By Janelle Ward
When school founder Kate Kennedy learned of the many Atlanta-area students who suffer academically due to extreme levels of financial hardship, she felt compelled to find a solution to an ever-growing problem. With no permanent address to call home, homeless students frequently transfer from school to school, falling further behind their classroom peers in the process.
The Boyce L. Ansley School is a tuition-free private school specifically catering to underprivileged children experiencing, or those who have experienced, homelessness. With assistance from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, what began as a daycare program to assist destitute parents looking for work eventually morphed into a fully-operational school for preschoolers, that has been growing in size and outreach ever since.
The school first found a home in St. Luke’s basement, officially opening its doors in time for the 2018-19 academic year in August. The school’s namesake, Boyce L. Ansley, was a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal and played an instrumental role in the school’s founding. Also serving as Kennedy’s mentor, Ansley motivated Kennedy to start the school before passing away in 2016.
A quality private education typically comes at a high cost in Atlanta, with parents and guardians paying an average $16,301 annually to keep their students enrolled, according to data from Private School Review. At the Boyce L. Ansley School, however, all supplies are free of charge in order to provide relief to parents who are already struggling financially.
Despite the absence of fees to attend, the Ansley School provides many of the same resources private schools with fees tend to offer: breakfast and lunch for students, school supplies, snacks and school uniforms – all at no cost to parents. The school structures its curriculum and principles around Bronfenbrenner’s theory of child development, which focuses on utilizing many relationships in a child’s life in order to inspire excellent academic achievement.
The Ansley School also offers small classroom sizes to ensure each child receives the individualized attention they need from instructors.
The school’s faculty and leadership also understand the importance of a proper and stable home environment for students. According to the school’s website, the Boyce L. Ansley School schedules visits to students’ homes each month, in order to ensure families are physically and financially capable of supporting their kids academically, mentally and emotionally.
The Ansley School also relies heavily upon assistance from their organizational partners, who help their students perform well in the classroom, and help parents foster safe environments for their kids outside of the classroom. The Atlanta Hawks partnered with the Boyce L. Ansley School to organize a gift-giving event for the school’s 60 students on Dec. 13, where volunteers of the team and members of the Lady Hawks distributed pairs of free shoes to the kids for the holidays.
To help raise funds to keep the school in operation, the Ansley School’s leadership hosts annual galas to recognize and thank their supporters. Patrons can donate anywhere from $500 to $25,000, which will go toward supplies and resources for the students. The Boyce L. Ansley School accepts monetary donations online and in-person via check.