On May 26, 2011, a group of six parents assembled at the Lake Laurel clubhouse in Smyrna, Georgia, to discuss creating a different kind of public school for their kids in southern Cobb County. Despite a typical Atlanta summer storm that knocked down a tree that then knocked out the electricity, the committed, enthusiastic, and some would say crazy group forged on, in the dark.
During the following months, this founding group would continue on and be guided by a shared vision while forming a board, applying for grants, recruiting additional invested parents and community members, and beginning to shape their school. This school first became known as the Smyrna Academy of Excellence.
On August 3, 2011, the Smyrna Educational Alliance, Inc., registered as a Georgia non-profit organization operating in Cobb County. We received our Federal 501(c)3 approval and designation as a public charity on June 14, 2012 as issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (federal EIN#45-2894607). Our official name was changed in January 2013 to The SAE School, Inc.
The earliest and most substantial confirmation that the new school was headed in the right direction was being awarded the first grant we applied for, an $8,000 planning grant from the Georgia Department of Education, on September 8, 2011, followed by a $50,000 Race to the Top grant award from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.
Despite these successes and an overwhelming display of community support, the Cobb County School District and State Department of Education did not support or approve our school. In August 2012, the relentless group converted its school model to an affordable and accessible non-profit PreK-12th grade independent school, renaming it The SAE School. Just one short year later, our doors were opened with 118 preschool through 8th grade students. Ironically, the school opened in a leased former charter school facility in Mableton, Georgia.
Today, The SAE School is located at 6688 Mableton Parkway in Mableton, Georgia, in the same former charter school facility in which it started. It sits on a seven acre campus site and has two buildings of approximately 50,000 square feet. Now in our fourth academic year, The SAE School is inspired by a renewed excitement, knowing that its fate and continued existence will at no time be decided by an external group of individuals with no investment or commitment to the South Cobb community or its children.
Two of the original six founding parents are part of the founding school staff, and their children attend the very school that they worked so hard to create. The initial founding parent, Jimmy Arispe, proudly serves as the Founding CEO/Head of Schools.
As of October 2016, our school has 295 preschool-11th grade students and 48 faculty members. On April 26, 2017 and after only 3 1/2 years of existence, we purchased our campus facility located at 6688 Mableton Parkway. As proud land and building owners, we are committed to improving our community through continuous improvement of our campus. We have various interior and exterior projects scheduled over the months to come that will enhance the look and function of our school for our kids.
While we do own our current facility, we will continue to explore how, when and where we expand our school in the future. As we plan on growing our school to about 1,500 students and 30-40 acres, we will either need to expand on our current footprint or acquire another more suitable location for our school. We welcome your input. Please send all comments or suggestions to Jimmy.Arispe@SAEschool.org.