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 Frequently Asked Questions along our Road to Recovery

Updated Fall 2022

Welcome to this communications page which has been consistently updated since mid-March of 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic was spreading more aggressively in our nation.

Then 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 at 7815 Shallowford Road as a school nor church and faced a monumental recovery and rebuild process.   You can watch the first video message to the Grace family after the tornado from our Head of School, Matt Pollock by clicking  here

Since the Academy had already responded to the restrictions of the COVID-19 crisis by launching a distance learning program, we were already 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 made good academic progress as our loving teachers continued 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. Now since August of 2020, we have returned to our face-to-face, in-person program with renewed enthusiasm and deeper commitment to our mission of partnering with parents to provide an engaging and Biblically-integrated education for their children.

We hope the following responses to frequently asked questions are helpful for you to gain an understanding of our current situation.

General FAQ’s:

How are we managing the Academy in temporary facilities?

We returned with "live, in person" instruction in August of 2020 in the beautiful facilities of Morris Hill Baptist Church ( We have been blessed to continue this face to face experience all year.   Thanks to the generosity of this congregation, we are accomplishing our God-given mission with our student body IN PERSON throughout our rebuilding process. We are also grateful to other local churches and organizations that are hosting our athletic programs, allowing our coaches and student athletes to continue training and competing. 

When will our own campus be ready for return?

A top priority has become the complete 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, improving our appearance with high quality architectural design, 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 many years as we acquired property, our campus will now benefit from a comprehensive and cohesive plan.
  2. We are not 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 is able to be directly incorporated as we move forward. 
  4. In the long run (ironically enough), the rebuild will 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 in the late 1980's.

It is our hope to begin a phased return next year. Although we recognize that this entire rebuilding process feels quite lengthy, yet we rejoice in God's sovereign plan that the ministries of Grace Baptist Church and Academy are being transformed!.

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 '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 active during the regular work day.  But it may be best to use email to initiate communication with our administrators, staff, and classroom teachers.  Some specific leaders you may wish to contact directly.

Admissions:  Lower School:  Courtney Reed (     Upper School:  Jennifer Ross (

Upper School Principal:  Scott Hicks (

Lower School Principal:  Kari Heyworth (

Children's Center Director:  Sheri Hicks ( *ages 6 wks - 4 yrs old

Camp Grace Director:  Beth Smith ( *our unique summer camp

IT Support Staff: Marty Cooper

Athletic Director:  Bob Ateca (bateca@mygracechatt.org

Financial Office:  Lisa Payton ( *student accounts

Development Department:  Les Compton (

Public Relations:  Mariah Cummings (

Head of School:  Matt Pollock (

Is Camp Grace operating during the summer weeks?

With guidance from health professionals and local government agencies, YES, we never stopped offering  our highly successful program for children from ages 5 to 12 for nine weeks as scheduled.  During the difficult effects of the pandemic, we felt like our kids needed Camp Grace like they never had before! We are thankful to Redemption Point Church at 3831 Ooltewah Ringgold Rd for offering their beautiful facilities  as our home base , so that our one-of-a-kind program continues! 

Camp Grace has DAILY enrichment in STEAM, cooking, music, arts & crafts, sports, science, and active group games. But the number one feature of our summer camp is our FIELD TRIPS to active learning environments across our local community. Our staff organizes dynamic, active, and fun activities in order to create many meaningful and memorable experiences for our campers! We are so excited to have such a high caliber staff creating a summer full of amazing adventures and cherished memories our campers will treasure in their hearts forever! We have over 300 students enrolled during the summer of 2022! 

For more information you can visit our website or contact Beth Smith @

Can prospective families check out Grace Academy & enroll their children at this time?

We continue to welcome inquiries from prospective families. While we offer virtual visits for those out of town, we love to host in person visits at our new temporary campus.  We have added almost 150 new students to our enrollment just this year. If you have interest in our school, please reach out to Courtney Reed (, our Lower School (K4-5th grade) Admissions Coordinator or Jennifer Ross (, our Upper School (6th-12th grade) Admissions Coordinator. You may also TEXT them at 423-892-8224.  Or go to this web page to schedule a visit with one of our Principals.

Is the Children's Center open?

Due to damage from the tornado, our early childhood development program had to close operations temporarily.  After weeks of significant repair and upgrade work, we re-opened for service on Monday, November 30, 2020.  We are so pleased with our brand new and updated facilities at 7815 Shallowford Road. We serve over 100 children ranging in age from infants as young as six weeks old up to four year olds.

What is the status of our Golden Eagle athletic program? 

Our student athletes are in action at Morris Hill Church and on other local practice fields and gymnasiums with guidance by our county health department and other professionals to prepare for the next competitions.  Further, we are getting more and more excited as we see the completed finish of synthetic turf on ALL our new athletic fields.  Go Grace!  Soaring Like Eagles!