Meet GCA family, Mark and Trish Walker, and their children.
How did you first hear about Grace Christian Academy?
We became familiar with Grace by talking to people at our church. Plus we both grew up in Knoxville so we were aware of Grace having a school.
What was the difference that made you choose GCA for your child(ren)?
The environment that our kids would be in every day was like a breath of fresh air!! We compared to another private Christian school and Grace was comparable, however, they were full for one of the grades we needed. We also had to consider cost. Cost of certain private Christian schools in the area caused us to not even consider that school. Everyone we met during our tour was like someone we had known for years. Teri Rash shared her story with us. It was similar with us coming from public school to private school. It was nice to have a sounding board for someone who had been in public school first so she knew what we were experiencing first hand and what we were desiring our kids to have a safe, encouraging learning environment.
What has been your favorite part of your child's experience at GCA?
Just watching them blossom. Our first year was a little overwhelming at first but after a few weeks the kids adjusted very well. Even those kids who had been together at GCA from Pre-K on up accepted our kids in and they quickly made friends. I never will forget the car pickup time when the kids get in the car and they are actually HAPPY! And not really ready to go home. I could tell their attitudes were much more positive than they had been at our previous school.
What would you share with other parents who are considering Christian education?
Pray about the decision first. Talk with other parents. Make sure you talk to parents who are similar to your family. For example, if you homeschool now and you are considering GCA then talk with a family like that. Or if you are coming from public school, talk to families who know where you are at now so they can emphasize. A family who has always been a GCA family from Pre-K on up might tend to be in a bubble and not realize what it is truly like in public school these days. I didn't know until I started substitute teaching in public school. Before the year was out we were talking about moving our kids to a private Christian school. It was the best decision we ever made!
Did you have any concerns about enrolling your child at GCA? How did you overcome those?
We drive 25 minutes to and from GCA each day. I was used to being able to drop in and have lunch with my kids at their old school. I tried this the first year but then I realized driving for an hour for a 30-minute lunch was not feasible. I also volunteered for a lot of things our first year at GCA. This year I know my limits and can adjust my time and know how and when to volunteer for certain things. The 25-minute drive has been a time that we work on spelling or bible verses. It can be challenging when the kids fuss back and forth but I try to focus them back on their school things and that way we use that time to review things so we don't have to spend that time after school to review items. And yes, there are times where I just let them play on their iPads and tune out for 25 minutes in the morning. It's a peaceful quiet ride for me! We like the class size. The fact that there are 3 classes per grade so that the kids get to know each other across the grade level as well as in their own classroom. As far as tuition goes. It is a stretch. The one thing that encourages me the most is that I look at it as an investment in my kids future. I'm not investing in a 401K or something but I am investing in their lives. Building their foundation to be able to stand firm in their faith as they prepare to launch into the real world.