Franklin Road Academy (FRA) is a private, college preparatory, co-educational, inclusive Christian school for students in grades Pre-K3-12. FRA was founded in 1971, and its current Head of School is Sean R. Casey. The school attracts students throughout the Nashville area, primarily Davidson and Williamson County residents.
Founded in 1971, Franklin Road Academy is a pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade, co-educational independent school.
There are currently more than 700 students enrolled in grades Pre-K-12. While many students begin attending FRA as early as pre-kindergarten, there are multiple entry points; therefore, students come from a variety of backgrounds and sending schools. The overall student population represents 46 zip codes, and 19% of students receive need-based financial aid totaling approximately $1.3 million.
FRA is accredited through AdvancED (formerly Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) and is a member of the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). FRA is also a member of National Association of College Admissions Counseling and complies with the Statement of Principles and Good Practices.
FRA offers approximately 20 AP courses in all major disciplines each year and does not limit the number of AP courses a student may take. Enrollment in AP courses is based upon departmental approval, and all students who enroll in AP courses are required to sit for the AP exam.
- English Language and Composition
- English Literature
- European History
- French Language and Culture
- Spanish Language and Culture
- Spanish Literature and Culture
- Studio Art - Drawing
- Studio Art - 3D Design
- U.S. History
- World History
Although FRA’s college preparatory courses are rigorous, the school also offers approximately 15 honors courses each year for students wishing to pursue a more difficult curriculum or delve into a particular subject more deeply. Placement in honors courses is by departmental approval.
Students and Faculty
- 7:1 student to teacher ratio
- Average class size of 15
- 20% students of color
- 58% of faculty hold advanced degrees
Throughout the year, student talent is showcased in a range of venues including a fall drama production; spring musical; Cocoa and Carols (a holiday talent performance); first and second grade Christmas musical; third grade Orff Instrument concert; the fourth grade visual and performing arts show; Grandparents Day performances; seasonal band and chorus concerts; an annual Pre-K-Alumni Visual Arts Show; regional and local competitions and festivals; and home football games featuring choir and band performances. FRA has a Jazz Ensemble as well as a Vocal Ensemble.
Franklin Road Academy is home to an extensive athletic program. Fifty-five teams are fielded each year at the varsity, junior varsity, and middle school levels.
In the upper school, FRA fields a team in every sport sanctioned by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA), as well as cheerleading, hockey, bowling, and swimming. Additionally, the middle school fields a team in most sports. Football and track are offered in 5th and 6th grades, and student-athletes also have opportunities to participate in community league sports programs. Seventh and eighth graders have Physical Education and Wellness every other day and are encouraged to pursue their sports interests by participating in middle school competition through the Harpeth Valley Athletic Conference (HVAC). Beginning Fall of 2015, lower school students (K-5), have the opportunity to participate in cross country through the MTAC (Middle Tennessee Athletic Conference).
More than 20 FRA graduates are currently playing sports at the college level in seven different sports (baseball, basketball, football, golf, swimming, volleyball, and tennis) across nine collegiate athletic conferences (NCAA and NAIA).
- Baseball: 1984, 1988, 2000
- Basketball (Girls): 2011, 2013
- Cross Country (Girls): 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005
- Football: 1991
- Golf (Girls): 2005, 2010, 2012, 2013
- Soccer (Girls): 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007
- Track (Boys): 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003
- Wrestling: 2005
- Hockey: 2011, 2012
Lower school students explore major Biblical themes and stories that connect to FRA’s core values by daily classroom devotions as well as a weekly chapel service. In grades 5-12, religion courses enhance the curricular offerings. Students in fifth and sixth grades are required to take Exago, a course that emphasizes the development of Christian leaders by examining the fruits of the spirit (5th grade) and exploring faith as it relates to life skills and relationship building (6th grade). Seventh and eighth graders may take an elective course on the Old and New Testament. In the upper school, students take two semester-long courses in Religious Studies with options such as Old and New Testament Surveys, Life of Christ, Religious Studies, and Faith and Film.
Students in all divisions take part in daily devotions and convocations, regularly held chapels, and service opportunities with the Center for Philanthropic Studies. Students also participate in an annual Spiritual Emphasis Week. Upper school students have the additional chance to participate in mission trips each year during interim week. In recent years, students have served in Jamaica, Colorado, and Mexico. Additionally, FRA partners with local organizations and ministries such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Young Life (upper school), and Wyldlife (middle school).
Facilities and Technology
The FRA campus is conveniently located on 57 acres near downtown Nashville, TN (8.1 miles) and Franklin, TN (14.3 miles). There are six academic buildings, each of which includes state of the art equipment for all subjects including hands-on science laboratories, multimedia, a library and technology center, and classrooms that provide a student-centered learning environment. Athletic facilities include four gymnasiums, a football and soccer stadium, a track and field (with turf infield), baseball field, softball field, tennis courts, a weight room, and a wrestling room. The fine and performing arts center includes a 600-seat theater space, three art rooms, a chorus room, a band room, and a dance studio.
Students in all grades learn to use technology as a tool for organization, evaluate digital resources, and develop 21st century skills. FRA has been among the leaders in Tennessee in creatively using technology to enhance the learning experience. This includes 120 faculty and staff PC tablet computers and iPads, more than 200 laptops and iPads in the lower school, and more than 600 student-owned computers. Students in grades 5-12 focus on one-to-one learning using an iPad or tablet computer. Middle school textbooks are digital and accessed using the iPad. Beginning in 9th grade, students utilize a tablet computer to organize notes, type research papers, evaluate online resources, and access and disseminate appropriate information found on the internet. Classes in every subject and grade level offer opportunities to practice technology skills in a safe environment with appropriate digital limitations and expectations for digital citizenship. There is an academy-wide wireless (B/G/N) and wired network (10G) with 200 MB fiber Internet connection.
In an effort to meet the academic learning needs of all students, Franklin Road Academy has instituted the Accelerating Student Progress with Individualized instruction, Rigor and Enrichment (ASPIRE) program. The role of ASPIRE is to support and enhance the academic experience of all students in grades Pre-K-12, while directly serving students who have documented learning difficulties as well as students achieving at high levels. The ASPIRE team consists of a director, lower and middle school coordinators, and writing and math lab coordinators.
The math lab serves students in grades 5-12 by providing individualized and small group instruction, ACT/SAT math preparation, and test preparation and review. Students learn differentiated learning techniques, improve problem-solving, logic, and reasoning skills.
The writing center engages students in conversations about the writing process and enhances the academic experience. The Center helps students understand writing assignments more clearly, craft a thesis statement, make stronger points, organize a paper, improve sentence structure, and learn to use language more effectively.
The Center for Philanthropic Studies
Building on the legacy of service that has been an integral part of Franklin Road Academy’s history, the Center for Philanthropic Studies was established in 2010. Service programs are integrated into academics, spiritual life, and student activities at every grade level across campus through community service, philanthropy education, and service learning.
Nissan Exchange Program
In partnership with Nissan North America, Inc., FRA has created an ELL (English Language Learning) program that integrates French and Spanish speaking students into its college-preparatory program.
The Turner Fellowship
The Cal Turner Family Foundation annually sponsors a fellowship program at FRA offering students an opportunity to serve in partnership with a Nashville-area nonprofit organization. Rising seniors with an outstanding academic record who demonstrate a commitment to community service, personal integrity, and a desire to make a difference may apply for the fellowships which provide a six-week summer internship with a stipend. The organizations receive matching contributions from the foundation. Turner Fellows may also be eligible for a Turner Scholarship to the colleges of their choice.
The Emerging Leaders Institute
The Emerging Leaders Institute provides rising ninth graders an opportunity to identify their leadership style and develop leadership skills. Students foster their problem solving abilities, learn to think critically, and make well-informed decisions. This foundation along with personal interests provide the cornerstone for an individual capstone project created by each student which enriches his or her high school experience while developing the characteristics and skills esteemed by highly selective universities.
Heart to Heart
Students with Down syndrome may enroll in a non-diploma program with an individualized curriculum directed by a full-time special education teacher. Heart to Heart students pursue core curriculum coursework in a private classroom; they also participate in standard classes with their typically developing peers and the Heart to Heart teacher works to adapt assignments for academic classes. In addition, these students participate in enrichment classes, lunch, and physical education classes within their grade levels.
Franklin Road Academy was founded in 1971 in coordination with First Christian Church. In order to build the school, over $300,000 in mortgage bonds were sold to church members, parents, and the community at large.
With construction still ongoing, Bill Bradshaw, Head of Franklin Road Academy, tested students in the office of Howell Hardware Store on Twelfth Avenue. Soon after completion of the new building, students began classes on September 7, 1971.
The next school year, many more students applied for enrollment at FRA. In order to meet the demand, Sunday School rooms at a nearby church, Brentwood Methodist Church were leased. Students were ferried between the two buildings, First Christian Church and Brentwood Methodist Church (at the time this was at the corner of Church Street and Franklin Pike, in an old six door limousine.
In 1973, FRA added additional classrooms and Lower School library. This addition was built not only through monetary donations, but also through gifts in-kind, such as labor, materials, and "know how" (such as plumbing, brick laying, electrical, etc.). In that same year, FRA also received approval from the Tennessee Department of Education and became accredited by the now non-existent Mid-South Association of Independent Schools.
In 1975, FRA decided to establish a high school. The first class of 9th graders were housed in a building known as the Burke House. The following year, additional land was purchased in order to construct a formal high school building. In the Fall of 1976, both 9th and 10th graders began in the new building despite the lack of a fully completed roof. Each year, an additional grade was added until, in 1979, a class of 40 12th graders graduated from Franklin Road Academy.
In 1981, Bill Bradshaw retired and was replaced as Head of School by William L. Campbell.
On June 3, 1982, Franklin Road Academy became its own separate organization incorporated under the name Franklin Road Academy, Inc., thereby achieving its goal to become an independent, denominational, Christian, co-educational, college-preparatory school. Following its incorporation, FRA received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
In 1983, an anonymous donor provided funds to add a second floor to the high school for the creation of a middle school. Four years later, FRA raised $3 million through a capital campaign for the construction of a separate lower school (conventionally known as an elementary school). In 1988, the new lower school was dedicated as Danner Hall.
In 1994, the George A. Volkert Athletic Complex was completed. Referred to as "The Hill" by students and faculty, the complex houses a Football stadium, Baseball stadium, Tennis courts, a track, and a Softball field. During the 1990s FRA's middle school partnered with IBM to give students laptop computers. This was a ground breaking project, as laptops were relatively new at the time, and were very rarely used outside of the business sector. However, the project became a burden on IBM and the school, so it was ended several years later.
In 1999, FRA completed a $7 million middle school and fine arts building. The 3 story building houses approximately 300 students grades 5th through 8th in one building. The same building also features a state-of-the-art theatre as well as 2 art rooms,a band room, a choir room, 4 practice rooms with pianos, and a dance studio.
In order to bolster its image as a "diverse" school, Franklin Road Academy decided in 2000 to change the school mascot to a Panther. Its previous mascot, the Rebels, along with its previous logo that included elements of the Confederate Flag, was decided to be politically incorrect and insensitive to African-Americans due to its connotations to the Civil War and slavery. Although many students initially disliked the change, the panther has become accepted by the majority of students.
In 2001 in an effort to create a friendly rivalry among students, FRA instituted a high school-wide competition dubbed Alpha-Omega whereby the high school students were split into two teams, the Alphas and the Omegas. The two teams compete in a year-long competition with events ranging from Basketball and Powderpuff Football to Lip-Sync and Homecoming skits. Points are awarded to the winning team for each event. The year-end competition, called May Day, is an all day event with Soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, Three-Legged races, and many other games. The event culminates in the awarding of the trophy to team with the most points. Currently, the Alphas are the reigning champions, although the omegas have an overwhelming lead in the overall series.
Starting in 2005, Franklin Road Academy began a roll out of Tablet PCs to every high school student. The tablets, which are purchased by the students in grades 7-12, allow for classes such as Math, Science, English, and Music (Band and Choir) to conduct classes with greater ease. The school also reviews the students information on personal websites such as Facebook and Myspace and punishes them for conduct not related to the school. FRA expanded its Tablet PC Program to include 7th and 8th grades in 2006.
In January 2006, FRA broke ground on its new South campus expansion. The expansion was made possible through the purchase of the First Christian Church property. The purchase of the land increased FRA's campus to a total of 55 acres (220,000 m2). The plan for the property was to construct a Math and Science building with state-of-the-art science labs and classrooms, a new Library and Technology center, the renovation of the original high school, and the renovation of the classrooms in the First Christian Church building. The plan separates the 5 major disciplines (English, History, Math, Science, and Foreign Language) into three separate buildings. The English and History departments are housed in the Humanities Building (the original high school). The Math and Science departments are housed in the aforementioned Math and Science Building. The Foreign Language department is housed in the South Campus building (the First Christian Church building which housed students in the early days of FRA). These three buildings, along with the Library and Technology center open onto a central "quad" (short for quadrangle). Moving the books into the new Library and Technology Center from the old library took a total of 4 days and the involvement of approximately 600 students.
The total cost of the expansion, including the purchase of the First Christian Church property, was approximately $12 million. In order to raise money for the expansion, and to bring more attention to the school Country Music star Alan Jackson donated his 2005 Ford GT to be given away in a raffle.
The renovation and expansion of the high school facilities allowed FRA to dramatically upgrade its technological capabilities. With the expansion came campus-wide Wi-Fi, an intercom system in the high school, the implementation of a campus-wide VoIP system, networked projectors in every room, and keypad enabled exterior doors for greater security. Over 32,000 feet (9,800 m) of networking cable was used in the expansion/renovation of the high school.
The Wi-Fi expansion, which had already been implemented in both the high school and middle school buildings, expanded connection to the lower school and outdoor areas such as the new quad and the cafeteria patio.
The intercom system was a necessary addition since the high school hadn't been updated since its original completion in 1975. The beginning and end of classes were marked by the ringing of an actual bell and not electronic buzzers as were available in the lower and middle schools. The new high school system allows for quick, efficient communication between administrators, faculty, and students on a day-to-day basis, and in the event of an emergency.
The networked projectors allowed for every teacher to have a projector in their room, as well as eliminate the need for televisions carts that were wheeled to classrooms as needed, since each room is equipped with DVD and VCR players connected to the projectors. Teachers are able to wirelessly connect to the projector in order to display notes, PowerPoints, or anything else to the entire class.
The keypad-enabled exterior doors provide greater security by limiting the avenues of access to the buildings for visitors. The doors are accessible by students and faculty alike through the use of special codes entered into the keypads. Doors that are not secured with keypads remain locked at all times however.
- Will Wade, Head Basketball Coach Virginia Commonwealth University
- Chase McCabe, Radio Personality 104.5 The Game
- Dan Crockett, President/CEO Franklin American Mortgage
- Adair Tishler, Actress most famous for her role as Molly Walker in "Heroes"
- John Pierce, Lipscomb Basketball Player; all-time leading scorer in men's college basketball history with 4,230 points.
- Mason Mingus, stock car racing driver
- Chris Hamby, 2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
- Derica Wyatt, University of Oklahoma women's basketball player
- Robert Lewis, student with down-syndrome who made national news making a 3-point basket in a basketball game