Samantha Towne and Shanna Hazen are cousins, but also good friends who share the same values concerning education. Thanks to them and other supportive families, Rochester area parents now have an option to send their children to a private Christian school where the curriculum is based on Biblical truths. Legacy Christian Academy, located at 5288 North Old US Highway 31, is halfway through its first year.
The Academy is not affiliated with any church and operates independently. Towne serves as the director while Hazen is the head secretary and assistant director. Both had the opportunity to attend a private Christian school while growing up.
“My husband and I graduated from a private Christian school in early 2000s,” Samantha Towne says. At one point while I was growing up, there were five private Christian schools in the Fulton County area. By the time we had a child of our own, there was only one remaining and it only accepted students from its own church. Starting a Christian school is something I wanted to do for a while; it had been on my heart and mind for a few years. Then in the summer of 2021, Shanna stepped in.”
At the time, Hazen, who has nine children, had been homeschooling for over eight years. In May of 2019, her second to youngest son, then two years old, was diagnosed with cancer. With her three-month old baby in tow, Hazen continued to homeschool throughout her toddler’s treatment. She used FaceTime from his hospital room to teach her children who were at home. It wasn’t an easy task and she wished there had been an educational alternative where the teachings fell in line with her family’s beliefs. She is so grateful that her son is now in remission and attends kindergarten.
“God has been so good to us. I wanted to give back to the community. There were so many people in the community that were homeschooling but wished there was another choice,” Hazen says.
“I was sort of shocked that Shanna wanted to do something other than homeschooling since she had done it for so long and was so committed to it,” Towne says. “At the time my youngest was in preschool and my other two children were attending Columbia. We were happy with Columbia, but I felt the Lord tugging at my heart to do something different. I was thinking of homeschooling for the 2021-22 year,” she says.
In the fall of 2021, Hazen and Towne began to homeschool together. During that time, they did a lot of planning and gradually transitioned to the way they would run the school. They were able to rent space from the Geneva Center Retreat, Camp and Conference Center in Rochester. The school opened in August of 2022 with 28 students spanning from kindergarten through 12th grade. Curriculum is provided from the A.C.E. company along with textbooks and materials from Akeba. Both businesses are rooted in Christian values. The Academy’s teachers are not just mothers of students, but educators from the community who want to teach with a Biblical prospective and believe in the school’s mission.
“It’s not a one room school; there are separate classrooms for all grade levels and a typical day begins with pledges, scripture memorization and prayer requests. Older students switch classes. We have a retired public school physical education teacher who volunteers to teach P.E. each Monday. We have art class on Friday and offer extra classes such as library and Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) classes,” Towne says.
Every Wednesday, two chapel services are held. For students in kindergarten to sixth grade, biblical songs are sung. The services for older students are led by volunteer pastors from area churches. Remarks are tailored to dovetail the yearlong Bible memorization plan.
Enrollment applications are available on the school’s website. The Academy operates on funds generated from modest tuition and efforts are made to keep it affordable. Also on the website is a donate button. There is some scholarship money available which has been donated from several community churches.
“Our mascot is a crusader- someone who rallies for change,” Towne says. “The logo has a helmet, shield and sword which represent the armor of God. The name Legacy Christian Academy reflects the fact that this school is more than just for our own kids. We want to leave a legacy that will last, not something that would close when our kids are grown. One thing that has really touched me is that kids just genuinely love being here. It is a safe place with a great atmosphere.”
Legacy Christian Academy is located at 5288 North Old US Highway 31 in Rochester. You can reach the Academy at (574) 835-4961 or visit their website at legacy-christian.org.
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