With education and our children being at the forefront of our community right now, there are two founders who are seeking to ensure our girls have a safe, intentional place to learn. B.E. Academy for Girls is a forward-thinking school model from the minds of Lydia Schumake and Tee Wilson. Two women who decided to come together over their shared educational experiences, including some steeped in trauma to create a new learning epicenter where girls are supported and encouraged while learning.
It has been 72 years since there has been an all-girls school established in Nashville. There are two amazing all-girl schools currently in Nashville, but they are not always accessible to all girls. B.E. Academy is poised to change the perception around private schools and will focus on giving access to young black and brown girls in our city.
The school is targeting the Downtown Nashville area for its location but anticipates serving girls from across the city. A community filled with bright young inquisitive minds, they now need a 360-degree approach to their education and overall life-building skills. I chatted with founder, Tee Wilson to dive into their vision and why she is so driven to see B.E. Academy come to life.
A founder’s passion
As a student at an all-girls school in New Orleans, Tee gained a unique perspective on the pros of being in a gender-based environment, while also experiencing trauma as a student there because of cultural bias. Creating a safe space for black and brown girls to learn and grow together is a personal mission of hers. As an accomplished marketing professional and entrepreneur. She graduated from the esteemed Loyola University in New Orleans and has worked in Communications roles across a variety of industries. In her most recent role at Templeton Academy, she served as Director of Admissions and was able to fully see the vision for what B.E. Academy will become.
Tee has also been an integral part of the Nashville community after moving to the city. She has worked alongside Gideon’s Army to ensure our youth had the support they needed as violence began to escalate within their community and school push-out became a major issue. As Tee shares, “African American girls are targeted at an extremely high rate for suspensions in Nashville, over 12% higher than their counterparts and that needs to change.” Through her efforts with Gideon’s Army Tee has seen firsthand where the gaps are for our girls and how B.E. Academy will help to address many of these issues.
Many times if one of our young girls is acting out, there is a reason behind it. We want to know those reasons so we can encourage and provide a genuine solution that will help, not hinder them.
Bringing back the village
Education at its core has already been rooted in community. When I think back to my own mother sharing the story of her matriculation through school here in Nashville, she would always share how her teachers cared, they knew them by name and there was always that sense of community. Her stories of learning were joyous and she also knew her teachers didn’t play. Talking to Tee, reflected those same sentiments. Her passion and true want for these girls to feel safe, empowered, and celebrated each and every day is truly a beautiful thing.
We have lost our village that I grew up with and that is what we want B.E. Academy to be for black and brown girls in Nashville.
Culturally responsive education will be the Northstar
B.E. Academy will provide a S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) focused curriculum with a cultural response, where students can explore and see what fuels them and where their talents lie. They will be able to discover what they enjoy during middle school and then choose their focused track in high school. Each PEARL, as every young girl will be called, once they enter the doors of the academy will receive hands-on support throughout their B.E. Academy journey starting from the 6th grade through high school and extending up to six years after graduation. B.E. Academy is a private school to ensure the integrity of its curriculum won’t be compromised by politics. However, this extraordinary educational experience will be accessible to all girls with the support of financial aid, scholarships and the support of the community.
We don’t want our families to feel B.E. Academy will just be an exclusive, expensive private school that doesn’t make their child a priority. We are here for every child who has felt they didn’t fit in elsewhere, send us your girls, we will ensure they have everything they need to succeed.
The school has a planned opening date of Fall 2024 and is currently accepting applications. For their inaugural class, they will accept 30 amazing young girls to go on this life-changing journey. To hear Tee share her dreams and whole heart for starting this school was truly fulfilling and a motivational moment for me.
They will know they are learning the truth about themselves
The school’s efforts kicked off this summer with the B.E. Academy STEAM Summer Camp. Girls and parents had an opportunity to get a look into the type of educational experience they will receive once the doors of the school are open. They studied science, math, ballet, vocal music, hip-hop dance, extracting DNA from a strawberry and visiting the NASA Space Academy. This all happened during one summer camp, so we can only imagine the impact each school year will have.
There are several events coming up this fall for girls, including a partnership with Tennessee State University for a fall break camp on food sustainability.
To learn more about the school, register for an event or help in their fundraising efforts, you can visit their website.
Photography: Elle Danielle
To get more guides and stories of the people behind the culture and soul of Nashville, subscribe to our weekly newsletter HERE.