MIDDLEWAY – After six years in business as a private school, the Jefferson Academy near Middleway abruptly announced that it was permanently shutting its doors.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the closure of Jefferson Academy, effective immediately,” according to a Facebook post last Wednesday by school officials. “Office staff will remain on campus over the next few weeks to finalize closure and provide student records. … We appreciate your patience during this time as we are very busy responding to this unforeseen circumstance.”

No reason was given for the school’s closure.

Located on a 30-acre property off Middletown Pike, the Jefferson Academy was preparing to start its eighth year serving children up through fifth-grade. As early as July 29, Jefferson Academy was planning to open this past Tuesday, according to another Facebook statement.

Jefferson Academy’s headmaster, Dayna Stancil, did not respond to a request last week for comment.

Last Thursday, through its social media site, the school wished its former students future success.

“We love our families and wish you all the very, very best and much success in all that you pursue,” the message reads. “Please give your children the biggest hug and let them know it’s filled with a ton of love from all of the teachers and staff at Jefferson Academy.”

Last Friday, Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson said during a special public meeting that the school system reached out to Jefferson Academy and offered to hire all of its teachers who wanted a job in time for Tuesday’s planned opening of the public schools.

Gibson did not say how many teachers from the private school were hired. A school rating website, Private School Review, states that Jefferson Academy had 81 students and 11 teachers.

Jefferson Academy was capable of serving as many as 120 students, according to past news reports. Tuition at the school was $6,450.

As opening day for the school system approached this week, the public school system was facing teacher and substitute teacher shortages. The staff shortages mostly related to concerns about teaching in the atmosphere and conditions created by the coronavirus outbreak.

Gibson said the public school’s staffing shortage will require some central administration staff to fill in as substitute classroom teachers as needed while the school system starts its new academic year.

Offering a secular curriculum that taught traditional subjects as well as yoga, Latin and various arts in its classrooms, Jefferson Academy had offered outdoor classrooms, gardens and walking trails for students to learn about science, health and the environment.

The school’s mission statement online reads in part: “Jefferson Academy will provide the best educational experience to all students who attend in a safe, nurturing environment that promotes creative thought, individual attention, leadership, intellectual development, collaborative thought and social responsibility through community outreach.”

Many private schools nationwide have been struggling to survive financially during the mandatory coronavirus shutdowns.

Representatives from Morgan Academy, another secular private school on a 14-acre campus just outside Shepherdstown serving as many as 120 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, did not respond to a request for information about the school’s prospects this fall.

Morgan Academy’s tuition stands at $9,600 for grade school children and $16,100 for high school children, according to its website.

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