A private school in northeast Roanoke designed for families living in poverty announced expansion plans Thursday.
The Academy also launched a capital campaign seeking $200,000 to pay for a renovation, along with a new atrium and playground, co-founder John McLeod said Thursday during the school’s fall open house event.
McLeod and his wife, Kathy, started the school a year ago through their nonprofit, the McLeod Family Foundation. The McLeods are the founders of the HoneyTree Early Learning Centers in the Roanoke and New River valleys.
The Academy’s mission is to help families break the poverty cycle, McLeod said. Located near the intersection of King Street and Gus Nicks Boulevard, the school provides free education, transportation and three meals per day to students in need.
The inaugural class of kindergartners advanced to first grade this year as the school welcomed another kindergarten class. The school now has 26 students and two teachers. Jessica Hiner returned to teach first grade while Assistant Head of School Beth Mattox is teaching kindergarten.
Administrative offices and the school’s two classrooms are inside one of two, one story buildings. MCE Owner Occupied LLP, the McLeods’ property management company, owns the buildings and surrounding 3.5 acres.
McLeod said the bulk of the capital campaign – $125,000 – will pay for renovating the second building to house its second through fifth grade classes. HomeTrust Bank has already pledged $20,000 to help pay for the playground.
McLeod’s foundation also partners with Total Action for Progress, Freedom First Credit Union and Goodwill to assist the students’ families with some of their personal, financial and job training needs.
Two representatives from Americorps have an office in the school and serve as parent liaisons, McLeod said.
Head of School Tina Kitchens said the school, which must report to the Virginia Department of Education, had great success in its first year. Because the school offers a summer camp from June to August, Kitchens said, the first grade students retained material they learned in their first year.
Long term, McLeod said the foundation wants to attract more families to the school while adding a new kindergarten class each year.
The foundation hopes to build a middle school and high school on the property over the next five to 10 years.
McLeod said the school plans to complete its current renovation and construction projects by June.