Graves Installed As 7th GPS Head

Thursday, August 28, 2014
Dr. Graves is pictured at right with her husband and parents. See more photos of the Installation at http://www.gps.edu/cf_media/index.cfm?g=246.
Dr. Graves is pictured at right with her husband and parents. See more photos of the Installation at http://www.gps.edu/cf_media/index.cfm?g=246.

"My name is Autumn Joy Adkins Graves, and I am the seventh head of Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and I proudly proclaim – I will lead like a girl!"  With those words at the conclusion of her installation as GPS’s Head of School, the audience of friends, family, faculty, trustees, parents, alumnae, and students rose to their feet and offered their heartfelt affection and appreciation in a loud and lengthy ovation.  

Alternately described as a joyous occasion, historic event, and new chapter in the school’s history, the installation ceremony on Thursday was all of those things, said officials. Chair of the Search Committee, Lizzer Graham ’77, welcomed the crowd and traced the steps of the head search, noting that they were seeking a person with a contagious passion for girls’ education and a deep and authentic love of learning.

Senior speaker Ragan Foley assured the new head that the students “cannot wait to share our school with you,” including the big things like the longstanding Honor Code and the little things such as the girls’ nickname for their uniforms, potato sacks.

After an a capella rendition of the song “Brave” by the GPS Singers, Dr. Graves was installed by Board Chair Chris Benz Smith ’72 and then introduced by longtime friend Bruce Stewart, the former head at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC. Now a resident of Chattanooga, he said, “Your next head of school will be an example of excellence serving excellence.”

Using a phrase popularized by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Dr. Graves began her address by noting a “conspiracy of love,” acts of “strong enthusiasm and concern for the well-being of the students” that brought everyone together for “this particular moment.” She called the students “my girls,” and said, “I know that none of you would be here if there was not one person who has been a champion in your life…one, or an army of people who have been working together for the same result – to make sure you have a school experience that challenges your mind, body, and spirit to grow into the version of your best self.” 

Dr. Graves traced her personal “conspiracy of love” through several generations of family members who had “intellectual power and work ethic,” and who “saw women as equal to men,” and then she reflected on the founders of GPS who created the school “because of their love or concern for the well-being of others.”

Among her stated ideas for the future of GPS are a recommitment to the ideals espoused by the founders, a partnership with parents to educate well-rounded and balanced young women, and a partnership with others to teach GPS girls and the girls of the Chattanooga community how to be social entrepreneurs that will “create solutions for education, health, economic, environmental and civic problems.” Dr. Graves also sees GPS as being a resource for alumnae, “a place where graduates can convene to discuss topics like health and wellness, personal finance, and how best to serve our communities.”

She called for supporting the faculty to be “nationally recognized educators” with a curriculum that is “just as innovative and transformative as the curriculum our founders designed” in their era. “GPS,” she said, “will be a leading voice in local, national, and global movements that will change the negative connotation of doing something like a girl into something that is positive and valued.”


STEM Teacher Fellows To Be Recognized On Tuesday

PEF and the Southeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub will recognize 27 educators from Southeast Tennessee who have completed a Fellowship in STEM teaching and best practices on Tuesday, May 26 from 3-4 p.m. at STEM School Chattanooga, located on the Chattanooga State campus.   Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce CEO Bill Kilbride will speak about the importance of STEM education ... (click for more)

Bea Lyons Honored At “Tea For Bea”

When Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Kimberly McCormick, established the Faculty Fellows Program during 2014, several well-known and respected educators were named as inaugural fellows. The Social and Behavioral Science Division honored Bea Lyons as its fellow. A special “Tea for Bea” was recently held to serve as a springboard for the first endowed fellowship ... (click for more)

City Applying For Federal Grant To Extend River Trail To Moccasin Bend In $2.23 Million Project

The city is applying for a $1.6 million federal grant that would be a key part of the funding needed to extend a trail by the Tennessee River from Renaissance Park to Moccasin Bend. The city is seeking an Eastern Federal Highway Division grant to go along with $234,260 of city funds. The state portion would be $259,692.  Grants from the Lyndhurst and Benwood Foundations ... (click for more)

Flora Tydings Selected As Chattanooga State’s Next President

Flora Tydings is expected to be named the next president to lead Chattanooga State Community College pending approval by the Tennessee Board of Regents at a special called meeting next Wednesday. The board will meet at 9:30 a.m. CDT at the TBR System Office in Nashville. Included on the agenda is TBR Chancellor John Morgan’s recommendation for Dr. Tydings to replace Interim President ... (click for more)

Don't Make A Mockery Of Memorial Day - And Response

We're told Memorial Day is the day to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in order that we, as Americans and others around the world, might live free, unshackled (invisible or otherwise) and without oppression. But how is that so when so many in America continue to be denied those freedoms? Others whose family and friends made the ultimate sacrifice? Their surviving families ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Chincoteague Mourns ‘Dude’

In the span of a person’s life, there are some things that simply can’t be explained to be totally understood. And of all the spectacles I have ever personally witnessed, one of the best is that day in late July when they “pen the ponies” at Chincoteague Island, Va. I’m serious. Over 50,000 people watch every year as volunteer “Saltwater Cowboys” swim the wild ponies to the mainland ... (click for more)