Peachtree Academy to open new Newton campus

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

COVINGTON -- Conyers-based Peachtree Academy plans to open a new campus in east Newton County this fall.

This summer, construction crews are renovating the vacated 84 Lumber site on U.S. Highway 278 in Covington that will house the new campus.

"There is such a demand for a good private school that's accredited," said JaNice Van Ness, director of admissions at Peachtree Academy, adding that it would be the first private school in Covington accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. "There is a demand for higher standards for childrens' educations."

Last year, the school had plans to locate its campus on 31 acres on McGuirts Bridge Road, off U.S. Highway 278 in Covington, but the school would have been required to spend between $350,000 and $500,000 to add required traffic lanes and signals.

"That is not a good place to spend money," Van Ness said, adding that she would rather use it on instruction and construction.

This fall, the school plans to open Phase I of its campus, which is the front building on the site. It will house instructional and administrative spaces, as well areas for a gymnasium and cafeteria until the next phases are complete.

"We are going through a total renovation," Van Ness said.

Eventually, the school will be made up of several buildings for instructional and administrative space and a separate area that will house a gym, cafeteria and stage for productions and community events. It also will have an outdoor eating area and stage converted from 84 Lumber's back loading dock and a recreation-football-sized sports field in the back.

"It's going to be a great draw for the public to come in and see this amazing transformation," Van Ness said, adding that the school is using several local businesses like SteelCo to complete the work.

Like the other Peachtree Academy campuses in Conyers, the school will use Georgia Performance Standards as minimum guidelines. It keeps a low student-teacher ratio with 18 to 20 students per class to keep down discipline problems and distractions, Van Ness said.

The school will be equipped with high technology like active boards, active voters and other gadgets in all of its classrooms.

"We have a very multisensory environment," Van Ness said, adding that it especially helps students with disabilities.

In addition to core classes, the school also offers studies in art, music, physical education, Spanish and chapel. The school also will feature athletics like cheerleading, tennis, track, golf, basketball and soccer, in addition to various clubs.

Before and after school care will be available, as well as summer camps and camps during extended breaks. The school calendar is similar to area public school calendars.

"We are really like a one-stop shop for parents," Van Ness said.

Information about registration is available by calling Jenna Johnson, director of operations at the school, at 770-860-8900, ext. 10, or e-mailing info@peachtreeacademy.com. This summer, office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Current Conyers campus Principal Sandy Russell and Assistant Principal Allison Gresham will oversee the Covington campus as well. Van Ness said the school plans to hire some educators with a minimum of four years teaching experience. Resumes also may be e-mailed to the school.

The Covington campus initially will serve about 120 students in prekindergarten through ninth grade, Van Ness said. Students must be 3 years old by Sept. 1 to register. Next year, the school plans to serve up through 12th grade.

Currently, 525 students are enrolled in the Conyers private school, which is in its eighth year and plans to add a ninth grade class in the fall. The 6-year-old Peachtree Academy West, which services early learners through kindergarten, houses about 100 students.

The school also has a campus in Colorado. Van Ness said after the Covington campus is built, she will explore opportunities for campuses elsewhere as well. Franchising is available for the school, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.