GOLDSTON — When the bell rings calling youngsters back to class for the 2023-24 academic year, there’ll be a new school in Chatham County ready to welcome its initial group of students.
Chatham Christian Academy will begin its life in the educational wing of the Goldston Baptist Church, enrolling children in pre-Kindergarten (four years of age), Kindergarten and first grade. And although that’s a small start, the idea of such a school has been on the hearts and minds of a number of people for some time, leading to the creation of a board and hiring of staff.
Angie Brady-Andrew, a retired county school system principal, is chairman of the board. “While our county has been blessed through the years with great schools and amazing staff, we began to hear from a number of folks who wanted an opportunity for their children to have a Biblical worldview incorporated into instruction,” she says. “We’re going to use a curriculum called ‘Purposeful Design’ where students will learn about Jesus while also being provided high quality academic instruction. Our intent is to enhance what families are providing in the home.”
The school came about, like many other accomplishments, as more people began to talk about the idea and discovered there was substantial interest for a Christian school in the area. “A couple of board members – Caleb Staley and Cade Fields – who are also church staff members had been exploring the idea for quite a while,” she says. “As more people got involved in the discussions, it became clear we felt the Lord leading us to do this.” Two more people – Peyton Moody and Avajan Oldham – came onto the board, which has since hired staff members, including Beverly Browne), retired J.S. Waters principal, as the school’s headmaster.
“Beverly is on board with this,” Brady-Andrew says, “and is a veteran educator who loves Jesus and is already working hard to help make the school a success.”
Initially board members had hoped to begin the year with a second grade but opted instead to concentrate on capping the initial year with pre-Kindergarten through first grade. “Our plans are to have a maximum of 15 students per class,” Brady-Andrew says, “and add more grades as we grow.” The school year begins August 28 and there are still a few spots for enrollment. Interested parties may contact Mrs. Browne at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to enroll a student.
A big part of the push for the new school came from Goldston Baptist Church and its pastor, Bruce MacInnes, who is familiar with Christian Schools since he serves as chairman of the board of Lee Christian School in Sanford. Space was available at the church facility and funds were on hand for renovations so the church congregation saw the school as an opportunity to impact the community.
Board member Caleb Staley is youth pastor at Goldston Baptist. “The school is grateful to the church for the willingness to do this,” he says. “The incredible support from the church and the community already just shows us how evident this is God’s will.
“A year ago,” he says, “it was just an idea that Cade and I had. We’d get together with no agenda but to talk and pray. Then Peyton came along and then Avajan and Angie and all the pieces came together. It’s evident how God has answered prayer for discernment. Thanks be to the church, the community and to God.”
“We’ve done a lot of work, a lot of talking and a lot of praying about this,” Brady-Andrew says. “We know there’s more work to do but we feel God has laid this on our hearts and we’re excited about the future.”