First Impressions

Here is a bit of background information regarding my interest in a school in Monroe, WA.

We moved out to Monroe in June 2009 and spent some time trying to find a church family with whom we could worship. Once we discovered New Hope Fellowship, we quickly learned that the school across the street was originally founded by members of this congregation. After visiting their website, it appeared that Monroe Christian School (MCS) was clearly grounded in mission of Christian education and offered quality K-8 instruction. Subsequent visits to the campus for church-related functions such as a men’s bible study and a church picnic revealed a warm and welcoming campus for students and visitors, alike. Even though my visits were in the evening or on the weekend, I could sense that this place was full of student energy during the school year. I remember talking about MCS with my wife as a possible option for our own children. We both agreed that we needed to explore more about the school.

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It starts by listening to God’s whisper

What do I mean by “God’s whisper”?

Our Grow Group (small group) at church met back in the middle of September to start a new discussion series. We were going to spend a couple of sessions discussing the The Power of a whisper: Hearing God, having the guts to respond by Bill Hybels. By way of this discussion series, our pastor wants to challenge us to consider what life can look like when we choose to hear God’s whispers to help us make decisions or encourage further growth along our spiritual journey. Through this book and discussion series Hybels  “promotes passion in Christ-followers’ hearts for being wide open to hearing from God, and for getting gutsier about doing exactly what he says to do” (back cover).

Later that evening, I shared a “whisper” that I felt I had been receiving about the need for a Christian High School in the Monroe area. Fortunately for me (perhaps providentially?!), this brief discussion was with a fellow Grow Group member who serves as the Principal of Monroe Christian School. Back then, I did wonder if God was calling us to take this discussion further.

First Meeting and Brainstorming

I met with the administrative team at Monroe Christian School yesterday. They had invited me to share more of the “whisper” I had received and some of my ideas for a Christian high school in the area. I must admit that I wasn’t completely prepared with a formal presentation. However, we did have a good brainstorming session together.  Of the many suggestions that I shared, I thought that a hybrid model of schooling could potentially serve a smaller school community such as this and, yet, offer many positive learning opportunities for its students. I suggested that a key set of ‘core’ classes should be identified, and that these would be better taught on site. Other classes, including some electives, would be offered in an online format, or even “in the field” through community contacts and other learning providers. A guiding decision on course offerings would be based on whatever the board/administration felt would be central to the mission of the institution. We also discussed the value of service learning, mission experiences, chapel, and extra-curricular programming to a student’s high school experience and overall holistic development. We agreed that a good high school experience should help prepare and graduate students for either a career or college path.

Overall, I thought it was a good, frank discussion that gave the administrative team plenty of ideas to consider further and even share with the board. I observed that there may be a keen interest in expansion to a high school. Unfortunately, there is so much that this team does on a regular basis that they don’t appear to have the freedom of extra time to vision and potentially plan for an expansion such as this. This is something that we all need to prayerfully consider. If I can be of service in some special way, then I would be delighted to help in this process.

While I await how the Board responds to these preliminary ideas, I think I need to research high school reform a bit more, consider alternative approaches to learninig, and better understand the unique characteristics of learning in the 21st century. I also need to learn more about teaching and learning in a Christian high school setting. Undoubtedly, I feel that this will also help me professionally in my work of teacher preparation.

As I drove home, I reflected on this first meeting and how much it energized me to consider the potential of how God may be leading us in an education adventure. I decided that as God leads us forward, it would be great to record some of the my thoughts in this blog and document  the research I consider, the readings I review, and the actions we take. I hope that this blog may also serve as a testimony to following God’s will for a possible Christian high school in Monroe.