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

Choices (for college freshmen)

[The following is a brief version of a devotional I’ve done for years at Freshmen Orientation at Samford University.]

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
Proverbs 19.21

In 1986, at the age of 17, I left home for college. I loaded up my car with all my possessions, and drove, for the first time by myself, the 60 miles from my hometown of Lafayette to Louisiana State University. I got directions from my dad, who told me to drive East 60 miles and take the first exit after crossing the river. “You can’t miss it,” he said confidently. But after 60 miles I saw no river, no city, only farmland. I pulled over and called my dad to tell his directions were less than adequate. He asked me for a landmark. The last sign I’d seen said “Lake Charles – 10 miles.” After a long pause on the phone, my dad sighed and said, “Son, you drove the wrong way on the interstate.”
As a result of my directional faux pas, I arrived 2 hours late to check-in at my assigned residence hall and I was assigned a different floor and a different roommate. Denis McCain, a guy I knew from my hometown, later introduced me to Jon Barton, who introduced me to Chris Place, who introduced me to Jonlyn Robson, who later became Jonlyn Kerlin – my wife of nearly 20 years and the mother of my 3 children. The moral of the story is that because of a driving error, I met the love of my life.

The author of Proverbs recognizes two realities that we sometimes see as contradictory. First, we must make choices, and hopefully wise ones. We consider our options, weigh the pros and cons, seek wise counsel, pray and follow what we know from God’s word, trust the direction of God’s Spirit, and then make a decision. We don’t always hear with crystal clarity the obvious voice of God telling us specifically what to do. Sometimes our choices are between two seemingly equally good options. Often, we must make decisions with limited information and take risks. Decision-making is a complex business, especially for those seeking to follow God’s will. We will often get it right and we will sometimes get it wrong. We are redeemed and we are fallen. Such is life.
But the author of Proverbs also recognizes a second reality – the Lord’s purposes prevail. This means that sometimes God creates, from our worst mistakes, His greatest plans. Consider Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers, mistreated by his owners, but ultimately promoted to second in command in Egpyt. “You meant it for evil,” Joseph tells his brothers, “but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50.19). Consider Judas, that most reviled of biblical characters. Who greedily sought to profit from Jesus’ downfall. Could there be a worse mistake? Yet all that he did was to fulfill prophecy and to accomplish God’s overarching purposes for His creation. This is difficult for us to wrap our brains around, to be honest. That God can take our mistakes and those of others, and use them to accomplish his greater purposes, is a testament both to our frailty and God’s sovereignty. So take courage and make decisions boldly and wisely. Do not be paralyzed by the fact that you aren’t sure which way to go, which school to attend, where to live or exactly what to study. Do the things you know you must do to consider wisely your ways. And then, even if God has not spoken to you in an audible voice (God does this rather rarely you know), be bold, make a choice and own it, whether it turns out well or not. Sometimes your most embarrassing choices, rather than your best ones, will result in God’s greatest blessings.

God's Will