FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Please skim this page before contacting us with questions. If the answer to your question is not here, please use the contact form at the "More" or "Contact us" part of the webpage to contact us.
1. What are the extra fees for registering for Bristol Academy Classes?
There are two extra fees:
--> A donation to First Christian Church. This fee is per semester:
$10 for a student registering for one class
$20 for a student registering for two classes
$25 for a student registering for three or more classes
$55 for a family with more than two siblings enrolled
Whichever calculation method (per student or per family) yields the lowest total for your family is your minimum obligation. You are welcome to give more than this to the church, in gratitude for their generosity in sharing their building with us. We could not afford to meet here if they charged us the true market value of this space.
However, these fees are all that is required to give to the church.
--> A donation to Bristol Academy, per student per year, in a check payable to Donna Hensley.
$38 per year for one student
$72 per year for two siblings
$102 per year for three siblings
Students registering only for the second semester pay 3/5 of these costs.
This is the minimum donation required into the fund that keeps our group going. Our biggest annual expense is liability insurance coverage which the church requires us to hold (whatever insurance your family has cannot replace the need for us to buy this policy). We also use this fund to provide needed supplies, including class sets of textbooks which can be loaned to students in lieu of students purchasing the texts. Incidental costs, such as whiteboard markers and a shelter rental for our annual picnic, are also covered by this fund. You are welcome to donate more, but this is your minimum obligation.
2. Why are there these extra costs?
The church has generously let us use their beautiful space in exchange for a per-child instead of a per-day donation. We could not afford to use this space if they charged us per day what a room of this quality would typically rent per day. The church's insurance policy requires that our group also hold an insurance policy. The donation to Bristol Academy covers the cost of that policy, as well as miscellaneous supplies such as white board markers.
3. Why do I have to write so many different checks?
We exist to connect home-educating parents to great teachers who can help them provide a superior academic education to their teenagers. Although writing more checks is a bit of a hassle for each of our members, it minimizes the workload for the busy volunteers who keep this group going. At registration (or by mail), you give cash or write the following checks:
- payable to Bristol Academy for insurance and other costs (See #2),
- payable to First Christian Church as a donation for using their facility (see #2), and
- payable to each teacher for his course fees. (Go to the page of each course for information on course costs.)
4. Why are your course fees so high?
First, our course fees are a complete bargain for the quality of instruction your child receives. If you do the math, adding up their remuneration and dividing by their time (sixteen 90-minute classes, plus time to: plan lessons, grade papers, communicate with students and parents, travel to and from class), you'll find that our teachers receive something around minimum wage. They are very generously teaching our kids for a remuneration rate far lower than what their time is actually worth.
Second, we recognize that we are a bit higher than some other homeschool groups in the area. One thing different about us is that we are not a co-op, with all parents volunteering. No parents are required to volunteer. All parents pay, and teachers have graciously agreed to receive a per-student rather than a per-class fee. We only partner with teachers who are exceptionally qualified to teach.
Third, we recognize that no home-educating family has a money tree in their backyard. We hope one day to have some kind of scholarship fund available, but we just don't have anything in place for that yet.
5. Are any courses offered for younger kids?
No. However, several times per year activities are arranged and families, including kids of all ages, are welcome to participate.
6. What activities take place during the year?
In August and again in January, we have a fun registration event. During this time, parents can meet some of the teachers and turn in paperwork and payments. Families are welcome to bring kids of all ages; this will be an event with games and activities for all ages. Check our registration page for details.
We do not have regularly scheduled activities, but, any family who has a field trip idea is welcome to organize it and invite others in our group to join them. Past trips have included: Steele Creek Park (studying creek ecology and owl pellets), the Abingdon Muster Grounds, and Hungry Mother State Park.
7. Is it OK if my student stays there during the 30 minute lunch break?
Yes. We always have a few students who pack a lunch and eat there in the classroom during this time. A teacher or parent volunteers to be there as well. If you are available to occasionally volunteer to be there during lunchtime, please let us know!
8. What if a teacher is absent due to sickness or some other reason?
We enlist capable substitutes who have skills in teaching and who often also have expertise in the subject matter of the course.
9. What is the policy for snow days?
We send an email to all students and parents by 7:00am on any day with questionable weather. If we close in-person classes due to weather, then our classes meet virtually for that day. Each teacher will contact students with details about this.
10. Do I have to be present at registration to register?
No. Instructions regarding how to mail in your registration are on the REGISTRATION page.
11. Are Foreign Language classes offered? Math? How do you determine what to offer?
We do not currently offer Foreign Language or Math. Our purpose is to connect home-educating parents to great teachers who can help them provide a superior education to their teenagers. Toward that purpose, we occasionally poll our members regarding what classes they would like to see offered. Sometimes we have interest but cannot find a great teacher; sometimes we find a teacher but there is not enough student interest. We do not try to be a "one-stop-shop" for all of a student's high-school education needs. If you would like to see us offer a particular class, and/or if you know a teacher who may want to join us, feel free to contact us.
12. Are you an Umbrella School?
No. If you have chosen to register yourself as a home-educating family in Tennessee by registering under an Umbrella School, you need to do that through an organization such as Home Life Academy. Home-educating families in Virginia are not required to register through an Umbrella School.
13. Are you a non-profit organization?
Yes! We became a 501c3 organization in 2022.
14. Can I register my 12-year-old or 13-year-old to take classes?
We have had a few 13-year-olds participate, and rarely a few 12.5-year-olds. It is critically important that your child be able to do high-school level work. That ability, rather than a specific age, is the requirement for our classes. Most kids gain that ability around age 14. If you have questions about your student's preparedness, feel free to contact a teacher with questions. Each teacher's page has a "contact me" form.
15. Do you keep records and print transcripts?
No. Each family is expected to keep a record of student work and student grades.
16. Is this a Christian group? Are the teachers Christians?
Teachers and leadership team members are Christians who are actively involved in a local church. The statement of faith teachers and leaders sign is the Apostles' Creed. The church membership of each teacher on his bio page, and parents are welcome to ask teachers about their faith.
Students of any religious belief are welcome to take classes with us.
17. Who is currently on the leadership team for Bristol Acacemy?
Alison Meredith has been home-educating her 7 kids for over 22 years. Alison was a High School Math teacher prior to becoming a mom. She co-teaches Bristol Academy classes with her dad, Nick Grabar. She is a member of First Presbyterian Church, Bristol.
Donna Hensley has been home-educating her 10 kids for over 25 years. Donna is a doula and has years of experience helping young moms. Donna attends Celebration Church in Blountville.
Ruth Grunstra has been home-educating her 8 kids for over 25 years. Ruth is a parenting coach. She is a member of First Christian Church in Bristol VA.
Teresa Barker has been home-educating for over 6 years. She is an active member of First Christian Church.
Isha Youhas has been home-educating for 18 years and is one of our teachers. Isha is a credentialed attorney who has taught for years with The Potters School. She is an active member of Westminster Presbyterian church of Kingsport TN.
18. What do other parents say about Bristol Academy?
We are so glad you asked! We are thrilled to have excellent teachers and our parents give them rave reviews. We have put a few comments on our TESTIMONIALS page and on the pages for each teacher, and we are adding more comments as we receive them.
19. What is the History of Bristol Academy?
This group began in the early 2000s. We met at a church and then at Virginia Intermont College. We were called a co-op and then called OTHER (Outside The Home Educational Resources).
In August of 2014, we renamed our group Bristol Academy. We are grateful that when VI closed its doors, First Christian Church was gracious to welcome us to their space.
We became a 501c3 organization in 2022.
20. When will the schedule for the next academic year be posted?
We plan to always have details for the next academic year posted no later than the end of June.
Most of our teachers offer a 3 year rotation of classes. So, you can get a general idea of what will be offered next year by noticing what is being offered now and looking at the historical record of other classes taught by that teacher. Each teacher's bio page lists this record of previously taught courses.
For Social Studies, we offer US History one year, Government / Economics one year, and World History the third year. Sometimes we have electives (local or state history, philosophy, etc).
For Science, we offer Biology about once every 3 years. We offer at least one science class per year. In the past we’ve offered Physics, Chemistry, and Anatomy.
For English, our teachers rotate through more than two years of courses. All courses are suitable for any level of high school; all courses will enable students to improve their writing skills and their literature comprehension.
Electives vary. Nick Grabar teaches about one class a year. Alan Waldecker has taught "Reason for God" once every 2-3 years.
21. What are the COVID-19 Policies for Bristol Academy Classes?
Bristol Academy teachers are trying to keep everyone as safe as possible, but it is impossible to remove all risk. Therefore, students assume risk by entering the classroom.
If you have been in close contact with a person with COVID-19 and have no natural protections (through vaccination or by already having had COVID-19) stay home.
If you have ANY of the COVID-19 symptoms, stay home. These symptoms are listed here and include fever/chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle/body aches, headache, sudden loss of taste/smell, sore throat, congestion/runny nose, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea.
Teachers will also follow these guidelines. If a teacher needs to quarantine, we will either have an in-person substitute teacher or class will be moved online and continue via Skype or Zoom.
Students are NOT required to wear a mask in any class. Students CAN wear a mask if they or their parents prefer, and no one will make fun of them for doing so.
We are a group organized by busy home-educating moms; thanks for your patience!
If you already skimmed all these FAQs and still didn't find answers to your questions, you can contact us here.