Families are already registering children for enrollment in a brand new, distinct educational environment. Brianne Hudak, founder of Journeys School for the Gifted and Talented, provided insight into the need for a school that “will be using personalized learning plans with each child that evolve with them through their learning journey. Hence the name, Journeys School.”
Hudak has been planning Journeys for several years and expresses that she has made a commitment to providing an education model that meets the needs of high-ability, high-potential students.
“I have witnessed gaps in equality for an exceptional population,” she said, adding, “There are thousands of high-ability, high-potential children in America who do not have access to appropriate programming and resources and are being squandered in a traditional learning environment.”
Hudak says she is “committed to providing an education that will meet the needs of those students and help them to embrace their gifts and develop their talents, and become more empowered to be more and do more. The goal for Journeys is to ‘open doors’ for these students and provide opportunities for both academic growth and social-emotional development. We want them to be recognized and nurtured so that they have the confidence and competence to be successful and do extraordinary things.”
Hudak has been in the education system for 16 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in communications and theater. She has taught pre-K, third through fifth grades, gifted and talented students, STEM, and theater arts, and she has worked as a student activities director, curriculum and instructional specialist, dean of students, assistant principal, and K-12 school leader. She has taught in public, private, and charter schools and is full-time establishing Journeys School for the Gifted and Talented.
“I have been waiting for the right time in my career … be in the trenches for a while … to know what works, how to design a school for this population, and find the ideal location that aligned with the mission and vision,” she said.
Located at 414 Skyland Drive in Sylva, Journeys will serve Jackson, Macon, and surrounding counties and offer an educational opportunity for ages 5 through 13, or students enrolled in K-8th grades. Even though the first official Journeys’ school year begins August 2025, enrollment has already begun. The maximum number of students at the school has been set at 60.
“We will be looking to hire around 20 full-time staff including teachers, teacher assistants, a nurse, an information technology specialist, before and after care workers, and office staff,” said Hudak. “Specialists and experts from the area are also encouraged to volunteer, mentor, or come on as part-time educators to help challenge, guide, and support our learners.”
Currently, tuition rates are being considered; however, Hudack desires Journeys to be affordable to families in order to provide unique learning experiences for students.
“Gifted and talented students are considered to be students that process information and perceive the world in different ways,” explained Hudak. “Gifted and talented students demonstrate or have potential to demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude or competence in one or more areas. These gifted and talented students need to be in an environment that shows appreciation and respect for their personal gifts. Journeys will provide gifted children with the freedom to move at their own pace, flexibility in their schedules, and the ability to focus on their strengths.
“These learners are our future leaders; they will move society forward through innovation, deeper awareness, and greater understanding,” she concluded.
Journeys is currently taking applications for its first school year, and it is offering a “Macon County Journeys Information Session” at the Macon County Public Library on Feb. 1 from 5-6 p.m.