Janice, Irvin, and Irvin, Jr. Isbell incorporated the Janice Mitchell Isbell Academy (JMIA) in April 2001. Janice Isbell felt an academy was needed to address the basic skills some students had not received and to help those with learning disabilities. A Voluntary Advisory Board was organized and met monthly at the Huntsville/Madison County (downtown) Library to iron out the details needed to open a school. Mrs. Isbell prepared and submitted the application package for non-profit status to the Internal Revenue Service in August 2001. The JMIA received 501(c)(3) status in January 2002.
Mrs. Isbell, along with Mrs. Prisciilla Carway-Vinson, met with Pastor Kenneth Tate, New Shiloh Church Ministries, in June 2001. He was very welcoming and invited us to house the school in their Youth Building. The City of Huntsville’s’ Board of Apportionment issued a waiver for the school to be housed in a residential area and to have up to 30 students in July 2001. The Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held August 13, 2001, with Mayor Loretta Spencer (Huntsville) cutting the ribbon. The first day of school was August 14, 2001. The JMIA employed a principal (Mr. Augustus Smith, Jr.), executive director (Mrs. B. Patricia Hill), and two teachers (Mrs. Janet Zajac and Mrs. Melanie Morrow). Mrs. Zajac worked as a volunteer for the entire year. Pastor Tate volunteered to present the character education for the school every morning at 7:40 a.m. The students were introduced to computer skills, and Spanish in addition to the regular curriculum. The Board of Directors was established in November, 2001, with the continuing support of the Voluntary Advisory Board.
In August 2002, Ms. Drucilla Fulwise joined the JMIA staff as Lead Instructor. Her enthusiasm, quick wit, and ability to motivate the students were readily noticeable in the additional successes experienced by the students. She approached the task of accelerating our students to grade level expectations to heart. She uses many different types of media to impart her lessons. The Huntsville City Council honored her in May 2003 for the extraordinary work she accomplished in the classroom. Ms. Portia Richardson served as the Executive Director for the first half of our second school year (2002-2003). In January 2003, Ms. Lillie Townsend joined the staff as the Executive Director. She has worked diligently to help the students. She arranges field trips, orders lunch, assists in the classroom, answers the phone, send out mailers, just to name a few of her duties. We are indebted to her dedication to the students and the Isbell Academy. Our PARENT OF THE YEAR – twice - for our first two years is Ms. Sandra Blanding. She has worked tirelessly to get classroom speakers to enrich the learning of our students. She shares her successes with her son with other parents. Also serving as classroom assistants over the years in paid or voluntary capacities are Ms. Delhia Reynolds, Ms. Damita Hamler, Ms. Cheryl Davis (also as choir director), Ms. Tracey Daley, Ms. Breana Spratlen, Mr. Jaime Jackson, Mr. Irvin Isbell, Jr. and Mr. Irvin Isbell.
The 2003-2004 year was also exciting. The students excelled in all of their endeavors, particularly in behavior modification. We continued to pursue the idea of meeting the needs of the students through understanding their learning styles. The classroom delivery of lessons was adjusted to not only reach the student in his/her learning style, but also help them adjust to other methods of learning. Pastor Sadie Jackson was Parent of the Year. On her second time around, she worked diligently with grand-daughters to ensure they excelled in their work. Thanks to Mrs. Janice Jones for her dedicated efforts in developing, printing and distributing our school newspaper and calendar.
During the 2004/2005 and 2005/2006 school years, the school resided in the Faith, Hope, and Deliverance Center of Hope Outreach Ministries; 1100 Jordan Ln; Ste G; Huntsville, AL 35816. Thanks to Pastor Sadie Jackson for heading up the staff as Executive Director and classroom teacher, along with Mrs. Montice Trambell Hobson. THANK YOU LORD FOR FAVOR!
God bless us in 2006/2007 school year to move into our own suite @ 1100 Jordan Ln NW; Ste H; Huntsville, AL 35816. This was a truly tiresome task to move furniture from storage to the suite. Thanks to Mrs. Elizabeth Carter Joseph who worked with me till midnight some nights to prepare the suite to serve our students. Thanks to Pastor Sadie Jackson for her help in putting the primer on the walls before painting them. Thanks to Mr. Larry Adamski for lending his painting skills. He came in like a storm and finished in record time. This servant was tired and exhausted but impressed with what the Lord can do with broken pieces. My body was truly broken, but God provided the strength to keep going. THANK YOU HOLY GHOST FOR THE BLESSINGS! Many thanks to Ms. Kimberly Joy Richardson who serves us continuously as our substitute teacher.
The blessings kept coming in the 2007/2008 school year. This year marked our seventh year of operation. Our first graduate entered Calhoun Community College. This was so encouraging. We found a wonderful building to rent at 3213 Lodge Rd NW; Huntsville AL 35810. Thanks to Gus and Irene Tucker (AST Properties, Inc.) for their graciousness and most of all their help in preparing the school to serve our students. Thanks to Ms. Takeila Turner, Mrs. Irene Tucker, and Ms. Stephanie Terry as classroom teachers; Mrs. Jackie Tidball - Spanish teacher; and Ms. Terry as our dance teacher also. We received an abundance of donations (computers and accessories; furniture; etc.) THANK YOU JESUS! WE had the blessing to have our events jointly with the Daily Grace Academy Daycare. Thank you again Gus and Irene. Again, MANY thanks to Ms. Kimberly Joy Richardson who serves us continuously as our substitute teacher.
Thanks to Pastors Cathy and Bruce Richardson for their spiritual covering of the academy! Love you all very MUCH!
The JMIA students experienced many field trips which further explained the classroom instruction. Some of the field trips taken are as follow.
Huntsville Downtown Fire Station – Huntsville, AL
Huntsville Crime Stoppers – Huntsville, AL
BFI Recycling Plant - Huntsville, AL
Space and Rocket Center – Huntsville, AL
SciQuest – Huntsville, AL
Green Mountain State Park, Huntsville, AL
Brahan Spring Recreation Center, Huntsville, AL
Dr. Richard Showers, Sr., Huntsville, AL
Helen Keller Home, Ivy Green, Tuscumbia, AL
Civil Rights Institute – Birmingham, AL
Birmingham Zoo – Birmingham, AL
Purity Dairies Plant – Nashville, TN
Imax Theater/Tennessee Aquarium – Chattanooga, TN
We have had great classroom presenters. A few of the presenters are listed as follow.
**Mr. Monroe Walker, U.S. Army AMCOM, Retired, taught ITC ZENITH CLUB to class every Thursday.
**Mr. Tom Arora, Engineer, U.S. Army AMCOM, visited the classroom every two weeks on his regular day off.
Mr. Billy Driver, Engineer, U.S. Army AMCOM
Huntsville Police Department K-9 Unit
Alabama Dental Clinic
Crisis Services of North Alabama
Many fundraisers were held to help finance the school's expenses. The community was generous in their giving (individuals, church, organizations, and companies). Mrs. Isbell financed the bulk of the expenses by borrowing against her retirement fund. The community (individuals, church, organizations, and companies) donated the bulk of the supplies, equipment, etc. needed to operate the school.
Some of the fund raisers held since the opening of the Isbell Academy are as follow.
Parisian’s Celebrate Education Sale
Parisian’s Non-Profit Organizations Charity Sale
New Years Eve Dance
Gospel Youth Explosion
Pancake Breakfast @ Applebee's
The board is actively pursuing grants to finance the special programs needed to augment the curriculum and advance our students. The Accreditation Committee is gathering all the information needed to proceed through the accreditation process for the school. All efforts are directed toward gearing up for the next school year.
Thanks to Mrs. Janet Kincherlow-Martin for her support of the JMIA by allowing us to tells others about our academy on her Comcast television show.
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