JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Providence Academy has reached its maximum capacity of enrollment at 650 students with around 500 students on the waitlist.

“Five years ago, we started seeing an increase in enrollment with our increase in activities, athletics, arts – those types of things. Then COVID happened, and we weren’t quite sure what was going to happen with the education market,” said Head of School Ben Holland. “For the first time in 60-80 years, the education market got disrupted and people started seeing behind the curtains of what was happening in their child’s classroom.”

Fifty-five students were added this school year, and families continue to show interest.

“This is not just a bubble that or a sudden influx, but what we’re seeing is families fundamentally thinking different about education,” Holland said. “It’s been a healthy mix of people that are coming in from outside the area that already have those conservative Christian values that fit with our region, and they’re finding Providence Academy is a good fit for them. Then you’re having families that have lived here maybe for generations.”

The $8.5 million expansion project would allow for an additional 100-200 students to be enrolled, resulting in a student body of between 750-850. It adds 21 classrooms and a gym to its campus on Carroll Creek Road.

“We’re going to be having a gym, we’re going to be having a weight room, we’re going to be having some locker room facilities, and what it’s going to do, it’s going to allow us to have three classes for every grade from Pre-K through 12th,” said Mark Koscak, the Director of Development. “Down the road, we’re working toward a football team, we are going to be able to have an orchestra. We are growing into that now.”

Koscak also said the academy is working toward being able to offer more elective classes, as well as more AP courses.

The construction adds 37,648 square feet to the current 80,000 square foot facility.

“It’s going to help us get to a size where we can flourish and allow us to have a bigger footprint here at Providence and in the community in terms of our impact, and here’s enough demand where we’ll see a growth in other Christian schools,” Koscak said. “We will be starting to enroll students soon and letting those students know soon that they will have a spot next year and the same thing as far as recruiting teachers.”

School leaders are also excited about expanding the staff. Holland said Providence Academy may be seen by some educators as a perfect fit.

“The hiring pool for teachers right now for private Christian schools has never been better. The quality of applicants and the experience level of teachers looking for something different, a different career path or a different choice,” Holland said.

So far, the school has raised $7 million in a private campaign.

“About a year ago, Ben and I started going around to community leaders and just started asking them if they’re seeing the same thing we’re seeing in terms of this much greater demand for Christian education and an opportunity to get into Providence Academy,” Koscak said. “And did they see that that was going to be something that was continuing or what were their thoughts? And the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive. In the public phase of our campaign, we’re going to the rest of our family and we’re asking everybody to help us to raise that last $1.5 million and help us to have a debt-free facility.”

Providence Academy is a tuition-based, Christian private school that requires families to apply for their children’s enrollment. Many families with children currently enrolled also have other children who are on the waitlist.

“Some of the siblings got in and some of the siblings are either doing homeschool or enrolled in the local public school, and they’re just waiting for that spot to open up,” Holland said. “We ask that they be involved in a local church and be aligned with the values of who we are as a school.”

You can apply, donate or find more information about Providence Academy on their website.