The Diocese of Nashville is making steady progress on its newest school, St. Michael Academy, which will be built in Nolensville.
A board of trustees for the new school has been established and is meeting regularly, and fundraising efforts are continuing, said Dr. Rebecca Hammel, superintendent of schools for the diocese. “We need to secure some more funds before we would actually put a shovel in the ground.”
In February 2020, the diocese bought a 166-acre horse farm on Nolensville Road as the site for a new parish and school. Mother Teresa Church has been established, with parishioners celebrating weekend Masses at Nolensville Elementary School.
Also planned for the site is St. Michael Academy, which will be a regional school.
The building that will house the pre-kindergarten through eighth grades will be built first and has already been designed, Hammel said. “We’re looking at an opening of August 2024.”
The Meitler consulting firm of Wisconsin has completed phase one of a feasibility study for the school, Hammel said. “From that study we learned, one, there’s great interest in a school there and, two, that the growth in the area will sustain it.”
Meitler is conducting phase two of the feasibility study, which is looking at the finances for the new school, including recommendations for the tuition and how to balance the budget, Hammel said.
Besides the finances, there are still many questions to be answered, including the interior look of the building, what programs to offer, and how many grades to offer at the school’s opening, Hammel said.
Before making decisions on those issues and others, “we want to engage the community in understanding what the needs are when we’re ready to open,” she said.
Some features for the programming at the school have been set. St. Michael will offer a Hand In Hand Options program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and the design includes space for the fine arts, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities, and several outdoor learning spaces, Hammel said.
“It’s going to meet the academic and extra-curricular needs of the students and offer a wide range of activities,” she said of the school. “It’s an impressive elementary school.”
The plans for the elementary school building include academic wings on either side of the building – a space for pre-kindergarten and two stories of classrooms for kindergarten through fifth grade on one side and two stories of classrooms for the middle school grades on the other side. The academic wings will each have collaborative learning spaces.
The middle school wing will be close to the space where a high school could be built as the community matures and flourishes. Being close to the hoped-for high school building would give middle school students easy access so they could take high school level courses, Hammel said.
The central portion of the elementary school building will house the administrative offices, cafeteria, gymnasium/auditorium, library, chapel and innovation and design labs, among other features. A field that will be suitable for football and soccer also will be built as part of the elementary school.
When the school is built, the plan is for Mother Teresa Church to use the elementary school for weekend Masses until the parish can build a church on the site, Hammel said.
Adding a high school later would provide for a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade school on the same site, Hammel said. “That’s our dream.”
The proposed site plan envisions students moving through the property as they age, from the pre-kindergarten space to the K-5 wing, the middle school wing, and ultimately the high school, Hammel said. “It’s a dynamic campus.”
St. Michael will be a diocesan regional school rather than be operated under the auspices of a single parish. The pastors of Mother Teresa, Holy Family Church in Brentwood, Church of the Nativity in Spring Hill, St. Philip Church in Franklin and St. Luke Church in Smyrna are involved in planning for the school, Hammel said.