Accessibility, Diversity & Unity

“So God created man in his own image.” – Genesis 1:27

Philosophy of Accessibility, Diversity, and Unity

At Grace, promoting academic, cultural, and economic diversity within the school, all within a biblical context, is a worthy and biblically-necessary goal. We define “diversity” as people of different ethnic backgrounds, race, gender (created by God male or female), socioeconomic status, age, learning abilities, and physical abilities, growing in community with one another while uniquely living out their calling as an image bearer of God.

Adequately meeting the needs of diverse students allows the school to fulfill the following goals, deeply rooted in the Gospel and in the mission of Grace: 1) to better and more fully reflect the imago Dei, the image of God, as a school; 2) to testify to the unifying power of the Gospel; 3) to create a vibrant, rich educational culture that meets the needs of all students, equipping them to live redemptively and be on mission in an increasingly-multicultural society and to preserve the unity of the body of Christ; 4) to celebrate the aesthetic of the one true creator, God who made us different in order to reflect His beauty and to teach us to love; and 5) to align our hearts and minds with our Lord as a school community– for those things and people to matter to us who matter to Him. Additionally, promoting diversity is a long-term economic sustainability strategy for the school, given the increasingly diverse local and national culture.

The Grace philosophy is to celebrate cultural or ethnic diversity, but always and foremost, through the unity that the Church enjoys in Christ. God has designed human beings to look, think, and act differently across cultures, and different cultures reflect the imago Dei differently. Therefore, diversity is to be appreciated and celebrated, as various tiles in the beautiful mosaic that comprise the imago Dei.

At the same time, followers of Christ are called to be a new nation, a unified people. We are adopted brothers and sisters, joined into one family by our Father’s calling, Christ’s blood, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The unity that the Church enjoys in Christ transcends all differences and binds us one to another. A biblical philosophy of diversity must encompass the idea of celebrating and respecting diversity as glorifying God more fully, all the while promoting unity and love within the Body as a new culture that both encompasses and transcends the multi-culture.  This is what Grace seeks to achieve.

Academic diversity means that Grace seeks to serve students with academic needs that transcend that of traditional learners. God creates students to learn differently from each other, often in ways that traditional schools are not designed to meet. A true Body of Christ mindset towards education seeks to meet the needs of as many of those different learners as possible, so as to equip all of God’s children to fulfill their God-given calling and serve Him in the next generation. Through its Academic Success Center, Grace seeks to meet the needs of many learners for whom Christian education may not have been possible even a decade ago.

In building greater community, Grace desires to make Christian education more financially accessible for as broad a cross-section of the Body of Christ as possible. Grace seeks to accomplish this goal through its variable tuition program and other financial aid initiatives.

In all these endeavors, Grace seeks to create a more inclusive environment, so that students and families who have been traditionally underserved by Christian education do not simply have access, but are fully sharing their own gifts and talents for the growth and benefit of the Body of Christ at Grace. We desire that all Grace parents and students feel they are a valuable, contributing part of the family, and we will continue in the goal to reflect Revelation 7:9 and embody an imago Dei mindset that imitates the kingdom of God.

Grace has been a tremendous blessing to our family. It is a place that you can receive spiritual growth and academic enhancement in an environment that is Christ-Centered and grounded with family values.

Stephanie & Reginald Shankle
GCS Parents

Umbrellas of Accessibility

Grace Community School seeks to continue the possibility of Christian education for all families.
This happens as we seek to diversify our school family in three major ways.

Academically

Grace seeks to serve families whose children may need extra academic intentionality or support.

Culturally

Grace seeks to be a school where ethnic diversity is represented, valued, and celebrated.

Economically

Grace seeks to make Christian education accessible to all families regardless of socioeconomic status

The widening ethnic division in our country should drive us to reflect upon and align our lives with the compelling and beautiful multiethnic unity of Christ. We thank God that this is the vision of GCS and pray He will use this vision to bring change to our community, country, and the world!

The Loeffelholz Family
GCS Parents

Intentionality

Grace has raised its level of intentionality in terms of accessibility over the last five years. This has been evidenced in multiple ways:

  • Creation of the administrative level position necessary to lead in this area
  • Continual increases of representation at the board, leadership, faculty, and coaching levels
  • Cultural and socio-economic inclusion established in the Grace Strategic Plan as a focus area
  • Expansion of the academic success center
  • Increasing financial accessibility
  • Grace has seen growth in ethnic diversity from 10.9% in 2015-2016 to 13.7% in 2019-2020 school year
  • Twenty percent of the students enrolled in the 2019-2020 school year were ethnically diverse
  • Creation of equity and inclusion coordinators to provide extra touchpoints for families by campus

The discipleship of our children, it’s one of the most precious and important callings we have as Christian parents. What a blessing to be part of an amazing school community whose mission is as deep as it is simple, to Teach Jesus.

Morales Family
GCS Parents

Meet Our Team

Class of 1998
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Ijeoma “EJ” Unegbu, Ed.D.

Director of Equity and Inclusion

Class of 1998

Ijeoma “EJ” Unegbu, Ed.D.

Director of Equity and Inclusion

Ed.D., Dallas Baptist University

Ijeoma “EJ” joined Grace Community School in June 2022 as the Director of Equity and Inclusion. She is an alumnus of Grace and attended from kindergarten to eighth before there was Grace High School.

Ijeoma worked for Tyler Junior College for almost 14 years, serving in various roles as professor, interim director for faculty development and professional development coordinator. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Communication from the University of Texas at Arlington, a master’s degree in Human Resource Development from the University of Texas at Tyler, and her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Dallas Baptist University. Outside of work, she enjoys knitting, gardening, and the family pet, a chiweenie, named Luna.

Ijeoma and her husband, Robert, have three children, Naomi, Abigail and Daniel. They are members of Rose Heights Church in Tyler.

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Chris Hemphill

Bible, Head Soccer, Football Coach, & Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

Chris Hemphill

Bible, Head Soccer, Football Coach, & Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

B.A., University of Georgia

Coach Hemphill has played soccer for twenty years, both at the high school and college level. He set the Georgia 5A state record for career goals with 115, was a First Team All-District, and District MVP selection. He played football for The University of Georgia for one year, and was a two-year starter for the Darton College Cavaliers soccer team in Albany, Georgia, earning All-Conference honors. He earned a trial for a professional team in England before retiring to pursue ministry. Coach Hemphill has coached soccer off and on for ten years. He served as an assistant coach at Lee County High School and Deerfield-Windsor School (Georgia). He currently coaches the middle school soccer teams for Grace and is an assistant coach for the boys and girls varsity teams. He also coaches a girls club team for FC Dallas in Tyler. In addition to soccer, Coach Hemphill has coached middle school and high school football at Grace Community School since 2010. He is also an online seminary student pursuing a master’s degree in Christian Apologetics.

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Josue Sabillon

Spanish, Head Soccer Coach & Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

Josue Sabillon

Spanish, Head Soccer Coach & Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

M.Ed., Marshall University

Josue joins Grace Community School again in 2017. He served at Grace from 2004-2008 as the high school Spanish teacher and boys and girls head soccer coach. Josue has been the Grace Men’s Soccer Head Coach since 2017. In 2017 he was an assistant to GCS Women’s Soccer program and assisted head coach Mitch Smith to win a TAPPS Soccer State Championship. Sabillon has coaching experience at the collegiate, high school, and club levels, and returned to Grace Community High School from Belhaven University in Jackson, MS. He previously has worked as an assistant college coach at Meridian Community College in Mississippi (2001-2002), at Tyler Junior College in Texas (2002-2008). Sabillon is a Two-Time All-American at Meridian Community College (1995-1996), as well as a 2012 NJCAA Hall Of Fame Inductee. Sabillon transferred to Marshall University and graduated in 2001 with a degree in business administration. He also holds a USSF “A” license and an NSCAA Premier Diploma. In 2013 he received his masters in sports administration from Belhaven University. Josue Sabillon, a Honduran native, is accompanied by his wife Andrea, and their two daughters, Isabela and Cecilia.

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Miranda Webster, Ed.D.

Grace University Principal & Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

Miranda Webster, Ed.D.

Grace University Principal & Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

Ed.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Miranda joined Grace Community School in 2021 as a middle school grammar, bible, and Latin teacher and is currently serving as Grace University Principal. She received a bachelor’s degree in Christian studies with a minor in biblical studies from Dallas Baptist University, her master’s degree in Christian education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and her Ed.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2019. Prior to joining Grace, Miranda taught grammar to middle school students for 13 years. She has a passion for teaching, laughing, and bringing joy to the classroom. Miranda is married to Evan and has a mini-Australian shepherd, Samson.