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History of AACS

The American Association of Christian Schools began in August 1972 in Miami, Florida. Instrumental in the founding of AACS, Al Janney, president and founder of the Florida Association of Christian Schools, was president of AACS from 1972 to 1992. At the first recorded AACS board meeting, held in Dallas, Texas, on November 30, 1972, Dr. Janney set forth the question: “Where is the separatist organization, on a national level, that will champion our cause?” Thus was the need for AACS clearly voiced and firmly established. During this time, the Christian school movement in the United States was growing rapidly and experiencing opposition. AACS provided its membership leadership, legislative protection, and high-quality educational programs.

AACS expanded services as its membership increased throughout the 1970s. In 1978 Arno (Bud) Weniger, Jr., became executive vice president and assumed responsibility for day-to-day operations, and the office was moved from Hialeah, Florida, to Normal, Illinois. The nonprofit, tax-exempt organizational status of AACS was clarified in 1980. When Gerry Carlson was promoted to executive director in 1985, AACS opened a DC-area office in Fairfax, Virginia. Under Dr. Weniger’s leadership (1978–1988), AACS continued to grow, with the number of member schools passing the 1,000 mark in 1982.

Upon Dr. Janney’s retirement in 1992, the AACS national office moved to Independence, Missouri, and Carl Herbster became president. Under his leadership (1992–2003), AACS services and schools expanded. Directed by Charles Walker, the AACS education office opened in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1993. The AACS legal office was established in Atlanta, Georgia, in May 1996. In 1998, AACS purchased a four-level building in the Capitol Hill Historic District within one block of the U.S. House of Representatives office buildings to house the AACS office in Washington, D.C.

In 2003, Dr. Keith Wiebe became the third president of AACS, and Dr. Charles Walker was appointed to serve as executive director. The AACS national office was moved from Independence, Missouri, to Chattanooga, Tennessee, in September of 2003. In 2009, Dr. Charles Walker resigned as executive director and education director, and Dr. Jeff Walton became the executive director of AACS. Mike Rouse served as president 2016–2024. Gary Peltier joined the staff; and in 2015–16 AACS opened its testing center, for distribution and scoring services for the Iowa Assessments and Cognitive Abilities Tests. Ed Francis joined the team in 2019 as the education director. AACS staff moved into the newly constructed AACS national office building in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the spring of 2021. Membership in 2023 was 701 schools and 118,000 students and professional staff. The current president, Richard Callahan, was elected in 2024.

The mission for AACS has remained virtually unaltered since its founding in 1972: to provide legislative protection and high-quality educational programs and services to member schools nationwide.