Bachman Academy closes

Sluggish economy, low enrollment, financial status are leading factors

By LARRY C. BOWERS larry.bowers@clevelandbanner.com
Posted 5/23/17

Bachman Academy, a preparatory boarding and day school located on South Lee Highway just south of Cleveland, has closed.

It was a decision reached by the Bachman Home board of trustees. …

This item is available in full to subscribers

Bachman Academy closes

Sluggish economy, low enrollment, financial status are leading factors

THE MAIN facilities of Bachman Academy are on its foundation’s 200-acre campus, south of Cleveland. BA’s board announced over the weekend that the college preparatory school for students in grades 6-12 has closed.
THE MAIN facilities of Bachman Academy are on its foundation’s 200-acre campus, south of Cleveland. BA’s board announced over the weekend that the college preparatory school for students in grades 6-12 has closed.
Banner photo, LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted

Bachman Academy, a preparatory boarding and day school located on South Lee Highway just south of Cleveland, has closed.

It was a decision reached by the Bachman Home board of trustees. Saturday was the official date of the closure.

“It was a difficult, but necessary, decision,” explained Bryson Kirksey, board chair. He said the shutdown was caused by a number of factors, including a sluggish economy, weak financial status and low enrollment.

Kirksey added that the academy’s faculty and staff served the school’s students admirably, but despite their many positive achievements, there was no corresponding increase in the student population.

“Within the past few years, public schools started to address the concerns of students with learning differences and began to provide more significant learning interventions, which decreased the need for Bachman Academy,” Kirksey added.

Bachman Academy CEO and Headmaster Mark Frizzell said in a Monday morning interview that it was a sad and disappointing time for the academy and its staff.

“From a heartfelt standpoint, it is very difficult,” he said. “It is difficult for everybody, when you uproot them from something that they love.”

Frizzell said his 29-person staff will be leaving immediately, although he and CFO Melody Sabio will be closing down the educational operation over the next few months. He anticipates that will be completed by October.

The academy had 29 students during this academic year, with four graduates. The headmaster said parents and family members have been contacted concerning plans for closure, enabling caregivers to find other educational environments for the students.

He added that a premature announcement of the closing of the school was released by a regional media outlet, without approval of himself or the school. That information was compiled from a memo to a student’s parent.

Frizzell and his wife, Gale, plan to remain in the Cleveland area. He is completing his 11th year with the Bachman family, spending 16 years with Orange Grove in Chattanooga before that. “I’ve been in this field 27 years,” he emphasized. He came to Bachman Academy as dean of students.

Bachman began in 1999, and had a successful run through these early years of the 21st century. The Bachman Home Foundation is more than 100 years old.

The foundation’s board of trustees will continue to maintain and coordinate the facility’s and property, a 200-acre campus. Decisions on options for the complex will be determined later.

Bachman Academy has served co-ed students in grades 6-12. The school provided a non-traditional educational environment for students with learning differences, such as ADHD, dyslexia, and NLD, but who had average to above average intelligence.

The original Bachman school was founded in 1912 by the Rev. John Lynn Bachman, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Sweetwater, as a Mission School for local children in the nearby mountain region of Farner. It was renamed Lynn Bachman Memorial School in 1916,

In 1925, the Jonathan W. Bachman Memorial Orphans Home was built on the grounds of the school, augmenting its mission. Over the years, the school added more cottages to the grounds.

In 1934, with the addition of a new public school system in the Sweetwater area, Bachman Home was able to refine its focus on providing a home for the children, but using the public schools for educational programs. By 1936, 34 students from Bachman Home were attending the local elementary school and 12 students were attending Ducktown High School.

In 1950, the school relocated to the current site just south of Cleveland.

By 1970, it expanded to include caring for children who came from less fortunate families in addition to orphans, seeking to keep siblings together and to get them into foster homes or back to their families as quickly as possible.

During the 1980s and ’90s, Bachman served as a transitional facility for boys referred from the Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Services, including an alternative school on campus for boys with behavioral problems or who needed additional education.

In 1999, it was renamed Bachman Academy, and changed its program to one serving boys and girls with learning disabilities, and began accepting students from other areas of the country.

In 2004, the Academy became a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System approved school and was able to accept international students with learning differences as well. By 2011, the school has served students with learning differences from 27 states and eight foreign countries.

Bachman Academy was dually accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Southern Association of Independent Schools. The Academy was a member of the Small Boarding Schools Association. Academics met Tennessee State requirements, and career electives included equestrian science, mechanics, horticulture and woodworking.

The board of trustees hopes to continue the Bachman legacy, and continue to aid students with learning differences.

Kirksey said although it is a somber time for all stakeholders involved with the school, “We end with a positive celebration for our four graduates of 2017. As Bachman Academy closes, we rejoice that thousands of children have benefited from our endeavours, and we are proud of the positive impact we have had on their lives.

“We asked the stakeholders, and the surrounding community, to keep us in their prayers,” Kirksey added. “We want to do what is best for everyone involved.”

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

X

Print subscribers have FREE access to clevelandbanner.com by registering HERE

Non-subscribers have limited monthly access to local stories, but have options to subscribe to print, web or electronic editions by clicking HERE

We are sorry but you have reached the maximum number of free local stories for this month. If you have a website account here, please click HERE to log in for continued access.

If you are a print subscriber but do not have an account here, click HERE to create a website account to gain unlimited free access.

Non-subscribers may gain access by subscribing to any of our print or electronic subscriptions HERE