News & Events

Leaders celebrate official opening of Gardere Community Christian School

WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports
A new school and a new playground are bringing positive energy to the Gardere community.

The first students at the new Gardere Community Christian School were on hand as school leaders had a ribbon cutting and building blessing on GSRI Avenue Friday morning.

The kids and teachers were in a temporary location downtown and now, after four years of dreaming about it, their own school is a reality.

“We’ve had to move from building to building but now we are here in a permanent place in the area that we want to serve and it’s real special, especially as I saw the children singing, I just thought, ‘Wow, you know, this is for them,'” said Principal Nancy Zito.

Zito added she hopes the new school will bring the Gardere community together and give people living there hope for the future.

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Private school offers hope for children living in Gardere community

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BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — In East Baton Rouge, many parents want other options when it comes to educating their children. Magnet or private schools are options, but they’re pricey.

Now, one new private school is solving a lot of parent’s problems in the Gardere community. One woman who moved here a few years ago saw the need for a school for Gardere children, so along with a lot of faith and support, what started as an idea has finally taken flight.

Now, once failing students are succeeding in a private school setup, only for the children of Gardere.

Nancy Zito is the principal of The Gardere School, a school that started out as an idea three years ago, and is now a full-fledged institution.

“I didn’t expect it to blossom so fast I am excited it has because we help the children and families because work w families I visit them in their homes and we pray with them,” said Zito.

With three classrooms, K through 5, the 30 students currently enrolled get a personalized private school education that teachers say has made a huge impact in the student’s lives.

“I have seen tremulous changes to these students they have grown in so many different ways,” said Gardere School teacher, Susan McClain.

Tuition doesn’t seem to be a problem, or a deterrent. Two volunteer hours are required each month, and tuition will reduce an additional five dollar for every extra hour of volunteer work. And with tuition assistance, students can attend Gardere regardless of their financial situation.

“The parents need to be involved we make that clear up front,” said Zito. But where did this idea come from, to start a school from scratch?

“Within the first couple weeks of moving here I drove around and through Gardere and felt the tug for Gardere, I feel in love.”

So she started a tutoring program, then two years later found dedicated teachers, volunteers, and a location. “I just feel in love with the concept for the school and the fact there was a need in the community for the students,” noted McClain.

So now one person’s dream to help a community, is finally coming to fruition. “God put in on my heart to open a private school for the children in Gardere.”

There’s a waiting list this for the school, but with financial support, the sky is the limit. The Gardere School will be moving back into the community in August. They will have room at their new location at the house of repentance church to possibly expand to pre k through 8th grade.

First Presbyterian Church Board of Elders Welcomes GCCS

At their June 14, 2012 meeting, the board of elders from First Presbyterian Church unanimously voted to house Gardere Community
Christian School for the 2012-2013 school year at their facilities downtown. The students are bused from the Gardere area to First Presbyterian Church. GCCS now has three classrooms, a cafeteria, an indoor recess area and an office. The space has allowed us to expand while we
continue to search for a place in Gardere.

Less than three months ago we were still looking for a location, wondering how God would provide if we were to continue. Once again He has provided beyond our expectations and has shown us that His ways are perfect. The encouragement and support of First Presbyterian have been so very important over the last three years and now they have given us a place to continue and grow. We are grateful to the church staff, without exception, they have been extremely welcoming and accomodating.

Seven students make it into Greater Baton Rouge Children’s Choir

Many of our fourth and fifth grade students auditioned for the Greater Baton Rouge Children’s Choir (GBRCC). Seven students made the cut and will be a part of the impressive children’s choir. We are so excited and thankful to the director of the choir, Jennifer Ellis, for letting us know about the auditions and giving our students who love to sing a wonderful and special opportunity. What a great blessing to be able to use their God-given talent in such a special way.

GBRCC has been offering choral education since 1997 and is known for its highly eclectic and artistic repertoire as well as its collaboration with local performing artists and composers. GBRCC presents two choral concerts during the season, collaborates with other arts organizations, and performs at community functions. GBRCC has performed with Baton Rouge Symphony, Baton Rouge Ballet Theater, Baton Rouge Little Theater, and Louisiana Sinfonietta.

GBRCC’s mission is to unite children in the community, building not only musical, but also character skills through choral singing. We are blessed to have some of our students be a part of such an outstanding program.

Our summer reading program encourages students to read:

We are so grateful for the generous donation of bookcases from Adrian and Carol Ann Nadeau at the end of last year. Each family in our program received a beautiful bookcase for their home. Then, to bless even more, Church of the Highlands congregation donated several boxes of books for the children to choose books for their home libraries!

When visiting the students over the summer, it was fun to see them enjoying their books and completing their “Summer Reading Challenge”. Each time they started a new book all they had to do was search for a book at home on their shelves. When they wrote about the books, all the supplies were right there in the supply boxes that were also provided for them. The students were even able to share their books with younger siblings and cousins, getting everyone in the family involved in reading.

A great big thank you goes out to both the Nadeaus and Church of the Highlands congregation for their generosity and for encouraging our students in their academic pursuits. Again, it is because of donations like this that we are able to go above and beyond and offer our students and families so much more!

Volunteer Appreciation Day

Long before Volunteer Appreciation Day, the students began preparing for the opportunity to shower thanks on our wonderful volunteers.  They were excited to give back to those who gave so much to them all year long.  Whether bringing a meal, reading or math tutoring, praying with students or helping with various enrichment programs, the student’s days included smiles, encouragement and love from almost fifty volunteers.

Thursday, May 3rd in appreciation for all they have done, volunteers were invited to stop in for breakfast, lunch or an afternoon snack.  A Jason’s Deli lunch was provided for by a generous donation from The Lumpkin Agency and afternoon snacks were provided by the students and families we serve. Students wrote letters, made cards and framed pictures of the volunteers working with them to present to the special guests of honor.  Here are some comments from those who were able to be there:

“I feel so special!”

“The cards and letters from the students were so sweet and personal, written just for me for the things I did.”

“How beautiful everything is, lots of great goodies.”

“I will treasure my picture of me with the kids; it will go on my refrigerator and remind me to continue to pray for them.”

It was a blessing to have a special day for our volunteers since they have been such a blessing to us each and every day.  Thank you again to all those who served to make the year a true success.


 Volunteer List

God continues to amaze and bless as He brings dedicated and faithful volunteers to assist, love, show compassion and tend to the needs of  the students and staff at GCCS.  We are grateful for each of the volunteers below and thank them for their role in making this school a reality, without them this would be impossible.      We look forward to many more joining in our efforts as we move ahead. 


Mary Alfortish † Caroline Guidry † Will Morris
Paul Algu † Benjamin Hall † Carol Ann Nadeau †
Celeste Anderson † Marva Hastings Elizabeth Novak †◊
Maureen Andries †◊ Annette Hebert-Bell Claudia Phillips †
Jill Arbour † Emily Hernandez Kimberly Phillips †
Wilmer Barrett Leigh Hill † Diane Pitts
Charlene Belk Trevin Hoot † Renee Regen †
Laura Bonnoitt † Toni House Michelle Robinson
John Boudreaux †◊ Claire Hutchinson † Kevin Roig
James Boyd Matthew Hamilton † Jamie Senyard
Carrie Bridges † Edna James † Nancy Spiller †
Mary Brumfield † Ann Jennings † Donna Smith
Clelie Carpenter † Charleen Johnson †◊ Melinda Smith †
Tyler Carruth † Deidre Johnson † Lin Sturgis †
Caitlyn Clark † Louise Kinney † Amanda Sutton †
Katie Copeland † Nicole Klimacek † LaKeith Terrell
Tammy Cotton † Janet LeMoine † Lea Theriot
Rhonda Dawson †◊ Jean Liehe †◊ Onolee Thomas †◊
Gerrit Dawson †◊ Bill Liehe †◊ Joann Thurston †
Julie Dixon † Shiqui Li † Albert Torregano †
Catherine Douglas † Judy Land † Meritha Toston †◊
Pamela Downing † Laura Lytle † Phyllis Turner †
Donita Duncan † Ramona Lytle † Paula Walker †
Janet Fakouri † Carli MacMillan † Rachel Williams †
Laurie Fasullo † Jerri Manale Barbara Wingare †
D’Marques Forbes Frankie Manale Sarah Zandry
Carolyn Foreman Erica Marcello David Zito †◊
Mrs. Louis Kinney Catherine McCall Dan Zito †◊
Alison Gardner † Lauren McCall Michael Zito †◊
Valerie Gastinel † Laura McClain † Nancy Zito †◊
Matthew Geno † Kathy Megison Max Zoghbi †
Megan Garrett Mitzi Miller
Charlisha Grant Rachel Morris †◊ † Active in 2011-2012 school year
Karah Guillory † Christine Morris ? Have volunteered all three years
If you are a volunteer or have volunteered in the past and your name is not listed we apologize for the omission and ask that you please bring the omission to our attention by e-mailing

Global Wildlife Center Field Trip

Students, family members and staff all thoroughly enjoyed getting face to face with bison, giraffe, zebra, camels, eland, African Kudo and many more animals at Global Wildlife Center on May 18th as we took our last field trip of the school year.  Here is a sampling of what the students had to say:

“My favorite part was riding in the covered wagon.   We went right into the places where the animals were.  I learned that some deer use their antlers to dig holes.”  Timothy

“My favorite part was seeing the animals and when the animals took the feeding cups.  I thought that was funny.  I learned that all the animals at Global Wildlife are herbivores.  They only eat plants, not meat.”  Plausie

“One of my favorite parts was when I saw the big teeth and horns on the animals.  I even touched the bulls tongue – it was so long: it was hard on the top and soft underneath! I loved when the zebras were fighting!  I learned that the zebras bite to show they like you.”  Taurean

“My favorite part was seeing the tall giraffes eating from the trees and walking across the path.  I learned the mothers were going to have babies and that is probably why they did not come up to the wagons for food. ” Byron

“My favorite part was feeding the zebras by pouring the food into their open mouths.  You have to be careful because they will bite you because they like you and the food.”  Diamond

“I liked seeing the little giraffe with the mama and daddy giraffe. They walked so peacefully like on the Lion King.  I learned that the giraffes have really good hearing so you must be quiet when you are near them.” Vanicsa

“My favorite part was when the bull was ramming the zebras to move them out of the way so the bulls could get the food.  It worked!”  Fredricka

“My favorite part was that we even had math lessons as we learned!  (Hey, I am a teacher – I am supposed to say that!)  Anyway, did you know that a giraffe’s tongue is as long in inches as that giraffe is tall in feet?  So if a giraffe is 6 feet tall, how long will that giraffe’s tongue be?  Ask any of the students at GCCS and they will tell you the answer!”  Mrs. Zito