Welcome Messages from the Administrative Team of GCAA
Welcome Message from Ms. Ashley Olson, Interim Head of School.
Dear GCAA Community,
It is my distinct pleasure to introduce myself to you as the Interim Head of School at Grand Center Arts Academy. I feel both honored and fortunate to have the opportunity to lead a dynamic school with such a positive, relational community.
I graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in Drama and a clear focus on a performance career. When my daily work with students became more exciting and fulfilling than my audition schedule, I realized a new passion and earned my Master’s in Educational Theatre from NYU. In New York City, I worked as a literacy specialist, a special programs coordinator, and a teaching artist. In 2010, I joined a non-profit organization called Global Empowerment Theatre (GET) which utilizes social justice theatre and playwriting techniques to facilitate literacy through theatre workshops in Zanzibar and India.
I am coming to St. Louis after six and a half years of work in the international sphere. I designed summer curriculum in Myanmar and grew a small play group into a 4 room school house utilizing a progressive, community based model of multi aged classrooms in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
Most recently, I was the Head Principal at a k-12 American School in Fes, Morocco where I refined policies, improved teacher support systems, and coached a champion middle school speech and debate team. I love to travel and immerse myself in different cultures because I believe it helps us to connect to others on a fundamental level. With US experience limited to the coasts, I see St. Louis as an exciting new city and culture to explore - your recommendations are most welcome!
I have a lifelong personal investment in the arts and believe wholeheartedly that arts education can change lives. Our society is becoming increasingly more difficult to navigate and the empathy, confidence, and collaborative skills built through arts education is more important than ever to future success. I look forward to exploring existing systems and opening new opportunities for our GCAA students to experience art as spectators and creators both in the classroom and beyond.
I am excited to meet the GCAA community and get to know everyone.
Head of School
Welcome Message from Mr. Shane Hopper Principal of the Upper Academy.
Dear Valued Grand Center Student, Parent, Teacher, and/or Community Member,
At Grand Center Arts Academy (GCAA), we are working hard to get everything prepared for the promise of a new school year. Let’s collectively make this the best one yet! We want to thank all of our amazing graduates and returning stakeholders for making last year such an impactful one at GCAA. Now we look forward to the next chapter. This gem of a school, in the heart of the St. Louis art district, is celebrating its 10th year of existence. This anniversary marker is about everyone with any connection, both great and small.
We had some monumental societal developments over the last calendar year. Many of these are still unfolding. We accept the challenges, knowing there are fantastic partners within our community! We look forward to constantly serving (both in-person and online as needed), affording our families and students the best opportunities possible during these unprecedented times. A continued strong effort will be made to keep Grand Center Arts Academy the best possible option for arts integration in a sound academic setting.
Our motto is Creative Genius. That sets a high standard of excellence that we strive to meet. We are blessed with such a beautiful and unique school, serving students 6th to 12th grades on one campus. We have very dedicated, talented, and caring teachers/staff wanting to impart their knowledge and talents to students on a daily basis. Those in our care pick one of four pathways to follow: Visual Arts, Theatre, Dance, or Music. They explore these areas of art, while at the same time getting a well-rounded scholastic experience.
We are never one to be satisfied with the status quo. The goal is always to offer the best version of our selves daily. Professionalism and positive practices will continue to be stressed. We want to persistently offer our students proper models of current and future success. The reason why is because they deserve it!
GCAA will continue to work towards finding various avenues to address challenges, being innovative, and creating an academic environment that fosters the best opportunities for our students. They need to be prepared/skilled both locally and globally in today’s evolving world. We are currently planning and getting the campus ready for the next round of school adventures. We will see you quite soon. Go Phoenix!
Helping to educate,
Dr. Shane Hopper
Proud High School Principal
Welcome Message from Ms. Tennille Peeler Principal of the Lower Academy
Greetings GCAA Community!
It is with great pride and excitement that I write this letter of introduction to you as the newly appointed Principal of Grand Center Arts Lower Academy. I am honored to have the opportunity to lead a school with such a rich tradition of arts education! I have been dedicated to the field of education for more than eighteen years and though I have worked with a variety of schools, my passion has always been middle school. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with my Master's of Art in Teaching, I relocated to Philadelphia, PA where I began working with middle school students as an 8th-grade math teacher. In 2010, I decided to try my hand at Educational Leadership and completed my Master’s of Education degree with a focus on school leadership. Since then, I have served in several leadership capacities ranging from an Instructional Support Officer, Principal of a K-8 charter, and Director of Educator Effectiveness for the School District of Philadelphia. I am excited and eager to bring my skills as an educational leader to GCAA’s Lower Academy and work with you as a partner in education to ensure your child's success.
Along with the teachers and staff, I will work hard to restore the legacy of success established at GCAA by building strong relationships with parents, students, and community partners. We will focus on an arts-integrated approach to learning, the use of data to drive instruction and to provide consistent implementation of the curriculum in a rigorous manner so that we can continue to increase all of the students' achievement.
All of us at Grand Center Arts Lower Academy are eager and excited to begin what promises to be the best year ever. This year is going to be amazing as we continue to provide academic experiences for our students that are rigorous, relevant, and help them build relationships while making real-world connections. As your principal, it is important to me that everyone who steps through our doors-teachers, students and parents are excited to be here! This attitude enables us to meet the challenges of academic excellence in a positive, fun, and nurturing environment. My door is always open, and I welcome your input. Please feel free to call or email me to discuss any concerns you might have throughout the school year.
I look forward to working with you as a team to help each student at GCAA meet their goals and have a successful school year!
Ms. Tennille Peeler
Lower Academy Principal