Accessibility, Diversity, and unity
Accessibility, Diversity, and unity
“So God created man in his own image.” – Genesis 1:27
Philosophy of Accessibility, Diversity, and Unity
As it pertains to 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, 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 a 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. It truly captures what is also the American ideal, reflected on our nation’s currency: E Pluribus Unum– “out of many, one.” Therefore, 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.
Throughout God’s Word, He has a special concern for those who face various economic challenges and calls His people to share this concern. In seeking to be a community that has the heart of God, Grace desires to make Christian education 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 an 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. God has made each of us rich in some ways and impoverished in others (socially, emotionally, spiritually, financially, certain gifts, talents, and abilities), and given us the ability through the community of Christ to serve each other and meet each other’s needs. We not only want each other; we need each other to enrich each others’ lives. Our community desires that all Grace family members truly feel they are a valuable, contributing part of the family, and we strive to make this aspiration a reality.
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.
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.
Grace seeks to serve families whose children may need extra academic intentionality or support.
Grace seeks to be a school where ethnic diversity is represented, valued, and celebrated.
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!
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.
Meet Our Team
Director of Equity & Inclusion/Men's Varsity Basketball Coach - High School
David began serving at Grace Community School as the director of equity and inclusion in 2017. Before that, he spent nine years teaching Bible and physical education at Lakewood Park Christian School. Most recently, David comes to us from Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy where he taught Bible for four years. He has over fifteen years of coaching experience in basketball and football. Along with his work in the area of diversity, David serves as the men’s varsity basketball coach. David received his bachelor’s degree from Baptist Bible College. David and his wife Erica have two daughters, Nya and Raven. They currently attend Grace Community Church.
3rd Grade Teacher and Equity & Inclusion Coordinator - Elementary
Becky is a third grade teacher at Grace. She began teaching at Grace Community School in 2000 as a third grade teacher, but left in 2005 to be a stay-at-home-mom. In 2013, she returned to the third grade classroom. Becky received her bachelor’s degree from the Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Becky and her husband, John, have three sons at Grace. They are all active members of Green Acres Baptist Church.
Bible, MS Soccer, and Equity & Inclusion Coordinator - Middle School
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.
Spanish and Equity & Inclusion Coordinator - High School
Josue joined 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. From 2008-2017, he served at Belhaven University as the head women soccer coach and as a professor in sports ministry. Josue received his master’s degree from Marshall University. Josue and his wife, Andrea, have two daughters who attend Grace.
2nd Grade and Equity & Inclusion Coordinator - Elementary
Tara has worked as an elementary teacher in a Christian school setting since 2010. She has been with Grace Community School since 2015 and has taught second grade, kindergarten, and junior kindergarten. She received her bachelor’s degree from Abilene Christian University. Tara and her husband, Clay (Grace alum ’04), are newlyweds as of 2013 and are enjoying life as a couple.