President and CEO of Bridgeway Academy Jessica Parnell Outlines the Curriculum of Its 30 Year Legacy in Home Education

President and CEO of Bridgeway Academy Jessica Parnell Outlines the Curriculum of Its 30 Year Legacy in Home Education


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed President and CEO of Bridgeway Academy Jessica Parnell to the newsmakers line to talk about Bridgeway Academy’s 30 year legacy in homeschooling, what they offer, and their stance on critical race theory.

Leahy: We are joined now on our newsmaker line by Jessica Parnell. Jessica is involved with Bridgeway Academy and Edovate Learning Corporation. Good morning, Jessica.

Parnell: Good morning. How are you?

Leahy: Good. So tell us about Edovate Learning Corporation and Bridgeway Academy.

Parnell: Sure. Edovate Learning Corporation is an organization that focuses on education, home education primarily. Bridgeway Academy is our home school academy arm, and that academy is support to home educators either who are working independently or who are looking for a full-service academy where we walk with them and provide curriculum for them, keep records, and just are there to support and walk with them as they go through the school year.

Leahy: And if somebody in our listing audience wants to go to Bridgeway Academy. The website is  Now, Jessica, you’ve been involved with this for how long? 30 years is it? How long has this group been operating?

Parnell: We’ve actually been around since 19 89. So going on 32 years this year. So Yes, we’ve been around for quite some time and we’ve been working with homeschoolers from the beginning. But more recently, we’ve also worked with homeschoolers who are being sponsored by their school district. So that’s a recent trend in the last few years as well.

Leahy: Is that all COVID-19 pandemic situation that has driven that?

Parnell: No, actually, depending on where you are in the country. And Tennessee is one where there are some laws that allow homeschoolers to take advantage of school funding depending on your district in order to take advantage of homeschooling. Most of our homeschoolers are independent homeschoolers.

Leahy: How many K-12 home school children do you have in Bridgeway?

Parnell: Well, fully enrolled we are approximately 4,000 students in some way or another. But we serve many students who choose to work as I said, if they choose not to fully enroll with Bridgeway Academy, they can still take a live class from us.  A live online class. They can take asynchronous online. They can take textbook courses independently. So we serve many more than that.

Leahy: And these 4,000 full-time are around the country?

Parnell: Yes and around the world, actually.

Leahy: Around the world. Interesting. And how much does it cost?

Parnell: So Bridgeway Academy has various levels of membership, so a student can get started for as little as about $800 for the year all the way up to if you want full service where we are doing all of the teaching for you up to $5,000 a year.

Leahy: Still very reasonable, very reasonable for most parents it would seem to me. Jessica, tell us a little bit about how you got involved in this.

Parnell: Well, actually, my parents started the company. I was a student at the time studying to be a teacher and kind of helped with the groundwork while in college and then went off to teach for several years and then came back to being a at-home mom and a homeschooler myself and got back involved with the company at that time. And then in 2006, my parents retired and I purchased the company and went forward from there.

Leahy: Well, that’s a great family legacy I would say. Tell us a little bit about the differences that you find from being a teacher. Were you in a K-12 public school or a private school?

Parnell: I was in a public school as a professional teacher. I did teach in a private school prior to certification as well.

Leahy: What’s the difference for you between teaching in K-12 public schools and providing this online home school experience at Bridgeway Academy?

Parnell: I think the biggest difference that you see between the public and the home education is just that ability to really look at the gifts and ability of each individual student and really allow those gifts and abilities to be nurtured and students to get excited about one interest and pursue it. And then, rather than be consistently shifting years, the beauty of homeschooling is you discover if they have interest, they have that they didn’t know they had.

And we’ve seen a significant transformation in kids who come out of a public school system. And that’s not necessarily because they had a poor teacher or poor school, but they’re in a school system where they’re part of a group where there are stressors going on. Where maybe they had a hidden academic difficulty and had to move forward because the class is moving forward and they start to fall behind.

And then they start to think poorly of themselves or they’re feeling that anxiety. And those academic gaps continue to widen. When you come into a home education setting we start by testing all of our students to see where are their academic gifts and where are their academic needs. And then we take them back if they need to and we plug those points of first failures.

Those academic gaps. And help them to gain those skills needed so that they can continue forward and succeed. And one of the number one things we hear from parents is my student is confident, they’re more relaxed, I’m seeing their personalities again. So it’s more than just an academic change for their kids. It’s the spirit. It’s the whole child that they start to see that transformation. That’s what makes it so exciting.

Leahy: We’re talking with Jessica Parnell the CEO of Edovate Learning and Bridgeway Academy. Jessica, big question for you. Where do you see K-12 education generally going over the next year or two? And where does Bridgeway Academy fit into that?

Parnell: Yes. Good question. We’re all watching that, aren’t we? (Chuckles) So we are seeing a significant trend in schools looking to create their own option for home education now because COVID-19, I think it’s kind of been that catalyst for change that we’ve desperately needed in the public education sector. It’s time to move.

It’s time to make those changes. So we’re speaking with districts all the time that are looking for support and advice on how do we create a home education option. Whether they do that independently or through an organization like ours so that the homeschool family has the benefit of home education. So I think districts worked as hard as they could.

And I think teachers did a good job implementing what they could through COVID and what we call schooling at home. But it’s not the same as homeschooling. So what we are seeing is this trend of school district says, wait. We can learn from home school organizations from homeschoolers and learn from them to implement changes and programs that will meet the needs of those homeschoolers.

We’re seeing parents, of course, keeping a close tab on our parents who started homeschooling because of COVID. And we’re seeing a significant trend among them where they’re saying we’re planning to continue, and we’re planning to continue because we’ve seen those transformational changes, or we’ve seen them succeed academically. So I think you’ve got both of those things happening and parents saying I can do this and I like what I’m seeing. And schools are saying, we need to do this. Let’s figure out how to do it in a way that meets the needs of the home educator.

Leahy: Jessica, I’m going to throw you a little bit of a curveball. You ready?

Parnell: Sure.

Leahy: There we go. So, we have reported here on The Tennessee Star Report the spread of what I think is a highly divisive curriculum. The critical race theory in public schools. Is this something that you’ve seen from homeschoolers coming to Bridgeway Academy, or do you have any particular viewpoint on that in the curriculum? We’ve got a minute left with this curveball.

Parnell: There’s extreme concern around critical race theory because it’s not just divisive among people, people groups, but it’s divisive for the nation. So, yes, we’ve heard many homeschoolers wanting to hear our stance on it, and we will not put critical race theory into our curriculum. We will not rewrite history to 1629. We are about equipping students with the skills they need and the information they need to approach life’s critical thinking manner with truth as their foundation.

Leahy: Jessica, Barnell, I threw you a hanging curveball, and you hit it out of the park with that answer on critical race theory. Thanks for joining us.

Parnell: Yes. Thank you, Michael.

Listen to the full second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Jessica Parnell” by Bridgeway.




President and CEO of Bridgeway Academy Jessica Parnell Outlines the Curriculum of Its 30 Year Legacy in Home Education

President and CEO of Bridgeway Academy Jessica Parnell Shines a Light on 31 Years of Successful Homeschooling Options for Parents


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed President and CEO of Bridgeway Academy Jessica Parnell to the newsmakers line to discuss her company’s 31 years in successful homeschooling options for parents and their children.

Leahy: And on our newsmaker line Jessica Parnell with The Homeschool Academy. I guess it’s called Bridgeway Academy. Doing some great stuff in the field of education. Jessica, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.

Parnell: Thank you. Michael. It’s great to be here.

Leahy: Tell us about the home school academy and I guess it’s called your company’s called what Edovate and Bridgeway is the over program that is involved in this? Tell us about this.

Parnell: Sure. Edovate learning program is our parent company. And under that we have actually three different divisions that serve homeschoolers. Bridgeway Academy is one. And then we also have, which is a fantastic online resource for parents to help provide education in a different way for their students. and then we have curriculum Express which is a curriculum warehouse where parents or schools can order curriculum directly delivered to their home and homeschool independently.

Leahy: Now, you’ve been in business for how long?

Parnell: We have been in business for 31 years.

Leahy: No kidding. That’s a long time to be in this space. If somebody’s homeschooling. How does this work? What would they do to take advantage of what your offerings are?

Parnell: Sure. I think the first step that a parent needs to make when they consider homeschooling is to just ensure that they’re willing to be involved in the education process. The reason we see such success in home education is because the parents are engaged and they’re working with their children. So if they’re interested and want to know more about home education they can certainly give us a call here at Bridgeway Academy. They can check out our blog post with all sorts of articles and how to’s on getting started.

But first again commit to the time involved. And then you want to get to know your child because the beauty of homeschooling is you are tailoring education to your child and what works for them. There is no one-size-fits-all in home education. And that’s the number one reason why home way homeschoolers just do so well.

Leahy: Now online I’m looking at is that the official Bridgeway website?

Parnell: Yes it is.

Leahy: Now what is the cost of this program? If any homeschoolers out there are interested in doing this, how much does it cost?

Parnell: Well, that’s a tough question because we have so many different programs with Bridgeway Academy. Parents can choose to homeschool independently and there in Tennessee there are local organizations that can help them. So some parents that choose to do independently and they simply purchase their curriculum from us or they purchase our customized placement process, which is where we test the students learning style.

We get to know their personality style. We look at the ideal environment. We talked with parents and we understand the Dynamics of that home. And then we design a home education program that meets all of those factors as well as what the student wants to do as they look into the future. And then they can do that. They can take that package and work independently or with a local organization.

And that complete kit with all of that consulting and the curriculum for the school year runs at about $900. Now a parent can also choose to enroll fully with Bridgeway Academy where we support them all year long. They have a personal go-to person a one-on-one person that works with them all year long, keeps their records for them, and helps them when a student doesn’t understand something.

And they have that support all year long. And that varies by grade level. But on our website, as you said you can type in Bridgeway Academy, or you can type in there on that website and Just select the Bridgeway Academy program and you can get a look at all of the options as well as the pricing.

Leahy: And now is your curriculum delivered just sort of it online in sort of a PDF format or is it YouTube? How is it delivered?

Parnell: It’s delivered again in variety. There are some families who don’t want any online education. And so we provide them with a full textbook program. We have families who want everything online and in which case it is a variety of media support for those programs. The learning is online. And then we have families who want live online so they can actually have their students jump on with teachers and students from around the world and take it. And once a week, they meet once a week or once or twice a week depending on the grade level and then they work independently offline for the remainder of the week.

Leahy: Now since the pandemic have you seen an increase in participation in your program?

Parnell: We sure have yes. We’ve had many families just looking for an option. Some because they just didn’t even want to consider school. Some because they were unhappy because in the spring semester when they started to see what was being taught in the school whether that was they didn’t think it was enough for they were concerned about the agenda underneath the lessons. Or they just thought their kid was either behind or ahead of what was being taught. They were looking for another option. So we did see a big bump going into this new school year.

Leahy: So online schooling in public schools has been widely panned as being ineffective. I don’t think anybody that I’ve seen has praised the public school online experience. And yet it looks like your online experience has been increasingly well-received. What are the main differences?

Parnell: Well, I think first it is the experience. So we’ve been doing this for so many years that the pandemic wasn’t a surprise to us. And we have public school teachers that are extremely excellent teachers that just want the best for their kids but are thrown into something that’s brand new to them and they’re doing what they can but it was new and it was something they’re still trying to navigate whereas with Bridgeway Academy we’ve been doing this for 31 years. We’ve been in online education since the really early 2000s. And we’ve learned a thing or two along the way and have been able to really tailor that online experience to what works in this home education setting.

Leahy: Now how many students do you serve around the country in K-12?

Parnell: Complete total numbers were close to 10,000 students that are fully enrolled in Bridgeway Academy where we are supporting them every step of the way. We are just about at 3,000.

Leahy: And now you have a K-12 program. what has been the college entry experience of graduates of Bridgeway Academy? Also online at homeschool

Parnell: I’m glad you asked. Our students are very well-received. We’ve had them into the Ivy League schools to State schools to private schools and actually recruited by many schools for their academic achievements. As well as many of them because of the freedom of homeschooling have an opportunity to do some amazing things while they’re still in high school.

We’ve had individuals start special chapters of organizations. We’ve had one actually discovered from a new and I don’t know chemistry well, but some new chemical formula, and she was heavily recruited by other schools. And they have the ability to pursue their personal excellence while they’re in high school. And it really helps really hone them as they look to the future as well.

Leahy: Now you’re based in Pennsylvania, but this is available nationally correct? Every state including Tennessee?

Parnell: Every state including Tennessee and around the world.

Leahy: Interesting. What is the impact on charter school students? What relationship do you have with students in charter schools?

Parnell: Well we actually have a few partnerships with some charter schools that were looking for assistance with this home education model. So we actually provide some live classes for several charter schools. We also provide a curriculum for them with that home education focus. And we have one public school that actually also takes care of their homeschooling through us so that they can have that very homeschool focus.

Leahy: Very interesting. Carol Swain is a former professor at Vanderbilt and leader in education Innovation. She’s in studio with us. Carol you have any questions for Jessica?

Swain: I’m a proponent of homeschooling and I think every parent engages in homeschooling when they interact with their children. It can be positive or negative. And I’m I see the upswing or interest in homeschooling as one of the positives that have come out of the pandemic

Parnell: Yes, I would definitely agree. And I think you were the individual who said earlier that we need people that stand on principle. We have many that do it for that reason. So it’s exciting to see parents saying, you know I can do this better and I’m going to commit my energies to my children to make sure that their future is wide open.

Leahy: Jessica Parnell, CEO of Edovate and Bridgeway Academy on the web at Thanks for joining us and we hope you come back sometime.

Parnell: Thank you and it was good to be here.

Listen to the third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Jessica Parnell” by Bridgeway.