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Q&A With CAC’s 30-Year Employees

30 Year EmployeesCAC Spotlight on Carole Nelms, Paula Brady, Sonya Gates and Hal Gates

For more than 30 years, Carole Nelms, Paula Brady, Sonya and Hal Gates have been serving our school family in various ways at CAC’s three campuses. The four shared with the E-Mustang staff about their experience from more than three decades at CAC.

How did you come to be at CAC, and what roles have you served in during your time here?

CN: I began working at CAC in 1974 after graduating from Harding. I’ve worked at the PV and University campuses, and I’ve taught grades K-4 at different times. Now I teach first grade at PV Elementary.

PB: At the beginning of the 1974-75 school year, CAC had a few extra first grade students, so I was hired to work with eight first graders. I began teaching Pre-K 4 at the Sylvan Hills campus when Pat Sherrill retired at the end of 1981. I had begun substituting when our children Andrew and Ashley were in school.

SG: I came to the school in 1982 after the bookkeeper told me she was leaving and asked me if I wanted to apply for her job. I have only worked at the high school campus, but I’ve had several positions.

HG: I began working here in August 1979 as the high school principal, and then went back to the classroom as a teacher and coach in 1984. I worked at the high school campus from 1979-2012, and now at NLR Elementary as the maintenance and grounds person.

What has changed most since you began?

CN: I think technology has changed the most since I started teaching. Tech for students and faculty is much more advanced now.

PB: The most obvious change to me is the academic expectations set both by educators and parents. Children are exposed to more at younger ages and expected to perform at higher levels. I place more value on young children learning to get along with others, to be responsible for their choices, and to discover the joys of stories, art, music, etc.

SG: Computers! We didn’t have any when I started and all checks were handwritten. I had to type the monthly report from a general ledger book I hand-entered.

HG: The “physical plant.” We moved from a Jacksonville church building to Windsong Drive, and since then the gym has changed to the auditorium. There’s no longer a gravel driveway and parking lot, or a wide dirt path some people called a “track.”

What’s one thing that hasn’t changed during your time here?

CN: Working with great families who desire a well-rounded Christian education for their children.

PB: The emphasis on Christian values, parent participation in school activities, teachers going beyond the basics to meet individual student needs (in and out of classroom), strong leadership and the quality extracurricular programs.

SG: The people that I work with have changed, but the reason people work at CAC has not: The love of God and sharing it with the students.

HG: The common goal or mission shared by faculty, staff and parents has remained even as new faculty and staff came in.

What has kept you here all these years?

CN: CAC is just a great place to teach. Being able to pray and teach children about Jesus daily is a wonderful opportunity. Working with a faculty, staff and families that work together and care for each other is a blessing.

PB: I’m still here because I love children and I love CAC – both are a huge part of my life. My husband Anthony has served on the CAC board for many years, and both our children went all the way through CAC and taught at CAC as well. I have been blessed by my students, their parents and my fellow teachers and staff for 35 years. One of my greatest joys is running into and being remembered by former students. All this is coming to an end as I retire this year, but my connection to and love for CAC will continue.

SG: I didn’t really think we would be here this long, but once the boys got in school we were not going to move and change things for them.  After they graduated, it was just a normal job for me. I enjoy working here with the faculty and staff, and I will probably retire from here.

HG: I can’t think of any better place to be or better people to work with.


We’re grateful for these individuals’ service and the role they’ve played in shaping the school we attend today.