First year includes kindergarten and first grade


OPELIKA — Last week, enrollment opened for First Baptist Academy, which will begin its first school year at First Baptist Church of Opelika (FBCO) this fall.
The new elementary program, lead by headmaster Matthew Kendrick, will host two classes apiece for kindergarten and first grade in year one. Although separate programs, the elementary school is an extension of the “Bright Beginnings” pre-school program hosted by FBCO.
“We’re building a team of educators that obviously have a heart for kids, traditional instruction and being a witness to those children and their families,” Kendrick said. “We want to be a place where students can openly discuss and be taught the Bible.”
Enrollment opened to FBCO members and youngsters already attending Bright Beginnings last week. Next, it will open to everyone else. Enrollees are not required to reside in Opelika and don’t have to attend FBCO, but they do ask that “at least one parent is a believer in Jesus” and a member of a Christian church.
The academy will operate on a similar schedule to Opelika City Schools, and school days will run from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day. The school will offer small class sizes — they have budgeted for roughly 18 students per class — and will have access to many of the church’s resources and classrooms.
“If it’s a kindergarten class on Sundays, it’ll be a kindergarten classroom during the week,” Kendrick said. “There’s a lot of similarities (between the kid’s church and school setups).”
The staff will be familiar to the FBCO community. Dr. Paul Spargo will serve as the education pastor for the school, Dr. Kate Simmons, who is a former AUM professor, will serve as the board president and Jenny Sconyers will serve as the administrative assistant.
Kendrick and his staff have already begun hiring teachers, and they have settled on following the ABEKA academic curriculum, which is a comprehensive, biblically-based curriculum commonly used by homeschool and Christian school programs.
“We also want to go back to a traditional math instruction and phonics-based reading instruction,” Kendrick said. “When we say traditional, it also infuses technology. We’ll be using part of the day in an enrichment program where they do almost like a STEM-type program.”
The planning for the school began around two years ago after survey results from the FBCO congregation showed interest in extending an academic program for kids after pre-school. Once the results were approved by the church and the deacons, Kendrick was hired as the headmaster.
A long-time member and current deacon at FBCO, Kendrick has 28 years of experience in education in Alabama. Most recently, he spent 11 years as the assistant principal at Opelika Middle School before teaching for two years at Lee-Scott Academy. He received a B.S. in Education from Auburn University and an M.S. in Educational Leadership from Troy University.
Kendrick and his staff have a long-term vision for First Baptist Academy, with hopes of adding a grade per year, if feasible.
“We’re going to strive for excellence, and we want to build an academy where all of our teachers are certified,” Kendrick said. “We believe that will set us apart from other smaller church schools. Ultimately, our goal is to make sure this community knows Jesus.”
To learn more about First Baptist Academy and to enroll, visit