State, The (Columbia, SC)
LEARNING IS A JUBILEE
FAITH-BASED PRIVATE SCHOOL FOR LOW-INCOME KIDS ENTERS 2ND YEAR
It's been more than a year since Sandee Hensley opened Jubilee Academy
A lot of tears have been shed, friends have been made and goals have
been met by the faith-based private school for low-income children. At
its opening in August 2006, the school served 16 students. A staff of
three and about 50 volunteers ran the academy
is different this year -- fewer students, but better
organized. And Hensley plans to grow her school into a powerful
presence in the Booker Washington Heights area.
If last year's accomplishments are any indications, parents said, Jubilee
's future is bright.
Thirteen-year-old Johnetta Jenkins has struggled to find her place in school since her mother died more than six years ago.
Her grandmother, Judy Riley, said it hurt her heart to watch her
granddaughter act out in school."I couldn't see her progress," she
said. "I was very sad and very teary-eyed."
Since Johnetta starting attending Jubilee
Riley has seen her granddaughter's behavior improve and her reading
skills shoot through the roof. She has watched the girl who used to
struggle to read at a second-grade level win literacy awards.
Johnetta said it started with the crate of free books each student was given last school year.
Once she started reading the "funny books," she said she was hooked.
Her grandmother said it's been a dream watching Johnetta flourish in
the smaller class sizes, at times as small as three students. "I'm just
blessed. ...... I thank God."
's year hasn't been without challenges.
The year-round school has a $200,000 operating budget. Tuition is
$6,000 per student, and 12 students attend the school. Parents are
required to pay 10 percent of that tuition, or $600. The rest is made
up in scholarships or donations.
But Hensley said the school still needs many more scholarships to admit
more students and offer more resources and services throughout the year.
And she would like to raise enough money to hire an early-education specialist and create a kindergarten program.
In October, the school is planning a fundraiser.
Teachers also continue to try to serve students who have had academic
and behavioral problems. Some students are born to parents who have
used drugs, making it hard for them to retain information.
"It has been very difficult," Hensley said. "We never know if it's
going to be the fourth time or the 18th time or the 200th time we go
over something that it'll stick." But teachers said it's worth it.
"I think it's important for us to look out for others in the community," said Mike Mewborne, a parttime teacher at the academy
"Someone needs to be out here doing what they can to make a difference."
Hensley said she has watched as the students take more responsibility for their actions.
Eleven-year-old Robert Terrell agreed. He's grown a foot taller since
starting the school and said the family-like atmosphere has helped him
relax and enjoy school.
"This year we're organized and ready to learn," he said.
Reach Copeland at (803) 771-8485.
* * *
ABOUT JUBILEE ACADEMY
in the Booker Washington Heights area
just started its second school year. It operates as a year-round,
extended-day school, with students attending from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Founder: Sandee Hensley
Who attends: 12 students, ranging in age from 5 to 17
The school's mission statement: "To provide a classical Christian
education that will nurture students toward analytical thinking and
problemsolving to develop independence and a biblical world view."
What's next for the school: Officials are planning an October
fundraiser and hope to expand its early education and kindergarten
For more information: Visit www.heartworksministry.org
(1) by JEFF BLAKE/JBLAKE@THESTATE.COM - Asia Richardson, 5, in foreground, and Aaron Steele, 6, work on a project.
(2) by PHOTOGRAPHS BY JEFF BLAKE/JBLAKE@THESTATE.COM - Johnetta
Jenkins, 13, Tierria Richardson, 14, Jada Canady, 10, Amaya Williams,
7, and teacher Sandee Hensley use the Internet to research ancient
Egypt at Jubilee Academy
(3) by PHOTOGRAPHS BY JEFF BLAKE/JBLAKE@THESTATE.COM - Asia Richardson, 5, leads prayer before eating lunch.