Shelby Academy presents five-year plan

Published 10:26 pm Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Interested parents and students heard about Shelby Academy’s five-year strategic plan and met the new board of trustees at the Feb. 23 general meeting.

Bishop Derek Jones, the interim headmaster, went through the five-year plan with those assembled, beginning with academics. He said the academic program would include a focus on advanced placement and college preparatory courses, as well as the creation of extracurricular programs such as art, music and drama.

“Shelby Academy is already going to be on the front end of providing superior academics,” he said.

The school hopes to reach an enrollment of 250 students within three years. While the preschool is slated to reopen in April 2010, school officials plan to reopen grades K-12 for the 2010-2011 school year.

Jones said an enrollment of 250 would provide the school with a strong financial base, but stressed the commitment isn’t about financial gain.

“It’s not about making money as much as it is about making community,” he said.

Within the same three years, however, school officials hope to increase the school’s annual income to $200,000 for financial stability.

New preschool director Suzie Lowery, a 1979 graduate of Shelby Academy, said she looks to take the program “back to the basics.”

“In this hallway, in this very room, I learned about true loyalty,” she said. “I learned about the love of God, which the public schools have totally turned their backs on.”

Lowery, who is a speech pathologist and has worked with children and adults for years, is currently working for free until the school can afford to pay her a salary.

After the meeting, board member Debbie Oaks said while the school was originally in debt for approximately $200,000, that debt has been reduced by more than $70,000.

“That was done with absolutely no cash,” she said. “Just through donations.”

The school now owes about $120,000 to creditors, unpaid teachers and parents who paid tuition and fees for the last school year. The school also has a mortgage of $376,000.

“There’s no wolves at our feet anymore,” Oaks said. “Not that it’s not a pressing need, but we’ve got to get the school open to pay it back. That’s what I’m trying to get people to understand, that we have to have an income to pay the debt.”

The new board of trustees includes Oaks, Paige Phillips, Sherry Vallides, Faye Baxley, Martha Ann Eisenburg, Connie Jones, James Duke, James Baker and Cathy Wood.

For more information about the school’s reopening, or to obtain enrollment information, call the Shelby Academy office at 668-2299, or visit