The genesis of Cornerstone Christian Academy can be traced back to 1998, when the members of Peachtree Corners Baptist Church in Norcross, Georgia, desiring a Christ-centered education for their children, voted to start a school. Three years later (August, 2001) Peachtree Corners Baptist School opened with eight students of multiple ages working alongside one teacher in the D Building of the children’s wing at PCBC. Entirely committed to its focus on outreach, PCBC’s mission for the school was the development of a professionally operated educational organization as a means of reaching the community. In its second year of existence, the school doubled its enrollment, and by the beginning of 2003, 30 students were settling into desks every morning.
On October 15, 2003, as a result of the school’s steady growth and an increased expression of interest from the local community, Cornerstone hired De Ann Crawford to be its Head of School. With the intention of making the school educationally viable in a highly competitive private school market, in November of 2003, the newly hired Head of School and the school’s Board of Directors immediately went to work on establishing a five-year strategic plan. This plan included changing the school’s name and the development of a new mission statement. Today the stated and written mission of Cornerstone Christian Academy is to graduate boys and girls whose elementary and middle school grade experiences lay the foundation for Christian leadership in the world.
Soon after Cornerstone hired its new Head of School and began to focus on development, the need for more space became evident. The 2004 school year saw yet another increase of students (57) and by the beginning of the 2005 school year Cornerstone had 74 students coming through its doors. At the same time, PCBC was also in need of more office space on its campus. The presiding Sr. Pastor of PCBC at that time, Bob Horner, approached the Cornerstone Board of Directors and offered to pay the “build out” if Cornerstone could find new property upon which to continue its expansion. This was a request in perfect alignment with the school’s goals, so the Board immediately began to research potential new locations for its burgeoning school. Fortunately, the MME Corporation, a company made up of PCBC and Cornerstone families, owned property across the street from PCBC and offered to lease it to the school. In January of 2005, Cornerstone moved into 60% of its current location using funds provided by the building campaign at PCBC.
As was hoped for and expected, the new building led to yet another increase in both interest and enrollment. In keeping in line with its strategic plan Cornerstone began its Middle School program by adding 5th and 6th grade in 2005, and then added the remaining 40% of its current setting in October of 2006, using funds provided by the aforementioned MME Corporation. In 2007, new ownership (TIC Group) took over the building, and Cornerstone currently leases its space from them.
Among the essential elements of Cornerstone’s educational philosophy is the concept of developing the whole child, meaning that the cultivation of the child’s mind, body and spirit are all considered within the curriculum. Thus, as early as 2001 the school offered music classes, and with the expanded enrollment in 2006, sports programs were added. Cornerstone started its athletic program first by offering soccer, but soon thereafter joined the North Atlanta Metro League, and by the 2007-2008 school year had added basketball, volleyball, cross country, golf, and tennis as competitive athletic options for its students.
The 2006-2007 school year was an important one in Cornerstone’s continuing saga. In 2007, Cornerstone graduated its first class of four students (two went to a local private school, and two went to Norcross High School). Also in 2007, the Middle School Chorale put on its first major production, entitled Once Upon A Parable. These were momentous celebrations of student success.
One year later, Cornerstone’s first addition to its athletic trophy case was a 4th place finish in a volleyball tournament. In 2009, Cornerstone’s basketball team took the North Atlanta Metro League by surprise, defeating a rival school with a student population of over 500 pupils to claim the 1st place trophy. Then, against all odds, Cornerstone successfully defended its title in 2010 by defeating yet another even larger school, this one with a student population of over 600, to claim its second straight volleyball championship. The tale of David and Goliath comes to mind when one considers the teams’ accomplishments.
As enrollment continued to grow, the need for additional administrative support became apparent. De Ann Crawford was still the only administrator and wanted to focus her efforts in an area she felt God had called and equipped her to do – admissions and community development. In September of 2010, the Cornerstone board began a search for a new Head of School and planned to create a new position of Principal.
After a search that spanned almost a year’s duration, Colin Creel began serving as Headmaster effective July 2011. Colin’s duties include vision casting and strategic planning, marketing and development, communications, working with the board and overseeing all operations of the school. Theresa Tamel began serving in the role of Principal on June 1, 2011. She assumed the responsibilities for curriculum development, faculty support, and student support and discipline. De Ann Crawford is now Director of Admissions and Community Development.
Cornerstone continued to grow and expand during the 2011-2012 school year. Enrollment grew from 181 students in the fall of 2011 to 236 students in the fall of 2012. To accommodate this growth, the Middle School expanded into another building to start the 2012-2013 school year and currently, 6th – 8th grade students, teachers and office staff are housed in the new facility. Due to additional growth, Cornerstone took down additional space in the new facility for the 2013-2014 school year.
“I know God led us to Cornerstone. I had heard from other parents that the quality of education was going to be very good, but it has far exceeded our wildest dreams and prayers. Cornerstone is a true answer to prayer and we are so blessed to be here.”
— Kindergarten Parent