“As a young person, I never thought I’d be in school for the rest of my life!” said Nathan Reeves (Elementary Education ’02; Education Leadership ’18), looking back on two decades in Christian education. “But [God] has given me the desire to help others.” For the past 20 years, as the administrator of Bill Rice Christian Academy (BRCA) in Tennessee, Reeves has sought to “inspire and empower the right people to passionately fulfill his school’s mission ‘to give each student an excellent education and a desire to do right,’” he said.
“At BRCA, academics and character are deeply linked, and one is never compromised for the other,” Reeves said. This focus generally began to develop for Reeves during his time at Pensacola Christian College. Following his heart to serve young people, he enrolled as a freshman youth ministries major. But realizing he was not called to preach, Reeves pursued an elementary education degree. “I was drawn to PCC because of the great spirit on campus, and I felt the College always did things well,” he said. “Once on campus as a student, I felt they prepared me to do what I’m doing today.”
With 21 students enrolled at the school, Reeves started his first day as administrator. Having just graduated from college, the experience from his teaching classes at PCC and the internship at Pensacola Christian Academy gave him confidence to fulfill the position. “The internship at PCA is so invaluable—nothing else compares to it at any other Christian college,” he said.
Over the years, BRCA began to grow, and Reeves decided to pursue an advanced degree in educational leadership. “I decided to start my master’s for three reasons: I needed a challenge, I knew I may need it one day, and I wanted ideas to improve our school—that was the biggest reason.”
Reeves was glad he waited several years to begin his graduate work since he had the foundation to immediately implement what he was learning. “I would often pause during the online lecture, open one of our handbooks, and type in a new policy or idea,” he said. “It was a bigger help to me because I already had the context to what I was learning.”
As he faces challenges in school administration, Reeves views them as discipleship opportunities for the students, parents, and school. “Anytime you deal with people, you deal with problems,” he said. “Student discipline issues help us help parents be better parents, etc. Challenges are exactly that—challenges. But they can be used for growth and to bring glory to God.”
Reeves recognizes the need for character development. “Many kids get some form of character training at home, but not many get it at home and school,” he said. BRCA provides a character development program that complements their curriculum both in and outside the classroom. “We believe in informed parents,” he said. “Our teachers want [parents] to know what [they] can do to help.”
“The standard of excellence brings out the best in students,” said a parent about BRCA. Desiring this outcome for every student, Reeves loves serving with high standards, their ministry philosophy, and exceptional people.
“I get to work with my wife each day, which I love. Not every husband gets to do that!” His wife, Jennifer (Nursing, ’02), serves as the elementary principal and preschool director. She assists her husband and their teachers in fulfilling the school’s mission. This year brought incredible growth, which led to adding a second kindergarten class and future expansion plans for the whole school.
Every summer during camping season, the Reeves family serves together at the Bill Rice Ranch—Reeves heads up Junior Camp, his wife serves as the camp nurse, and their three teenage boys work on operational staff. When he was a teenager, Reeves made some life-changing decisions at camp. “God has given me a love for working with young people. He led me to the Ranch, and the rest is history!” he said.
Along with his family, Reeves makes a difference in his part of the world. “I see education as a temporal means to a spiritual end,” he said. “We attract families because of our strong academics and character development program, and then we get to see them saved and make spiritual decisions. Now I get to give back where I was given so much.”