Covenant Academy has undergone some changes in preparation for the new school year. Alan Smith has taken over as headmaster and the school has added a ninth-grade class.
Smith previously taught 14 years at Warren County High School. In addition to his headmaster duties at Covenant, he will be teaching a science class.
Smith brings with him his mother, Joyce Smith, who retired from Warren County Schools after teaching in public schools for 34 years. She will be teaching language arts this year. His brother, Nathan, also left WCHS this year to teach at Covenant. Nathan Smith has 17 years of teaching experience. Younger brother, Ryan, still teaches at WCHS.
Covenant presently has 109 children enrolled in kindergarten through ninth grade and had more students visiting the school possibly interested in joining after the start of classes last week. “God is bringing people in. It’s been really exciting for us,” said Alan Smith.
The school has 10 full-time staff members and several part-time people who donate their time. A Microsoft specialist teaches computer classes and their art teacher has an interior design degree.
Covenant students will be picking up some high school credits such as algebra and physical science during eighth grade in order to push the STEM program ahead.
Freshman classes offered this year are algebra, physics, geometry, biology, chemistry, computer, world geography, English and Bible. Freshmen students will receive eight credits upon completion of the school year.
ACT prep is also utilized every day for freshmen. The school does not have the requirement of the state test, so it focuses on tests gearing the students more toward college preparedness, according to Alan Smith.
Bible classes are taught for pre-K through ninth grade and chapel is also a part of each day.
Latin will be taught three days a week for grades 3-8.
“We have been researching the premier schools throughout the state of Tennessee and across the country. What we’ve found is most of the top schools utilize Latin,” said Alan.
The reason Latin is offered instead of French or Spanish is because Latin is the basis for many languages including Spanish, German, French and Portuguese, according to Alan.
Beginning in kindergarten, students will be exposed to writing journals. Samples will be added to the journal each year showing students’ progression from year to year and from the beginning of a year to end of the same year.
“What I ran into in public school was, if a kid was making A’s, they felt comfortable where they were and they weren’t really challenging themselves and didn’t feel challenged sometimes,” the headmaster said. “We want to make sure that no matter where a child is in their progression educationally, we are seeing growth, whether it be a top student of a student who is struggling. We want to see growth.”
Alan said Covenant is hoping to receive funding to utilize the Stanford Achievement and Allstat tests. The Allstat will be an ability measure to compare to the Stanford and if a gap is shown between the two tests, the educational plan for the student can be modified.
Drama will also be offered after the school day this year. Covenant Academy has performed plays in the past, including “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Art and choir are also offered to the students.
Students can participate in cross country this year and volleyball might be added. The school will have an elementary basketball team composed of mainly 5-6 grades, but also has some third and fourth-graders playing, as well as a 7-8 grade team.
Smith said Covenant Academy does not want to focus on the grade a child makes, but the growth a child shows from year to year and growth shown from the beginning of the year to the end of the same year.
Ms. Mildred Simmons is in her 49th year of teaching and also retired from teaching in Warren County Schools a few years ago to teach at Covenant. Smith says Simmons uses every moment in the classroom as a teachable moment. For example, Smith said he was in Ms. Mildred’s room when she had to get something out of her closet. She told the class to watch the second hand on the clock on the wall and count how many minutes she was in the closet. She challenged the students to determine if she was in the closet longer than two minutes.
Students can be heard throughout the school roaring as the school’s mascot is a lion. ROAR at Covenant Academy stands for respect, obedience, attitude and responsibility.