Southside Virginia’s Believe-N-U Development Center to Move to New, Improved Facility.

By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Email: Click Here
Posted: Feb. 12, 2018 | 12:50 p.m. 

PRINCE GEORGE – The Believe-N-U Academic Development Center (ADC) was established in 2013 as the brick and mortar arm of Believe-N-U Youth Empowerment (BNU). BNU initiated programming as a Supplemental Educational Services provider in 2009, and would go on to achieve licensing in the Commonwealth of Virginia, North Carolina, Maine, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Texas, to provide tutoring services to students as part of the No Child Left Behind Act.

“The ADC is proud to announce that it is now expanding to its new 22-acre campus in the tri-cities area, with nine acres located in Petersburg and the remaining 13-acres located in Prince George County. The move to the new campus will take place in late February, and an Open House—open to all—is planned for March (day and time to be announced)! Location of the new larger campus is 3071 County Drive, Petersburg, Virginia, 23803.

“We are so excited, proud, and humbled to be in a position to make these life-changing improvements in the education and lives of these students and their families,” said Founder/Administrator, Demetria R. Jennings. “Finally seeing the end result of all the hard work, long days and nights, and the crossing of a million T’s and dotting of another million I’s, is a Blessing to all of us that have worked so hard, and almost overwhelming to me personally. I myself am a parent of a disabled child, and I too have been in the situation of needing a superior learning facility for my own child’s education. This is what our present center and our new and improved center will provide—a superior education, nurturing, and empowerment to all students with all needs. We like to say that success is unique, because every child’s success is different,” Jennings added.

The School, presently located in Prince George, has special-needs students from all of the tri-cities, Dinwiddie, Prince George, Sussex, Surry, Chesterfield, and Richmond. These students will begin attending the new campus in late February. The new campus is larger and is equipped to accept additional special-needs students. The new academic building is a totally-renovated church, and boasts over 8,000-square feet of instructional space. It houses a state-of-the-art sensory room, with dedicated Registered Behavior Technicians providing Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy. The school has six large completely renovated state-of-the-art classrooms. There is a huge kitchen, that will be used to bring math and science to life; a multi-purpose room for activities and games, and the principal’s office. This new schoolhouse is equipped for 50 students.

The administration building is located just steps from the students, but it is situated so that it is not a distraction. The building is equipped with all of the support services that a responsive and responsible school requires. This will enable the administrator and staff to provide the oversight that students require and parents expect. There is a conference room, school liaison office, office spaces, and lobby. Both the schoolhouse and administration building are decorated in calming shades of light pastel blues and yellows, with an ocean or fish theme throughout both buildings. There are bubble chandeliers with fish, a bubble fireplace, fish on the mantle, and oceanic influences everywhere. “We are all different kinds of fish here, but in this school, we all swim together,” explained Jennings.

In 2015, the ADC received licensing from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Education to become a Day School for Children with Disabilities. Serving both male and female students, in grades K through 8, the center provides a full-spectrum of instructional services to children who are autistic, developmentally delayed, emotionally disabled, intellectually disabled, learning disabled, and/or have speech, language, or other physical or mental impairments. The new ADC campus has many upgrades and enhancements. The campus has the Tri-Cities first ever Special Needs Inclusive Playground, a school garden where the students will slowly see their efforts spring to life, a yoga studio, and an arts studio, to mention just a few of the new enhancements.

Walking into the schoolhouse, one is met by the sound of children playing and their laughter. The laughter is joyous and truly contagious! Natalie Desmore, School Liaison and Registered Behavior Technician, and Sharina Gilpen, Principal, both take time to greet visitors as they enter the schoolhouse. If only one word could be used to describe the atmosphere of the school, it would without a doubt be “happy.” Gilpen and Desmore attribute this to the nurturing, dignity, fun in learning, and family atmosphere.

“Our future is bright for our Believe-N-U Academic Development Center! The new facility and upgrades will better serve our staff, our students, and their families. With access to specialized resources, the center offers a unique educational experience that influences creativity, encourages social skills, and cognitive learning,” said Jennings.

To obtain more information on the Believe-N-U Academic Development Center, contact the school by telephone at (804) 458-5812 or on-line at

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