St. Bernard Academy traces its rich history back to Mother Catherine McAuley, who founded the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1831. In 1866, six Sisters of Mercy came to Nashville and opened Saint Bernard Academy to 400 students. In 1905, the Sisters moved the school to its current location in Hillsboro Village and added a high school building in 1960.
In the fall of 1988, the Sisters of Mercy decided to close the high school and sell the facility. Parents of the elementary school formed a not-for-profit foundation and bought the high school building. The Sisters of Mercy continued to provide several teachers, maintaining the educational philosophy of the school. SBA is considered to be one of the first elementary schools in the nation to be bought and reorganized by a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit parent group.
In 2004, SBA embarked on an ambitious building project to enhance the school’s mission through renovation and improvements to existing areas and the addition of 10,000 square feet. Last year, SBA began another construction phase to add seven new academic spaces, a new multi-purpose room, a new front of school, new administrative offices, an all weather playground and more bringing in 18,000 square feet of new space to the school’s original footprint.
Today, the school is comprised of the original high school building and several additions to serve 350 students, levels Junior Kindergarten through eighth grade. The campus fully supports student life and enrichment activities with several distinctive features including:
- Catherine McAuley Chapel
- Science lab
- Media center with both Mac and PC labs
- Music room
- Art studio
- 500-seat gymnasium/auditorium
- Locker rooms
- Two playgrounds
- Full-service dining hall
- Elevator for ADA compliance