Bob and Dannah Gresh are the founders of Pure Freedom, a ministry that focuses on abstinence, modesty and teen sexuality. The Pure Freedom retreat curriculum has been used by more than 500,000 people throughout the world. They are frequent guests on Focus on the Family and Family Life Today.
Dannah’s book series, Secret Keeper Girl, has spawned a touring show that performs for more than 50,000 moms and daughters in over 70 cities annually. Dannah has authored 18 books including two books with Bob. The newest release is titled “Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Boy” published by Harvest House. Her books have been translated into 5 languages and have sold more than 1 million copies. Dannah has also been featured in national media including CNN, Foxnews.com, Chicago Tribune, Time, and Women’s Wear Daily.
The Story of Grace Prep
In 2004, when my son, Robby, was about to graduate from eighth grade, we started preparing for high school by attending the public school’s parent orientation.
They announced that there were 987 students in the freshman class and then introduced two guidance counselors (one for last names A-M, and the other for N-Z). I thought to myself, how could they each guide and counsel nearly 500 kids?
Next, the school superintendent displayed their mission statement: “Our mission is to prepare students for lifelong success through excellence in education.”
At that moment, I realized the public school’s definition of success was much different from mine.
The fact is since they couldn’t teach the Bible, they could never teach Robby about real success. The kind of success that changes the heart of the neighbor next door and the destiny of the poor, oppressed, and orphaned. The kind of success that cares more about following God than following a career path.
Several days later, I woke up in the middle of the night. It was 3:00 in the morning. And that’s when the idea came. I sat at my laptop and put the idea to paper. What started as a simple quirky e-mail turned into forty points, and after a few hours I clicked send and e-mailed it to a few friends.
“If I started a school, this is what it would be like.”
The next day when I got up, my inbox was full of replies. Not the normal, “good idea, Bob” responses. These were deep, heartfelt reactions. They loved the fun and personality and vision of those thoughts. The intensity of those emotional responses pushed me forward, and I jumped in with both feet. I decided to start a new kind of school.
I took a bunch of local eighth graders to a BBQ restaurant, gave them each a pad of sticky notes, asked them to write down what they wanted in a high school, and then asked them to stick them to the wall. Good teachers. A cool and creative atmosphere. Solid academics. Meaningful extra-curriculars. I asked parents, too (minus the BBQ) and was surprised by the results. Their lists were the same.
So what began as an idea became Grace Prep.
When my wife Dannah and I speak at schools and conferences across the country, I am often reminded that grace-full places are rare. After one event, there was a girl who profoundly influenced me. A pregnant teen girl approached us with her situation, “We confessed to my parents and to his, and we also apologized to our entire church. But I’m going to get thrown out of my Christian high school on Monday.” I realized then that in most faith-based schools, a pregnant girl would be thrown out, no questions asked. Our vision is to have the kind of school a pregnant teen could get thrown into, not out of.
We’re not just a school; we’re a family. We’re a place of grace.
A place with rigorous academics but homework-free evenings.A place that prepares kids, not just for college, but for life.
A place of intelligent faith with Jesus Christ as the foundation for Truth. A place where transparency is the norm that fuels community.
And a place where the next thing you see through walking down the hall may be a labradoodle, llama, or peacock. (But those are stories to tell some other time.)
Oh, and all of those ideas in that 3:00 a.m. e-mail? They’re now known as the 40 Points of Grace. They hang on our walls to remind us of who we are and why we’re here.
And that (to steal a line from the great poet, Robert Frost) has made all the difference.
We love you. We love your kids!