New dean exudes enthusiasm for truth
It’s been nearly five months since Dean of Students and Family Ministries Dale Meinecke left our halls to go to Howard Payne University. Now, Grace has a new Dean of Students, Phil Smith, who hopes to bring a spirit of enthusiasm to the school.
“I want to see that the students enjoy their time at Grace Prep and really walk as Christians; not because they have to, but because they want to,” said Smith.
Not only was Smith selected from a long list of applicants by school administrators, he was also selected by a group of students who helped interview the candidates.
Students are the reason Smith is here.
“I want to help cultivate an environment where the students want to do the things that God is asking of them and that we the faculty are asking of them,” said Smith.
Smith, pastor from Living Hope Church, has three children, two of whom are attending here. Hannah Smith is a senior, and Katy Smith is a sophomore.
Phil Smith has had three years of experience in his job as pastor and counselor, and also has a Master Degree in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. This, along with being a parent, shows God has done a good job preparing him to take this job.
“God has been able to prepare me to be able to fit His truth into reality,” said Mr. Smith. “I don’t want to take for granted the fact that He [God] saved me. He’s given me a good understanding of what the Bible says. In school, we study a lot of books, but the Bible is the most important of these. We want to know not only what it says, but how it fits to life.”
Five students helped in the interviewing process, and they heartily approved of Mr. Smith and his ideas for the school.
Senior Patrick Russell said, “He seemed to have a defined and strong plan for the school’s future.”
Students did have input into his hiring, and students are Smith’s focus. Even though Smith realizes that as a part of his job, he may have to bring the hammer down at times upon behavior issues, he really wants to build relationships with them, and to nurture their faith.
He says that he wants, “people to have an understanding of God’s love and their identity in Christ. That gives us an opportunity to relax a little bit. That allows them to do all the good stuff God wants for them. That allows them to do the “get to’s”, rather than to feel like they “have-to.”
This enthusiastic spirit is one of the things Smith hopes to develop in the school over the next semester. He plans to reinvigorate school spirit and help the students at Grace to grow in their walk with Christ. Another goal he has for the school is to bring a more family-oriented atmosphere to the school.
“Grace Prep is built upon the fact that we are a family school rather than a student school. I plan on getting together with the families just to get to know each other and to see how we can work together and how Grace Prep is fitting for their family,” said Mr. Smith.
He wants to help develop the school’s family base so that the students will not see school and family as detached, but as connected. Mr. Smith also has plans to start a video series in Revolution of Grace that will feature faculty members sharing about themselves. He also hopes to set up a “Leadership Practicum.”
“What that means is to really come alongside some of our existing leaders from both high school and junior high to really try and figure out what student leadership looks like and how we can apply this in a practical way,” said Mr. Smith of this program.
He hopes to set this up in coming years, however he doesn’t plan on making many major changes this semester.
Since the position Mr. Smith has taken is easily a job for two or more people, The school has also hired another person to help take some of the responsibilities.
Josh Proctor has also been hired to stand alongside Mr. Smith in the Family and Student ministries.
Proctor is most known as Coach Proctor, because he has coached junior high boys’ eighth grade basketball for several years here.
Proctor’s time here and his committment to Christ and to ministry, proves he is ready to take on the ministry and mentoring role. .
He is already well-liked and well-respected by the boys he has coached, and now he has an opportunity to reach more students with his message of how to live a Godly life.
He spent his first couple of weeks here roaming the hallways at lunch and just talking to students in order to meet them.
His role as Spiritual Mentoring Director kicked off officially at the first Revolution of Grace this semester, held last Tuesday.
There, he spoke with students, along with Mr. Smith, and introduced himself and explained his role.