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August Headmaster Highlights

Dear Grace Families:


The summer is moving quickly, so we wanted to give you another update as to what is happening here at Grace Academy.


In case you missed the announcement in our July Headmaster Highlights, God has blessed us with key personnel for the upcoming year including Mr. Warren Barrett as our  Upper School Principal; Ms. Christina Atkins as our Lower School Principal; Mr. Darren Borg as the Director of Athletics and Mr. Kevin Smoot as the Dean of Students. The names may be new but we have returned to the former management model in your request to balance academic rigor with spiritual growth. Mrs. Jessica Klick, a former Grace graduate will join us as the Communication Director.


As of July, we have a few additional faculty updates. Our latest faculty additions include, Zelephiene “Zellie” Jones to our mix, as the number of electives have increased. Zellie will teach Upper school American Sign Language. Meanwhile Information Technology Director Jason Ledney will spearhead our Cybersecurity classes.


Brenda Brown will move to Information Technology. Charles Dawson, of much traveled fame, will team up with Amy Casto with International Programming.


Joseph Choi will continue our rapid growth in the Orchestra area. “Maestro” Choi brings with him a multitude of collaborative experiences with youth symphonic and philharmonic groups, including the Maryland Chamber Orchestra.


Alex Lehman will return as Middle School Social Studies teacher. He will be buoyed by two highly experienced colleagues including Dawn Hawbecker in Language Arts and Barbara Benedict in High School History. Dana Conley joins us in Biology to present a group of knowledge and pedigree. Mrs. Lane and Mrs. Ingram will continue as our High School History and Science teachers, respectively.


Responding to the instructional needs of our students, CELL PHONE USE WILL NOT BE PERMITTED BY THE STUDENTS DURING THE ENTIRE SCHOOL DAY. Please prepare your students to put their cell phones in their lockers, silenced or turned off, when school begins at 8:20 a.m.  A fine will be assessed to each student for breaking this rule. Our new Cell Phone Policy is being implemented in response to parent and teacher surveys.  This has also been supported by Grace Academy Leadership Team and the Board of Directors.


Each student should be prepared to bring his/her laptop device to class daily. Each student must obtain a lock for the locker at the beginning of the school year, which can be obtained for a refundable fee.


The Knights Running Club will continue to meet in the Fall, with plans to evolve the club into a competitive cross-country team. We are excited to add a Co-ed Golf team for the Fall coached by Stephen Parrotte. Fall Sports practices begin August 7 and Fall Sports Parent meeting will be August 15. Please make sure to attend the meeting for more information or contact our Athletic Director Darren Borg at


We are also pleased to include adult members of the ARC of Washington Country to our team. These high functioning adult workers will be joined by their coaches to help us in the daily janitorial and hospitality functions to keep our school and its facilities clean and neat. We will work hard with Katie Barnhart and Ryan Zimmerman of the ARC to keep the school looking good according to the standards set by our very own Dave Buser.


From the security perspective, we will continue regular fire drills and lockdowns to prepare our school for security challenges as mandated by the State of Maryland. But more importantly, it is our duty to protect our children by giving God our best.


In the next few weeks we will be sending out many e-mails reinforcing what was shared here. Please check your Sycamore and our Website often to stay on top of the new year.


Some very good news to end this letter. Our accrediting body, the Association of Christian Schools International has just approved our status of “Excellence” for the 2016-2017 academic year. In particular, we achieved an 87% rating on instructional standards. As we look forward to renewing our ACSI accreditation status, I give hearty congrats to those responsible for all this great achievement, including Executive Assistant Carol Barger and Registrar Joann Buwalda.


Many Thanks,

Dr. Mathew McIntosh