TCPS President Dr. Bill Balzano said the Spirit of Service Award is presented each year to a citizen whose service to others is an example of Christian servitude.
“Qualifications include exemplifying those commitments to the lordship of Jesus Christ. The person, over an extended period of time, has displayed service to our community,” he said.
Balzano also presented the first “Fourth Person Award” to Melanie Stout. The award will be presented annually in her honor to the volunteer who has the greatest impact. The name of the award comes from the Bible story of Shadrach, Neeshach and Abednego who were thrown into a fiery furnace.
“There was a fourth person who went into the fire to serve, and that’s the genesis for the Fourth Person Award,” Balzano said. “This award was established March 8, 2012, in honor of Melanie Stout, whose dedicated support as a volunteer has inspired, blessed and unleashed the administration to fulfill the mission and vision of Tennessee Christian Preparatory School.
Balzono said during remarks he believes Tennessee Christian will become a dominant force in Southeast Tennessee. In the world of education, there is constant turmoil, change and upheaval academically, socially, financially and politically.
“Education seems to be the battleground of the very soul of our nation and in many ways, the battle is being lost because of vested interests in the social reprogramming of our country, political correctness, and a disregard for the founding principles of our nation,” he said.
He said other area educational institutions are raising scores by frequently watering down academic requirements while TCPS continues to raise standards and expects students to learn the old-fashioned way through study and learning to read, write, speak and compute.
“Education in America began as Christian education and the foundation of that education rested on three factors,” he said.
Those factors were then and still are at TCPS: classic education, patriotism and faith in God.
The nondenominational private Christian school recently completed the regional accreditation process and expects to earn accreditation through Southern Association of Colleges and Schools by the end of April.
“Only one-third of the public schools in Tennessee are SACS accredited. The districts may be accredited without schools in their district being accredited and a significant number of schools in our area are not SACS accredited,” he said.
He said TCPS is eligible for the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award for the third consecutive year. Only 3.9 percent of schools nationally qualify for that distinction.
“The average student at Tennessee Preparatory School is 2.8 grade levels above their actual grade when tested on math and reading,” Balzano said.
He said one of the finest early academic talent searches is conducted by Duke University. Selected fourth-, fifth- and seventh-grade students must score in the 95th percentile on the SAT or comparable standardized test for possible selection.
“One half of the students in grades four and five scored above the 95th percentile and were selected. Ninety percent of those students have attended TCPS since kindergarten,” he said. “I would challenge any school in our region in grades K-8 to show better scores than ours — public or private, they cannot do it.”
He recognized seventh-grade student Andy Chase, who scored 1,456 on the SAT and another seventh-grader, Chloe Morgan, scored 21 on the ACT, which is three points higher than the state average.
Balzano said TCPS will focus on its continuous improvement process that looks at all aspects of the program, including parents, teachers, students and all other stakeholders.
“We will focus heavily on finding a permanent campus for our school and we will also focus on expanding our technology integration into all aspects of our academic course work,” he said. “Come join us. It’s an exciting place to be, and we ask you to jump on the train. It’s leaving the station.”