Staff Spotlight: Jonah Bookman

Staff Spotlight: Jonah Bookman

The quintessential California skateboarder/surfer, Jonah Bookman, was actually born in snowy Minnesota and lived there until he was six. At that point, his family moved to Dallas while his dad attended seminary and three years later, when Jonah was nine, the Bookman family moved to California. Because California is where he grew up, Jonah considers himself a Californian. Jonah has two older sisters; Erika, the oldest, lives in Savannah, Georgia with her husband and their five adopted kids. Kea is the middle child, lives in Cary and has three daughters enrolled at GRACE and one GRACE alumna (Class of 2016) who attends UNC.  

Jonah chose to teach at GRACE in part because his family had all left California for North Carolina and they had been trying to get him to move here for years. One day, when he was feeling particularly grumpy about his life in California, his sister Kea called and said there was a job opening at her kids’ school.  Jonah shares that he applied for the opening, somewhat on a whim, but admits that God opened doors in such a way that was impossible for him to deny that this was the next step for him. Since moving here three and a half years ago, Jonah was introduced to his beautiful wife by a GRACE student (pictured above). They married after 11 weeks of courtship and now they have a beautiful baby boy. Jonah concludes, “God is incredibly good.”

Students on the upper campus enjoy learning history from Mr. Bookman, but most of them don’t know the very unlikely path that brought him into a career in education. When asked about his own school experiences, Jonah admits that he didn’t technically graduate from high school. He tested out during his junior year because he was a horrible student and couldn’t stand school. This lack of academic focus continued for several years while Jonah worked every job you can imagine and pursued a variety of interests. His attitude toward school changed when he decided he wanted to be a teacher. At that point, he was 31 years old, but he states, “I rolled up my sleeves and got a degree!”  

When asked to share a memorable high school experience, Jonah replied that aside from leaving high school early, he remembers his 10th-grade biology teacher, Mr. Jolley.  Jonah mostly remembers arguing a lot about evolution vs. creation, but also remembers that Mr. Jolley was hilarious and a nice guy who made an effort to connect with him. He even went surfing with Jonah a few times! Coincidentally, it was Jonah’s frustration at not being able to answer Mr. Jolley’s Darwinist arguments that encouraged him to dive into the study of that controversy, which slowly turned him into a huge creation science nerd, which is how he got into teaching about 10 years ago.  So, thank you, Mr. Jolley!


When asked to share his favorite Bible verse, Jonah admits that his “favorite” changes often, but his current favorite is Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his path.” Jonah shares, “Life hasn’t turned out just how I planned it, and the Lord’s plan is turning out to be so much better than I ever even imagined it could be!”

Jonah’s dad is his mentor, and he always has been.  Jonah comments that he knows that some people think that mentors should be someone other than your parents, but Jonah has always wanted to be just like his dad, and he honestly can’t ever remember feeling otherwise. Jonah’s dad leads trips to Israel about six times a year and Jonah is passionate about helping to lead these trips. He’s gone on four of his dad’s trips and loves learning about the land and its connection to the Bible, and his dream is to one-day lead trips of his own after he learns the ropes from his dad, who is a walking encyclopedia of Biblical knowledge.  Jonah recommends that every believer, who has the resources, visit the holy land at least once in their lives as it’s an awesome opportunity.  Last year they brought a group of high-school/college age students with their families and chaperones, and they are doing it again this June and fellow faculty member Nate Dewey is coming along.  Do you want to plan a study trip to Israel in June 2019?  Jonah states, “You’ll never read your Bible the same way again…”