Job is family affair for new Grace school head

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Posted April 30, 2021 | By Lisa McGinnes, Ocala Gazette

After 16 years as an educator and administrator, Ocala native Thomas Gerds’ career is bringing him home—to the school his own two children attend.

Grace Christian School recently announced that beginning June 1, Gerds will take over as head of school for its private preschool, elementary and middle school.

“It really was a family decision,” said Gerds, who has been the principal at Umatilla High School in Lake County for the past three years. “It was a blessing and an opportunity for us. Both of my two kids go to Grace Christian. So, over the course of the last couple of years where they’ve gone to school there, it’s really become an extension of our family.”

Both he and his wife Laura grew up in Ocala, said Gerds, who graduated from Forest High School and the University of Florida.

“Mr. Gerds is a man who has great talents in the area of education and has a great desire to work with parents and students to see them excel. That’s one of the reasons why we look forward to bringing him on,” said the Rev. Tom Carson, assisting priest at Christ the King Anglican Church and chair of the Grace Christian School board.

“We looked at his strengths in the area of curriculum and development of teachers and administration and felt that he was someone who could give us guidance moving into the future,” said Carson.

The school is currently raising funds to build a new building.

“Having a strong leader will help us to move in that direction as we continue to emphasize the academics and the faith aspect of our school,” he said.

For Gerds, the decision to accept a position at his own children’s school was an easy one.

“From a family perspective, it was really a no-brainer to join in and be a part of the Grace family on a day-to-day basis professionally,” he said. “Grace is such a wonderful place. We’re kind of living by example and putting our whole family’s investment into the school.”

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