A school recently moved into First Baptist Church of Charlotte.
In 2013, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced it was ending Brookstone Schools’ lease of the former Amay James pre-kindergarten center off West Tyvola Road.
CMS wants to use the building on West Tyvola for Reid Park Academy, a CMS pre-kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school nearby, starting in 2015.
Volunteers packed up Brookstone Schools’ classrooms Dec. 11, and professionals took the items to First Baptist’s educational center, which also houses the church’s preschool; the two schools will remain separate.
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“We wondered mid-year what we were going to do, but the Lord has provided,” said Suzanne Wilson, director of advancement for Brookstone Schools.
The private Christian school, serving 135 students in kindergarten though eighth grade, was founded in 2001 for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
Almost all the school’s $1.2 million annual budget comes from private donations, Wilson said. Tuition makes up about 5 percent of the budget, and parents are offered generous scholarships.
Part of the school’s mission is to provide quality education and moral teaching to children in Charlotte’s urban core, so school leaders limited their search for a new space to uptown Charlotte.
First Baptist had 13,000 square feet of classrooms and offices available, and students also will use the church’s gym, fellowship hall, worship arts studio and outdoor playground.
The church is centrally located, at 301 S. Davidson St., as most students come from east, north or west Charlotte. No families have moved students to another school because of the move, Wilson said.
Brookstone Schools will use nine classrooms at First Baptist, one for each grade. It also will have space for administrative offices, a library and development.
The school has 20 full-time and five part-time employees, including 11 classroom teachers and music and physical education instructors.
“We are beginning a relationship with First Baptist and look forward to finding creative ways that we can work together to help others in the community,” Wilson said. “There are so many needs in the world, and we recognize that we each have a distinct role to play in making a difference.”
The school is in talks with local food ministries to provide lunches for students at the church, where the school will not have access to a cafeteria.
Brookstone Schools will be closed on Dec. 15-16 as employees unpack. Students will return Dec. 17 for three days before winter break.
Wilson said moving to an urban setting will give Brookstone students more opportunities.
“We are excited about being downtown and taking advantage of the outstanding cultural resources that are available in our city,” she said. “We want our students to embrace the city and have a desire to give back to others one day.”
Aileen Lockhart, who has four grandchildren attending Brookstone Schools, said the experience there could positively change their lives forever.
“The blessing that Brookstone has been to my family goes without saying,” Lockhart said. “Because of sponsors and the scholarships they provide, my grandchildren can get a quality education that they would not be able to have otherwise.”
Wilson said the school eventually would like to enroll about 300 students and have a permanent facility.
“This is a unique faith-based educational experience we hope to provide to more deserving students and their families,” she said.