Around 1995, seminary student Steve Carpenter desired to make a difference in the lives of under-resourced children in Memphis. He dreamed of offering a strong academic, Christ-centered education for inner-city children. Soon enough, Mr. Carpenter found encouragement and financial support from a lifelong friend to push this dream to fruition. As his vision began to materialize, he gained a partner for this step of faith in his former co-worker and friend, Mrs. Lila Wilkinson. Growing more and more surrounded by support, Mr. Carpenter’s dream began to take shape as what has become today’s New Hope Christian Academy.

On January 2, 1996, New Hope’s first office officially opened in a borrowed room of First Presbyterian Church in downtown Memphis. Their space furnished with two red chairs donated by Streets Ministry and a computer purchased from Office Depot, Mr. Carpenter and Mrs. Wilkinson found themselves grounded in the beginning phases of growing a school. That spring, the two worked to build relationships with families at Lauderdale Courts, they sought advice from city leaders, and they made plans to open the school in the Fall.

Just a few months later, in August 1996, New Hope welcomed twenty-seven students ages kindergarten through second grade in the renovated basement of First United Methodist Church in downtown Memphis. Seven staff members faithfully served those students in that first year. The school quickly grew, leading to a move to the Federal Reserve Bank Building owned by Calvary Episcopal Church. With renovations to that space, the strong academic, Christ-centered education that had only been a dream of Mr. Carpenter just a few years prior became a reality for eighty-four under-resourced students who were welcomed to New Hope in August 1999.

As the school had grown into downtown Memphis, leaders began to identify the need to extend more broadly New Hope’s reach. In August 2000, Emily Matheny and Mary Leslie Ramsey led expansion efforts that pushed the school into the Frayser community of Memphis. Housed in the former Frayser Christian Church on North Watkins Street, New Hope’s second location opened to welcome thirty-six kindergarten students. Before long, New Hope became planted more firmly in Frayser by acquiring the former Sky View Baptist Academy campus (3000 University Street).

As the demographics of downtown Memphis changed even more dramatically and the need for expanded educational services in Frayser increased, the school’s Board of Directors made the decision to move all programs to Frayser in August 2004.  With the move to larger facilities, the dream that initially served twenty-seven students now embraced over three hundred students ranging from Junior Kindergarten through 6th grades in New Hope’s inaugural year at the spacious Sky View campus.

In March 2006, New Hope’s founding Head of School, Steve Carpenter, passed the reins to then upper school principal, Trent D. Williamson.  Mr. Williamson served in leading New Hope’s continual efforts at growing rooted in the Frayser community and offering children the Academy’s originally intended strong academic, Christ-centered education until March 2012. It was then that the school’s Board of Directors named long-time teacher and administrator Stephen N. Steiner to Head of School.

Today, over seventy faculty and staff members welcome over four hundred students from the Frayser community and surrounding areas of Memphis. Through lenses of teaching, learning, and discipleship, the mission and vision of New Hope Christian Academy continues to grow every day.