Equipping Tomorrow’s Leaders for Christ

Grace Christian School is a Christ-centered, college-preparatory school serving the Greater Tampa Bay area students that attend in grades Kindergarten through grade 12. Since its opening in 1974, GCS has continued to grow the academic, fine arts, and athletic programs that have elevated its students to the highest levels of achievement. More importantly, though, as a private school GCS has helped develop its students’ strength of character, leading these young men and women to serve others in their own community and across the globe.

Grace Christian School boasts a 100% college acceptance rate for its graduating seniors, who have received millions of dollars in scholarship offers. GCS students at every grade level consistently score well above the state and national average on standardized tests.

The Grace Christian Patriots participate in over 20 interscholastic sports at the varsity, junior varsity, and middle school levels. Our students have won numerous district, regional, and state championships, and have consistently earned individual and team titles over the past two decades.

Our Head of School, Barry McKeen, and our exceptionally qualified faculty and staff invite you to tour our website, then join us in person for a visit to our campus. Once here, you will remember us for our greatest achievement – equipping young men and women to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives with extraordinary integrity, unquestionable ability, and life-long service to the global community.

Moving to Tampa Bay? Christian families in Brandon, Seffner, Valrico, Dover, Bloomingdale, Fishhawk, Plant City and Tampa have found Grace Christian School to be their private school of choice. Talk with Admissions to schedule a tour and see whether Grace Christian School is right for you!

Our History

Founded in 1975 by Grace Community Church of Brandon, Grace Christian School was the vision of Robert R Gustafson his wife Dana, and the faithful congregation of Grace Community Church.  The school has been an academic stalwart in the Greater Brandon area for 40 years.  Grace Christian graduates are eligible to attend the nation’s finest universities,  as the school has an excellent reputation among college admission directors.

Our Founder

Born and reared in Miami Florida, Bob Gustafson came to a saving knowledge of Christ thru the faithful witness of his Sunday School teacher at a young age.  An exceptional athlete, Bob dreamed of someday playing professional baseball.  After graduating from Miami High School in 1962, Bob attended Rollins College in Winter Park on a Baseball scholarship.  It was not long before these dreams became a reality when, as a Freshman, Bob became the first freshman in NCAA history to become a First Team All-American in baseball. In June 1965, Bob was drafted by the St Louis Cardinals in the first ever Major League Baseball draft.  During the professional off-season, another dream of Bob’s came true when he became an assistant baseball coach at Princeton University.  Bob’s dreams were becoming a reality, but there was still something missing, another calling.

“If accomplishing goals in one’s life is a true source of happiness then I must say that I was a miserable example.  I had no peace or joy as I always thought I would have as a professional baseball player.  Instead, I had an emptiness with only superficial and momentary happiness.”

Finally, one night in a game Bob was struck below the left eye with a ball and rushed to the hospital.   His eye was about the size of a softball and completely closed.  As the doctor began his examination, he thought about the possibility of what it would be like if he could never see out of that eye again.  If so, Bob’s baseball career would be over and all of his life’s dreams would be gone.  While lying there in the emergency room, a passage of scripture which he read many years earlier came to mind: “Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season….”  All of Bob’s life, the only season he thought about was baseball season, but as he lay there in that hospital bed he began to think about the moment when he first heard about Christ.

“As the years went by I found that my life as a Christian began to be more centered around myself and the world of baseball.  But that night in the hospital those words “Preach the Word, be instant in season, out of season” began to make sense to me.  I realized that the Lord wanted me as a Christian to share this good news about eternal life.  That night in the emergency room I decided I played my last season of pro ball, for I felt that the Lord wanted me in the full-time work of sharing the gospel”.

Bob now had new dream, a Christ-centered dream to preach the Gospel to all people, young and old.  His dream was now to become a pastor.   In 1970, after graduating from Seminary, he, his wife Dana, along with a small, faithful congregation, started Grace Community Church inside the Sunshine State Savings Bank.  Three years later, the current church building was built on Valrico road in Brandon.  It was not long before it was the ministry’s prayerful desire to establish a school committed to providing Academic Excellence with a Christian Emphasis.  In 1974, that prayer was answered and Grace Christian School became a reality.  Bob, now affectionately known to all as “Pastor” was exactly where the Lord wanted him to be.

For well over 40 years, Bob served as Pastor of Grace Community Church and as the administrator of Grace Christian School.  His faithful service to the Lord by spreading the Gospel of Christ was an example to everyone he met.  Pastor passed away in January of 2016, but the ministry continues under the Direction of Pastor Barry McKeen.  

As a teenager, Barry McKeen came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through the ministry of Grace Christian School and the faithful witness of Pastor Bob Gustafson.  Barry married Bob’s oldest daughter, Becky, in 1991, and they both have been faithfully serving at Grace Community Church and Grace Christian school since they graduated from Trinity College of Florida in 1993.   Barry McKeen became the senior pastor and school administrator shortly before Bob’s passing in 2015.

Our Facilities

Grace Christian School sits on a sprawling 26 acre campus in Valrico, Florida.  The campus consists of our academic building, dining hall and fine arts facility, playgrounds, baseball field, softball field, lighted soccer complex, and our school gymnasium.  The gymnasium houses the basketball center, volleyball court, locker rooms, and drama sound stage.

Our Faculty

The faculty and staff at Grace Christian are all born again believers in Christ who attend church faithfully in the local community.  Our teachers are certified through the Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools and perform rigorous continuing education classes and conferences.  Teachers are supervised and evaluated and assessed at the end of each school year to determine their continued employment.  Teachers are expected to maintain the highest of moral standards whether at school or in the community.

All classes at GCS are taught by Christian teachers who readily seek to integrate the Word of God into the Subject matter at hand.  Students are encouraged to moral living by following the Word of God.  We believe in traditional education and seek to encourage patriotism and civic duty as well.

Our Students

Grace Christian School admits students of any race, color, nationality, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, nationality, or ethnic origin in the administration of our educational and admission policies or in scholarship, athletic, and other programs.

Grace Christian School shapes the minds, hearts, and bodies of its students and instills in them the wisdom, knowledge, and servant leadership required to succeed in today’s dynamic and changing world. GCS assists you in preparing today’s youth for tomorrow’s future by focusing on these three areas:

SPIRITUAL A positive nondenominational environment encourages your child to read and love God’s Word, to experience a personal relationship with God, and to respect and serve others.

ACADEMIC Foreign languages, fine arts, a 10,000-volume library, and an up-to-date computer lab complement strong phonetic reading and math curriculums. Special student programs and weekly chapel allow all children to prepare and perform today for tomorrow’s success.

PHYSICAL Soccer, baseball, basketball, cheerleading, golf, softball, and volleyball enhance a strong physical education program. Our goal is to build skills to teach good sportsmanship and to honor God. 

Students are only admitted when the administration believes that the parents and their church are in full support of the purposes and policies of the School. Expressions of dissention or lack of support for the School’s mission, policies, or leadership are grounds for dismissal of any students of a family in which such action occurs.

Our Mission and Beliefs

The mission of Grace Christian School is to provide the highest quality of education based upon Biblical principles. It is our belief that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God and that salvation is by faith alone in Jesus Christ who as God in the flesh, came to die, to be buried, and rise again for our sins. (John 3:16) It is our desire to provide the best Christian education and training for ALL children, for God is not a respecter of persons.

The purpose of Grace Christian School is to assist parents in training their children to be Christ-like. This teaching and nurturing process begins in the home and extends to the church and school. The Christian school, in addition to the home and church, offers a course of study where the process of Christian education can take place.

The foundation of Christian education is the Word of God. The philosophy of Christian education is developed from the Bible and stands against the godless philosophies of humanism, materialism, secularism, and New Age.

The goals of Christian education at Grace Christian School shall be the following:

  1. To help every student to be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:17) 
  2. To encourage all students to “love the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their mind, and to love their neighbor as themselves.” (Matthew 22:37-39) 
  3. To give Christ the pre-eminence in all things. (Colossians 1:18)

Christian education is first and foremost the responsibility of Christian parents (Deuteronomy 6:7). Grace Christian School has been established to assist parents to obey God’s command to train their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

The ultimate objective of any learning experience is educational excellence. Excellence involves more than the mere assimilation of facts; it encompasses and impacts the whole person – intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, socially, physically, and creatively.

The educational experience at Grace Christian School is built upon the timeless truth of God’s Word – The Holy Scriptures. With this eternal foundation, our school complements the teaching of the Christian home and church. This powerful triad produces a strength of character that enables today’s youth to transcend the pressures of a secular society and transform the world through Biblical thought and action.

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