From The Desk of Ann Steenwyk
Dear Parents and Friends of Sheboygan Christian School,
As we reflect on Christ's entrance into the world and His love for us this season, we want you to know that Christ's love is celebrated every day at Sheboygan Christian School.
Spiritual growth is often represented by an increase in a spiritual discipline or a positive change in one's demeanor or lifestyle. However, when we consider what the Bible tells us about spiritual maturity, the most important aspect of our spirituality is our love for God first.
"The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us." -C.S. Lewis
How do we teach and cultivate a deep love for God first? We teach our students about who God is -His character, His promises, His love for His children. We all know that to love someone deeply is to first get to know them. This very important aspect of our curriculum is what sets us apart from other schools. Although most schools may have moral and character training, and maybe even Christian teachers, most schools do not directly teach about who God is and how much He loves us.
Part of our deep love for our Father includes a personal response, particularly including devotion, prayer, praise and worship. At Sheboygan Christian School, we model these responses, and we practice them daily through devotion time, regular prayer, and scheduled chapel time. It's not just routine. Teachers model their love for God, and students have opportunities to practice their personal responses to God by having individual opportunities to pray, lead devotions, and plan and lead worship. Our students are highly involved in these practices; they are not just observers. Because they are not just observers, they are developing confidence and boldness in modeling it for others. I witnessed this recently when I was subbing in a classroom. Before lunch, I was getting ready to pray, and a student eagerly volunteered to pray. Similarly, when asked to write thank you notes to our donors, students often wrote about loving SCS as a place to pray, worship, and talk about God. Our students want to show their love for God. Our students and teachers are cultivating spiritual growth each day.
As parents and community members, we invite you to be a part of the spiritual growth of our children. Attend our chapel time, pray with our students (and invite them to pray), and talk to them about their relationships with God. Be a part of an eternal investment!
May God bless you as you celebrate God's love for us this Christmas!
Dear Parents and Friends of SCS,
The other day I was with 1st grade students celebrating with them the publishing of their narrative writing. Each student had a special story they had written with details, illustrations, and their personal perspective. One of my favorites was entitled, “God’s Zoo.” The story was about the student’s trip to the zoo and all of the animals he had encountered. What struck me was that this child perceived his experience as a part of God’s story. While he could have entitled it, “The Zoo,” he instead recognized God’s part in it.
I then visited a health class where students were discussing how purity and marriage is a symbol of the Christ-Church relationship. While most health classes might have taken a purely biological approach, our students were conceptualizing health as stemming from an understanding of who we are in Christ.
Each and every day I see examples of how SCS exemplifies our second core value, Develop the Christian Mind. At SCS, we think and speak from a Biblical perspective. This means that we are always teaching from the context of our narrative being a part of God’s story. When we think about concepts from a Biblical perspective, we get to know who God is, why he created us, and what our role is in His grand redemptive plan. Learning from a Biblical perspective also gives our students confidence to be bold amidst a culture that is in conflict with Biblical truths.
Our work to develop the Christian mind is an extension of your work to do so with your children and grandchildren at home. During your devotion time around the dinner table or car rides back and forth to school, have conversations of what students are learning in the context of God’s story. Challenge them to think about what their role is in it. Whether your child/grandchild is watching a butterfly come out of a chrysalis, navigating a dating relationship, or developing code to program a robot, they are formalizing a life-long perspective that will speak into their future decisions and relationships. What would you like that perspective to be? Join us in our work to develop Christian minds.
Dear Parents and Friends of SCS,
Over the next few months, we’d like to draw your attention to SCS’s seven core values: pursue academic excellence, develop the Christian mind, cultivate spiritual growth, encourage Biblical self-image, build strong social bonds, involve the supporting community, and serve the greater community. These core values define who we are and show others what is important to us. We want you, our community, to have a strong understanding of these core values so that you can share them with others when you tell our school story and invite others to learn about our school. These core values are not just words! We want each person who steps through our school doors to authentically experience these core values.
We have “pursue academic excellence” listed first because we are a school first. Academic excellence is essential for preparing our students for college and career readiness. It starts at the preschool level and builds each year. We want our students to work to their utmost capabilities and to apply what they’ve learned to the world around them. This year, as a whole school, our teachers are focusing on two significant factors that contribute to our pursuit of academic excellence.
First, we are aligning our curriculum with college and career ready standards and assessments, from kindergarten through 12th grade. This work is beyond deciding what content to teach, but also considers what we want our students to know and be able to do. It also includes building quality assessments so that we can determine if students are on track or need more support to get to mastery. Our curriculum leadership team will be supporting teachers in helping them to get to the highest levels of student learning in and outside of the classroom.
Second, we are beginning to look closely at our academic data to inform our instructional practices at the individual level, classroom level, and school level. Data can tell us what we are doing well and what gaps might be occurring in learning. We have formed a data leadership team that will be meeting monthly to review our work, provide feedback to teachers, and support next steps. Although our school was rated in the top 1% of schools in the state of Wisconsin in 2017-18, there is always room for improvement, and we want to improve our top rate status each year. Data shows us our impact, and ultimately, the impact God’s work is doing in His world.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t consider the learner’s responsibility as we pursue academic excellence. Each day, we are focusing on teaching students strong work ethic, respect in and outside of the classroom, and perseverance. We encourage students to take risks and that it is acceptable to fail along the way, as long as learning is occurring. We want our students to take learning seriously, achieve to their best potential, and have the discipline to avoid mediocrity. Through our Academic and Career Planning work with students, we are showing them the “why” of developing good study habits and personal goals.
All of this work to pursue academic excellence is really about honoring God’s gift to us - His children. It’s our moral and spiritual responsibility to give them our best so they can be their very best for His world. Join us in this important work by praying for our teachers and students each day!