Paul Gaffney, founder/commissioner of GAPA, a perfect example of how the concepts of sports, innovative educational programs, and community partnerships all worked together to make a difference in preparing a Sports Enthusiast for college, a career, and life. His personal life story is what inspired him to create GAPA.
Before the crowds started screaming “Showtime”, before becoming a professional athlete and a member of the basketball Hall of Fame, or developing GAPA, there was a baby boy born in a small coal-mining town in rural Kentucky to an unmarried teenage mom. Realizing, during her pregnancy, that she could not provide for him properly, she placed him up for adoption before birth. At two years old, his adoptive mother died with him by her side.
His adoptive father, then a single parent, raised him alone.
By all accounts, these scenarios are the makings of a negative path for an “at-risk child”. This is how Paul Gaffney's life started, but his outcome is quite different from what it could have been. His life is a perfect example of how the concepts of sports, innovative educational programs, and community partnerships all worked together to make a difference in preparing a Sports Enthusiast for college, a career, and life. His personal life story is the concepts of what inspired him to create GAPA.
Gaffney played professionally with the Harlem Globetrotters for 15 years, has over 42 years of experience in the sports industry, and has worked over 11 years in the public school system. He has a B.S. degree in Business Management from Tennessee Wesleyan University, is a member of the AAU’s Future Leaders Committee, and a Board of Director on several boards. Gaffney has been inducted in the Tennessee Wesleyan University’s Hall of Fame and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame with the Harlem Globetrotters.
He knows the Journey!
GAPA uses research-based curriculum and instructional strategies called: T.E.A.M.S to ensure that all Sports Enthusiasts receive a high quality and results-oriented education. GAPA is committed to providing a college preparatory curriculum that covers the Tennessee College-and-Career-Ready Standards, NCAA clearinghouse eligibility requirements, and standards found on college entrance exams. Our curriculum is tailored to the needs and interests of our Sports Enthusiasts while also infusing sports-career programs and practices through our Sports University elective courses. Each aspect of our learning program enhances our Sports Enthusiasts’ abilities to think critically and problem solve.
GAPA is dedicated to Technology, Engineering, Athletes, Mathematics, and Science while growing our Sports Enthusiasts into well-rounded individuals. Our schedule provides for additional learning time in the areas of Math, English, Language Arts, and Reading. It also allows scholars an opportunity to focus additional time in their chosen area of growth whether they are non athletic or athletic scholars. Sports Enthusiasts receive the principles and instrumentatinon of sports careers through our career development programs. As they develop, they will apply themselves in various contexts, which results in leveraging their skills in any future sports industry of choice. The T.E.A.M.S concepts uses the lessons learned alone with the collaboration of designated learning and sports activities to emulate “real-life situations”.
Many schools talk about utilizing literacy across the curriculum, but GAPA has specific systems in place to ensure that all Sports Enthusiasts are taught literacy skills in all classes. Those skills teach scholars how to read, write, speak, and listen daily in all classes. Additionally, they learn to construct effective arguments the moment they enter our doors. Literacy is an essential part of teaching and learning at GAPA because it is needed regardless of one’s future career. We prioritize all literacy skills in every course. Our graduates are equipped to be champions in college and their future careers.
At GAPA, we believe school is one of the main places that teach scholars the skills necessary to achieve their goals in life with growth and achievement measured often. Just as data is tracked in sports related and other professions, we track data regularly and use this data to inform our practices. We teach our Sports Enthusiasts how to read and analyze their academic data in order to set goals for themselves. The Classroom Coaches, Parents, and Sports Enthusiasts use data to measure progress, set high expectations, and be on track to reach their highest potential.
The GAPA campus creates unique and “real-life experiences” for our International and Stateside Sports Enthusiasts. The campus develops scholars in the World of Athletics by increasing their knowledge and natural ability through innovative educational, recreational, and social relations. GAPA’s campus includes state of the art technology and premier amateur sports facilities. Our sports campus is able to create tremendous opportunities for the Sports Enthusiasts who attend our school and to serve the surrounding community though various forms of outreach.
Research shows that parents are the children’s first coaches and parental involvement has positive effects in a child’s educational growth. GAPA recognizes parents as an essential part of their child’s educational experience. After all, they were the first coaches of our Sports Enthusiasts. GAPA ensures that all Sports Enthusiasts and their families know that they are a vital part of our school and valuable to the success of our Sports Enthusiasts. As they matriculate to GAPA, we expect parents to actively volunteer and participate in designated activities throughout the academic year.
Summary: The GAPA's academic program at the Charter School or the Postgraduate Program is to leverage and foster the habits of a Sports Enthusiast’s mindset, so they can carefully observe, be critical thinkers, and have a desire for deep and enduring understanding. Through a process-oriented approach that emphasizes hands-on and project-based learning, our comprehensive curriculum encourages sports enthusiasts to recognize and value multiple perspectives when considering complex challenges.
All sports enthusiasts commit to a full-time, college-preparatory curriculum in addition to studies in their chosen sport elective. The academic schedule allows sports enthusiasts to focus on fewer courses at a time, resulting in meaningful engagement with subject matter, promoting natural curiosity, and solidifying learning. Classroom teammates master both the subject matter and the skills necessary for future academic success, while gaining valuable context for their chosen sports career path and their growing understanding of the sports world around them.