Bethesda Academy, originally named Bethesda Orphan House and Academy, began as a colonial orphanage. It has the distinction of being the oldest child caring institution in the country. Founded in 1740 by Rev. George Whitefield, Bethesda was visited by many of the country’s founding fathers, and found one of its earliest supporters in Benjamin Franklin. Today, as in 1740, Bethesda Academy continues its mission to inspire within its students "a love of God, a love of learning and a strong work ethic".
In 1900, Bethesda was re-named the Bethesda Home for Boys. In 1992, Bethesda School began educating students on the 600-acre campus, providing a wide range of learning experiences rooted in George Whitefield’s founding mission. In 2011, the school was officially re-branded as Bethesda Academy, reflecting the school’s commitment to college preparatory learning.
From its earliest days as an orphanage for 61 children in Georgia, Bethesda has evolved into a successful middle and high school serving an academically and socio-economically diverse student population of young men in grades 6 - 12. With an emphasis on a technologically blended learning format, experiential and environmentally sensitive learning, and spiritual development, Bethesda Academy offers a wide range of educational opportunities utilizing its abundant natural resources including a 650 acre campus which includes salt water marshland, freshwater lakes, a cattle breeding farm, dairy goats, an organic vegetable farm, a quail nursery, a wildlife sanctuary, gymnasium, swimming pool and the Moon River.
Bethesda Academy serves day and boarding students, offering uncommonly generous financial aid to over 90% of its student body, many of whom are at risk for dropping out of school due to environmental factors such as financial hardship, loss of a parent or guardian, severe illness, or military deployment of a parent(s). Though Bethesda Academy students may be behind their peers in academic achievement upon enrollment, they understand the tremendous opportunity that Bethesda represents and they are committed to leveraging their experience at Bethesda into successful college attendance and diploma completion.
Bethesda is a private school that generates the bulk of its revenue through private enterprise, endowment revenues, state educational tax vouchers and a comprehensive philanthropic program. Bethesda Academy is governed by a regional board, the Union Society of Georgia. It is a Christian organization with no formal denominational ties. Bethesda Academy is fully accredited by Advanc-Ed (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) and has recently completed an institutional assessment and strategic plan in partnership with the National Center for Dropout Prevention at Clemson University.