Founded 1999 — Kingfisher Academy, Inc. was founded in 1999 and is currently located in downtown Tucker, Georgia at 5073 LaVista Road at the corner of LaVista Road and Main Street. We are in the First Baptist Church of Tucker’s education building across from Tucker High School. We reside within a church building but are in no way affiliated with any religion and welcome all religions and diversity among our student body.
During the 1990’s, Atlanta’s Build Smart program and DeKalb’s new combination schools strategy created very large public elementary schools which resulted in closing the smaller, more family-friendly schools with which neighborhoods identified. We were asked to open a very small elementary program in the East Atlanta/DeKalb area.
1998-1999 –– We opened to a small group of preschool students, with two teachers.
1999-2000 — We experienced a dramatic amount of interest and doubled in size.
January 2001 — We began an environmental science program funded by a Captain Planet Foundation award that allowed us to add an outdoor classroom component to our school. We also received several grants that allowed us to offer scholarship monies to families in need. Diversity is extremely important to our mission, and we are proud to have one of the most diverse student populations of any private school in the city.
2002-2003 –– Due to many requests for a middle-grades cluster, we opened an additional classroom for that group. We joined the peace schools movement and our middle-schoolers collaborated with Friends School in Decatur to sponsor a one-day workshop on peace issues relating to middle-school students. This year we had five staff members.
2003-2004 — We opened an additional preschool classroom emphasizing kindergarten readiness skills. We participated in several service projects at Brownwood Park, Grant Park, Shoal Creek Park, and N.H. Scott parks during that school year. We regularly had art displays in neighborhood businesses, restaurants, coffee houses, and libraries. We received a couple of small grants and were able to offer a before and after school program for our working parents at no extra cost. During the summer before school started, we began renting a 4000 square foot building on Flat Shoals Road. We filled this building up very quickly with a new art room, a science lab, and an additional classroom.
2007-2008 — We moved to a 5200 square foot space at Martha Brown United Methodist on Metropolitan and Moreland with hopes of developing a more collaborative approach with other East Atlanta/DeKalb organizations. We continued to serve the working families that we had always served with a moderate tuition and we intended to remain small and friendly. This year we had 9 staff members.
2008-2009 — We finished the long process of seeking accreditation for our school. We passed the first hurdle in October of 2008, and Dr. Charles Hawk from the Georgia Accrediting Commission in October 2009 awarded us Accredited with Quality (the highest ranking). He found us in nearly perfect shape in terms of safety, building use, class size. Our focus during this school year was taking continuing education courses to demonstrate our willingness to explore new ideas.
June 2012 to Present — We moved our little school to Tucker, Georgia. It was hard to leave our old home in East Atlanta, but we found a welcoming area to go to. Tucker has all the things we need to thrive as an action/outdoor school: a good library, good family-oriented restaurants, an excellent park with a lake to study, and a nature store and a hardware store, all within easy walking distance of the school. We have a smaller student population than in Atlanta, but we are closer and more focused on project learning than in the past. In 2016, we moved to our present location off the breezeway of the Education Building of the First Baptist Church of Tucker and that has given us space and room to do all the projects and rituals that are part of the Kingfisher way.
Many of the children that started with us back in 1998 have now graduated from college and are beginning families and careers of their own. What we love to hear, is how much they are still “Kingfisher Kids”— full of curiosity, stubbornly determined to learn in their own way, anxious to demonstrate their leadership skills, and making plans for the future that will shape the world. One graduate is going to Cooking School and one is an Outdoor Leadership Instructor. Three of our kids graduated from Grady and two graduated from Tri-cities High School. Eleven of our students graduated from Druid Hills High School. We had seven at Lakeside. One of our grads traveled to Europe with his college debate team last summer. One started an environmental studies club at Druid Hills and she now serves on our advisory board and works for a large D.C. based non-profit. We recently received a letter from one of the starting members of our first preschool class who has graduated from Cornell in the Biology Department. Another young man has been accepted at Stanford. Our Kingfisher Kids are heading into the world feeling confident and sure of their interests. It’s wonderful for us to observe and it has been a pleasure to know each of them.
Our diverse student body is made up of children from Eastern Europe, from Mexico, from China, Vietnam, Sweden, and from all over the U.S. Our children are black, white, Hispanic, and Asian. We are Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Muslims. Our diversity is part of our strength and makes every day at Kingfisher interesting.