April 10, 2019
Great teachers matter. Great teachers create environments for learning that bring out the best in students. Great teachers accelerate learning and maximize the potential for students. Great teachers have the power to boost confidence, to shape character, and to unlock the future. And based on your collective responses to our most recent GAC Parent Survey, great teachers are the top quality you are looking for when selecting your child’s school. We could not agree more. While programs, facilities, and experiences are all important, it is the high quality and dedication of our teachers that matters most.
In our more than fifty years, we have never had a more qualified and dedicated teaching staff than today. And our commitment to continuing that excellence in teaching is why we’ve devoted resources to attract the very best teachers, and have developed meaningful, ongoing training and professional development for our faculty so that they continue to grow and improve. The GAC faculty culture is one of excellence and care for students.
So, how do you measure the quality or dedication of a teacher? While university degrees, specializations, experience, and outcomes matter, from a student’s perspective, the most important markers center on being known, cared for, and for their capacity for greatness to be recognized. Decades of research confirm that the relationship students have with their teachers is the groundwork for student motivational resilience, engagement, and high academic achievement, the results of which impact the rest of the student’s life.
We challenge ourselves at GAC with the questions like: how are students better because they are at GAC? What difference does it make that they are in our classrooms rather than in a classroom anywhere else? We asked both current and former students about the teachers who have made the most impact on their lives, and their answers were so moving that we had to share them with you.
At all grade levels, our teachers are making connections with your child, and we know the impact will last long after they leave our campus. Teachers like Latin teacher Dr. Paul Cable who believes that loving students well and building trust with them works in concert with preparing them academically for college and life ahead. Or Math teacher Michael Washington who tells his students that they are more important than anything he could ever teach them. Or Chemistry teacher Mary Lynn Huett, who recognizes the potential in each student and as a result her students reach the high standard she sets. We could go on, but one thing becomes clear. GAC teachers are more than just qualified; they are deeply invested in our students.
I hope you not only enjoy reading these snippets from the interviews our team conducted but that your children are also having a similar experience. May you be as blessed by these stories as we were.
Kyleigh Creighton, 8th grade
This is an extremely hard question for me to answer because almost all of my teachers at GAC have had a positive impact on my life (including Ms. Lauren Hollier). That’s what I love about this school most is its teachers. But, if I had to choose one teacher, I would choose my teacher Ms. Darcy Huber (in 5th grade). Although it was a long time ago, in her class was the first time I really felt like I was beginning to know God. She taught me so much about the Bible and for that, I’m extremely grateful. She showed so much love to me and to all her students. Don’t get me wrong, my teachers from the most recent years are AMAZING, but the things Ms. Huber would say still sticks with me four years later.
Parker Jennings, Class of 2018 (Boston Conservatory)
It’s incredibly difficult to choose one teacher! Of course, I have so much love and respect for both Mr. Jones and Mrs. Winkes, as I am now pursuing my BFA in Musical Theatre, and they certainly helped me achieve this goal! But, I also gained so much from my academics at GAC.
In saying all this however, I have to talk about Mr. Tom Meeker. I had Coach Meeker for AP Environmental Science my junior year, but his kindness and intellect extended far past that class. I have never been a science/math person, but in his class I felt pushed academically and that I was just as smart in the subject as anyone else. That class ended up being one of my favorites because I knew he would always know his subject inside and out and be able to communicate it well to the class. I felt like I was learning through real world applications, which made the class so much more beneficial than learning from a textbook.
Chandler Dula, 12th Grade
Coach Tim Ball is not just a man of words but a man of action. Since my middle school football days, he has always told me to “act like the man you (I) want to be 30 years from now” and his words did not fall short on my ears. More importantly, I imitate the way he carries out those words by striving to replicate his kind, caring, and Christ-centered manner. I’ve never had the pleasure to be Coach Ball’s student in a formal setting, but watching him walk out his faith as a true man of God has given me all the tools I need to set myself up for success. I’ve been able to go to Coach with my school stress, spiritual roadblock, and everything in between because I know he will lend a listening ear and sound advice. It was an honor to be baptized by Coach Ball this past spiritual retreat, and I pray that I radiate a humble spirit like his to anyone I encounter.
Megan Eberhart, Class of 2014 (Vanderbilt University)
I am so grateful for my 13 years at GAC! The rigorous academics really prepared me for my time at Vanderbilt. I still owe so much to Mrs. Jenny Runkel and AP Lit for strengthening my writing skills—skills I still put to use today in writing the many papers my master's program requires me to write. My teachers throughout my time at GAC were always so supportive of me, not only as an academic but as an individual as well. Their support and encouragement is something I have carried with me throughout my academic career, and something I hope to give to my students as a school counselor. GAC’s rigorous academics and supportive teachers built a solid foundation for my academic achievements. Though my program at Vanderbilt is academically demanding, I know I can have confidence in overcoming each challenge thanks to the foundation built at GAC.
Caroline Bower, Class of 2018 (Duke University)
Mr. Derek Wilson was the teacher that most prepared me for my academic work at Duke University. In his Scholar Capstone class, he encouraged me to think analytically about current religious and ethical issues and then engage with that analysis through writing. Even though the writings were difficult, he provided extensive feedback on each of my weekly responses and final 16-page paper so that I could continue to dive deeper into the questions presented through my research. When faced with a difficult writing class in college, I knew the first steps to engage with the source material and begin a structured analysis through writing. I can’t thank Mr. Wilson enough for all of his hard work and engagement with students at GAC.
Tyler Bragg, 8th grade
One teacher that has a big impact on me is probably Dr. Paul Cable. He encourages me to be myself and helps me learn at my own speed, teaching me techniques to help me thrive. He encourages me by being patient with me and has a unique style of teaching that helps me to cement my knowledge in all subjects.
Lacey Shaffer, Class of 2018 (Georgia Tech)
Across all disciplines, GAC has such an amazing faculty that it's incredibly difficult to pick a single teacher that has had the most impact on me. However, one teacher, in particular, stands out because he somehow managed to turn my least favorite subject into a class that I looked forward to every day. I had the privilege of learning from Mr. Terry Beasley for two years in his Honors Precalculus and AP Calculus AB classes. Mr. Beasley's fun-loving attitude, engaging lessons, and hilarious jokes always made me excited for class. I slowly began to realize that the only thing in the way of my success was my own pride, and I forced myself to become a 'regular' in Mr. Beasley's daily help sessions. He was incredibly patient, answering all of my questions even though I can be exhausting to teach at times, and clearly took an active interest in my success, both inside the classroom and as a whole person. I know that without the confidence in math that I gained in his class, I would never have had the courage to choose Georgia Tech because of its rigorous, and at times, daunting math curriculum. Mr. Beasley was such a godly example for me in the way he cared about his students and constantly encouraged us to do our best, while still ensuring that we all thoroughly enjoyed learning. Not only did I dominate the AB Calculus exam because of Mr. Beasley, but I also learned so many valuable lessons: ask questions, push my limits, never stop smiling, and believe in myself.
Jessica Stanhouse, 7th Grade
I remember the first time I met Miss Jordan Adam at Spartan2gether last year. She is my current Student Ministries teacher and was my 6th grade Earth Science teacher. She was so open and welcoming to me. She understood that I was nervous as a new student to GAC and she was a great comfort to me. She has made such a big impact on my life because she’s shown me what it’s like to be a Christian student and what the mission statement was all about. Her actions and words make her a role model for the kids that she teaches.
Hava Restea, 7th Grade
Mr. Aaron Jongko was my fifth grade teacher. He brings out the best, in basically everything. I remember that he had a joke or meme for everyone in the class. Every day I laughed. I learned a lot in his class and he made the learning experience enjoyable. When I was in his class, his teaching assistant at the time, Mrs. Ansley Keiser, made everyone feel special. She always had a [Bible] verse to add to anything. They were my favorite teachers, ever.