Faith Academy adds modular units, looks ahead after smooth opening

Published 12:01 am Thursday, September 30, 2021

FAITH — Students have filled Faith Academy’s classrooms for a few weeks after the school year started with a little creativity with its space to accommodate everyone on campus.

The school was hoping to have its modular units installed behind the school open by the time classes started in August, but it ran into some delays in the final days of the installation. The school needs the modulars because it enrolled 500 students, dwarfing the student population of Faith Elementary School, which occupied the facility until it closed at the end of the previous school year.

Staff made the brick-and-mortar building work when classes began on Aug. 23. They moved classes into areas that would not normally host classrooms, including the media center. A little over two weeks into the year, the school’s modular units were open and every teacher had a permanent classroom.

Otherwise, the beginning of the school’s inaugural year has been smooth. Administrator Sarah Hensley said she was impressed with teaching she saw even when some of the teachers were in temporary classrooms.

Hensley said many students came to school behind because of pandemic learning loss. The school is about to begin an intervention program, starting with third grade, to get students extra help. Certified teachers will come to the school to tutor on Monday afternoons.

School board chair George Wilhelm said no one has come to school after contracting COVID-19, but there have been people out of school due to quarantine or infection. So far, the peak for quarantines at the school has been about 50.

Faith Academy initially opted to make masks optional, but it changed course before the year started after an exposure resulted in 14 girls volleyball team members quarantining. Wilhelm said the school makes a point of taking the kids outside where they can take masks off for at least 10 minutes twice every day.

Wilhelm, a former Rowan County sheriff, said he has experience running an organization and enjoys saying busy. He tries to make sure the school has everything it needs, and the board has authorized him to make decisions about getting work done on the facility, including plumbing and electrical repairs, as needed.

He also looks for any hazards that could be a safety concern for students and staff. Right now, the school is looking into getting more card readers installed on doors so classes can travel between buildings more easily.

“It’s one of those things,” Wilhelm said. “Somebody’s got to do it.”

He still enjoys it. Hearing kids enjoying themselves on the playground and walking by classrooms to see them learning is rewarding for him.

The school has bigger plans for the future as well. It is expecting 100 more students next year and to add eighth grade to its levels. The school plans to expand to a second facility next door, and eventually offer grades K-12.

Wilhelm said the board is already working with a contractor and the N.C. Department of Transportation on entrances for a new facility. Wilhelm said it is too early in the process for a cost estimate on the building, and said the school may bring in another modular unit next year if need be.