Johnson City martial arts academy turns into home school academy amid pandemic

Keeping Schools Safe

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – One local martial arts school is aiming to offer an alternative schooling option to Tennessee students amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Olson’s Martial Arts Academy Wednesday hosted two webinars guiding parents through the process:

The academy will start its fall semester on Aug. 10 and run through Dec. 18. Parents will have to commit to the full semester, according to owner Amanda Olson.

“We are committing for the full fall semester so Aug. 10th through Dec. 18th we will have a full schedule, all of the courses that the students are doing are English, Math, Social Studies and Science, with all the age requirements that the state recommends for that age group so that in January, if everything goes back to normal – which we’re all hoping for – the kids can go right back to school,” Olson told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais.”Our goal is that the children that come through this home school academy can then seamlessly go back to school once everything returns to normal.”

Parents will have to enroll their kids in homeschooling through the Tennessee Department of Education. You can do so by clicking here.

The academy will have three classes of a minimum of 10 students and a maximum of 20 per multi-age class.

The three classes will be 1) kindergarten through 2nd grade, 2) 3rd grade through 5th grade, and 3) 6th grade through 8th grade.

Since the school is located in Johnson City, the Washington County mask mandate will be in effect for children over the age of 12 and all employees of the academy, Olson said.

The school day, she added, will begin at 7:45 a.m. with drop-off and temperature checks, and run through noon. From noon through 4 p.m., parents can sign their kids up for the academy’s after-school program. After-school care runs $250 per week.

The cost of the program will be $4,000 per student, with a 10 percent discount to additional members of the same household. A payment option of $2,000 upon enrollment and the rest payable by September 15, is available.

This includes:

  • Tuition
  • Taekwondo classes
  • Basic school supplies
  • Home schooling curriculum

No inlcuded:

  • Daily snack and drink
  • After-school care
  • Laptop for 3rd grade and up
  • Personal folder or notebook for at-home assignments

The academy is hiring teachers who are certified in Tennessee and will have to teach the students a curriculum according to the requirements set forth by the State of Tennessee. Students will also receive homework that will be no longer than one hour per day.

To enroll, contact Olson’s Martial Arts at 423-926-9161 or stop by 113 Cherry Street #10 in Johnson City.

Parent feedback

Kelly Coches has enrolled her two sons – 11-year-old Jackson, and 7-year-old Emmett – in the Olson’s Martial Arts Academy’s homeschooling program.

“We’re very excited. We’d gone back-and-forth, trying to decide, like most parents, what’s going to be best for our kids, what’s going to be best for the whole family, and what’s going to be easiest, because there’s not a right answer,” Coches told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais. “There’s so many unknowns, there’s so many unknowns for the future of what’s going to happen, even if they do go back to school. Right now we’re in the red, I don’t foresee getting out of there anytime soon, even with yellow, they’re going one day a week, that puts them having to do most of their learning at home and we were fortunately able to make the decision that if we could send them to Olson’s school, they would have a little more structure, and a little more routine.”

She said she likes the fact that her sons will be able to safely be surrounded by other kids their age, and also enjoy the Taekwondo as a physical activity.

Coches said her sons had been enrolled with the martial arts program for about two years.

“The staff there had kind of discussed the need for this in the community and figured out what they could do to try to help that. Having these small groups together, they can still be taught by certified teachers, they can still be there and have this, I guess, more normal environment, that was a huge aspect,” she explained.

Teacher feedback

Just as parents have to make the difficult decision of where to send their kids for school in the upcoming school year, teachers are also having to adapt.

Melissa Conduff will be teaching 3rd grade through 5th grade at the Olson’s Martial Arts home-schooling academy beginning Aug. 10th. She has a master’s in elementary education from ETSU. He also has six years of experience as the director of Wesley Preschool in Johnson City.

“Right off the bat, my first role will be designing a curriculum that will meet the needs of the different age groups that I’ll be working with, so that’s what I’m working on right now,” Conduff told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais.

She said the three classrooms will be sanitized and ready for students to safely enter as soon as they pass the school’s screening process.

“We’ve got very long tables that are 6-feet long, so two children can be kind of staggered at each table, and the studios that we’ll be working in are quite large so we’ll have plenty of room for the students,” Conduff added.

She has the following plans:

“The first week, I think, will just be kid of getting a feel for where the students are at, academically, so that we can kind of customize the lessons that they’ll be working on,” she said. “For me, since I do have a younger group of children, we won’t just be sitting at the computers all day long. I think with education inquiry and projects, is really important for the children, so we’ll be doing a lot of hands-on activities, a lot of exercises where they’re searching for information and kind of going on what they’re interested in.”

She said after each lesson, every highly-touched surface will be sanitized.

With regards to the mask mandate the school will be following, Conduff said that students under the age of 12 will not have to wear a mask, but any staff or older students will be required to.

“I know a lot of parents with younger children were really concerned about the mask for seven hours a day,” she explained.

Conduff talks about how Olson’s will be different from a “regular” school during the pandemic:

“Because our numbers are going to be relatively low, we’ll be able to control a lot of the factors that are kind of a question mark right now in the school systems. At most, we’ll have 20 kids in a room, and that still is significantly lower than what you’ll be facing if you go into a school system. We also won’t have the uncertainty of the hallways and the lockers and the lunch room and things like that, so we’ll be able to control those variables a lot more efficiently, and we’ll be able to work one-on-one with the children and really provide them with the academic care that they need,” she added.

For more information, visit Olson’s Martial Arts Academy’s Facebook page.

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