We moved our family of six from Kansas City to Tyler in 2004 when we had four small children. Stephanie and I moved our children from a community in which the public school system was really good and where our boys were thriving. Private school was not a consideration. However, upon arriving in Tyler, we quickly learned that there was a range of options for educating our young ones. After doing careful research, listening to recommendations from friends, and praying for discernment regarding our decision, we chose Grace. If we had it to do over again, we would choose Grace every single time.

Grace Community School has met the needs of our family, and we love it. Our priorities for our childrens’ education were three-fold:
• The academic intentionality and its subsequent preparation for college and beyond,
• The community that the school would offer through its staff and families,
• The spiritual mission of the school.

The way we saw it, as parents we were in charge of the spiritual leadership for our kids. We agreed that a school with a well-formulated and integrated Christian worldview was a great idea, but we understood that a school’s primary responsibility is education. Our question was whether a school with strong Christian teaching alongside rigorous academics could maintain a healthy, biblical integrity.

Now, here we are thirteen years later. We have an appreciation of Grace that has exceeded our expectations. We feel especially grateful that Grace and its wonderful staff have been a partner with us in the spiritual development of our children. The leadership has been Christ-like, the curriculum has been academically appropriate and biblically sound, and the maturity of the teachers and faculty have been exemplary.

Our kids have been equipped and prepared for the challenges that will come with the college years. We have watched each of our kids mature through the process of owning their homework, athletic endeavors, fine arts, and other extracurricular endeavors. They have been encouraged by their teachers, and by their academic achievements. They have been spurred on to work harder when their outcomes have fallen short of their personal goals. There are no Rhodes Scholars, Division I athletes, or Carnegie Hall musicians in our family, yet the thrill of watching our children mature and understand the value of teamwork in athletics, fine arts, and academics has been a blessing to behold as a parent.

The community at Grace is also a blessing. We have found so many of the Grace teachers and coaches to be advocates for our kids in times of success, and more importantly, in times when our kids have stumbled or need to be uplifted. The faculty at Grace truly love, encourage, and challenge our kids. They have partnered with us to foster an environment in which our kids can develop academically, socially, and biblically.

Our children have made great friends at Grace; friendships that may last a lifetime. As parents, our friendships with other families have been life-changing for us, too. As we have walked alongside our Grace family during games, concerts, class trips and school functions, we have developed deep friendships for which we are grateful.

The spiritual aspect of the school has been truly one of the greatest blessings. Our family gathered together this past Easter, and I witnessed our college-aged boys, Lucas and Jackson, our high schoolers, Lucy, and Kate, sitting around the dinner table. We had conversations about sports, politics, social media, and other trivial pursuits. We weren’t reciting memory verses or breaking down theological constructs. The conversation was spirited, feisty, quite opinionated and yet, the framework with which each of my kids discussed these events was Christlike. I could sense, as they discussed parenting and Congress and Twitter, that they had an understanding of the Bible, an understanding that they are guided by the Holy Spirit, and that their Truth is greater than anything this world has to offer. Their lives, rooted in our Father, led by the Holy Spirit, and emboldened by the Word of God, were evidence of confidence and perspective that only comes from a Christian worldview.

We didn’t entrust our kids to Grace so that Grace would do all of the shepherding of our kids. As a parent, that is my task. The Lord has entrusted that responsibility to Stephanie and me. At the dinner table that day, however, there was evidence that Grace Community School has impacted our kids in such a way that they are stronger and more mature in their faith. My kids aren’t perfect. Through school, sports and events, which fill the lives of my kids, I have witnessed as many failures as successes. All these have pointed them to Christ. Through the good times and the bad, at Grace Community School, my children have been prepared to live out what they know to be true, and I am happy about that.

Todd Nickel, GCS Dad