit about what parents who are interested in applying for the K through four option at Nashville Collegiate Prep on the web at nashvillecollegiate.org. What can they expect when they make their application to you?
Hage: So they submit their application and then there will be a lottery if we have more applications than we have seats. And so that lottery is coming up here next week. And if we do not have as many applications for the school as we have seats, then everyone will get in and we’ll continue to enroll until we fill. We’re super excited about the educational model that’s being offered at Nashville Collegiate. It’s very unique and very innovative.
We are implementing a community and learning model where we are really focused on individualized instruction and learning for each child and each grade level. So the teachers that were hiring, we’ve already hired almost half the staff. And the teachers that we’re hiring have come through really quality experiences and programs and have been teaching.
And they are really excited to get into an environment where their focus is taking care of all of the children in that grade level and making sure that their instruction meets their individual needs. We will also have music and art and physical education and a beautiful science lab. So the parents can expect to see something that’s unique and different and innovative and an environment where people just really care about kids and care about providing them with a quality education.
Leahy: Sherry, how many seats are open in K through four?
Hage: We are opening the building with 470 seats available. And like I said, our applications are online and people can still apply. That lottery does not run until next week so they still have a few more seats that they can grab here towards the end of that period.
Leahy: So you just kind of knocked me over when you said 470. That’s a lot of kids in K-4. That’s a lot to process, isn’t it?
Hage: It is quite a project. We’re just super excited about it. And I know the parents have really been asking for different options for their children. And as Richard said earlier, we’re just really focused on making sure that parents have options so that if it’s the right fit for their child, they have one more option one and more choice that they can make in where their child goes to school.
Leahy: So you have foreign 470 seats open. How many applications do you have so far?
Hage: We probably have about 100.
Leahy: Ah, this is good news for parents.
Hage: This is very good news for parents right now. We are just gearing up in terms of our marketing campaign for the school in terms of getting out. The pandemic has created super different experiences that we’ve had to walk through in terms of how you market a school during a pandemic. How you meet families. So there are really different things going on right now, but we’re just super excited. I will say this, all the parents that have come to our information sessions 100 percent of them have actually signed up to come to the school.
Leahy: Well, why wouldn’t they? I mean, it seems like a no-brainer to me. I’m gonna tell everybody in our listening audience. If you live in Davidson County and you have a child K through four, go to nashvillecollegiate.org and sign up right now. Sherry Hage the founder and CEO of Noble Education Initiative that’s been managing Nashville College Prep and Knowledge Academies and Richard Page the President of that organization, thanks so much for joining us. Will you come back and in-studio in the next couple weeks and give us an update?
Hage: Absolutely, that’d be great. We’d love to.
Page: You got it. Thank you for giving us the time. We appreciate it.
Leahy: You are very welcome. Richard Page and Sherry Hage. Go to nashvillecollegiate.org and sign up.
Listen to the second hour here:
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