After 65 years of educating children, the Heiskell School in Buckhead is closing.
Heiskell, a nondenominational independent Christian school for children in preschool through eighth grade, will close in May at the end of the 2013-14 academic year, Director Cyndie Heiskell said, adding the decision to close the school was made Jan. 20, a day before she posted a letter to the school’s website announcing the closure.
“We have much to celebrate and much for which to thank God,” she said in a news release. “Current and past families we have served have responded to this news with an outpouring of support. The independent school community has been both generous and encouraging. This has been one of our best years ever. While we are certain that closing is the right thing to do this year, we look forward to seeing what God does through these students, some of the finest we have had the privilege to serve.”
The school, located on Northside Drive, was founded in 1949 by Miriam Heiskell, whose 5-year-old son Andy was paralyzed by polio, according to its website. It was started to give Andy Heiskell an opportunity to learn and play with other children after months of isolation. Today it has about 225 students.
When asked in an interview why the school is closing, Cyndie Heiskell said, “Because we’re doing what God wants us to do. He’s made it clear to us that it’s time for others to carry this mission forward. … We believe God has given us a great privilege through the years.
“We operate as a corporate entity in this environment. Schools raise money for capital expenditures to supplement operating costs. We have been running on tuition money alone. To carry the mission forward, a school with the mission that is a nonprofit is able to grow the mission and we believe in the mission of the school. We’re in a very strong position so it’s a good time to have God lead us to make that decision.”
She said school finances did not play a role in its closing, and the school will work with parents and other schools so students can easily transfer and employees can get jobs elsewhere.
“We’ve been notifying other school heads and directors,” Cyndie Heiskell said. “We’ve been proactive in filling out teacher recommendations. We are very busy meeting with people to help assure places next year at other schools. The schools have been very gracious.”
Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell, whose daughter Cindy attended the school, said the community is saddened by the news.
“Buckhead takes great pride in the continuous excellence achieved by the private and public levels of education offered in our Buckhead community,” he said. “To lose one of the finer institutions like Heiskell is a sad day for its rising student body and its involved parents as well as its teachers and administrative staff.”