This was the headline from an article in Forbes Magazine. As we are in the process for implementing the Student Leadership Institute, this article reminded me how crucial it is for parents and educators to understand the dynamics and responsibilities covered in this concise article. I hope you find this helpful as you fulfill the responsibilities of Deuteronomy 6:5-9.
Wow! Maranatha has been around for almost 40 years. The Bible often references 40 years as a generation. So Maranatha has served a generation and is now preparing to serve another generation if the Lord does not return before then. God often had the Israelites stop and make memorials and have celebrations to mark significant times in their lives. We want to follow that pattern as we head into our 40th year. Therefore, we are going to have a theme of celebration throughout next year.
As Mr. Bergerhofer reminded us on the Discover Maranatha, a Generation Soaring Upward evening, we are not celebrating man or what man has done. We are celebrating what God has done through the ministry of MCA. Mr. Bergerhofer recounted the story of the Israelites in I Samuel 11 where the Israelites were being challenged by a superior army. And this army had been beating up on the Israelites for years. However this time, the Israelites got it right. They turned to God as their source of strength. A most excellent plan! God is into doing the impossible. He especially enjoys doing it when His people repent of their sins and commit to living in obedience to Him. So as the Israelites marked that occasion, so we will mark next year as a celebration of His power and love for MCA. They raised an Ebeneezer signaling their recognition of His great deeds on their behalf. We will do the same.
We will have that ceremony during Autumn Fest next year. It will be a part of a 3 day celebration which will include:
- A bonfire and pep rally at the North Campus on Thursday night the 25th of September.
- The Big Event on Friday the 26th: blow-up slides/activities, a tent of memories and gathering, and varsity soccer and football games under the lights.
- Saturday will be a time of food and fellowship among alumni, teachers and staff, followed by the Autumn Fest dance.
Throughout the year, the significant events will be themed with the concept of celebration including our Gala at the Lake school auction.
If you have thoughts about how we can make this school year memorable in recognizing the accomplishments of the school, its students, faculty and staff, please send them my way.
You glance through the 5th grade classroom and you see 3 students at the white board looking at an image of the solar system. The students are working together to physically move the images on the board into the proper orbits in relation to the sun. Oops! James puts Neptune is in Mars’ path. Susie steps over and quickly corrects the location with a swipe of her hand. Intrigued, you want to go join the fun, but your destination is your son’s high school class down the hall. But in route, you pass the science classroom. As you peek in, you see Mr. Cox pointing to the white board where 4 boxes of information are projected. Since the door is cracked, you can hear Mr. Cox explaining the guidelines for the competition playing out on the board. Each student is going to have to use their iPads to correctly place the elements in the right position on the element table and the race to do so will be projected on the white board. Go! Again, you would like to stay and see who wins, but eventually you have to answer to your boss and get back to work.
You finally make it to the Civics class and quietly slip in the door just in time to hear Mr. Hoduski wrap up his presentation on the roles of the 3 branches of government. He then has the 15 kids grab the iPads and take a quick quiz on the material just covered. The quiz is submitted and their success is indicated on the next screen. Mr. H sees the class results on his iPad, and he determines that everyone but one student scored well. He makes a note to follow-up after class with the one student and moves on to the next topic confident that the class grasped the presentation. You hand Hank the math homework he left at home and slip out of the class to rush back to work grateful that MCA is using technology to engage the students and increase teachers’ effectiveness.
We are excited about the investment we are making in technology and the training of our teachers to use technology. Above are some likely scenarios of what will be happening in classes across the Academy next year. To get there we are investing in several areas of technology:
- Training teachers by allowing them to experiment with the technology this spring and summer. We will also give them hands on training for 4 days before the start of the 2014-15 school year.
- Purchasing Mimio equipment that will make a whiteboard in every K-12 classroom interactive. Plus, we can record lessons or work done on the white board – say a lecture by the teacher on a subject – and then make that recording available that day so that students and parents can review at home while doing homework or if a student missed a day of school.
- Purchasing Quia software that will allow for on-the-spot quizzes and tests with real-time results for both the student and the teachers. The teachers are cheering as this will allow for much of the grading to be done automatically.
- Leveraging Edmodo across the school to centralize and provide consistency to communication between teacher, student and parents.
- Enabling Google Docs so that we have the ability to access student work from any device, anywhere. So yes, homework can be done while you are on vacation in Florida, or more likely while a student is home not feeling well enough to be in school but able to concentrate on school.
We are also doing things right now to improve the use of technology in the business office. Even as I write this, our consultant – Mission Matters Group – is writing code to allow us to offer online enrollment and class selection. Hopefully we will be able to begin using this yet this year. The will next build better online systems to help us engage with prospective families and to provide Matt Schoenfeld, our Development Director, a system that will allow him to track and interact with donors in a more consistent and thoughtful manner.
And, finally, behind the scenes Mission Matters and Dr. Dunn are working to beef up our infrastructure to support all of this new and additional use of technology. They are addressing bandwidth and consistent access issues. With more uses of technology, we need more personnel that will allow us to maximize the effectiveness of that technology. So we will soon be posting for an Instructional Technologist. This person’s main responsibility will be to research effective means of using technology in the classroom and then aiding the teachers in applying those means.
Should make for an exciting 2014-15 year. We covet your prayers as we implement these changes so that we honor God with the excellence by which they are done and with the effectiveness of the programs and tools.
Last time we focused on our teachers and their role in being your educational partner. Today, I want to share how we are seeking to glorify God by pursuing excellence. I say pursuing excellence because we never reach perfection in this life, and since we should offer God our best, the natural result should be an ongoing pursuit of excellence. That means we keep trying to better in what we do. That could be small tweaks we make each day, or bigger initiatives that take time, planning and implementation. We are committed to doing both. Here are some of the big things we focusing on for next school year.
Senior Review Panel (SRP) –
- The purpose of this panel will be to provide an opportunity for our graduating seniors to exhibit competence in defending their faith and applying the biblical knowledge they have gained while at Maranatha Christian Academy.
- During the review, seniors will respond to questions from a panel of teachers, parents, pastors and administrators. This spirit of the panel will be to affirm the senior’s faith and help them demonstrate their command of a biblical world view.
- The reviews will commence in the final semester of the senior year. There will be a culminating event in the spring where parents, friends and others will be invited to celebrate the seniors success at these review panels.
Student Leadership Institute (SLi) –
- The purpose of SLi is to challenge students to think and act differently. In Acts 17 Paul models this by imitating Christ in a similar arena that our children enter when they attend the university. SLi prepares students to serve in the “Agora” or marketplace.
- The SLi Mission: Assist young people in the development of their leadership philosophy and skills by exposing them to a biblically based, practical, multifaceted, yearlong program.
- Students will need to apply for entrance into SLi. Students and parents will be required to attend an orientation meeting before school starts.
- Leaders from across the nation will come in and speak to our students. Our students will prepare questions for these speakers and then journal about how the truths they heard should impact their leadership philosophy.
- Students will practice servant leadership in the community.
- Students will present their belief about leadership to teachers based on what they learned and experienced. This will be done in second semester.
- Students who show drive and ability in leadership will be offered the opportunity to attend Leadercast at Mid-America Nazarene University in May 2015.
World Changer Portfolio
- The purpose of this portfolio building is to encourage students, parents and teachers to be looking for opportunities to practice being a world changer today so that when they graduate, they have confidence and a recorded history of how God has enabled them to influence the world. We want our kids to influence the world, not be influenced by the world.
- Each student will be given a storage device where they can include reflections, accolades, certificates, pictures, programs, and memories that show academic achievement, spiritual growth, and development. Some of the
entries may show influence in our school or local community. Others may show how the student has impacted other communities and even the world with their service. We hope the world changer portfolio becomes another way to encourage students to develop, practice, and live out their faith. God could very well use the impact of this portfolio to guide a student to a life calling!
- The desire is that the portfolio will be a powerful tool to be referenced at the Senior Review Panel and beyond.
Next post I will share plans for Technology.
So if we lock in our decision about educational partner based on the spiritual aspects covered in the last two posts, where does excellence in programs and academics fit in? Well, I believe they are obviously critical to the decision. After all, we are a school.
At the event, we tried to cover a few key themes:
- The heart and capability of our teachers (the focus of this post)
- Pursuit of excellence as a natural result of offering our best to the glory of God (focus of my next post)
If you been at MCA for very long, I hope it is abundantly clear that our teachers have the best interest of your child at heart. They desire to lead children in the path that God has for them and to challenge and equip the children to use all of the talents and abilities for His glory. This includes all the co-curricular activities. Mrs. Manning stated that evening, “Sports give us the opportunity to teach life lessons through challenges and competition. Spiritual life lessons like: overcoming adversity, working as a team, encouraging others, learning that we can do more than we think when we trust God, and that God will never ask more of us than what he has equipped us to handle.” Mrs. Tracy added, “Our
aim is to educate our students to become critical thinkers, guiding them to reflect and discern what is right and true and biblically based.”
Mr. Yates then captured a truth that says much about MCA,
- “Often people like to refer to the “good old days” of education. A fanciful period when students respected their teachers, there were high expectations for student achievement, and teachers actually cared about their student’s well-being…and oh yeah, teachers could even pray with their students. The truth is, I believe the best of these “good old days” is alive and well today at Maranatha Christian Academy.
He then gave some strong support for his statement,
- Our students can earn up to 27 college credits through the 9 college courses we teach.
- 3 Members of our staff have doctoral degrees, and 13 have master’s degrees.
- We offer a National Honors Society chapter
- We recently upgraded our science lab equipment
- The band was recently selected as 1 of only 3 to play at the Kansas Music Educators Association State Convention, a huge honor, and we regularly score superior ratings at state contests.
- 95% of our graduates go on to attend college.
- And our students produced Soul on Paper, a literary magazine that won top honors in a national contest.
- I could go on, but that conveys the message.
He wrapped our conversation about academics with our focus for next year,
- “For the 2014-15 school year, to ensure we offer an increasingly rigorous academic experience that fits each student, our faculty team is conducting a thorough review of the entire curriculum to ensure it meets high standards for academic excellence. Our new plan for the classroom will ensure that your child walks away from every class with defined objectives for learning, and both teachers and students will have clearly defined definitions of success.”
I hope this conveys our strong commitment to continue to pursue excellence in academics. We know we have not arrived nor should we ever become complacent and think we have arrived.
My next post will begin to unpack the new programs and initiatives we are implementing next year as we resist complacency and pursue excellence.
In my last post, I anchored our decisions about an educational partner in the Word of God’s command to train up a child 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Let me cover 2 things in regard to MCA’s efforts to be effective in spiritual development.
A quick reminder of what already happens across the Academy:
- Students are prayed for in the hallways, classrooms, and as they participate in co-curricular activities
- Every day students are challenged with understanding and applying a character lesson
- If a child does stumble, our discipline process seeks to restore, motivate repentance, and pursue holiness
- There is constant encouragement to serve others: We emphasize serve days to start the school year, as part of our Serve-a-thon, and in many other smaller group efforts
- Our redeemed, forgiven, godly staff mentors students daily as living examples of the discipleship process
- There are a variety of opportunities to share the gospel on mission trips and service projects.
An introduction to new points of emphasis for next year and beyond:
- It starts in the classroom – teachers are looking at every lesson and attempting to teach it as God would teach it. We want to use each lesson as an opportunity to further student’s’ understanding of God, His Creation and how we can best serve Him and mankind.
- Bible classes – we are creating a new emphasis in the curriculum for junior and seniors that focuses on the application of spiritual truths in current day, real-life settings.
- In our Chapel program – we are committed to having an all Academy chapel plan that will keep all our students focused on the same truths at the same time. We are building a 4-year plan that will allow us to cover key truths we believe every world changer should know and, in addition to our own wonderful teaching staff, engaging with local and national pastors and speakers to deliver the message.
Please pray as we plan and execute those plans that God might be honored through the teaching and the learning process.
My next post will review what was shared concerning Programs and Academics.
Over my next few posts, I am going to make an effort to document the key content from the Discover Maranatha, a Generation Soaring Upward event that happened on March 4th. I feel compelled to do so for several reasons.
- I have received many affirmations that the evening deeply resonated with people. Current parents were energized about the stand of the school and the direction we are headed. Prospective parents told me of the bonding of their heart with our mission and vision, and how they “desperately” wanted to get their kids out of the public school where their experience is “one of chaos, and anxiety, and uncontrolled excitement”.
- We need to all be clear and unified on the anchors of the school. Why does the school exist? When does it lose it purpose to exist?
- We want the whole MCA Family to be well-informed of all that the school offers. We want parents and students to make informed decisions about the suitability of MCA as an educational partner. This includes all of the offerings, programs, activities and successes we are already experiencing as well as the new programs, points of emphasis, investments, and activities.
I am going to start with the most important information that a parent must consider. Why even consider Christian education? I gave three powerful points when I could have presented fifty. Please take the time to weigh carefully.
- 1500 hours. Every school gets about 1500 hours a year to shape, inspire, mold, connect with and instruct a student. Bottom line when you stand before God and answer for how you fulfilled Deuteronomy 6:5-8 to train your children, do you want to say that you surrounded your child with those that desire to instruct them with a biblical worldview or allow those who are commanded not to teach a biblical worldview have those 1500 hours to educate your student?
- Cardus Study. This study was done with graduates of private, public, Catholic, and private Christian schools. It found that graduates of private Christian schools were most likely to: 1) hold onto their faith (a matter of eternal life or death), 2) graduate from college (a main reason you send them through school), 3) take more years of higher education, and 4) be vibrant members of the local church.
- The Powers of this Dark World (Eph. 6:12). From a Barna study titled “Faith that Last Project” came this finding, “84% of Born Again teens do NOT see how the Bible and Faith applies to, or influences, their education or profession.” The devil and his legions are battling for the hearts and minds of our young people. This statement of 84% and the other stats I shared would indicate he is winning. Do we dare let the world have 1500 hours a year for 13-20 years of their life to shape their belief structures? We are seeing the results of that now in our young people. I think it is time to unite family, church and school to stand up and help these young people put on the whole armor of God so that they might stand courageously for Him, they might love passionately our God and their fellow-man, and to serve faithfully.
I led everyone in a prayer that stated unequivocally that with God’s help, MCA would remain true to our calling to bring Him glory. We are imperfect people trying to carry out His work, so we will fail at times, but we are assured by Him that He will use us if we make ourselves available. My next post will reflect on how we have been focusing on the spiritual development of students, how we are planning to increase our effectiveness and mention our foundation for education (hint: Proverbs 1:7).
First of all, with extreme gratefulness to God, I would like to report that the school’s financial health has been steadily improving. We have met all of our payrolls and bills this year and have a strong start on saving for the summer months. God has blessed us with designated donations that have allowed us to invest in marketing, technology and facilities.
Under the direction of Matt Schoenfeld, Development Director, we have continued to reduce the number of fundraising activities that are done on behalf of the Academy. Our three main efforts this year are Corporate Partners, the Auction and now the Serve-A-Thon(remember we eliminated magazine sales). The first two have been wonderful successes and have exceeded their targets. However, they did not exceed sufficiently to cover all of the need for funds from the Serve-A-Thon.
These three fundraisers allow every person in the school to receive subsidized tuition. As I stated at the KickOff Dinner, we would need to raise tuition by 14% if these fundraisers did not meet goals. Praise the Lord that He has used these methods to wonderfully provide for the school over the years. It helps us live by faith. However, God asks us to not sit idly by while He works. He wants us to be his hands and feet. Will you be His hands and feet to guide donations to support His ministry at MCA? Your friends at MCA need your help.
We have about 280 families in our Academy. If averages hold up from last year, we need a minimum of 160 families to set up a web page and send out 20+ emails to friends and families for us to reach the minimum we need to count the Serve-A-Thon a success. Right now we have 34 families who have done this.
Remember the anchoring purposes for the Serve-A-Thons:
- Get our kids out to serve and show the community what MCA teaches
- Engage others outside of the MCA current families in supporting God’s ministry here. This really is a low effort fundraiser for MCA families.
- By limiting the number of fundraisers, we hoped more people would get involved in the few.
Please be God’s hand and feet in this effort that we might reach our goal by the time we go to serve on April 4th.