By Contributed Report

Posted Feb 19, 2018 at 2:01 AM

PRINCE GEORGE — Believe-N-U Academic Development Center, which serves special needs children, provides tutoring for all children, before and after school programs as well as summer camp, is expanding its program.

Owner Demetria Jennings, who has a Master of Education, said she is proud to announce that the academy is now expanding to its new 22-acre campus in the Tri-Cities area, with nine acres located in Petersburg and the remaining 13 acres located in Prince George County. The new campus is slated to open this month and an Open House is planned for some time in March.

Situated on land in both Prince George County and Petersburg, the new larger campus is at 3071 County Drive in Petersburg.

Jennings purchased land that was previously a home that served as a day care and church. The more than 2,000 square foot home now houses the administrative offices. Work continues on the education facility that had previously served as a church and day care. With many renovations, in the tune of $175,000, the building is being transformed into a school that can meet the needs of all children with the capacity to provide education for 50 students. The programs range from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, serving students, grades K-eighth, in Prince George, Hopewell, Colonial Heights, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Sussex, Surry, Charles City, New Kent, Emporia/Greensville, Brunswick, Amelia, Nottoway, Richmond, Chester and Chesterfield.

In 2015, the Virginia Department of Education approved the Believe-N-U Academic Development Center to operate as a school for students with disabilities.

At the current academy, which is in an office building that also includes a bank, Jennings, the school administrator, was limited to 20 students, who could enroll. They currently have 15 enrolled and have had as many as 18 students. The students’ special needs range from signs of autism, developmental delays, emotional and intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities and other health and speech impairments.

Believe-N-U Academy Principal Sherina K. Gilpin says the ratio of instructor per student is about 1 to 1.3, and the school allows for individual instruction, tutoring and even play time that includes field trips, prize awards for behavior and so much more. They are not only licensed by the state, Believe-N-U Center meets State Board of Education and Standards of Learning requirements while educating students who have Individual Education Plans from their home schools.

The school, in the more than 8,000-square foot former church, features six colorful classrooms and a kitchen, which will be used to bring math and science, as well as life skills for hands-on education. A multipurpose room will offer space for group activities and games.

“Our future is bright for our Believe-N-U Academic Development Center with the new facility and upgrades that will better serve our staff, our students, and their families,” Jennings said. “The center offers a unique educational experience that influences creativity, encourages social skills and cognitive learning, and we plan to provide innovative programming for years to come.