The mission of Greater Atlanta Christian School is to help each student grow as Jesus did in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, a circle of Christian leaders dreamed about a Christian school in Atlanta. In 1961, the school was legally incorporated. The leaders turned to a young minister, asking him to accept the school’s leadership. In 1963, Jesse Long accepted the presidency (1963-1998) of a yet-to-be-established Greater Atlanta Christian School.
In the early decades, the motto of “quality education in a Christian environment” was broadly used to share a vision of a Christian school of champions. Jesse Long and early leaders were quick to point to the leading of God through those times, rather than the accomplishments of humans.
Rural Gwinnett County was selected as the sight of the future Christian school. Far from metro-Atlanta at that time, many questioned the wisdom of the location. Jesse Long later wrote, “In the early 1960’s, Indian Trail was a dirt road. The total population living in all of Gwinnett at that time was 40,000 people. However, after looking a year and studying the area, we realized this site was the place to be."
There were several GAC Kindergarten programs in the metro-Atlanta area during the 1960's. In the fall of 1968, GAC first opened its doors with 150 students in grades 7-11 on its current site. Open farmland and a two-lane dirt road in rural Gwinnett County were the school’s early “neighborhood”. The Mission Statement currently used by GACS was adopted in 1994:
Greater Atlanta Christian School began as an independent Christian school, affiliated, but not owned by Churches of Christ. The school continues to be thankful for her historic links with the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement. More than any human organization, educational or religious institution, the school embraces Jesus Christ and His Word as foundational to her purpose. GACS has operated with an independent, self-perpetuating Board of Trustees since 1961.
From rural beginnings with hopeful dreams, Greater Atlanta Christian expanded in enrollment and scope. Because of programs built around high expectations, program success in athletics, academics, and arts became a norm of school life. Since 2000, GACS students have earned 38 state championships (15 athletic, 23 academic), and 76 other Final Four finishes in interscholastic competition. The Senior High was named a National School of Excellence in 1989. David Fincher, a GAC teacher, principal, and vice president, became GAC President in 1998. The Elementary was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 1999. The school was named an All Kinds of Minds School of Distinction in 2009.
The campus has blossomed with facilities and programs in the recent years, growing from 12 to 19 buildings since 2000, with 8 additional buildings completely renovated. In addition, campus grounds and facilities expanded in quality and design, with growth of athletic fields, stadiums, green spaces, and family gathering places throughout GACS’ 75 acre campus.
Approaching her 50th year of incorporation, GAC graduates today are sought out by universities around the country not only for their academic, athletic or artistic talents, but because of their world views. Students broadly participate in global mission trips gaining a "larger than self" and a mindset of "giving back". 21st Century Learning Skills have become broadly adopted in GAC learning as a digital learning environment has been implemented.
Through the decades, Greater Atlanta Christian School has intentionally changed with the times. The school has proactively sought out program improvements, new research in education, plus campus and facilities expansion. Nor does the school live in isolation from the community. The school has taken on its role of participant in improving metro Atlanta and neighboring efforts, expanded in her biblical diversity of both students and staff, and sought to be good citizens. Greater Atlanta Christian continues to dream of excellence in Christ. In late 2009, Greater Atlanta Christian began planning for Remarkable Steps Ahead, her Strategic Plan for much of the coming decade. God’s plan for the next steps for Greater Atlanta Christian continue.
Whether early-years language like “Quality Education in a Christian Environment” or more recent mission words such as “like Jesus, in wisdom, stature, favor with God and man”, the focus on excellence in Christ for young people will remain first priority for the Greater Atlanta Christian community.