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A Rusk private school program is breathing new life into the former West Side Elementary campus by opening an academy there next year.

Phase 1 of Christ the Redeemer Academy – Jacksonville Campus begins Jan. 7 with a new preschool program for children ages 18 months to five years old, said program administrator Debra Mosely McCormick of Rusk.

"I'm very excited to move into Jacksonville,” she said, describing the Rusk program – which serves youths through high school age – as having flourished and grown since its beginnings in 2005.

“We have parents who live out of town who work in Rusk,” McCormick said. “I've consistently had some from Jacksonville over the years, and I know it's one reason we're known there.”

A visit to Jacksonville about a year ago led to the discovery of the former West Side school, located at 1002 Sunset Ave. The original school was built in 1922, with a new building dedicated in 1952. By 2016, however, the campus had been moved to College Avenue, and the Sunset Avenue site was put up for sale by the Jacksonville school district.

“We're full here (at the Rusk campus) – we're using every space possible, and I was asking myself what can we do?” she recalled.

After seeing the vacant campus and especially learning there wasn't childcare available on that side of town, McCormick looked into purchasing the property.

“There's very little we have to do, other than follow license and procedures,” she said. “We've painted, and moved over classroom supplies and furniture.”

There will be five people on staff at the Jacksonville campus for the first phase of the program, with “potentially more in the fall,” when Phase 2 activates, McCormick said.

“We're looking for local hires (for the Jacksonville campus), and for the preschool, they must meet state requirements, but we are willing to train them,” as well as help them get certified, she said.

Brook Hallford will be the director of the preschool in Jacksonville, while Nikki Duke will serve as director of the Rusk preschool. Katherine Mosley, an educator from California, will serve as the new academy's first principal, and will come onboard in August, when Phase 2 begins.

This phase will include church services, McCormick, who also is a minister.

As the new program continues shaping up for the Jan. 7 launch date, McCormick said she hopes it will be something that will give area neighborhoods “something to take pride in.”

“We want to bring something positive and healthy for families and the neighborhood,” she said.

The child care program will operate from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Weekly rates are $140, with a $20 discount offered if paying on Monday. There also is a $75 registration fee.

Separate fees will be assessed for the school program serving students in first through 12th grade, with information available upon request.

To learn more about the new program at Christ the Redeemer Academy – Jacksonville Campus, located at 1002 Sunset Ave., contact Brook Hallford, 903-683-1404 or 903-625-9030. Or visit www.ctracademy.com.

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