a brief history
eisenhower was president and miller bros. suits were selling for $29.95 when fonza swafford miller barkley started canvassing the brainerd area for youngsters to attend the brainerd baptist church kindergarten. “i drove up and down the neighborhood, and at every house that had a tricycle or a swing set outside. i’d stop,” said ms. barkley who for more than 30 years taught and directed the baptist kindergarten, one of the only few church-affiliated kindergartens in the chattanooga area. the state had no public-school kindergartens in 1953.
in 1953, under the leadership of the pastor, rev. connie a dabney, our kindergarten was organized under the guidance and direction of our dedicated director, mrs. willard (fonza) miller. the kindergarten began in september 1953, with 53 children enrolled, including four and five year olds as well as a few three year olds and one 2 ½ year old. the kindergarten was located in the nursery building, 2nd floor, and then moved to the ground floor (where it is now located). when fonza miller retired, after having served 31 years as director, our kindergarten committee retired with her, leaving the leadership to mrs. mary standard in 1985.
in early 1972, brainerd baptist church established brainerd baptist school as a mission of the church. the school was established under the leadership of dr. j. ralph mcintyre, pastor of brainerd baptist church. in august, the school board announced the appointment of four teachers and the principal for the 1972-73 school year. mrs. lanier cain was appointed principal and teacher of the fifth and sixth grades. the first school board of brainerd baptist school was led by mr. glenn stophel, chairman; mr. bill cambron, vice chairman; mr. john steinman, ex officio; mrs. shirley downs, miss ruby duncan, mrs. fonza miller, mr. harold ashworth, mr. clifton ward, mr. don bowman, secretary; mr. norman willie, ex officio; and dr. j. ralph mcintyre, ex officio.
the school began on september 5, 1972 and offered classes in grades 1 – 6. the school year began with an enrollment of approximately sixty students. although grades 1 – 6 began in 1972, there was already a kindergarten program that had been in place since 1953. a few years later the school began adding grades to become a k-12 school and operated that way until 1989. lack of high school enrollment forced the school to return to kindergarten through sixth grade, and the school continued that capacity until 1999.
in 1999, a strong demand from our families once again led brainerd baptist school to expand. in that year, bbs birthed what would become david brainerd christian school. the middle school was located in modular classrooms on the schools lower soccer field and consisted of 34 students in sixth and seventh grade. in 2000, a third building was added to house the eighth grade and enrollment grew to over 70 students. the brainerd baptist middle school began to look for property to expand the school through twelfth grade. in the summer of 2001 property came available on igou gap road and was purchased for the continued expansion of the middle and high school. on october 4th, 2001, david brainerd christian school was officially born and moved off the campus of brainerd baptist school. in their first year on the new campus, dbcs had grades six – nine. the school continued to add a grade each year, having their first graduating class in 2006. in the summer of 2009, low enrollment coupled with a struggling economy forced david brainerd christian school to close.
currently, brainerd baptist school approximately 300 students in pre-k3 through fifth grade. we have became accredited by southern association of colleges and schools since 1987. the school is also a member of the national association of independent schools, the southern association of independent schools, and the tennessee association of independent schools. in the fall of 2008, bbs became accredited by sais and went through the reaccreditation process in 2013 and again in 2018.
previous head of schools
mrs. fonza miller barkley – 1953 – 1972
mrs. cholly cain – 1972 – 1975
dr. bill henry – 1975 – 1985
dr. barry peterson – 1985 – 1995
mrs. carolyn circeo (interim) – 1996 – 1997
mrs. betty bratton (interim) – 1997 – 1998
mr. john cox – 1998 – 2001
mr. barry wilks (interim) – 2001 – 2002
ms. linda cagle – 2002 – 2005
dr. sean corcoran – 2006 – present