“Where there is no vision, the people perish….. “ Proverbs 29:18

Having held positions of leadership in many different organizations over the past 38 years, my educational philosophy with respect to leading a school system is derived from those personal and business experiences. With the school’s culture and climate positively focused, my attention will always be given to students, teaching and learning, my personal role in leading, and the continuous assessment of school functions to ensure favorable support from all stakeholders, both inside and outside of the school. The following provides a brief overview of my educational beliefs, and offers a snapshot of how I approach these four areas as Headmaster:


  • All students are special and have unique talents. All have the ability to learn, but at different rates and through various methods.
  • Students who are engaged in learning activities that challenge them to levels above their current knowledge base will be excited by school and look forward to similar experiences each day.
  • Christian values and principles for living should be a central theme about which all school activities revolve. My desire is to provide an environment in which each child can seek to be all that God created them to be in every area of their school experience.
  • Students are a valuable source by with the school climate can be assessed and maintained on a higher plain.

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, and 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 confident 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