Somerset Christian School is beginning the new year with new leadership.
Following the retirement of John Hale after 15 of the school’s 17 years, Dr. Ron Gleaves began his tenure as principal on Monday as classes resumed for the Spring semester.
Dr. Gleaves comes to Somerset from Campbellsville, where he had been commuting to serve as administrator at Providence Christian Academy in Georgetown. He first learned about the SCS position more than two years ago, after he called about a possible Bible-teaching position. When Hale learned Gleaves was working on his doctorate, the principal asked if he’d be interested in an administrator’s position instead — explaining that he planned to retire.
It would be May 2020 before Hale began to formalize his plans for retirement, and even then, the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic kept him in the administrator’s role as the new school year began. When Dr. Gleaves did finally interview with the selection committee, he won the job.
Dr. Gleaves began his career in ministry and has been a pastor for 28 years. The first two decades he served as full time before he was asked in 2011 to coach a girls’ basketball team at Zion Christian Academy in Columbia, Tennessee. To take that position, however, he needed to be faculty. Luckily, there were two 9th grade Bible classes open.
“I fell in love with the classroom,” Dr. Gleaves said. “The Lord just got hold of my heart. Two years later, I went back to finish my master’s degree and I just stayed in school for another five years after that.”
While he still pastors part time, Dr. Gleaves and his family are relocating to Somerset. “I’m from Nashville,” he said, “but I have fallen in love with smaller communities. If this same position had been opened in Louisville or back home, I probably wouldn’t have considered it. I enjoy the family feel of a small community.”
His plans for SCS thus far mainly involve staying the course as set by Hale.
“Somerset has a very strong foundation and tradition here,” Dr. Gleaves said, adding that he looks forward to working with the board, faculty and pastors’ council as the school moves forward. “I get the privilege of not having to come in here and reinvent the wheel. Mr. Hale has done an outstanding job for 15 years.…
“He gets to pass the baton to me rather than a shovel to dig the foundation,” the new principal continued. “That’s one of the things that excited me about coming here was to know that everything is in place to succeed and continue to create a great Christian educational experience here in Somerset and surrounding communities.”
Dr. Gleaves noted that when he first came to interview for the position last September, he had asked about the school as he went out into the community and was struck by how everyone he spoke to was familiar with SCS.
“They have presence in the community,” Dr. Gleaves said, “and we want to take that to the next level.…There’s a very strong sense of family within this school community and the community at large. “
Hale will be staying on for a few weeks as Dr. Gleaves acclimates himself to SCS procedures and protocols. The retiring principal called Dr. Gleaves visionary in his approach to leadership but Gleaves again paid homage to Hale’s tenure of preparing students “to go out and be productive citizens in the world who can think on their own and answer questions and figure things out.”
Hale added that it’s important that the school not teach children to be “gullible and naive” but rather help them “live in a worldly environment without becoming worldly themselves.”
“The number one priority is to give an opportunity for these students to come to know how much the Lord loves them,” Dr. Gleaves said. “As I come in, again, I get to build upon the foundation that’s already there — striving for excellence in academics and spiritual matters.”
Somerset Christian School currently enrolls some 310 students in grades Preschool-12.