Friday, September 25, 2020

Christian Schools Instill a Protestant Family Ethic (reposted with credit given)

Link to a great article about the influence of Christian education on its students.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Who Influences Your Child for 7 Hours, 5 Days a Week?

Information from a couple of recent local news stories helps underline how important it is for parents to understand why Christian schools exist, why those of us who work in them are committed to the kind of personal sacrifice required to serve in this way and why parents need to be just as committed to the same kind of sacrifice to make it possible.  

No "Opt-out" Option for Parents

The Inclusive Curriculum bill passed in Illinois last year now requires schools to teach objectives which include objectives about the positive contributions made to history by persons of alternative sexual orientation or gender identity.  The stated purpose of the instruction is (1) to introduce students to the concept of sexual orientation and what being gay, lesbian or bi-sexual means, and gender identity, and what it means to be transgendered, and (2) to provide students with information which shows the historical achievements of persons of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered persons in order to cultivate a favorable view of "alternate lifestyles" related to sexual orientation or gender identity.  

Teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in school is nothing new.  What's new about what is happening this school year under Illinois' new "inclusive curriculum" mandate is that parents are no longer notified when this will be taught and are not able to opt their children out of the instruction because it is integrated into the regular curriculum.  As far as we can tell, it is part of instruction beginning at Pre-K4.  

These are issues related to behavior choices and moral values.  Parents should be able to decide when it is appropriate to introduce this instruction to their children and from what perspective they will approach this issue when it is time to discuss it.  In the public school system, you are not offered either of those options and while you have no idea how the teacher who is presenting these objectives will approach it, you can be fairly certain that it will not take into consideration your family's Christian values or perspective on these issues, which has been mischaracterized as "hateful bigotry."  

Would you be comfortable placing your child in the hands of a school system that considers the Christian perspective on sexual orientation and gender identity "hateful bigotry"?  

Required Hindu Instruction in CPS?

Apparently several Chicago public schools have introduced transcendental meditation techniques to assist with classroom control and to assist in reducing disciplinary incidents in schools with high percentages of violent incidents.  The activity, which was required at several schools, is called "quiet time" and involves Hindu worship rituals during the meditation. No parent permission was sought.  Students in schools where this was occurring were required to participate in the sessions.  The denials that this activity was "religious" are appalling in that those who are advocating it do not seem to have the ability to recognize that transcendental meditation is a worship practice of Hinduism.  

The other disturbing aspect of some of the responses made to this activity comes from school officials who don't really seem to care that "quiet time" is inherently religious in nature.  They're OK with that, as long as they get the desired results.  The effort to keep any mention of what is going on at school with their kids and to keep parents in the dark is also, for lack of a better term, appalling.  

Your kids spend at least seven hours a day, five days a week, at school.  Let that sink in for just a minute.

These Aren't Rare Events

The public education system claims to operate under the principle of "religious neutrality."  If that were really the case, then neither human sexuality nor any kind of meditation practice falls within the scope of its mission and purpose.  But "religious neutrality" means that there is no place in the educational process for acknowledgement of the existence of God and as a result, the prevailing philosophy which governs the development of all curriculum objectives required in public schools follows the humanist philosophy which acknowledges human intellect as the highest form of intelligence in the universe.  

And just a word about Charter schools.  Charter schools are publicly funded and follow the same curriculum objectives and educational philosophy as the public school system.  Many Charter schools have a mission-driven purpose that can be hostile to any kind of Christian perspective and some are operated by groups that are openly hostile to any Judaeo-Christian influence.  And from an academic perspective, they are generally not as strong as most public schools.  

Sexual orientation and gender identity are just the tip of the iceberg.  One of the goals of the humanist movement as it began to fill in the vacuum left by the enforcement of "religious neutrality" on the public school system is to eliminate influences which they consider negative.  The founders and most of the adherents of humanism are atheists or agnostics, so as a consequence, they have developed a curriculum which is not specifically "neutral" when it comes to Christian faith in particular, but which is hostile toward it.  This secularization has invaded every grade level and every subject area and it permeates all instruction.  It makes an effort to conceal itself from parents to avoid complaints and it prompts schools to spend time teaching a social agenda rather than basic skills, and that has affected academic performance. 

And if your kids attend a public or charter school, they are exposed to this every day.  

Let's be Proud but not Prideful

There's no doubt that if your children attend MCA, they are spending their seven hours a day, five days a week in an environment which acknowledges God's existence, glorifies his Son Jesus and depends on his Holy Spirit for leadership and discernment.  That's what sets us apart from publicly supported education and is the distinctive purpose for our existence.  

But you're not sacrificing academic achievement and quality to be here, either.  By all of the measures established in public education for determining the academic progress of students, MCA students demonstrate a level of achievement that is well above the surrounding public and charter schools, and even exceeds most of the religious-based private schools in our part of the city.  Our alumni are easily admitted to the most challenging academic programs and generally distinguish themselves when they get there.  They have a background of Biblical study and training that is not easily swayed.  There's no doubt that they are in a place where their faith will grow, but they are also in a place where their level of achievement will exceed expectations as well.  

Monday, August 31, 2020

Not the Week We Planned, But Still Counting Blessings

On Monday and Tuesday, our students came back excited and happy to be back and school, but their parents appeared to be even more joyous.  We spent multiple hours over the summer planning for what we knew would be a very different and unusual school year, but at least we were here and able to conduct classes face to face. We are weary from trying to navigate through this viral pandemic, wondering what surprises are waiting tomorrow after we've experienced today's trials.  

We did not expect to become involved in contact tracing and E-learning for all students the first week of school.  But like everything else involved with this viral pandemic, we had to initiate procedures for handling a potential contact with a case of COVID-19 the second day of school.  

Our procedures worked well.  We were able to make the announcement and conduct a parent meeting via zoom that evening, got everyone involved tested the next day and had two full days of E-learning as the testing results came back.  The news turned out to be all good, confirming that the procedures we have in place work very well and accomplish their purpose and providing us with answered prayer and assurance that God is, indeed, watching over our campus. 

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses....

There is a perspective that can be placed with all of this.  Last week, many friends of mine who live along the gulf coast in Southeast Texas, where we lived for over 20 years, spent their week boarding up windows and preparing to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Laura, which turned out to be one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the gulf coast in decades.  Though some parts of Texas got lots of wind and rain, Lake Charles, Louisiana was directly hit by this category 4 hurricane.  Schools there will not be opening for some time, maybe not before Christmas in some cases, because the damage was catastrophic.  We need to thank God that our brush with the virus worked out well and turn our attention to praying for and looking for ways to help people in Southwestern Louisiana.  

"Let us therefore draw near to the throne of grace with confidence, that we might receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

This will not be the last time we have to do contact tracing, quarantine or testing of someone in our school community.  Until medical science gets this under control, either through testing and isolation or by coming up with a useable vaccine, there will be other instances where someone must quarantine or get testing and some students may wind up spending time in E-learning as a result. Hopefully, since we have followed guidelines and grouped students into cohorts, it will not require closing the whole school down again.  But we always have the ability to find strength through prayer and we can always take comfort in knowing that God is watching over us, protecting us and knows exactly what we need when we need it.  This is a great time for our students to get an object lesson in the power of prayer.  

Please pray for the people of Southwest Louisiana.  On top of everything else, they now have the aftermath of a hurricane to deal with.  They need to have some mercy and grace directed their way. 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Insights Into Midwestern Christian Academy's Decision to Open for Classes August 24

 The doors at MCA will open to students on Monday, August 24 for the first time since classes were sent home to do online learning on March 16.  We're still in the middle of a viral pandemic, though in both Chicago and Illinois, the numbers have gone down considerably since the peak last April.  Many considerations were taken into account in our decision-making process to open back up this fall.

Faith in God and Belief in the Power of Prayer  

As a Christian school, we believe in the power of prayer and that God provides both guidance and protection as an answer to prayer, and as information was received from multiple sources for the purpose of making this decision, we depended on that guidance for the ability to discern truth from error when making this decision.  Today, members of Midwest Bible Church came to the school after the Sunday service, praying for all of our staff and our students who will gather there tomorrow, adding the element of God's protection to the discernment already provided.  

 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.  Hebrews 4:14-16 CSB

As multiple sources of information were provided and considered, decisions were made prayerfully, asking God for discernment to determine facts that would lead to practices which would protect students and staff from infection, allowing us to open the school in complete compliance with state and city health department guidelines and orders.  We've also prayed for God to keep those who come to school each day safe and trust in his power and presence to accomplish his will.  And that, very simply, is why we are opening on August 24. 

Compliance With the Law

In discerning exactly how to open and what procedures are necessary for the protection of our students, we are following the guidelines developed for COVID-19 through medical science, distributed by the Centers for Disease Control, the state and city boards of health and the recommendations of key hospital and medical care entities which provide accurate health data.  

  • All students and staff will wear face protection.
  • All students and staff will practice social distancing everywhere in the building. 
  • Handwashing, hand sanitizing and general health safety practices will be elements of daily instruction until they become routine habits. 
  • The building will be cleaned and disinfected several times each day. 
  • Movement between classrooms by students is limited to only that which is absolutely necessary.  Students are grouped into "cohorts" with group size fitting the footprint of the classroom to which they have been assigned.  
  • Wellness checks at home and at school, including a daily screening and temperature check, will be performed.  Students with suspicious symptoms or a fever will remain at home until a negative test is established or the symptoms have been resolved for more than 24 hours.  
These measures have a well-established track record of preventing the spread of coronavirus and are supported by current, up-to-date medical research.  

Under the current phase of the Illinois emergency act related to the pandemic, schools are permitted to open with these measures in place and with limits on the size of gatherings and class sizes.  MCA is in compliance with all of these measures and is opening in accordance with the conditions of the current phase for our region.  

See Romans 12:1-7 and I Peter 2:13-17 for Biblical principles related to this specific matter.  If we are teaching our students to be obedient to God's word, then so must we be obedient to it.

Considerations in Our Own Unique Situation

While our local public schools, along with many other school systems around the state and the country, have determined that it is safer for them to keep their students in an online learning situation, we have based our decision based on our own school community.  We received the support of an overwhelming number of the members of our school community in a recent survey.  Over 85% of our parents favor re-opening, leading us to offer both a face-to-face classroom experience and E-learning for those who prefer to keep their kids at home for a little bit longer.  

Class sizes in the public schools are too large to effectively "social distance" students in most of their classrooms.  Our class sizes don't overwhelm our facility, and the caps we placed on our numbers allowed us to accommodate our numbers.  Our class size limits now are smaller than they were prior to the pandemic, but the classes we have will fit within the classrooms with the ability to distance safely.  If our classes had been much larger, we may have had to consider a "hybrid" plan to keep from turning away students but at the present time, the balance between students who will be on campus and those who will be E-learning allows us to accommodate everyone who wants to come to school.  

Most Christian schools across the country have similar circumstances.  They can accommodate their students and the familiarity that exists between families and the school allows for much tighter control of circumstances than the public schools may be able to exercise over their students.  There are many advantages to being small, and this is turning out to be one that is significant during a time of need. 

Value Placed on Academic Achievement

MCA places the highest value on our Christian identity and atmosphere, but we also place a high priority on academic achievement.  Our students achieve mastery of academic benchmarks at a much higher percentage than their counterparts in the public school system, even those students in selective enrollment and honor programs or academic charter schools.  E-learning at home served as a stop-gap measure as we figured out how to navigate during a viral pandemic, but it can't replace what happens in one of our classrooms.  Our most recent standardized achievement test results indicate over 90 percent of MCA students meet the expected student outcomes in mathematics, reading and language arts, and an even higher percentage in social studies and science.  That's 40% higher than the top achieving "scholastic" public school in our part of the city and ranks among the top-performing religious-based private schools in our area. 

We have no control over how this virus will spread and whether or not that will affect the operation of our school down the road.   We are praying that the worst is over and that we can remain in school without interruption throughout the school year.  We see this window of opportunity as a gift and we're grateful for it.  

Please Join Us 

We have chosen Philippians 2:4 as our theme verse for this school year.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.  Like many of our fellow Christian schools, the pandemic has had a long term negative effect on our whole ministry.  Contributors were unable to support our scholarship fund to the extent they had done previously.  We have reached out to help as many of our families in need as we can, but we have some families who are now in circumstances that have prevented their return to MCA.  

The best thing you can do for us is to join us in prayer.  This is something we can benefit from each day.  Be patient as we make adjustments and figure things out.  That's a daily struggle.  We have families who can use a hand financially.  Are you blessed?  Think about helping meet someone else's needs.  

During a webinar last spring, after a presentation on E-learning strategies, an education professor from Grand Canyon University, my alma mater, said that this pandemic is giving Christian schools the opportunity to show that this is our finest hour.  It is my hope and prayer that these coming days will be the finest hours of Midwestern Christian Academy.  

Monday, July 20, 2020

Open Letter to the MCA School Community About Re-Opening

July 20, 2020

To our Students, their Parents, our Teachers and Staff Members: 

Under the present Phase 4 re-opening status issued by the State of Illinois, Midwestern Christian Academy is planning to begin classes on campus with the first day of school being scheduled for Monday, August 24, 2020.  After closing out the previous school year with online E-learning, we are anxious to get back together as a school community.  We are grateful for all of the work our teachers and staff did in preparing for and conducting nine weeks of distance learning, but as Christian educators who place a high value on both the spiritual atmosphere of the school environment and on the quality of the academic program, we know there is no substitute for the order and dynamics of classroom learning. 

The security and safety of our staff and students is one of our highest priorities.  The process of developing a plan for re-opening school has taken many hours to develop, has involved the input from multiple sources, requiring discernment to make decisions about re-opening that will keep all of the families of students and staff members safe and healthy. 

Prayer is the Foundation
With information coming from many different sources, the school’s commitment to being a Christian ministry has led to our dependence on prayer during this time of planning and decision making.

Trust in the Lord with your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6, NRSV

“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!  Matthew 7:7-11 NRSV

 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 NRSV

We trust God to answer our prayers and give us the wisdom and discernment we need as we gather the information we need and make decisions regarding the measures we will take to keep our students, staff members and parents safe during this pandemic.  We believe God answers prayers and encourage every student, parent and staff member to pray for the safety of our campus every day! 

Credible and Reliable Information Sources
During the process of developing plans for the re-opening of school, along with contingency plans to address potential situations which may emerge as this pandemic continues, receiving reliable information from credible sources is an issue of major importance.  Recognizing that this virus brings with it a whole new set of issues, we have determined that our decisions will be based on credible information that is supported by medical research.  Consensus has been reached regarding what is known about the spread of COVID-19 in multiple public and private venues around the world. 

This information is provided to us through various public health agencies including the Federal Centers for Disease Control, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Chicago Department of Public Health.  Information affecting decisions we must make regarding how school will re-open this fall is also confirmed for us by individuals within our own school and church communities who are medical professionals and who keep us up to date on any recent development that have been supported by medical research.  

Consultation and Consensus in the Larger Christian School Community
Since we are not a public school, there are many situations and needs that we do not have in common with our local public schools.  Our decisions must be made based on the needs of our students and staff members and reflect what is best for them.  The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is a valuable resource in giving general interpretations and applications of each of the re-opening phases of the state to the schools.  It is up to us to interpret and apply this information to our situation.  

We have much in common with other Christian schools, especially those who minister and serve in other parts of our own city.  Both the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and the Chicago Christian Urban Educators (CCUE) Bright Promise Foundation have provided us with valuable resources and information that is much more relevant and applicable to us.  Through these connections, we are in direct contact with other Christian school leaders and are able to share information and insights which have helped us develop a plan for re-opening that will meet our unique needs. 

Christian Community is Necessary for Success
 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy,  make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-4, NRSV

Putting together a plan to re-open school during a viral pandemic has been physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting.  The responsibility we have for making sure our students are able to learn effectively and grow spiritually is already a daily challenge and the level of responsibility has been greatly increased by the risk, at whatever level it may exist, posed by the uncertainties that still exist surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic. 

But MCA is a ministry of Christ’s church, and it is made up of people who are Christ’s followers.  Our common bond in education is the faith we have placed in Jesus as our Lord and Savior and that is a trust that is powerful enough to bring about spiritual unity that conquers fear and gives us an abundant life.  In most cases, parents have placed their children in this Christian school because that is how they want their education to be seasoned, with the salt and light of God’s grace through faith in Jesus.  It is why our teachers and staff make the sacrifices they do to work in this ministry. 

This is a time which calls for us to come together in a spirit of unity and in the power of the Holy Spirit and be God’s people.  Our school can do this successfully by trusting God.  We have made a written plan which we hope addresses every possible contingency we may face over the next nine months.  But we have a written Bible that addresses the issues we need to overcome to get through these coming days and weeks and give our students what they need to become the people that God is calling them to be.  Let’s step out on faith, trust God and see what he does.

R. Lee Saunders

Thursday, July 9, 2020

A Time to Pull Together: Spiritual Unity During Difficult Times

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3-4 

One of the songs that we used to sing at summer Bible camp and in Vacation Bible School was a little chorus called "Down in My Heart."  It started with a verse that repeated the word "joy" four times, so you'd remember it.  The word was embedded in my memory as an outline of the priorities we value as a Christian.  If you have true "joy," that means you put Jesus first, others second and yourself last.  I've always remembered that, and there are multiple places in the Bible which provide corroboration and support for that particular order.

The Holy Spirit is the bond that draws Christians together.  We are in a spiritual family relationship, brothers and sisters in Christ.  In the Baptist church where I grew up, adults would often address each other that way, as "Brother Jim" led the music in worship and "Sister Johnnie" played the piano.  In sixth grade, I had to get used to hearing my homeroom teacher called "Sister Jeannie" at church, because at school, to me, she was "Mrs. Mangum."  The church is a unique spiritual community that brings believers in Christ together in a community that has a shared vision, mission and purpose.  And at Midwestern Christian Academy, where parents have enrolled their children because they share a common vision, mission and purpose for their education, the Holy Spirit brings us together in community that is united by a bond of faith in Jesus as our savior.

Events of this past spring have had a major impact on the operation of our school. Our classroom instruction was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the closure of schools in Chicago on March 16.  At MCA, our administration and staff invested in some quick adapting and planning to continue with whatever means was left to us, mainly electronic communication via the internet.  Our staff put in the extra work that was necessary to provide our students with up to 3 hours a day of live, on-line instruction and additional guided practice helping students meet the expected benchmarks in their core subjects.

Our parents have provided us with both encouragement and feedback from this experience.  We are equipped, if it becomes necessary at some point down the road, to return to a distance learning experience that will be much more organized and polished than what we offered this past spring.  We listened, learned, observed, compared, analyzed and concluded.

We have also prepared our campus and adjusted our schedule and our way of doing things to make it possible for our students to return to school on August 24 to an environment that is academically excellent, spiritually unified and encouraging and physically safe and healthy.  We have had to change our way of doing some things to make this possible.  But our staff desires to lead the way in setting an example of humility, willing to sacrifice personal comfort and preference so that our students can return.  There is no substitute for students gathering together and learning in a classroom environment.  

This is one of those moments when our whole school community needs to "pull together" and be unified in the Spirit so that this works for everyone.  Some routines will be changed, some classes will be different and there will be changes.  Teachers and staff are willing to do what is necessary to make this work.  We are asking our parents to do the same, to seek out a spirit of unity through prayer and be willing to do what will be asked of them and to pitch in and help out when they see a need.

This isn't going to be easy.  But in all of our planning and preparation, above everything else, we place our trust and hope in God.  This isn't a surprise to him.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but one who has in every respect been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:15-16, ESV

So let's ring the bell, open the doors and get the school year started.  Here are some ways you can help us out.
  • Join us in approaching His throne of grace on our behalf, asking for mercy and grace to help in our time of need.  
  • We have given hours of prayerful and careful consideration to our planning for the re-opening of school.  Please read the information you are provided and take on a cooperative spirit of unity as you prepare and send your child to school each day.  Please be patient, especially during the first several days of school as students and teachers adjust to new routines which may slow things down and take some adjusting time.  
  • School may look quite different in the fall than it has in the past.  Be prepared and willing to accept changes even though they may not be your preference.  The decisions we must make are to provide for the safety of all of our students. 
  • We have some families for whom the stay-at-home orders last spring have put in a bind.  Can you share some of what God has given you with them so that their children don't have to leave their school as a result of something over which they had no control? 
  • If you have the ability to volunteer and help out, please speak up and let us know. 
  • Information that we receive comes from reliable, medically sound, scientific research-driven sources.  We consider this information prayerfully when making decisions that involve the safety and security of our students and staff.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

God Does Have a Plan for Your Child's Life (Part 1)

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28, NRSV

Several years ago, while serving at another school, we had the fortunate circumstance of seeing the enrollment of a class moving from fifth to sixth grade increase to the point where we needed two homerooms and two teachers.  Sixth grade was a busy year that included a year-long history class project and it was also the year that students tested for math aptitude for placement in Pre-Algebra in seventh grade.  So getting the class size a little smaller was important.

Finding a teacher who would be willing to work for the salary we paid was always the first consideration whenever there was a staff opening.  Sixth grade in this particular school was still a self-contained classroom, meaning the homeroom teacher would provide instruction in the core subject areas including Bible, math, science, social studies, reading and English/Language Arts.  The other consideration that always pops up when there is more than one class on a grade level in a Christian school is whether or not parents will be allowed to choose their child's teacher.

God is always faithful when it comes to providing teachers who are committed to their job and willing to work for a salary that is, in most Christian schools, not a lot more than minimum wage when you consider all the work that must be done.  In this case, he provided a teacher who had been a former high school student of mine when I was teaching at a Christian school in another state.   Brought to our area by her husband's job at a time when the public schools in the area were consolidating campuses and laying off veteran teachers, I became aware of her presence and her interest through what appeared to be a random social media post, but which was, of course, the way God chose to answer prayer.  It was a blessing to hire someone I knew, who was trained, fully qualified, had attended Christian school since Kindergarten and was working on a degree as a math specialist.

The sixth grade was blessed that year.  The other teacher was a veteran who was getting ready to retire at the end of the year.  At some point, she'd taught every grade level in the school over the more than 20 years she had served there.  Her specialty was reading and language arts.  She was also very familiar with the history class project for the year.  Both classes would have excellent preparation as they crossed the bridge to the middle school.  At least, that's the way I saw it.  But of course, controversy comes along when you least expect it.  Fortunately, God is able to provide his wisdom and direction when it is needed.

Though the school had a policy which stated parents were not permitted to request a specific child for their teacher when there was a choice, this particular class had never been split prior to sixth grade.  And of course there were parents who felt that if they were paying for it, they should get their preference.  Both teachers, along with the fifth grade teacher, were included in the process to assign the students to the two homerooms based on what we felt would be a good arrangement from a social and academic perspective.

In a Christian school, which is a discipleship ministry, I believe that each teacher who crosses the pathway of each child has been placed in that position because their approach to teaching, their commitment to their students and all of the things that make them who they are will contribute exactly what that child needs to grow and develop and help them get to the point where they know and accept God's purpose for their lives. Decisions like this should be made with prayerful discernment, considering professional observation from an objective perspective by those who will be held accountable for resolving problems and solving difficulties.

I certainly hope that the day will come at MCA when we have a few classes that require being split into more than one homeroom on a grade level.  But even now, as students move from one grade to another, knowing in advance who their teacher will be, I believe that their pathway through their education is being guided by the Holy Spirit, who is giving each child the teacher who has the ability, personality, set of spiritual gifts and academic skills to teach "the whole child."

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.  And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.  Romans 8:29-30, NRSV

That's what follows the scripture that I cited at the beginning.  God knows your child intimately.  He is their creator.  He has brought you and your family to this school for a reason in exactly the same way he brought a former student of mine to a previous school for a reason. God does indeed have a plan for their life.  God's Holy Spirit has led you here where their paths will cross with a succession of teachers who have also been predestined, chosen, called and justified by Christ's sacrifice who will, in their own unique way, give that of themselves that will meet the needs of each student who crosses their path.