The Valdosta Daily Times
In the summer of 1914, O.P. Copeland and others petitioned the Lowndes County Board of Education to consolidate the Union and Dasher public schools.
This was approved and 22 students enrolled in Dasher Bible School in the fall of that year. Since 1914, Dasher Bible School changed its name to Georgia Christian Institute (1952) and then Georgia Christian School (1960). However, the mission has been the same: educating the mind, body and soul of each student for life and eternity.
J.P. Prevatt served as the first president of the school (1914-1928). Carl Walker was the last president of Georgia Christian School (1973-1991). There have been a total of 13 presidents since the school’s inception.
Beginning in 2011, the board of directors looked at adopting the previous organizational model to meet the demands of a growing GCS. After a year of careful consideration, the GCS board reinstated the Office of the President.
Jim Thornhill, current GCS board chairman, made the announcement that Brad Lawson, current headmaster, would be the new GCS president effective June 1.
Lawson is a graduate of Harding University (1995) with a bachelor of arts in social science and taught at GCS from 1995-2000. While serving in the Army, he earned a master’s of education degree from UMUC (’03). After returning to Valdosta, he earned an education specialist degree in educational leadership from Valdosta State University (’06) and is currently working on his education doctorate degree in educational leadership from VSU.
After teaching four years in a local county school, Lawson was hired as the GCS principal in 2008 where he has since served as principal/headmaster. He is married to Patience McMullen Lawson and they have three sons.
“This is an exciting time in the school’s history,” Lawson said. “We are going to launch our centennial celebration this coming January and not many schools can say that. We’ve brought back football after almost 50 years and we continue to build on the success of our other athletic programs. Our students continue to be accepted to top colleges and universities. But most importantly, we are providing a Christian foundation that can guide these students for the rest of their lives. That’s why we are growing!”
Enrollment grew by 10 percent this past school year, Lawson said.
As the school president, Lawson will focus on development, community relations, and the big picture of the school. The day-to-day operations of the school will be delegated to the principal. Burt Copeland will start in that capacity towards the end of June.
“I have worked with Mr. Copeland for seven years in the past: as a fellow teacher and also under his guidance as an administrator. With the experience he brings to the table as an excellent teacher, championship coach and seasoned administrator, I have full confidence that he can take Georgia Christian to new levels.”
A graduate of Georgia Christian (’84), Copeland has been in education for 20 years. He has a bachelor of science degree from David Lipscomb University (’89) and a middle grades certification from Valdosta State University and a master of education degree in educational leadership from Valdosta State University (’01). He also received an education specialist degree in educational leadership from Valdosta State University (’04). Copeland spent nine years in the classroom at Georgia Christian School as a middle school teacher and coach. He taught for two years at J.L. Newbern before moving into administration with Echols County Schools where he served as assistant principal for four years. He worked in the Lowndes County School System as an assistant principal for five years and a principal for two years.
“I’m very excited to be a part of Georgia Christian School,” Copeland said. Working with children has been his passion, and the chance to come home and serve the same school that he attended 30 years ago is a blessing. “I learned so many things sitting in these desks as a student, not only academically but spiritually, which have been my basis for how I live my life. I want to be able to prepare these students to meet the same challenges in life.”