Revised July 11, 2020
Dear Grace Families,
This communication has been consistently updated since mid-March to provide the most up to date information to all of our Grace Family and our extended constituency. In the midst of a highly unusual health crisis here in the United States and around the world, Grace Baptist Church and Academy took a direct hit from a tornado just before midnight of Easter Sunday, April 12 causing catastrophic damage to our campus and devastating the surrounding neighborhoods of East Brainerd. It was immediately evident that we could not function on our campus as a school nor church and faced a monumental recovery and rebuild process.
Since the Academy had already responded to the restrictions of the COVID-19 crisis by launching a distance learning program, we were in full gear of a new and strategic pursuit of our mission of providing a high-quality, Biblically-integrated academic program. We are confident that our students are making good academic progress as our loving teachers continue to cultivate the caring community that is the cultural fabric of Grace. We have not wavered in our vision that GRACE TRANSFORMS! Grace Academy is a school where God transforms hearts, minds, and futures. You can watch the first video message to the Grace family after the tornado from our Head of School, Matt Pollock by clicking here.
The following FAQ's were originally developed related to our immediate response to the restrictions of the health crisis but have now been updated following the impact of the tornado in East Brainerd and as we approach the new school year. Our full attention has been turned to reopening school for the Fall of 2020 (see downloads on this page for more details) and rebuilding our campus with exceptional advancements in campus security and building design, convenience and efficiency, and also major expansion of our program. We will continue to update these responses as necessary and helpful.
What is our plan for reopening the Academy for Fall 2020?
Our goal is to return with "live, in-person" instruction when school begins again. This fall of 2020, school will be held in the beautiful facilities of Morris Hill Baptist Church (https://www.morrishillbaptist.org/) . Thanks to the generosity of this congregation, we eagerly anticipate accomplishing our God-given mission with our student body IN PERSON once again. We are also grateful to other local churches and schools that are hosting our athletic programs, allowing our coaches and student athletes to continue training and competing. For more information, you can download the documents found above on this page; The A, B, C's of GBA's Reopening Plan for Fall 2020 and Frequently Asked Questions.
When will our own campus be ready for return?
Of course, a major objective has become the redesign and rebuild of our home campus at the corner of Shallowford and Jenkins Roads. Our plan is being guided by experienced and deeply committed leaders of our ministry and is focused on improving security, traffic flow, extending our visibility, expanding the effectiveness of our educational programs and increasing energy efficiency. All of this is founded on our continued mission of partnering with parents, educating their children to transform their world by thinking and living Biblically.
Amazing Outcomes Are Possible :
1) Pieced together over a number of years as we acquired property, our campus will now benefit from a comprehensive and cohesive plan.
2) We will not be working under some of the limitations that guided our building construction style and materials in the past.
3) Much of our previously announced development plan may be able to be directly incorporated as we move forward (https://gracechatt.org/272/development-plan)
4) In the long run (ironically enough), the rebuild may take less time than the complete remodel would have taken.
5) We will experience together the same joy and anticipation of building something new that our original student body and parents once did.It is our hope to begin a phased return in the 2021-22 school year. Although we recognize that this process is lengthy (likely taking 18 months to 2 years for total completion), we rejoice in God's sovereign plan that the ministries of Grace Baptist Church and Academy are being transformed! (https://gracechatt.org/279/rebuilding-grace).
How can I help?
There are actually several things one can do to help Grace Academy:
1) Pray for us: pray for those who are organizing and making critical decisions; pray for the students and teachers, particularly the seniors; pray for the organization of the coming school year.
2) Identify with us: all of our friends and supporters...be 'Grace' with us.
3) Tell our story; you never know who may be able to respond and lend a helping hand.
4) Support Grace and our future with your gifts of love.
Who do I contact if I have a question?
We are available to help. Our main school number 423-892-8224 is currently active and being monitored for voice messages. However, it is probably best to use email to initiate communication with our administrators, staff, and classroom teachers. Some specific leaders, you may wish to contact directly.
Upper School Principal: Scott Hicks ([email protected])
Lower School Principal: Nancy Cooper ([email protected])
IT Support Staff: [email protected] (Jessica Pollock & Marty Cooper)
Financial Office: Lisa Payton ([email protected]) *student accounts
Public Relations: Mariah Massengill ([email protected])Head of School: Matt Pollock ([email protected])
Is Camp Grace operating during this Summer of 2020?
With guidance from the CDC and Hamilton County Health Department, YES, we are running our highly successful program for children from ages 5 to 12 for ten weeks as scheduled. Our kids need Camp Grace like they never have before! We are thankful to Redemption Point Church at 3831 Ooltewah Ringgold Rd for offering their beautiful facilities as our home base this summer, so that our one-of-a-kind program will continue for the 5th summer in a row!
The safety of our staff and campers is our number one priority. Along with following the COVID-19 safety guidelines, we will have Dr. Barbara Richardson, DNP, ARNP with us every morning during drop-off performing health/COVID screenings of every staff member and every camper as they arrive each morning.
Camp Grace will have DAILY enrichment in STEAM, cooking, music, arts & crafts, sports, science, and active group games. Because of the health restrictions earlier in the summer, Camp Grace was not be able to take field trips, however, now we are able to add some of these much loved experiences back to our program. We are organizing dynamic, active, and fun activities in order to create many meaningful and memorable experiences for our campers this summer! As local guidelines change we will return to as much normalcy of operation as we can. We are so excited that the same camp staff is with us to help create a summer full of amazing adventures and cherished memories that your camper will treasure in their hearts forever! We have over 160 students enrolled already this summer!For more information you can visit our website https://www.campgracechatt.org/ or contact Beth Smith @ [email protected].
Can prospective families still check out Grace Academy & enroll their children at this time?
We continue to welcome inquiries from prospective families. We have been holding virtual visits but now can offer in person visits to our new temporary campus. Applications are in process right now and we already have new students enrolled for next fall. If you have interest in our school, please reach out to Donna Dean ([email protected]), our Lower School Admissions Coordinator or Jennifer Ross ([email protected]), our Upper School Admissions Coordinator. You may also TEXT them at 423-892-8224. Or go to this web page to schedule a visit with our staff. https://gracechatt.org/136/schedule-a-visit
Is the Children's Center open?
Due to damage from the tornado, our preschool had to close operations temporarily. Initial assessments have encouraged us that the building is repairable and it has become our top priority to have this facility restored and reopened. We serve families with babies as young as six weeks old up to four year old children. Our goal is to re-open and serve these children as soon as possible. https://www.gracechildrenscenter.org/.
What is the status of our Golden Eagle athletic program?
As the health crisis diminishes, our student athletes are back in action on other local practice fields and gymnasiums with guidance by our county health department and other professionals to get ready for our fall sports seasons. Go Grace! Soaring Like Eagles this Fall 2020! www.gracegoldeneagles.com