1906 – Present
Bachman Academy’s story starts over a century ago in Farner, Tennessee, a small town in a hard-to-reach area of the Appalachian Mountains. In 1906, Dr. Lynn Bachman was walking along a stream and came across a young boy. He asked the boy why he wasn’t in school. The boy replied, “I looked up the crick, and I looked down the crick, and I said, ‘Ain’t nobody never going to come up here and larn us nothin’ [sic].’”
Bachman was moved by the encounter and resolved to appeal to his Presbyterian church in Sweetwater, Tennessee, as well as his brother Jonathan’s church in Chattanooga, to help the children of Farner receive an education. They agreed, and Bachman School opened in 1912 with one teacher and one preacher.
In 1916, the school was officially given the title, “Lynn Bachman Memorial School.” Then, in 1925, the Jonathan W. Bachman Memorial Orphans Home was constructed on the grounds of the school. This addition to the school helped to augment the mission of the school. Over the years, the school added more cottages to the grounds to accommodate more children in need.
In 1934, with the addition of a new public school system in the area, “Bachman Home” was able to refine its focus on providing a home for orphaned or needy children of all ages in Farner. By 1936, 34 students from Bachman Home were attending the local elementary school and 12 were attending Ducktown High School.
In 1947, the board voted to relocate the school to provide the children access to better living and educational facilities. Sweetwater, Tennessee was the chosen location; however, due to budgetary constraints, the Presbytery stopped the building program there in 1949.
Soon after, the chairman received a letter from an elder at First Presbyterian Church of Cleveland, Tennessee, informing them that there was land and a former Church of God orphanage for sale there. This facility would meet the needs of the young people of Bachman Home and provide better housing arrangements. The board voted unanimously to move forward with this relocation to Cleveland. Bachman Home found a permanent location when they moved there officially in 1950.
By 1970, the Bachman Home expanded to include caring for children who came from less fortunate families in addition to orphans. They sought to keep siblings together and to get them into foster homes or back to their own families as quickly as possible.
During the 80’s-90’s Bachman Home served as a transitional point for boys referred from the Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Services. The goal of the then boys-only facility was to help young men learn to be independent, functioning members of society. Part of this program included an alternative school on campus for boys with behavioral problems or who needed to catch up in schoolwork before they returned to a traditional school setting.
Although no longer operating as an orphanage, Bachman Home had always been and was still committed to serving children. A natural result of the previous decade’s work, the board began to see a need for addressing the learning differences that seemed to correlate to and result in behavior problems. In 1999, Bachman Memorial Home began doing business as Bachman Academy, and the school refined its focus to accept students – both boys and girls – with learning disabilities (learning differences).
With the need for appropriate education for learning differences growing exponentially, the Academy soon began accepting referrals from Educational Consultants across the United States. In 2004, the Academy became a SEVIS approved school and was able to accept international students with learning differences. Since 1999, the school has served students with learning differences from 27 states and 8 countries.