CT: As a principal, what responsibilities do you have?
Gerard: Georgia-Cumberland Academy is a private school, owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Churches of Georgia and east Tennessee. GCA is part of a system of schools operated by the Adventist Church, and is governed by its own operating board. I report to that board and have responsibility for the academic, business, physical plant and religious programs of the academy.
CT: What are your goals for the high school next year?
Gerard: We are currently in year four of a five-year school improvement plan that was developed by our faculty and approved by our board. We have sought to strengthen our math and science curriculum and student achievement in these areas. As part of this we have put in place new, stronger graduation requirements in math and science. In recent years we have added a second year of biology for college prep students and added anatomy and physiology. We will this coming year add a college prep statistic course. We are in year three of our one-to-one laptop computer program and we continue to look for ways to improve the use of technology in learning. Our facility master plan calls for us to make decisions concerning the addition of a student center and possible expansion of our athletic facilities.
CT: In what areas do you think the school should improve or change?
Gerard: We have made progress in student outcomes in math and science – but we need to continue to make improvements in these areas. I believe we can do more in the use of technology in learning. I hope to see an expansion of opportunities for students to earn college credit at the secondary level and to use alternatives to the traditional classroom approach to learning.
CT: In your opinion, why are you qualified to be a principal?
Gerard: The first time the idea of someday being a teacher entered my head was while I was a student in what we used to call “junior high”. As I entered college I prayed for God’s will in my life and sensed a call to teaching and working with young people. I think all people who are drawn into leadership have a certain level of restlessness in watching other people run the show and wondering if they couldn’t do the same thing – or maybe even do it better. When I realized this was my situation and that it wasn’t go away, I went to graduate school to become qualified. Class work will make you qualified on paper – experience teaches you how to be a leader. I am still learning.
CT: What do you like about being principal of Georgia Cumberland Academy?
Gerard: I love working with teenagers. I especially enjoy the sense of purpose of attempting to help them prepare for careers and adult life in the setting of Christian values and mission. I view the principalship at GCA as youth ministry. The reason for the existence of GCA is to bring young people into relationship with God and to help them find their calling. I can’t think of anything more important or rewarding.