Benton Hall Academy is a one-of-a-kind school. Although we meet and exceed all state requirements and are accredited by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) and the State of Tennessee, it is not standardized test scores, extracurricular activities or advanced diplomas attained by our faculty that set us apart from other educational settings. While I believe we do have excellent educators at Benton Hall Academy, I am proud that our well-trained and committed teachers are also compassionate people. I think that it is compassion, as well as a willingness to accept students as they are and where they are, that makes Benton Hall Academy an educational oasis for non-traditional learners.
At Benton Hall Academy, we understand and celebrate that all human beings are different in the ways we perceive the world, in the ways we express our feelings and in the ways we relate to others. We have always understood that some students learn differently from others. Rather than forcing out-of-the-box learners to conform to traditional teaching styles, classroom decorum and academic formulas, we believe it is important to offer these special children a learning environment that is as individual as they are themselves.
There really is no typical Benton Hall Academy student. All new students bring their own unique personal histories to the school. That history may include struggling with mental or emotional challenges, issues of depression, low self-esteem, extreme shyness, stuttering, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia and mild spectrum disorders. Somewhere in all those labels and definitions is the “typical” Benton Hall Academy student.
What our students do have in common with each other is an understanding of what it feels like to be different, to fail, to not fit in, to struggle and to feel misunderstood.
At Benton Hall Academy, we try not to underestimate our students or to let past behaviors determine futures. We start by working to give our students a taste of success. Very often a taste is not enough and the students begin to develop an appetite for doing their best, for wanting more instead of expecting less, and for overcoming instead of living up to negative labels.
Students feel success because we have smaller classrooms, specially trained teachers, individualized curriculums, group and individual counseling and social skills/problem solving groups. We get to know our students beyond academic performance and surface social interactions. We get to know our parents so that we can all work together to provide their children with the necessary skills and tools to be successful in school and in life.
What makes what we do at Benton Hall Academy the most worthwhile is watching students walk down the aisle at graduation and seeing how a troubled “before” has evolved into a confident “after.” Though we are proud of the fact that our students leave for college and beyond because they have been well-educated, what matters most to us is that they leave Benton Hall Academy understanding how very important it is to treat others as compassionately as they have been treated.
Veronica Paradis, Headmaster 2013-2015