Portland Christian School opened 87 years ago at 2500 Portland Avenue with an enrollment of about 80 students. Today, however, the oldest Christian school in Kentucky has evolved, adding a new East Campus and welcoming its largest enrollment in history with almost 400 students.
The new campus at 8509 Westport Road, which will instruct students in kindergarten through eighth grade, was once occupied by Mother of Good Counsel. With the help of hundreds of volunteers, including a youth group from Michigan and Sojourn Church, the 8 acres of land and five buildings on campus are almost completely renovated for the upcoming school year.
“We’ve had so many volunteers who’ve come together to paint every square inch and clean out brush,” said Jodell Seay, Portland’s executive director of admissions. “They’ve taken their own personal weeks of vacation, gave up their Fourth of July and came and painted the cafeteria. There was a work day for the church here. They had 150 people work on the grounds. We’ve had an additional 50 volunteers from friends of school, families and parents. It’s just been unbelievable.”
In addition to the support of local families, friends and churches, Portland receives an enormous amount of help from its alumni. About half of Portland’s teachers are former students. Dana Brown, the director of the Portland’s “Little School,” graduated from Portland in 1986. She relocated to Louisville from her home in Tennessee to head Portland’s first preschool, which will open this fall at the Westport Road campus.
“I had planned on moving back to Louisville, but I got the call from Jodell about the school and was here in Louisville within 48 hours,” Brown said.
That kind of commitment and dedication is what has helped the school thrive throughout its 87-year history. Portland not only survived through the Great Depression and the recession of the 1970s, but also continued to exist despite its struggle in 1983, when the school was 13 weeks behind in paying its teachers. The school did not begin charging tuition until the 1985-86 school year.
In the last decade, Portland has faced a different type of challenge in finding a suitable location for its ever-expanding East Campus. The campus was first situated in Bullitt County in 2002, before relocating to Taylorsville Road and now Westport Road.
The East Campus will have a staff of about 14 teachers, not including those who will assist the preschool for children ages 18 months to 5 years.
In 2013, the high school, which is located at the Portland Avenue North Campus, will transfer to the East Campus, making it preschool through twelfth grade. The North Campus will continue to serve students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Several of the students at Portland receive some form of financial aid. A large donor base has allowed the school to have an active scholarship program that, last year, awarded students more than $35,000 in scholarships.
“One of the great things that’s happening is that we are growing and we’re able to serve a really eclectic group of families,” Seay said. “Financially, we work really hard to make this affordable and accessible. It’s an education that is excellent and challenging, fun and rigorous, and accessible. If your family wants an excellent Christian education we want to be that partner and make that happen.”
Portland will hold an open house at its Westport Road campus from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 5. For information, visit www.portlandchristian.org.
Contact writer Ashley Anderson at email@example.com.
photos courtesy of Portland Christian School
About the Author (Author Profile)
Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).