Thursday 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 Thales Academy in Franklin’s Principal Rachael Bradley.
Leahy: We are talking with our newest all-star panelist and good friend, and the Principal of Thales Academy-Franklin. Thales is a new school with a high-quality affordable education for your kids in Franklin. Rachael Bradley. Good morning Rachael.
Bradley: Good morning Mike, how are you?
Leahy: I’m great. I’m great. Not specific to Thales Academy but I saw this in the news and I just had to share it with you. Bill Gates is a big Common Core guy which is a disaster.
Leahy: These are my words, not yours. (Chuckles) But I don’t think you’ll disagree with me on that. He’s a big Common Core guy and he’s worth 30 billion dollars. Yesterday they announced a plan to reimagine schools with Governor Cuomo. I guess the idea is that they did such an awful job with the Common Core. I guess they think if they do more of it it will turn out better. More of the same thing will turn out better in New York. I’m skeptical of that.
Bradley: Oh wow. You know when we have tours I often get that question from prospective parents, do we use Common Core? And when I say absolutely not, I get a huge sigh of relief.
Leahy: Absolutely. I guess Common Core is more a set of standards than teaching methodology but every time I look at the Common Core and somebody tries to explain how they use it in math, I think it’s designed to confuse kids on math. At least from what I can tell.
But in contrast, direct instruction is a proven way to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic in over 50 years of it. You are an expert on it. You do it at Thales Academy-Franklin opening up in July. Just give us a brief summary of what direct instruction is. A lot of our listening audience is not familiar with direct instruction.
Bradley: OK. As you said, is a teaching methodology based on over 50 years of research. It’s data-driven. And mastery-based. It wasn’t designed based on the latest fad or buzz word. This has been around and has passed the test of time that it works. It works amazingly well and I’ve seen it first hand for years.
Leahy: They did a seven-year study of this when it was first invented by Zig Engelmann. When it was first invented by him in the 1960s at the University of Illinois they did a seven-year study and the federal government compared the methodology and got the final results in 1977. Among the eight methodologies studied, only one of them worked. And it worked spectacularly. It was direct instruction. It hasn’t been used widely however because of political reasons. I know that will shock you.
Bradley: Yes. I’m really shocked.
Leahy: Well you lived it haven’t you? You’ve worked in public schools with direct instruction and you were able to get it in there and succeed early in your career. But as soon as you left that methodology collapsed and now you’ve been doing it for years in North Carolina. You moved here April 1. It’s going to be available here in Franklin starting July 20. Tell us a little bit about the parental information meeting coming up at the school next Tuesday? Tell us a little bit about that.
Bradley: We do. I’m really excited to see some people face to face, from a safe distance. But we are hosting an information session for families. Children are welcome. That will be next Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at 3835 Carothers Parkway in Franklin. Currently known as The Gate Community Church. But it will be Thales Academy in Franklin. I really want to encourage people to come out and learn all about our school.
Leahy: I will be there. You are going to follow the governor’s protocol of the coronavirus.
Leahy: And we’re going to follow it to a T. You have plenty of room in the facility so people will be distanced from six feet and all the protocols will be followed. I’ll be outside and greeting people and directing them in. I may not come inside because it might end up being if we get enough people there. I want to make sure there is enough social distancing going on.
Bradley: Absolutely. So what you are telling me is you are volunteering to be my bouncer.
Leahy: I will be your bouncer! You got it! (Bradley chuckles) This is why its so much fun talking to Rachael. I will be the bouncer Tuesday night at the Thales Academy-Franklin open house for parents at 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.. at 3835 Carothers Parkway.
As you are heading north on I-65 just before you get to the intersection of Highway 96 you look to your right and you’ll see it says The Gate Community Church. I look every day but I don’t think the Thales Academy sign is up quite yet. But it will be up pretty soon, right?
Bradley: Yes. Absolutely. From what I understand we are just waiting on a permit issue. I’m checking it out every day myself.
Leahy: Checking it out! Also, if you are a parent in Williamson County and you are trying to wonder how your kids are going to learn, you have an online learning option that people can go to tennesseestar.com and hit the blue Thales Academy banner and it will take you to the Facebook page where you can sign up. I guess you have a dozen kids in Williamson County already signed up. What are they experiencing?
Bradley: They are getting an excellent preview of what our instruction looks like. So these are the best and brightest teachers. I chose very carefully from my previous staff of the last five years at our Apex, North Carolina campus. And I am letting our Williamson County families that are interested sign up for those same courses.
It’s a perfect mixture of prerecorded lessons by those teachers who are veterans with direct instruction as well as some face to face opportunities to make connections. We are covering reading, language arts, math vocabulary, science, and history. Everything.
Leahy: It sounds really good. The parents that are looking for your kids to do go online to tennesseestar.com and click on the blue Thales Academy banner there and make the connection. Or you could email Rachael directly at [email protected]. One last thing. How expensive is Thales Academy?
Bradley: Not expensive at all. That’s the beauty of it. We founded this phenomenal program using direct instruction offering a classical education with a strong emphasis on character formation with an annual tuition of only $5,300.
Leahy: That’s less than half of most private schools in Williamson County. For those of you are looking at the budget and thinking if you’re not comfortable with the general instruction in public schools and maybe not quite there with homeschooling looking for a private school option, I don’t see how you could beat Thales Academy in Franklin for only $5,300 for a full year. That’s quite spectacular. And you’ll explain how you do that at the parent’s information meeting Tuesday, May the 12 at 3835 Carothers Parkway. And the side benefit, I’m the bouncer at the event.
Bradley: I can’t wait. (Leahy chuckles)
Leahy: Well I’ll be a nice bouncer I promise. In fact, I’ll be an inviting bouncer and I won’t bounce anybody out.
Bradley: There we go. We may have some desperate parents. It’s been a rough month.
Leahy: It’s been a rough month, that’s for sure. Rachael Bradley, principal of Thales Academy-Franklin thanks so much for joining us. I will see you in person next Tuesday at 6:30 a.m.
Bradley: I’m looking forward to it.
Listen to the full third hour:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.