Jay Watts, Columbus Christian Academy's new administrator, meets with Mitch Griffin in the school's gym on Monday. Griffin has an eighth grader and a kindergartner at the school. "I just wanted to express to him how excited we are to have him here with us," Griffin said. Watts, now the head administrator at Pillow Academy, will take the post at CCA on July 1. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
April 18, 2017 10:51:00 AM
Columbus Christian Academy has a new administrator.
Jay Watts, currently head of school at Pillow Academy, a Christian school in Greenwood, will officially take the same position at CCA in July. He said he's excited to work for a school that takes a Christian approach to learning and college preparatory education.
"Their mission is Christ-centered, a Christian worldview, college preparatory education with the Bible as a base, and I think that's something that's missing in our society today," Watts said.
Parents had a chance to meet Watts at a town hall style meeting Monday night at the school. Watts spent more than 20 minutes answering questions about his religious background and his plans for CCA. Then he stayed and chatted with parents and school board members a few more minutes more informally following the meeting.
"We're really looking forward to having Mr. Watts here," guidance counselor Rachel Thomas said. "He's right in line with our mission in being Christ-centered and partnering with parents, partnering with churches, to equip kids to be kingdom builders, to be whatever God calls them to be."
Thomas said a search committee made up of parents, teachers and school board members went through applications from all over the country before narrowing the list of applicants down to four finalists, which included Watts.
Watts has more than 30 years of experience working at private schools, the last 20 of which he has spent in administrative positions, he said.
It was his experience and leadership skills that attracted the search committee, said parent and school board secretary Lanita Davidson, who also served on the search committee.
"We need a consistent strong leader, and he had, from everything we saw, a proven track record," Davidson said. "... As a former teacher, for me personally as part of the team, I had in mind someone who would be able to be a teacher's teacher, someone who would be able to build relationships within our faculty and our families and our students."
She added Watts would be going into classrooms to participate in the learning process with teachers and students.
Watts agreed building relationships between parents, students and educators is important to him.
"Relationships are the key to everything," he said. "I know this is kind of cliche, but people don't care what you know until they know how much you care."
Though he's finishing up the school year at Pillow Academy, he'll be spending two or three days a week in Columbus getting to know parents, teachers and students until he officially takes the position of administrator in July, he said.
He also talked about what Bible-based learning looks like in the classroom.
"Of course, you have your academics and your curriculum, but you also talk about God's part in that," he said. "In creation, you talk about that. In science or anything, you just incorporate God's hand in what we do."
When parents asked about his plans for the school, he said he wanted to meet with the school board before detailing specific goals.
"Right now it's just a little early to have plans," he said.
Immanuel Baptist Church started Immanuel Christian School in 1978, which became Columbus Christian Academy in 2014 after the church and school split ties. The school is now multi-denominational and has 280 students, Thomas said. She added the number has been growing since 2014.
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