JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- A recent donation to the Jeremiah School in Johnson City will give the school the room it needs to grow and expand.
The school, which focuses on children on the autism spectrum, will soon move into the 12,000 square-foot facility on Knob Creek Road near the Metropolitan Kiwanis Park.
For the past five years, the school has used sites like churches and Coalition 4 Kids as places to house their school but now they will have a place to call their own.
They could be seen sanding the walls, following their move from Coalition 4 Kids building, on Monday.
With the school set to reopen in less than a month, school administrators are celebrating their new location for their students with autism to flourish in the classroom.
“This has huge implications for us because we can now develop and grow our people-base, our student-base and also the programs we can offer,” Jeremiah School executive director, Jo Cullen said. “For the school, it’s completely life-changing. It opens up the future in ways that we could never have imagined before.”
The building was the former home of Ashley Academy, a school that has since relocated to South Roan Street.
“At the moment, we only take students age 9-18 but now we have our own building, and we have the room; we can expand that. So, we can go down to elementary school,” Cullen said. “In the future, we’ll be able to take them from age 5.”
She told Pheben Kassahun she wants the facility to help prepare kids for life.
Cullen said, “One of our big dreams is to open an 18-24 transition to adulthood program, so that those who finish high school at 18 can stay and do all sorts of life skills.and learn how to make a bed and how to do laundry, and focus on job place skills and preparation for college.”
Cullen has lived the journey and understands a parent’s point of view when it comes to kids with autism. She too has a son with autism.
“He is now 17,” she said. “You know, you understand. You have the same issues. You can cry over the same things, you can celebrate the same small achievements.”
She said the schools want the most qualified teachers at the learning center.
“We are quite fussy with our teachers and they have to have special needs qualifications. We want specialists who know how to teach children with autism. That’s probably why we want to give our children the best possible experiences,
The school has 21 students registered for classes this fall.
Jeremiah School will start its new chapter at this school when students return October 12.
COVID-19 has forced the school to put their fundraisers on hold. Huge fundraisers that would have gotten them through the year are no longer taking place.
Cullen asks that anyone who is able, to give a monetary donation to the school to help them get started in this first year. The school is also hoping for someone to help out with plumbing and electrical work.
The school can be reached at (432) 915-9257. They can also be reached on their Facebook page.