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Transforming Grace: Building Our Future

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Just before midnight on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, the campus of Grace Baptist Church and Academy was struck by a category 3 tornado, causing catastrophic damage. The buildings were so degraded that 15 structures and over 148,000 sq. ft. were lost.

As quickly as the landscape of our campus changed that Sunday night, so did our development plan for future of our ministry.  A plan that had focused on the addition and upgrade of facilities and programs was largely an ongoing remodel but now it became an immediate and comprehensive rebuilding project.

Like many in the surrounding neighborhoods, we lost our house, but we did not lose our home!  With a temporary relocation just around the corner to the gracious hosts at Morris Hill Baptist Church, our campus has been through an exhaustive analysis and redesign process and will be rebuilt to provide improved and expanded ministries. To accomplish this plan, it will take more than the insurance settlement and even what FEMA will supplement. As God blesses through the participation of His people, we can rebuild Grace to serve our community with a greater impact than ever before! Please review our Development Plan and consider meeting with Les Compton, our Director of Advancement to see both why and how you could join us as our great GOD TRANSFORMS GRACE!

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Our Vision

Grace Transforms! A school where God changes hearts, minds and futures!


Transformation...It's More Than Just Change...

It's not proprietary; we don't own it.  At Grace Academy, we facilitate and participate in the process.  Only the power of God can bring about this kind of change in someone's life - and, after all - isn't that the core of Christianity?  

A person's character, purpose, direction, their very life and, most of all, their eternal destiny...can be transformed!

Our Mission

Grace Baptist Academy partners with Christian parents, educating their children to transform their world by thinking and living Biblically.  

Our Graduate Profile

Faith – a personal relationship with Christ that transforms a daily walk through this world

Discernment – thinking and living Biblically 

Discipleship – relationships that lead student growth from mentee to mentor for Christ

Life-long learner – continually acquiring knowledge and using it purposefully and wisely

Engaged/Connected – influencing and impacting their community 

Our Core Values

Biblical Truth; the basis of daily life and discernment 

Relationships; caring for our students, staff & stakeholders 

Partnerships with Parents and Churches 

Excellence in Academics, Arts and Athletics 

Intentionality in all aspects of school life 

Investment in the lives of students 

Creativity in the development of programs and facilities 

Our History

Grace Baptist Academy was founded as a ministry of Grace Baptist Church.  In 1978, Dr. Steve Euler assumed the pastorate of a small church in a suburb of Chattanooga.  The East Brainerd area, where the church is located, was one of the largest and fastest growing areas of Chattanooga.  The church grew quickly and soon the young families expressed a need for a Christian school for their children and the expanding East Brainerd area.

In 1984 the congregation voted to begin a Christian school.  Assistant Pastor Dr. Bill Summers was selected to lead the school, and in the fall of 1985, the school opened with a surprising 242 students, well over the benchmark of 150 that had been set.  After growing to over 400 students in its second year (1986), the church voted to refinance their properties and building expansion began.

With continued growth, the school added buildings for the high school (1986), an early childhood learning center (1989), and a middle school (1995). The soccer field was also reconstructed, adding length, irrigation and lights (1995).  In 1997, Dr. Summers retired and David Patrick took on the leadership of the school.  During his tenure,  a new elementary facility was built (2007) and facilities were expanded  for an ever growing athletic program.  A combination baseball, softball area was developed (1999) and football was later added (2004).  In 2004, the Screaming Eagle Booster Club started a new project to add a plaza and permanent seating around the football field as well as much needed lighting for all three sports sharing that facility.  A concession stand (2008) and a restroom facility (2012) were also added to the plaza area.  

After 23 years of annual increases in enrollment, Grace experienced its first ever decrease in 2008. What was initially thought to only be an anomaly turned out to be a precedent as a number of factors converged to precipitate the most difficult period in our history. The economic downturn (2009) was followed by a series of difficult transitions in leadership. 

In 2011, Bill Summers returned to serve as the interim administrator. During the next two years of transition, he led some exceptional volunteer efforts including renewed parent involvement. The school board established a search committee to take on a comprehensive process of securing a new Head of School. 

In March of 2013, Matthew Pollock agreed to take leadership of Grace Baptist Academy. Bringing 28 years of experience with Christian education in California and Pennsylvania, he joined a veteran faculty and gifted staff, some who had served at Grace since the earliest years of its existence.  Since Mr. Pollock’s arrival, the decline of enrollment has been arrested. The school has operated in the black while maintaining a 5% margin in the budget. New ventures have been launched and a renewed focus on high energy, deep student engagement and Biblical integration is being promoted throughout the faculty and staff.  A fresh and research-based approach to institutional advancement has been initiated, including development of sustained financial support for long-term effectiveness.

Strides in the academic realm over the years can be noted as well. Joint enrollment classes are offered though a partnership with Chattanooga State Community College, as well as Bryan College. Advanced placement courses are also included in the high school program. The vocal music program has enjoyed significant success in a variety of competitions. The drama department presents their annual musical production gaining community-wide recognition and cultivating meaningful student growth. The Learning Support Center has allowed a good number of students who have had certain learning challenges to experience both improvement and advancement in their education.

By early 2020, over $500,000 had been raised in a three year period to complete a number of long-standing projects including construction of the Grace Fitness Center and air conditioning our high school gym .  In March, the COVID outbreak forced us to go to a Distance Learning program. Then, just before midnight on Easter Sunday, April 12, the campus of Grace Baptist Church and Academy was struck by a category 3 tornado, causing catastrophic damage to the entire campus. The buildings were so damaged that 15 structures (over 148,000 sq. ft.) were lost and now must be rebuilt. Only the Children's Center was able to be completely remodeled and is now reopened serving over 100 children (infants to four-year olds) once again.  

In spite of these challenges, the school finished the 2019-20 fiscal year in the black and enrollment held steady.  The Academy is now blessed with a new host, Morris Hill Baptist Church.  This church embraced the school by offering their facilities for a temporary home during reconstruction of a brand new campus.  As a further testament to the progress of recent years,  Grace Academy was voted ‘Best of the Best’, finishing second among all private schools in our area.  In 2o21, enrollment has increased by 18 percent over the previous year with more and more prospective families expressing their interest.

After 35 years of serving families in the greater Chattanooga area on the corner of Shallowford and Jenkins, a complete transformation of the campus is now underway with a new master plan for both buildings and grounds being designed and construction beginning literally "from scratch".  

Working together to bring transformation to our campus has brought changes in perspective to our entire Grace community. This is evident in our students, parents, and alumni, many of whom still live in the area. The conversation has moved from “can anything be done?” to “what’s next?” With God’s help, proper direction and the full engagement of the Grace community and also external supporters, the answer to that question is “ANYTHING"!

Our Plan

WHAT WE ARE WORKING TOWARD

Our new campus will consist of five interconnected buildings along with several support buildings and athletic fields. This reconfiguration will provide state of the art security, the highest efficiency of energy management, dedicated dining services, outdoor learning spaces, beautiful architecture, advanced science labs, specialized spaces for fine arts, and all athletic fields finished with synthetic turf.  Our redesigned and rebuilt 25 acre campus will include:

  • Lower School (K4-5th grades)
  • Upper School (6th-12th grades) 
  • 1000 seat Gym & Fitness Center
  • Fine Arts Performance Center
  • Worship Center & Christian Education    
  • Outdoor Learning Spaces & Athletic Fields

Lower School 

o Covered, airport-style drop-off
o Large reception area with spiral slide for celebrations
o Spacious classrooms
o Computer & STEAM Labs
Indoor connectivity to Band and Choir rooms
o Indoor connectivity to  Learning Support, Cafeteria & Gyms
Safe room
o Elevator
o  2-story

Upper School and Academic Core 

Multi-functional Commons area for Dining Services

STEM / Robotics Lab
Learning Support Center
o  Library / Media Center
o  Specialized Art Studio, Band & Choir rooms
Individual music instructional & practice rooms
Middle / High School Academic classrooms
o  Safe Room
o  Elevator
o  2-story

Field House and Athletic Department 

1,000 seat tournament-ready gymnasium
Coaches offices
Locker rooms
Athletic Training facility
o Team  Meeting room
Safe room
o  2-story

Performance Center and Fitness Facility 

o Performance Center:  Integrating a Gym & Auditorium 
Performance stage area & dramatic arts classroom
Theater-style seating for performances & assemblies
o Full service  Kitchen for daily lunch & special events
o Fitness Center;  Aerobic & weight room spaces 
Elevated walking track 
o  2-story

Outdoor spaces 

Combination soccer & football stadium w/synthetic turf
Dedicated baseball & softball fields w/synthetic turf
Concessions & Restroom building
The Quad- a multi-use field w/synthetic turf
Amphitheater for fine arts, worship, and learning
Outdoor gardens, courtyards, classrooms & playgrounds
Tennis courts & additional athletic spaces to be secured

Worship Center and Christian Education Building 

o   Auditorium
o   Classrooms & gathering spaces
o   Office space
o   Elevator
o  2-story

Our Steps Forward

A steering committee consisting of key leaders in our ministry is laboring with deep commitment and diverse skill-sets to implement a strategic plan devised with long-range vision and combined with a healthy sense of urgency.

Our steps forward will be guided by a number of factors including:

1. The construction timeline
2. FEMA assistance approvals
3. Donor participation

The construction cycle sequences the projects to be built.  The plan is to begin construction at the northwest corner (a new detention pond for stormwater management) and work in a counterclockwise direction around the southeast corner and finishing at the northeast corner. 

This rebuilding plan…

a)  Advances from least permitted projects (site work) to most permitted (educational buildings)

b)  Allows the builder to ‘paint themselves out of the room’, i.e. work themselves off the property without doubling back

c) Increases campus safety with reconfiguration of our building layout and added layers of security measures

d) Improves energy efficiency with interconnected buildings and cutting-edge energy management

e) Expands our capacity for new programs with a new footprint of buildings and grounds

f)  Sets up our return to campus in phases

FEMA will be of great service to us in their role of filling any gaps with insurance coverage.  While they will accommodate upgrades for current codes and perhaps some green initiatives, there are elements in our plan that will take us beyond this rebuilding project. The scope of our strategy to strengthen the future of Grace Academy extends beyond the return to replaced buildings and grounds.

Although the percentage of the project left to us may not be large, the dollar amount it represents will be greater than any challenge we have yet faced.  However, the opportunity will also be the greatest we have ever been offered!  Would you be willing to partner in raising a few million dollars in order to complete all that is envisioned and to seize emerging opportunities found in an ever-expanding scope of development?  

Our Next Step

Having met our previous goals, our  'Next Step' goal is at least $200,000 between August and December 31.   Remember that all donations will support initiatives beyond our insurance settlement and any assistance provided by FEMA.