Perhaps nowhere in the country is the construction and enrollment boom in Christian education being heard more loudly than in Sullivan County, Tennessee.
Lakeway Christian School System is preparing to build a new 240,000-square-foot campus in Kingsport, Tennessee, in order to accommodate the surge in demand for private education in the area.
In the past five years, Lakeway Christian Schools grew from 172 students on one campus to 1,152 on three campuses. LCS expects to add up to 400 new students next year, and possibly a new facility.
That’s in addition to the new Tri-Cities Christian Academy campus for grades 6-12 already under construction now.
Parents of new enrollees are voicing concerns heard around the country that the “woke culture” has hijacked learning.
“When I talk with parents, they are searching for an educational opportunity that recognizes parents’ vital role in their child’s education and the importance of their child having an education where the core beliefs of home, Christian faith and school align,” explained Britt Stone, head of school for Tri-Cities Christian Academy..
Lakeway’s new 75-acre campus is set to be home to the middle school and high school beginning August 2024. It will accommodate more than 1,000 students.
The effect on the community will be transformative, according to Stone.
“Northeast Tennessee has never had a Christian school that offered the educational, fine arts, performing arts, athletics, STEM and CTE programming that we will be able to offer,” he said. “Parents have had to choose between giving their child an opportunity to use their God-given abilities in specific arts, athletics, and STEM programs, or giving them a Christ-centered education.
“We will be able to offer it all on one campus. We will also be able to have a significantly greater capacity for students.”
The Lakeway Christian School system currently includes three schools: Cornerstone Christian Academy (Pre-K-5, in Morristown), Lakeway Christian Academy (6-12, in White Pine) and Tri-Cities Christian Academy (Pre-K-12th, in Blountville).
Jeff Hawkins is the assistant principal at Tri-Cities. “Most people don’t realize what’s coming to this area,” Hawkins told local media. “The average person in Sullivan County has no clue. There is going to be a facility located in our area that is going to be second-to-none in terms of athletics, academics, extracurriculars, co-curriculars – you name it.”
But many parents do know, and they’re making the switch to a school that respects their role in education.
“What is a man? What is a woman? Who gets to decide?” asks Stone. “Parents are recognizing these challenges to foundational truth, and are choosing Christian education so their children will be grounded and prepared to lead in challenging times.
“In Christian education, parents are partners as lead practitioners in their child’s education and formation, not just parishioners of a local educational establishment.”