A Word from Dr. Satterly—February 15, 2024

A Word from Dr. Satterly—February 15, 2024

​​Dear WA Community,

At Westminster Academy, we often speak about investing in people, places, and programs. These categories are helpful as we establish priorities, examine our mission, and offer opportunities. They also serve as ways to tell the Westminster Academy story because there is much to capture over five decades of Christian education.

We can talk about the significance of places over the years. For example, we could look to our humble beginnings in leased spaces through to the provision of the current campus—both east and west. Certainly, the development of the school’s program is a compelling part of our story, as Westminster Academy currently features a robust education founded on a commitment to academic rigor and faith formation that now includes arts, athletics, robotics, and a host of other opportunities for students.

While both places and programs are important, they pale in comparison to our people. Education is fundamentally a relational proposition. Westminster Academy is in the people business. When alumni return to campus, they may comment about recent improvements to the campus or offer a comment about a team or program, but they always visit teachers. Time and time again, the testimony alumni offer is about the impact of our faculty and staff on their lives.

Yesterday was another reminder about the significance of people as we celebrated and honored long-time WA teacher Gary Chapman following his battle with cancer. We will do so again on Saturday afternoon at his funeral. Gary taught at our school for 19 years. More accurately, he invested in students for two decades. It is true that Mr. Chapman was very effective at teaching 5th-grade math. He also was a wonderful teammate and anchor for our PREP team. Many of our students caught their first fish under the tutelage of Mr. Chapman, often on the Pigeon Key field trip. Yet this is not his legacy. Rather, Gary’s legacy lies in his restless commitment to the eternal salvation of his students. He was a spiritual giant for our students, challenging them about faith and the reality of Jesus Christ.

Places and programs are necessary, but people matter. Westminster Academy is about people. It is focused on raising up the next generation of Christian leaders. It is about shaping students’ hearts and minds. In order to do that, it needs dedicated and skilled Christian educators. Gary Chapman exemplified all of that and more. On behalf of all of us, “Thanks, Gary. Job well done, good and faithful servant.”

For those who would like to attend Gary Chapman’s Celebration of Life, join us on February 17, at 2:00 p.m. at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. Following the service, light refreshments and an opportunity to share memories of Gary will be held at the DeVos Chapel. An open house reception will follow at 5:30 p.m. to continue celebrating Gary’s life.


Dr. Joel Satterly