Entering into my 30th year in private, Christian-based education, I am excited and encouraged about the direction we are headed at Gatewood!  I came to Gatewood in 2013 as Assistant Headmaster after having been a classroom teacher and coach at The Marist School in Atlanta for 25 years.  At Marist, I worked alongside many talented teachers, coaches, and administrators who were devoted to molding well-rounded young men and women through faith-based Christian values and academic programs providing students with the very best opportunities for higher learning and future success.  Here at Gatewood, I am proud to say that we are providing those same opportunities.  Our teachers are talented and tirelessly dedicated to the children we serve each day.  We provide a curriculum with “rigor and relevance”.  We are currently in the process of a school-wide self-study, taking a careful look at content and method from grade level to grade level.  These assessments will provide all Gatewood students with the best academic programs available.  Furthermore, our teachers, staff, and administration will all share a central theme:  “Every child is a gift from God”.

Teaching and Learning:

  • The educational curriculum must be rigorous and have relevance to real world experiences as much as possible. The curriculum is underpinned through relationships among students, parents, teachers, community stakeholders, and the administration. These relationships solidify the knowledge that students gain, ensuring opportunities for success in post-secondary education or any other career track students might choose.
  • Curricula should be designed in accordance with Georgia Performance Standards with teachers encouraging children to seek greater knowledge in areas where they are particularly interested and/or gifted.
  • Senior teachers mentor and coach those with less experience, thereby creating a family-type atmosphere among our staff.
  • Professional development and continuing education for teachers, staff and administration is a key component of growing a well prepared and competent team, while also increasing confidence and respect from all educational stakeholders.

Role of a Headmaster:

  • Take actions to positively address the school climate, ensuring conditions exist in which everyone feels safe so that teaching and learning can occur.
  • Be a visible presence on campus and at school-related functions.
  • Support teachers in the execution of their behavior management programs.
  • Enforce Board policies and school standards to provide the structure and organization to eliminate/minimizes distractions to learning, and maximizes time for instruction during the day.
  • Lead by example, modeling Christian values and ethics in all that I do.
  • Work with the Board to generate capital to operate and grow the school.
  • Support for a school can be reclaimed by rekindling relationships with alumni and community stakeholders.
  • The school vision and culture must be understood and embraced for positive change to occur within an institution.
  • Revitalize the school culture that ensures (1) a physical environment that is welcoming and conducive to learning; (2) a social environment that promotes communication and interaction; (3) an affective environment that promotes a sense of belonging and self-esteem; and (4) an academic environment that promotes learning and self-fulfillment.

Assessment of School Functions:

  • Work with teachers to routinely assess curriculum rigor and appropriateness.
  • Classroom observations offer invaluable information for use in coaching or mentoring teachers, and to identify systemic issues that need to be addressed throughout the school. I will visit and observe classes on a regular basis at every grade level.
  • Analyze standardized test results to help determine student preparedness and curriculum appropriateness. Standardized tests do not by themselves signify learning or a lack thereof. Scores also do not by themselves identify teaching deficiencies or strengths.
  • Open communications with all school stakeholders assist in gauging public opinion and marketing effectiveness to recruit, raise capital, and advertise the advantages of attending Gatewood Schools over the competition.
  • In summary, my beliefs and views regarding school leadership employ the use of a “hands-on” approach. A leader, regardless of the profession, must first look inside the walls of the organization or school to repair/remodel the climate in order for positive results to occur. Simultaneously, stakeholders (students, faculty and staff, and parents) must be reacquainted with the school’s vision and culture. Upon accomplishment of these broad tasks, a Headmaster will be free to reeducate and reenergize the community and alumni, and work closely with the Board to push toward a long-range strategic vision for the school.
Jeffrey T. Decker