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Plans fall into place

Westminster leaders say Scott Smith will take the school to the next level

POSTED: February 15, 2008 5:04 a.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

Scott Smith has been chosen as the Westminster Christian School headmaster. Smith has spent the past nine years serving as president of Hebron Christian Academy in Dacula.

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GAINESVILLE — One hundred acres clinched the deal. Scott C. Smith, who heads Hebron Christian Academy in Dacula, said that about a year ago he felt a stirring in his heart, as if God was telling him "I have another call for you."

He believed that if he were to move, his new employer would have to have the same mission statement, be independent of a church and have 100 acres of land.

Smith later received a letter from Gainesville’s Westminster Christian School that stated the school’s mission statement, autonomy as a school, and that someone had donated 100 acres of land to the school.

"I felt like I had to at least reply to the letter," Smith said.

One thing led to another and on Jan. 18, Al Gainey, Westminster board chairman, announced on the school Web site that Smith had been named headmaster.

"Scott has a very vibrant walk with the Lord and desires to encourage our children to be lifelong followers of Christ, equipped academically, socially and spiritually to fulfill God’s plan for their lives," Gainey said.

Smith will lead Westminster into its transition to North Georgia Christian School, which will serve as the middle and upper school for some area Christian schools, with Westminster at 1397 Thompson Bridge Road also serving as an elementary grades feeder.

The new school will be on 100 acres off Poplar Springs Road in southeast Hall.

Smith, 53, will begin work July 1.

A Pennsylvania native, he spent two years in the Forsyth County school system and 21 years in the Gwinnett County school system before "God called me to Christian education."

He went to Hebron Christian Academy as headmaster nine years ago and watched the school grow from 300 to 1,000 students.

"The greatest thing that has happened to us over that time is the class of 2001, with 100 percent of its students still in church and 25 percent ... in full-time ministry," Smith said.

He said he set the standards for new employment because he was "happy, content, things were going on in the ministry very well; a lot of success stories with kids sticking to their faith through college and finding a calling in life."

"There was no reason to be looking around," Smith added.

Gainey said Westminster sent the letter to 90 schools around the Southeast that were members of Association of Christian Schools International.

"We were looking for somebody like Scott, but we just wanted to see what God would do," he said. "... It was quite obvious that he had the resume that we wanted. ... And he was in our area — that was the phenomenal part.

"And the fleeces he put out — that was more phenomenal. That was of God."

The main thing that sold Westminster on Smith was "we wanted to take our school to the next level and we saw Scott had done that at Hebron."

Gainey said the school plans to begin a major fundraiser possibly before Smith arrives for construction of the school.

"Scott wants to be out there in the fall, and there is the possibility of getting some temporary facilities out there ... if not by fall, hopefully by the spring," Gainey said.

"The owner of the property wants some kind of ground broken by Christmas."

Smith said that beyond bricks and mortar, he sees a higher purpose for the school.

"The mission I see is partnering with parents to prepare their children spiritually, mentally, physically and socially to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ," he said. "Everything is built upon that mission."



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