March 23, 2020
Given the commonality in the Christian education missions of East Texas Baptist University (ETBU) and Grace Community School (GCS) in Tyler, Texas, ETBU and GCS are teaming up to create new educational opportunities for students attending Grace Community High School.
"ETBU celebrates the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with Grace as a Kingdom partner in providing quality Christ-centered higher education on the campus of GCS," ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. "My son, Taylor graduated from Grace, and I hold Dr. Jay Ferguson and the faculty in such high regard. Dr. Ferguson is an esteemed leader in Christian education, and we appreciate his vision to extend Grace students greater access to university-level education within the classrooms of GCS. With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the families’ financial security, ETBU is honored to offer affordable Christian higher education to Grace Cougars."
High school juniors and seniors at GCS will have the opportunity to take college-level courses through East Texas Baptist, giving students the advantage of completing dual credit course work toward both a high school diploma and a college degree at the same time.
“Partnering with ETBU will allow our students the opportunity to experience college-level courses with an institution that values academic excellence, and that also shares Grace Community School’s distinctively-biblical focus on curriculum and instruction,” GCS Director of College Guidance Kelley Bell said. “This experience will not only help our students gain college credit hours while in high school, but will also prepare them to enter the college classroom with confidence.”
ETBU will provide 27 hours of undergraduate general education courses to eligible and qualified "college-ready" juniors and seniors at a reduced tuition rate of $100 per semester hour. Grace Community School plans to provide the technology necessary to support these dual credit courses, as well as the textbooks needed to complete the curriculum, making this an affordable way for high school upperclassmen to get ahead in their pursuit of a college degree.
"Grace Christian School and ETBU share a common mission – Christian Education," ETBU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas Sanders said. "I see this partnership as not only mutually beneficial but as an extension of the Great Commission as we equip students for their calling."
Currently, East Texas Baptist University offers similar opportunities to students attending Marshall High School and Elysian Fields High School. Partnerships like these result in high school graduates, who are better prepared for undergraduate degrees and career placement, therefore enriching the overall skill set and leadership within the workforce.
“Our institutions are spiritually aligned, valuing a biblically-based curriculum taught from a Christian worldview,” Bell added. “Given our respective institutions’ shared values of Christian community and Christ-centered quality education, we are excited about what the GCS learning partnership with ETBU holds for our students now and as they matriculate to both ETBU, and to colleges and universities throughout the country.