CHUMUCKLA — Frank Lay, founder and administrator of L.E.A.D. Academy, a k-8 school, has announced plans to expand classes to the 12th grade.
“We’ve grown, on Berryhill Road, up to 220 students. We’ve decided that we are going to move,” Lay said, addressing Pace Area Chamber of Commerce banquet attendees Friday.
Lay said when the faith-based school opened in 2013 it had 35 students and went up to third grade. By 2014, it had 110 students and went up to fifth grade. By the third year, students numbered 220 and the school went to eighth grade.
Lay said he decided to move to a different location because of the “ant bed” of traffic. He and his team found property at 8621 Chumuckla Highway, just south of where it meets Willard Norris Road, to build a school.
Until the high school is ready, Lay said the academy is partnering with Woodbine Baptist Church to use three rooms to house seventh, eighth and ninth grades.
Lay previously spent 40 years in public education, with 20 as the principal of Pace High School before he retired, but he felt unsatisfied.
“After I retired, I thought I don't really know what to do with myself. I felt from a spiritual side God said I had other things to do.”
In 2013 he founded the L.E.A.D. Academy, which stands for leadership, enthusiasm, attitude and discipline.
L.E.A.D. uses the classical model of education, Lay said.
“The classical model is basically the new old school. It's the tried and true, proven teaching style and methods that put us on the moon. We don't do stuff that hasn't been researched and tested and proven to be worth use.”
Some techniques he said they use are memorization, recitation, quoting and multiplication tables.
As far as discipline, Lay said, “We love kids but we love them enough to make them behave and tell the truth. We don't give everybody a ribbon. First place is first place. If at first, you don't succeed, keep trying.”
He said the school is founded on Christian principles.
“We don’t apologize for that but you don’t have to be Christian to attend and many are not,” he said. “We don’t have a church that supports the school. We’re independent.”
By the time the school is ready, Lay said students should number between 400 and 425.
Ideally, Lay said he’d like to have the school ready in the fall of 2018.
“If not 2018, then 2019; we’re shooting for 2018,” he said.