Because of community demand, a public elementary school has been chartered which will offer the same outdoor learning experiences as Ivy Academy, which is a Hamilton County public charter school serving grades 6-12. At its meeting on Thursday, the Hamilton County School Board voted unanimously to approve the application for Ivy Academy’s Skillern Elementary School.
After a planning year, the school will open in August of 2022. The application window will open this September.
The school will have a main campus and a satellite campus. The main campus will temporarily be at or near the current campus for Ivy Academy, and the satellite campus will be at Booker T. Washington State Park in the Highway 58 area. Eventually, the main campus of the elementary school will be located across Dayton Pike from the current 6th-12th school on land being donated by Ned Rich of Custom Stone Handlers. There will always be a satellite campus at Booker T. Washington State Park.
Ivy will continue to offer free, county-wide bus transportation to its students, and at both locations.
Enrollment the first year will take in 64 students, mainly kindergarteners, with one class of combined kindergarten and first grade. Class size is 16 students or less with two adults assigned to each classroom. The school will add one grade per year and cap out at 408 students in the fall of 2028.
Along with outdoor learning, the school will provide the additional proven instructional method of brain training through the classical model of education. Students will have the benefits of systematic phonics instruction and foundational mathematics instruction with a focus on history, the sciences, literature, and becoming good citizens, in an outdoor setting.
“This model offers an active learning experience that is different from other options in Hamilton County," said the school's founder, Angie Markum. "We are very excited to get Ivy’s Skillern Elementary started so more students can benefit from this immersive instructional setting.
“The name ‘Skillern Elementary’ was chosen to impact our students’ aspirations by honoring a local example of generosity. The benevolence of a Soddy-Daisy family whose long-time business is neighbor to the school, Fred and Bettye Skillern and their late son Rees, has enriched non-profits in our region by millions of dollars. How inspiring it can be for students to see the names and know the story of hometown folks like these. It has powerful potential to make our students think, ‘Some day, I can do that for my community too.’”