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Shekinah: A Gardere Success Story

Posted: 02/28/2024

On the front screen of my cell phone, most of my apps are organized in folders such as finances, media, shopping, and home, among others. The “home” folder is where you’ll find the apps for our home alarm, Life360, the garage door and the FPC app. That’s right. You are a critical component of my home. I don’t think I’m alone in my love of our church family and its ministries. It was a huge factor in my recent decision to return to the Gardere Community Christian School as its Director of Development and Marketing. I was coming home to a ministry that I’ve always loved, and where I can serve alongside my family. It is such a blessing and honor to update my family on the vital work you are doing in the lives of God’s children and their families.

The word “Shekinah” literally means “that which dwells,” but is commonly used to denote the glory of the divine presence of God, often represented as light. What a beautiful and apt name for this young lady. Shekinah, now in fifth grade, was in Kindergarten when her family found Gardere Community Christian School. Her loving nature and infectious smile lights up a room and warms the hearts of all who meet her. Her story exemplifies the three pillars of the school—academics, spiritual instruction and family.
Shekinah is a high-achieving student who challenges herself to grow academically. This past year, she scored “Mastery” in reading and “Advanced” in all other subjects on state standardized testing. She also participates in many programs that the school offers, including Manners of the Heart, Girls on the Run, Bible study group, Crochet Club, piano lessons and the GCCS/Kids Hope USA mentoring program. She even shares her joy of learning with younger children as a volunteer at Story Time Saturdays.
Spiritually, Shekinah shines the light of Jesus. She is a dedicated Bible reader and loves Chapel. Her favorite subject is Bible class where she and her classmates dig into Scripture analyzing passages and making historical connections. She even participates in an out-of-school Bible study taught by one of the school’s teachers. The partnership between GCCS and Manners of the Heart offers Shekinah tangible ways to share God’s love with manners and respect.
Shekinah’s family has found a home at Gardere Community Christian School. Her mother began as a volunteer and is now an assistant teacher in one of the GCCS preschool classrooms. Showing much promise, she was encouraged to pursue higher education. This young mother will receive her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education soon. Shekinah’s older brother and sister graduated from the school and are now on scholarship and on the honor roll at Parkview Baptist School. The future shines bright for this family!
While Shekinah’s story sounds ideal, it is not as uncommon as some may think. On the 2023 state tests, GCCS students scored 30% higher than the district average and almost three times higher than the two other public schools in the vacinity. Our students are going on to find success all over the city. So far, all GCCS graduates have stayed in school, getting their high school diploma or its equivalent, and 87% of those graduates are enrolled in college. Additionally, GCCS has encouraged and helped several parents get their degrees and currently have six parents employed at the school.
The Gardere Community Christian School is a shining light in a community that struggles with so much darkness. Our First Presbyterian Church family plays a key role in fueling that light with your prayers, your time as volunteers and your financial support. Thank you!
There are so many ways to get involved:
- Commit to pray for our families, our teachers, and our leadership
- Become a Kids’ Hope USA mentor or help out around the school with campus upkeep and classroom support.
- Join us for our Share Your Heart 2024 Luncheon on April 19 and bring a friend. Get your tickets at 2024.
- Take a Tag-Along Kit from the Connection Center or request one at the above link. The kit gives you and your family the opportunity to adopt a class and let them (or at least a cut-out of them) “tag-along” on your family’s adventures. Take pictures with the class cutout and send them back to the school with a donation. It’s easy! 

Finally, as you can imagine, God’s work in the Gardere Community Christian School’s success leads to growth. We are bursting at the seams! For example, GCCS can’t invite the public to its musicals or other performances because the current space isn’t even big enough for all the parents and grandparents who want to attend. Additionally, we will not have classroom space for one of our classes in the 2024-25 school year without renting another temporary building. With that in mind, we have kicked off Phase One of the school’s master building plan. If your family or your company are able to invest in the future of our families in a tangible way, your financial gifts can make a big difference. Phase one is a multi-purpose building that will offer new learning spaces, an indoor recreation and gathering area, and a cafeteria that is large enough to accommodate our growing student body. The new building will also open up space for at least three more classrooms.

Since day one, my First Presbyterian Church family have been vital partners with the school. It’s how I got involved more than a decade ago. Throughout those years, you have encouraged us, counseled us, supported us and lifted us up in prayer. Thank you! Returning to GCCS is like coming home. Thanks to you, that folder seems to be filling up with blessings.

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