Ryan Baker Sandhills Classical Christian School Dean

As part of a leadership restructure reflecting the school’s long-range vision, Sandhills Classical Christian School (SCCS) Board Chairperson William Fields announced Ryan Baker as dean of academics. Baker will join the school on July 1, along with Dell Cook, who was named head of school last November. Rounding out the school’s new leadership team will be SCCS veteran Brandon Shell as dean of students.

“Sandhills Classical Christian School’s growth calls for an operational and administrative structure that creates a cohesive, consistent, and unified flow of curriculum, communication, and culture through the entire school,” said Fields. “Dell Cook as head of school, along with Ryan Baker as dean of academics and Brandon Shell of dean of students, will provide unparalleled leadership to help position SCCS as a premier classical Christian school.”

In a role that is new to SCCS, Baker will oversee all aspects of curriculum and instruction from kindergarten to twelfth grade, including faculty professional development, curriculum design, and academic programming.  Baker most recently served as headmaster at Grace Classical School in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and before that was Rhetoric School principal and dean of the Upper School at Cary Christian School in Cary, North Carolina. His teaching experience includes five years of teaching literature and humanities at Xavier College Prep in Phoenix, Arizona, and 12 years at Cary Christian School where students cited his teaching among the most impactful and important in their education. He holds a bachelor of science degree in English education from Northern Arizona University. He and his wife Heather have six children.

“We are pleased that Ryan chose to join the SCCS family,” said Cook. “He is an exceptional administrator and educator and will serve our community well.”

Shell’s role of dean of students is also new to SCCS. In this position, Shell will oversee all aspects of student life and culture from kindergarten to twelfth grade, including the house system, athletics, mission and cultural activities, student discipleship, and discipline. Shell has served SCCS for two years as physical education teacher, athletic director, and assistant to the principal of Upper School.

“Mr. Shell has endeared himself to students, teachers, and parents as a man of strong character and integrity,” said Cook. “He has an exceptional capacity to shepherd hearts and minds to Christ that plays a significant role in our school’s ministry.” Shell will continue teaching physical education as he assumes the dean of students role. 

The roles of dean of academics and dean of students replace the previous positions of Lower School and Upper School principals.

New leadership is not the only change for SCCS. Construction crews will soon break ground on the second phase of the school’s new 60-acre campus on Rays Bridge Road in Whispering Pines.  This phase will include a building to accommodate sixth through twelfth grade. A building for kindergarten through fifth grade opened in August 2018. Next in line for development are an arts and athletic center and competition fields.

Founded in 1999 with five kindergarteners in a local church, Sandhills Classical Christian School currently educates more than 300 students in preschool through high school on several campuses in Whispering Pines, Southern Pines, and Pinehurst. Its mission is to graduate citizens of excellence who observe, think, and articulate with humility, reason, and clarity for the glory of God. The school earned full accreditation from the Association of Classical Christian Schools in 2017 and is one of three fully accredited classical Christian schools in North Carolina. Students at SCCS test at an average of 2.9 years above grade level on the Stanford Achievement Test and the average ACT score is 27 – eight points higher than the average for North Carolina public schools’ students. To learn more about the school, visit www.sandhillsccs.org or call (910) 695-1874.


Courtesy photo/Contributed.

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