Head of School
Mountain View 2017
Patrick Yuran, current Head of School at Monsignor Donovan in Athens, Georgia, will be the next Head of School at Oak Mountain Academy. At a time when many of you are contemplating returning to OMA next year, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you that now – more than ever – is the time to remain. Why?
I could go on about the accelerated academic programs, college acceptance rate, how you are paying for college now because our children earn so much in college scholarship dollars; the relationships among parents, students, and teachers; the safe environment where students can learn without violence and disruption, the Honor Code, the commitment of the faculty, staff, and administration; or the family environment that we treasure. But I won’t.
Instead, I want to share how confident I am in the choice of the Search Committee of Patrick Yuran as your next Head of School. He just concluded a three-day visit, the first of several over the next few months, meeting with faculty and students individually, in his sincere desire to learn about the OMA community. He joined me at Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce where I officially introduced him as the next Head of School. He and I were both surprised at the number of people who either remembered him or his parents who were educators in Carrollton. His connections are far-reaching - another plus!
Many of you were not here prior to my arrival. We have made great strides, experienced ups and downs as all schools do, and are poised for Patrick Yuran to take OMA to the next level. His years of experience, positive demeanor, and confidence in his ability to lead OMA to new heights are matched by his intuitive, approachable nature, and confidence in his ability to lead the Warrior Nation.
As I depart, I ask that you join Mr. Yuran at this exciting time in the history of OMA. Take OMA to the next level both in and out of the classroom. Commit yourself to providing a safe, faith-based, college-preparatory education where your children can become more than you or they ever imagined, are guaranteed entrance to college, and become leaders inspired to serve. As a parent, is there anything more important? At my age, I can tell you, there is not.
I sincerely thank you for your support over the years and ask that you provide Mr. Yuran with the support needed to accomplish all he envisions. As always, I am here should you need me, and I look forward to watching OMA grow and to returning to learn of all that is accomplished.
With sincere hope and best wishes,
Paula Gillispie, Head of School
The "proof is in the pudding," as they say. Check out these amazing facts about our OMA Warriors!
Class of 2018:
ACT average – 28 (90th percentile)
SAT average – 1203 (81st percentile)
The twelve students making up the Class of 2018 are currently on track to submit approximately 100 applications to approximately 60 different colleges and universities in approximately 25 different states as well as two foreign countries. The class has currently received 66 acceptances!
Since 2010, 100% of OMA graduates have taken an Advanced Placement (AP) course.
Since 2010, 60% of OMA graduates have been named AP Scholars.
With 100% participation, OMA’s AP pass rate exceeds both local and state averages.
On the PSAT, 100% of the sophomore and junior classes met or exceeded the benchmark for Evidence-based reading and writing. This indicates that they are currently on track to be successful in college in this area.
In 2017 on all ERB** tests and subsections, 99% of all middle school students fell in the average or above average strata. 68% fell in the above average or highest three strata.
98% tested in the average or above average strata in Writing Content.
98% tested in the average or above average strata in Writing Skills.
In 2017 on all ERB tests and subtests, 98% of all tested elementary students (grades 3-5) fell in the average or above average strata. 63% fell into the highest three strata.
98% tested in the average or above average strata in Writing Content.
93% tested in the average or above average strata in Writing Skills.
**The ERB Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP) is a rigorous assessment for high achieving students in areas such as reading, listening, vocabulary, writing, and mathematics. Verbal and quantitative reasoning subtests are part of the CTP beginning in Grade 3. The CTP helps compare content specific, curriculum-based performance to the more conceptual knowledge base found in reasoning tests.
This is one of the most active enrollment seasons of the year as we are receiving new applications for the 2018-2019 school year, and re-enrollment contracts are being prepared for current families. In answer to the question, “Why Oak Mountain Academy?” – I offer the following responses…
A safe learning environment – Often when new families visit, I hear that students are in an environment where learning is becoming more and more difficult because of classroom discipline issues, school violence, and the constant interference in their right to learn. At OMA, learning is expected, respected, and guaranteed in a mutually respectful environment free of external conflict.
A challenging college-preparatory curriculum and extra-curriculars – From the earliest grades to the senior class, students are challenged each day with an innovative curriculum with high expectations. From competitive Lego Robotics, STEAM classes and clubs, to AP courses, as well as championship academic, literary, and athletic teams, Academy students are confident learners who succeed both in and out of the classroom.
A hallmark college counseling program – Students enjoy the expertise of an experienced college counselor who tailors the college application process to their personal desires and a “best-fit” list of colleges. With personal attention and guidance, the result is an historic 100% college acceptance rate at major colleges and universities where OMA students are prepared and meet with great success – at both the under-graduate and post-graduate levels.
The Honor Code – Academy students abide by the Honor Code and live the “Warrior Way” of honesty, respect, and responsibility. Coupled with our faith-based values, it permeates all we do each day and is the expectation of behavior by all.
Relationships – The atmosphere of respect for learning and each other sets the stage for the formation of long-lasting relationships among faculty, students, and parents. Oak Mountain Academy is a family and continues to be long after students and their families move on to life beyond the Mountain. Once a Warrior…always a Warrior!
Living its Mission each day, Oak Mountain Academy provides a challenging college-preparatory education in a safe family environment. The school nurtures the ethical, spiritual and physical development of students as they become confident leaders inspired to serve. Indeed, we do!
In the complex and sometimes dangerous world we live in, it is reassuring to know that in Carrollton, Georgia, atop Oak Mountain, sits Oak Mountain Academy – a place where learning and “school” are just as they should be!
What a ride January has been so far – personally and professionally. We finalized the sale of our home, and we have the closing date on our new residence in Peachtree City – our “forever home” - as it appears they are now called when you purchase that last home. The Trustees named my successor; I remembered Elvis fondly on the anniversary of his birth; we have had more snow days in the last several weeks than in the last few years, and my beloved Georgia Bulldogs fell to the Alabama Crimson Tide.
I am now able to calmly reflect on that game. The anticipation of the game was electric as red and black were the day’s standard attire; Atlanta office buildings were washed in red lights; and “Go Dawgs” could even be heard from strangers at the gas pump. And my grown son and I had on our “lucky” game day shirts, jeans, and even shoes! Plans for the day revolved around being ready for pre-game at 7:00 and kick-off at 8:20! Could it get any better???
Then the view of Mercedes Benz stadium appeared on the television as eager fans stood in the cold rain, waiting to get inside where our Dawgs were preparing for THE GAME! When the Zac Brown Band, backed by the amazing David Walker and High Praise, sang the National Anthem, tears welled up in my eyes! This was the night. This was it!! I just knew it!!
Unfortunately, it wasn’t. The Dawgs were defeated in a miraculous overtime play by Alabama. I was greatly saddened and disappointed, sat for a while, totally deflated, and then wandered off to bed long after midnight.
As I think back on the National Championship game, it was a lot like life – full of ups, downs, highlights, lowlights, and everything in between. However, we must faithfully go on despite the disappointments, sadness, and regrets - rebuilding and planning for a new day and time when we will be more successful. Defeat is temporary. How we deal with it determines how successful, happy, and faithful we will be.
So, here’s to a fantastic 2018 – between the Hedges, on the Mountain, and beyond! May God bless and keep us all!
And We Are On Our Way...
We have had a fantastic start to the 2017-2018 school year! THANK YOU, ALL! As I begin my final year as Head of School at Oak Mountain Academy, I am blessed to anticipate the onset of my retirement and to bring my 45 years of education to a close right here on the Mountain - a place I love, care for, and will soon miss. BUT, I still have one year left, and it is my hope that it will be a great one!
Last Friday, we culminated the beginning of the school year with the annual Honor Assembly. Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility are hallmarks of the Oak Mountain Academy experience. These essential values guide us in all we do as we fulfill the Mission of the school and strive to guide our students to be leaders inspired to serve. Thank you to the OMA Student Government Association for making this year's Honor Assembly one to remember!
In the coming weeks, we will welcome several annual OMA events - the OMA Golf Tournament, Athletic Booster Bash, Warrior Challenge 5K Run (formerly Man vs. Mountain), the Fall Festival and many more. Please join us at these events, and so much more that makes OMA such an extraordinary place. Indeed, we are on our way!
A life-time educator, Paula Gillispie taught in the public schools for twenty-five years in Arkansas, Louisiana, Virginia, and Georgia, beginning her independent school journey at Hampton Roads Academy in Virginia in 1998. Earning her graduate degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from The George Washington University in Washington, DC, she transitioned while in Virginia from the classroom to administration as Dean of Students and then Head of School. In 2010, she returned home to Georgia and to Oak Mountain Academy as Head of School. Additionally, Paula chairs school accreditation teams for the Southern Association of Independent School and sits on the Board of Trustees of the Georgia Independent Schools Association. She is a member of the Carrollton Kiwanis Club and the Carrollton Dawnbreakers Rotary Club. She is a member of the Douglas and Carroll County Chambers of Commerce, serving on the Carroll County Chamber’s Workforce Education Committee and Board of Trustees. Paula resides in Carrollton with her husband Dan. They have one son who lives in Peachtree City with his lovely wife and their two precious children.