SouthLake Christian Academy Update – June 2023

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

I hope you are enjoying summer break. I interrupt your leisure briefly to give you a few updates.

Last month we celebrated SouthLake’s 31st graduating class. Here are some facts about the class of 2023. Of our 51 graduates, 29% are lifers having attended SouthLake continuously since JK or Kindergarten. 92% of our graduates participated in student organizations, sports, or fine arts. 40% reported earning scholarships totaling nearly $3.5 million dollars for academic achievement, leadership, athletics, fine arts, and service to the community. 8% of the class will compete as student athletes at the collegiate level. 4% of our graduates received scholarships to study in an arts-related field. Our graduates were accepted to 75 different colleges and universities across the country. They will attend 25 different schools in 7 states. 60% will matriculate in state and 40% will leave North Carolina to attend schools in the Southeast, Northeast, and Midwest. 25% will attend Christian colleges or universities. We celebrate these remarkable accomplishments. We love each and every graduate and we will miss them.

The end of our academic year also gives us pause to celebrate success in our athletic and fine arts programs. Our 35 sports teams won a combined 7 conference championships this past year and one state championship. Sophomore Nolan Boovy took gold in the high jump at the state meet. Many of our athletes set school records, and many more set personal records. Of note, all of our student athletes must show strong academic performance to remain eligible for competition.

Our fine arts programs also have much to report. 15 elementary, middle, and high school students were selected to state honors choruses. 6 lower school students were chosen to have their artwork displayed at Charlotte’s Mint Museum of Art. 12 students in K-6thgrade were chosen to represent SouthLake in the ACSI Visual Arts Fair, where 7 received the highest marks for their artwork. These curricular and co-curricular programs represent valuable opportunities for our students to learn, grow, and work together.

As we celebrate our students, I am reminded that we are more than the sum of our accomplishments. God loves us no more when we succeed, and no less when we fail. We do well to remind ourselves and our students that our worth rests not in our performance, but in our status as people created in the image of God and redeemed by Christ. This knowledge frees us to do our best without the crippling pressure to reach societal standards of success. In that spirit, I am thankful to our faculty and staff for guiding our students to noteworthy achievement while keeping it all in perspective.


Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Education Fine Arts Sports

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – May 2023

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

By my count, we have 10 school days left in this academic year. One year ago, I would have told you we were finishing one of the most difficult years of my professional life. Today I am happy to say we are finishing one of the most enjoyable. I feel honored to work with such distinguished teachers and supportive parents. I am grateful to each of you for your collective efforts to protect, train, and teach our students in a Christ-centered environment.

Spring Festival
Please help me extend warm appreciation to our Parent Teacher Fellowship for a stellar Spring Festival last month. I have attached to a school email the list of sponsors who helped make that event financially possible. Two years ago, we made this a free event and solicited sponsors to help cover costs. Thanks to generous sponsors, we now receive as much in voluntary donations as we once got from ticket sales. When the need arises, SouthLake families always come through.

New Website
Perhaps you have noticed we launched a new website after Spring Break. Many months in the making, our new site provides all the information you need in a format that is pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate. We track traffic to our site and notice that admissions, athletics, and our school calendar are most often accessed. Along with the new SouthLake app, our new website will help us better communicate with you and prospective families.

We project enrollment for the 2023-2024 academic year to reach 650, up from 546 in 2018. We have grown every year for the past five years. As of last week, we have space left only in kindergarten, largely because we added an additional class, and a few spots in high school. All other grades are full. Retention remains well above industry standards at 94%.

School Board Service
Each spring we reach out to school families to invite those who may wish to serve on our School Board to apply. We do not always have openings, but we solicit applicants anyway so we have people ready to serve when the need arises. Upon request, I will send you an applicant profile which lists qualifications for service. If you believe you qualify and are willing to serve, please complete the profile and send it to me. I will forward your application to our School Board Chair and set up a time to talk further. I am grateful to have a qualified and engaged School Board in place, and we welcome experienced leaders to serve alongside them to strengthen our school.

Annual Fund Donations
 In closing, let me ask you to make a donation to our school’s Annual Fund. The Annual Fund provides value added to the school on behalf of all our students and teachers. With previous Annual Fund donations exceeding $1 million, we have improved school safety, renovated our sanctuary, and will be adding new Fine Arts classrooms this fall. We value gifts of all sizes and seek high participation as much as gifts of extraordinary size. You can access the “Giving” link on our website, or click the “Give” link on the SouthLake app. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

By now you may feel like I am just an annoying cheerleader for SouthLake. I certainly do not mean to imply that SouthLake is without its challenges, but I find little value in negativity. I will confess to being a relentless optimist about our strengths and potential as a school. By God’s grace, SouthLake continues to thrive against all odds. Our former Head of School, David Rowles, said on a recent podcast episode, “If God wants SouthLake to fail, it will, no matter what we do to prevent it. And if God wants SouthLake to succeed, it will, no matter what we might do to mess it up.” My optimism about SouthLake grows from my confidence in God’s proven faithfulness to us through the years. I pray you will experience God’s faithfulness in new ways as we head into the summer months.


Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Education God's Will Technology

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – February 2023

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

Welcome to February, and to Missions Week, a beloved tradition at SouthLake. Missions Week introduces students to God’s work in the world, locally, nationally, and internationally. In addition to tee shirts and spirit wear, we celebrate the week with three school-wide chapel services, each centered on the theme “Let Your Light Shine” from Matthew 5:16. With songs, skits, videos, and guest speakers from the SouthLake community, students enjoy an upbeat worship experience while learning about missions and how we can be a light to those around us. We are livestreaming each chapel service so you can attend or watch online today and Friday at 1:55 p.m. on the SouthLake Media YouTube channel.

I am happy to announce we are expanding. For many months we have operated near our maximum capacity and managed to accumulate dozens of students on wait lists for various grades. In particular, high demand for kindergarten represents our greatest growth potential. Beginning this fall, we will add an additional kindergarten class to SouthLake, and then a first grade class in 2024, a second grade class in 2025, and so forth, in order to keep our class sizes small. This will require us to renovate facilities and build new space. In the short term, we are reviewing a bid to renovate space in Wilcox, turning our library into classrooms and relocating the library closer to the students who use it most. We are also getting bids to clear a wooded area adjacent to the First Building and add a structure for Fine Arts classrooms, freeing up existing space for new classes. These projects will allow us to grow our lower school for the next 4-5 years, and eventually lead us to build a new academic building. We will not need to raise tuition in order to pay for renovations as generous contributions to our Annual Fund in recent years will fund much of the development. We will also continue to work without interruption on our new donor-funded athletic complex. I will have more details in the weeks to come, but let me know if you have any questions.

“Diving Into SouthLake” Podcast
Episode One of our new school podcast drops today. You can find the podcast on the Apple Podcast app, or wherever you access your podcasts. The podcast has been months in the making and I want to thank high school math teacher John Keith Sheridan for his work as producer. We plan to release one episode each month, near the first of the month, from September through May. The first episode chronicles God’s providence to SouthLake through the ups and downs of our history. The podcast represents our latest effort to keep you informed about everything happening at SouthLake, past, present, and future. If you have ideas for an episode, you may email your ideas to

Mental and Spiritual Health
Current events often pose a challenge for us as educators, counselors, mentors, coaches, administrators, and ministers. How do we address social issues or concerns that affect different families differently? One event can have little impact on one while being traumatizing to another. As a school and a ministry, we want to be sensitive to student needs while not adding to the social turmoil around us. In this spirit, our School Counselor recently extended an invitation to high school students who may want to talk about the events surrounding the killing of Tyre Nichols and the significant media attention that has generated. Additionally, she is available for one-on-one conversations with students who may have need. I know not every student knows or is directly affected by current events, while some students and their families are deeply disturbed by what they see. We will always do our best to make school a safe place for the conversations students need to have, and a safe place for those who don’t need the conversation.

In closing, let me say how uplifting it was to spend two days listening to students, faculty, staff, and parents talk about SouthLake during interviews for our new school video. I can’t wait to see the finished product when we release our newly redesigned website coming this March. We are not a perfect school, but we are blessed with some amazing people who work tirelessly every day to make this place better for the sake of our students and God’s glory.


Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Education Mental Health Race Suffering

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – December 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

As Christmas approaches, our fall semester draws to a close. Between now and winter break we have much to accomplish and I have several updates to give you.

Giving to SouthLake
Thank you for your generosity this month. In recent weeks we asked for donations for faculty/staff Christmas gifts, Caterpillar Ministries, and Giving Tuesday. SouthLake families came through is a big way. November brought nearly $90,000 in donations to the school. Giving Tuesday alone saw a 271% increase in donor participation over the same day last year. Participation totals matter as much as dollar amounts because they show broad support for our mission. I know the end of the calendar year means many people asking you for money. We never take your generosity for granted. We are a better school because of your kindness.

New Turf Field
We are making progress toward adding a turf field and track to our campus. UDC Sports continues work on the design, in conversation with Mecklenburg County and the Town of Huntersville, to determine the possible scope of the project and what regulatory requirements we may face. When I have options to review, I will solicit feedback from you about project possibilities and associated costs.

We are also working on a redesign of our website. During my time at SouthLake, I have noticed an increase in the number of families applying to SouthLake after finding us online. Word of mouth remains the number one way people learn of our school, but our website is now a close second. Part of the redesign involves producing a new school video. Around the first of the year, we will begin shooting footage on campus, conducting interviews with parents, students, and teachers. The finished product should go live shortly after Spring Break.

Christmas Concerts
We have several fine arts events next week. Our Orchestral Christmas Concert will be Tuesday, December 6 at 7:00 pm. Our Choral Christmas Concerts will be Thursday December 8 at 7:00 pm (Middle and Upper School) and Thursday December 15 at 6:30 pm (Lower School). All three events will take place in the newly renovated Sanctuary in the First Building. Even if you do not have children in these programs, I encourage you to attend, see the good work of our teachers and students, and enjoy the sounds of the Christmas season.

Winter Break
The last day of the semester is December 16. That will be a half day; buses will run in the morning but not after school. We return to classes next semester on Wednesday, January 4. Everyone appreciates a shortened week coming back from a break.

In case you don’t hear form me until next year, I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas holiday and blessed new year. I will pray the distractions of the season do not keep you from the peace and joy of Christ in the days ahead.

In Christ,

Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy


SouthLake Christian Academy Update – October 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

My first-of-the-month correspondence comes to you a few days later than normal because I know you don’t read emails during Fall Break, and I don’t blame you. Each Fall Break I go off grid and hike in the mountains, mildly disappointed when I return to technology. I hope you found an equally rejuvenating way to spend your days away from school.

Fall Break 2023
While we are on the subject, next year’s Fall Break will occur a week later than usual. Typically we break the first full week of October, which falls awkwardly just a few days before the close of our first quarter. Next year we will bring equity to our four quarters by scheduling Fall Break for October 9-13, 2023. We will keep it the second full week of October in future years.

School Board
We have new members to welcome to our School Board. In our quarterly meeting last month, the Board welcomed four new members – Kim Sailors, Ken Barna, Jed Belvin, and Hank Capps. All four have a long tenure of service to the Academy. Mr. Belvin and Dr. Capps both return to the Board after hiatuses of 2 and 3 years respectively. Dr. Amy Alexanian has been appointed to the role of Chair. The Session of SouthLake Church and the School Board have approved a new set of bylaws for the Academy which are set to go into effect next academic year. The new bylaws call for an expanded School Board to include between 9 and 12 members rather than 7 as it now stands. This Spring we will request nominations for new Board members, seeking those with outstanding leadership ability and a tenure of service to the Academy. Stay tuned for more information next semester.

Honor Chorus
This fall six students were selected from SouthLake to the North Carolina Elementary Honor Chorus, a choir of about 190 students selected among nearly 500 who auditioned. These students will have the opportunity to sing with the best vocalists in North Carolina, working with a nationally acclaimed choral conductor to prepare for a concert in Winston-Salem, NC the weekend of November 5-6. Congratulations to fifth-grader Julia Herring; sixth-graders Tony D’Ovidio, Gus Godfrey, and Ella-Rose Romero; seventh-grader Matthew Caputo; and eight-grader Jesse Smith. Incidentally, Ella-Rose tied for top score in her audition. Thank you to Mrs. Mary Ann Foltz for directing our increasingly impressive choral program.

School Counselor
This month we welcome to SouthLake our new school counselor, Caroline Conklin-Ortiz, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate who will join us full-time after her wedding this weekend. She comes to us from private practice, having worked previously in school settings. Her deep faith in Christ and compassionate approach to counseling will help us better care for our students, faculty, and staff. Stronger mental health support remains an important initiative of our school’s strategic plan.

New Athletic Complex
SouthLake has contracted with UDC Sports to begin design work for a new turf field and running track on campus, the exact location to be determined. A parent committee has formed to raise 100% of the funds necessary to complete the project without the school incurring debt. As you may know, 80% of our students in grades 6-12 play a sport, and 9 of our 35 athletic teams compete or practice on our existing turf field, which is scheduled for replacement in two years. Several additional teams use our existing field to train and condition, creating scheduling challenges that often keep students on campus late into the evening. Track and cross country combine to form our largest athletic teams and they must travel to train and compete. We often relocate PE and recess from our current field to prevent sound conflicts with standardized testing in our field house classrooms. A new athletic complex will meet a host of logistical, athletic, and academic needs. I look forward to sharing more details with you as they become available.

In closing, let me add that the weather is outstanding and campus is beautiful this time of year. Enrollment is at capacity and many exciting projects are underway. God has indeed been good to SouthLake.


Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Education Sports

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – August 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

Summer is winding down. Students return to campus in 10 days. People often ask if we are ready. My answer is always “No, but we will be.” As we prepare to begin a new academic year, you will likely be bombarded with information. I will try not to add to your burden, but do want to highlight a few details.

Open House/Orientation
We look forward to having you on campus next week for open house or orientation meetings. For those in grades JK-4, we will announce classroom teachers later this week and you will meet in your teacher’s classroom. For everyone else, we will direct you to the correct location when you arrive on campus, or notify you by text alert. We are finishing renovations in the First Building so some locations are still TBD. Here is the schedule:

  • JK-4 – Monday August 8, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Grade 5 – Monday August 8, 9:00 a.m.
  • Grade 6 – Monday August 8, 10:30 a.m.
  • Grade 7 – Tuesday August 9, 9:00 a.m.
  • Grade 8 – Tuesday August 9, 10:30 a.m.
  • Grade 9 and all new High School students – Tuesday August 9, 1:00 p.m.

Normal Operations
For the first time since 2019, we begin the school year with mostly normal operations. Yes, COVID infections remain somewhat common, but decreased virulence from current strains of the virus mean we are mask optional and will not have to quarantine those exposed to COVID. If you have symptoms, however, it is important to stay home and test. Those with a positive COVID test will coordinate return to school with Nurse Elizabeth Metzger. Even though now most appear to experience mild symptoms from COVID, we still want to minimize spread and decrease student and teacher absences to the greatest degree possible.

Academic Development Center (ADC)
SouthLake provides robust services for students with specialized learning needs. Students needing academic accommodations of any kind, or specialized therapy from one of our certified NILD teachers, will have interaction with the ADC. This year Mrs. Iva Bas assumes the role of ADC Director, bringing a wealth of knowledge, experience, and compassion to the position. Those currently receiving services from the ADC will communicate with her to arrange schedules. Those needing academic accommodations based on professional testing will also communicate with her in the days to come. Support for students with learning differences is one of the things we do well here at SouthLake and we are thankful for Iva Bas, Gail Woods, Lynn Moore, and April Belcher for their work in this arena.

SouthLake App
Last month we introduced you to the SouthLake app. We know many have still not downloaded the app. In the days to come, we will rely heavily on this tool for communication, so please take a moment to download the SouthLake App which is available by name in the App Store (iOS users), or the Google Play Store (Android users). The app can connect you to school calendars, announcements, financial information, grades, homework, lunch orders, and everything you need to be an active member of the SouthLake community. We are still building content for some features of the app, and some features require login credentials for Renweb or Orgs Online.

Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians
This fall, in Middle and High School Chapel, we will be teaching through the New Testament book of Ephesians. In this letter, Paul reasons that because we are one in Christ, we should evidence a unity that transcends whatever might divide us. In the beginning of chapter 4, Paul urges us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” In the midst of contentious times, this is my prayer for SouthLake.

A Few Miscellaneous Details
A quick reminder that we will begin a new Bible study for parents when the First Building sanctuary is finished. Also, we are hiring a new School Counselor, and in cooperation with SouthLake Church, an Assistant Pastor/Spiritual Life Director. If you know of qualified candidates, direct them to our website. We will begin the school year with nearly 630 students. At 18 students per classroom, full capacity is 634. Ever so close.

I pray you have a great start to the school year.


Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Academics Bible Education Leadership

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – May 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

Friends, we are on the home stretch. The month of May provides us many opportunities to celebrate with year-end programs, awards ceremonies, chapel services, and graduation. With fewer than 13 school days left, we are all tired, so let us pray for endurance to finish the academic year well.

I have an update about the relationship between SouthLake Presbyterian Church and SouthLake Christian Academy. As you will recall, the church and school comprise one legal entity with the church Session (the pastor and elected elders) serving as our final governing body. The Session grants the School Board authority to oversee many school matters. For more than two years, the Session has prayerfully considered alternative ways to structure the church-school relationship. A proposal last December for the two entities to separate fully would have required a transfer of property assets from the church to the school, but the transfer was rejected by congregational vote. The Session is now considering a proposal whereby the school would become a subsidiary of the church with a degree of governance autonomy and an expanded School Board. The Session is working with a school committee to finalize new bylaws for the Academy. Pending legal review and final Session approval, we will apply for our own tax ID and 501c3 status sometime this summer, the final steps in the subsidiary process. I hope to have more details to share with you at my next update.

In April, the Session appointed to the School Board the first SouthLake alumnus to serve, Mr. Jacob Slavik. He is a member of the class of 2007 and serves as a Senior Manager at Sawgrass Partners, a firm specializing in services for senior adult living providers. As a member of SouthLake Church with experience in accounting, auditing, and board governance, Mr. Slavik brings a wealth of both professional and personal experience to the Board. This summer, the Academy will submit two candidates to the Session for approval to replace members whose terms are set to expire. If you wish to nominate someone to serve on the School Board, please let me know and I will send nominees an application. Completed applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and the most qualified candidates will interview with the Head of School and Session.

We have released the calendar for the 2022-2023 academic year. This summer we plan to work on the academic calendar for 23-24 to help those of you who plan your vacations far in advance. Speaking of summer, please note we have a host of on-campus enrichment camps for all ages in June and July, as well as online classes available for high school students wanting to get ahead. More information can be found on our website and various social media channels.

In closing, let me say a word of thanks to our teachers for what they have done to get us through another unusual school year. I keep praying for a normal year, to no avail. Now I am wondering if perhaps God’s answer to such prayers is to give us the resilience to face whatever circumstances come our way. Our seniors selected Philippians 4:13 as their class verse, which in context reads, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” I see the truth of Philippians 4:13 in the ministry of our teachers every day. Be sure to tell them thank you whenever you get the chance. A kind word goes a long way.


Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Education Leadership

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – April 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

I greet you on day one of Missions Week as we begin our celebration of 20 years of missions at SouthLake. For two decades, SouthLake has partnered with 32 missions organizations, provided financial contributions of $436,290.07, and given untold hours of labor in support of mission efforts around the world. This week we will host special chapels on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, students may wear their Missions Week tee shirts each day, and on Friday we will cap off the week with our Spring Festival. I want to thank Kristin Ledford for her stellar efforts to plan and execute our spiritual life activities this year. And thanks to the efforts of the Parent Teacher Fellowship (PTF), this year’s Spring Festival will be free for all who attend, with the notable exception of the food trucks on campus. Please plan to drop by after school Friday to enjoy the festivities.

The April 1 deadline to withdraw from SouthLake without incurring tuition costs has passed, and I am pleased to report a retention rate of nearly 95%. School wide we have fewer than 20 spots left for the coming academic year. All grades are full except JK, 1, 6, and 11 and we have more than 40 students now in a waiting pool. We continue to tour and test students daily with the busiest months of our admissions cycle still to come. There is a very real possibility we could operate at maximum capacity for the 2022-2023 academic year. The only way this happens is when satisfied parents tell their neighbors. We spend almost no money on marketing because word of mouth remains the most common way our new families learn about SouthLake. Thank you for your continued trust in us and for helping to spread the good news about our school in the community.

In December I told you about Autumn Solesbee, a SouthLake third grader who won the regional round of the national Drive, Chip, and Putt competition. This qualified her to compete in the finals at Augusta National this past weekend. Well, we are proud to report that Autumn won the competition, placing first in her age group. The competition was aired on the Golf Channel and in a post-competition interview she was congratulated by Bubba Watson. Congratulations Autumn! You are a champion at Augusta National.

This month we will say goodbye to Harrella Wedington, our Chief Financial Officer. I cannot overstate the impact she has made on our school, providing stellar leadership of our financial operations for more than four years. During her tenure, SouthLake has gained remarkable financial strength, even while navigating economic fallout from the pandemic. As a CPA with an MBA and vast experience in educational settings, Harrella possesses a rare skill set that will be difficult to replace. I will miss her integrity, business acumen, and good humor, but she will remain on the job until she trains her replacement. We wish Harrella the best as she takes on a new challenge.

To conclude, I would like to highlight the outstanding instruction of our Choral Director Mary Ann Foltz. In addition to teaching music and choir to every age group at SouthLake,

Mary Ann directs our annual spring musical. This year’s performance was Once Upon a Mattress, a humorous adaptation of the fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.” Mary Ann is a master at casting, placing each student in an ideal role for their abilities. She can tell a brilliant story with a minimalistic set that can easily be transported and assembled for the off-site performance. She helps build a genuine sense of camaraderie so students feel supported and comfortable around each other and in front of an audience. She works tirelessly to construct sets, sew costumes, and rehearse music after hours, all while teaching a full load of music classes during the day. She is a program builder who has seen voluntary participation in choir more than double during her tenure. SouthLake is a better school because of the dedication and hard work of teachers like Mary Ann.

As I proofread, I see a lot of superlatives in this email. Maybe that is because we have much to celebrate. Certainly my job is to fix problems, but my job is also to highlight what is good about this place. As we near the conclusion of a tough academic year, I am thankful for all of those who quietly roll up their sleeves and put in the hard work to help make this place great. Hang in there. Spring is here; summer is coming.


Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Education Fine Arts Sports

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – March 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

My typical first-of-the-month correspondence comes to you a day late so I can report good news about our dual reaccreditation process which wrapped up this afternoon. 

We are accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and by Cognia, the K-12 division of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Every five years we complete a lengthy self-study to document our compliance with required standards, and then accreditors conduct a site visit. A team visited our campus this week and conducted interviews with administrators, teachers, support staff, students, parents, and School Board members. They also observed 47 different classes across campus. The team met with me today to deliver the expected good news of their affirmative recommendation to the ACSI Commission on Accreditation. Although their final report will not be complete for another month, I can highlight a few of their commendations and recommendations. The team commended our commitment to excellent financial stewardship, our focus on the wholistic development of children, our research-based approach to instruction and supporting technology, our emphasis on critical-thinking skills and biblical integration, and our policies and procedures to ensure the health and safety of our people. The team also gave recommendations for improving our ACSI teacher/administrator certification process and enhancing our curriculum guide documents. We learned much through the process to help us become a better school. I am particularly grateful to Mrs. Suzy Deneen for her stellar leadership of our highly successful reaccreditation process.

Town Hall
I want to thank those who attended our Town Hall meeting last month. While I question whether such meetings move us forward in the most relevant ways, I do believe they have helped us disseminate facts and express disagreements, both healthy practices for our community. I remain encouraged that almost all interactions at our Town Hall meetings this year have demonstrated civility and Christian charity. Our next meetings will likely be division specific (Lower School, Middle School, or Upper School) and we will be back in touch with you about dates and the topics we plan to discuss.

Exemplary Instruction
This month I would like to highlight excellent instruction by an Upper School teacher who wears many hats. Nathan Simpson teaches AP Computer Science, Algebra I, and Bible. He also serves on our Security Team, Technology Team, and coaches our Wrestling Team. In five seasons, Coach Simpson has coached four state champions, all of whom have gone on to compete nationally, placing 16th or better each time. This year, Coach Simpson had the honor of coaching his son Kaden to a state championship and an appearance at Nationals where he placed 12th. And did I mention that Kaden is a freshman? High School wrestlers have three more years to contend with Kaden’s fierce competitive drive and work ethic, and Coach Simpson’s skill as a mentor and coach. Congratulations to father and son on a remarkable season!

Our spring sports have started and we have great teams for you to watch as the weather warms. Spring Break begins in only 16 days.


Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Education Sports

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – February 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

The first month of the year is behind us, no small feat. Winter brought us a COVID surge, three weekends in a row of ice and snow (with a fourth in the forecast), a host of accompanying logistical challenges, and some highly competitive sporting events. Our varsity basketball team has been particularly fun to watch as they have a winning record in a talented conference playing a remarkably entertaining brand of basketball. With the playoffs on the schedule for February, I recommend you getting here to see a game when you are able.

February will bring us a site visit from one of our accrediting bodies, the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). This will conclude a years-long process whereby the Academy completed a comprehensive self-study, submitted supporting materials to ACSI for review, and is preparing for a team to visit at the end of the month. The Parent Teacher Fellowship will help us host and our teachers will be prepared to have visitors in their classrooms each of the days the ACSI team is on site. Pray for us as we complete our reaccreditation process.

Town Hall Meeting
The Parent Teacher Fellowship will host our next Town Hall meeting on Wednesday February 16, from 6:30 to 8:00 in the First Building Commons. The format will be much the same as our last meeting, beginning with an update on school matters from the Head of School followed by Q&A with our administrative team. If you would like to submit questions in advance, you may do so by sending your questions to

The First Building Commons will undergo a major renovation this summer in partnership with SouthLake Presbyterian Church. Your contributions to our annual fund will help make the Commons into a first-rate worship and meeting space with professional sound, lighting, and projection, along with a new stage, drop ceiling, and paint. In addition to use by the church on Sundays, the Commons will be used for weekly chapel services, school assemblies, parent gatherings, and fine arts events. This project would not be possible without strong enrollment and generous charitable giving by our families.

Tuition Rates
Last month I released tuition rates for the coming school year showing an increase of 4.8%. I failed to note that those rates are subject to Board approval, which I will seek at this month’s Board meeting. While inflation rates are near 7% for the past year, we remain committed to keeping SouthLake affordable for as many as possible while still taking care of the financial needs of our employees. Payroll expenses account for just under 70% of our operating revenue. You can find proposed tuition rates on our website and in last month’s email update.

January broke records in almost every pandemic category, and SouthLake was no exception. After a month that saw 106 students and 17 employees test positive, conditions are now improving. The positivity rate for Mecklenburg County is down to around 28% from its high of over 38% in early January. School cases are becoming less frequent as well. You can find all school statistics on our website under the COVID Dashboard. As before, when the positivity rate drops into the low/moderate range around 5% and school conditions improve, we will again implement mask-optional protocols. I am hopeful Omicron will subside as quickly as it surged.

Exemplary Teaching
This month I had the opportunity to observe Mrs. Kendra Boovy’s class as they studied a biography of Harriet Tubman (1820-1913). As an escaped slave, Union spy, and conductor on the so-called underground railroad, Tubman helped dozens of slaves escape captivity. She never lost a passenger and was never caught, even after slave owners posted a $40,000 reward for her capture. Mrs. Boovy introduced students to freedom quilts, a clandestine method of communication for abolitionists. Hung out to dry after the wash, quilts with particular designs helped fleeing slaves identify safe houses and navigate the best escape routes. Mrs. Boovy passed out sample designs and had students work in groups to make educated guesses as to the meaning of each. She used this exercise to teach students about Tubman, how the underground railroad worked, and the perilous journey to freedom. As we begin Black History Month, I am grateful for the dedication of our teachers to highlight African Americans who have shaped our nation’s history.

May God grant you grace and peace for the winter days ahead.


Matthew S. Kerlin
Head of School

Education Teaching