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Love Required

The first characteristic that is prioritized in our Vision Statement is “engagement." We want our school to be an “engaged school community." I believe that a community of this nature calls for the following three key requirements:

1.    Love 
2.    Commitment
3.    Action

In this post, I intend to address the love requirement. Rarely has anyone said, “Wow, that was really engaging, but I don't really like it.”  In order to be engaged with something, we must love it and love it deeply. Our staff, our parents, our students, and our community need to love STCCS because of whom and what we stand for.  STCCS isn’t perfect, and most-likely never will be, but we do prioritize Christ.  We love our children and we believe deeply in the value of a Christ-centered education.

Ultimately, being an engaged community is about being a community that loves what our school is all about. As I said earlier, we aren't perfect; but, thankfully, we serve a perfect Saviour and it is our goal to glorify Him in all that we do. If that is something that you love about STCCS, you have taken the first step in being an engaged community member.

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What does it mean to be an engaged school community?

I believe that there are three key requirements that are needed for engagement: action, commitment, and love.


Today’s post is going to address the “action” requirement. Simply put, an engaged school community is “doin’ stuff.” It buzzes with energy and teems with activity. Engaged school communities are full of happy volunteers, supportive friends and cheerful givers.
Our Fall Fair, which was held this past weekend, is a great example of positive engagement. We had a large number of volunteers helping out on Saturday with smiles, hard work and generosity. Action of this nature is contagious and helps develop a culture of engagement at STCCS.


But the Fall Fair isn’t the only place where we see a high level of engagement from our community. High attendance at Parent Partnership Evenings (which, if you are a STCCS parent and haven’t attended yet, I would highly encourage you to join us for our next evening), programs and community dinners all indicate a healthy level of engagement in our school family.


If you would like to hear more about our engaged school community, or get involved, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would love to find a place to get you plugged in.

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Outcome Statement #4

My wife and I have been fortunate enough to travel to some wonderful places. On our trips I love to see the architecture, particularly historical buildings; structures like Chichen Itza in Yucatan, Mexico and the Coliseum in Rome, which are two of my favourites. I am also fascinated by the medieval cathedrals that pop up all over Europe; for example, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence and Notre Dame in Paris.  The size and beauty of these structures are fascinating.  They were built to overwhelm and remind visitors of the hugeness and greatness of our God.  These cathedrals awe and amaze.  


Unfortunately, I don’t think we have the finances to build a giant Cathedral in St. Thomas.  Nor would I really want to.  That being said, we are hoping to build an addition to our school that also points to God; not to awe and amaze, but to hold community and support an education that centers on Christ.  God has blessed STCCS over the past couple of years with a growing enrolment, expanded programming and increasing support from our community.  We are humbled by all that God has done and, with His help, we hope to translate those blessings into the completion of our fourth and final outcome:     

St. Thomas Community Christian School will be a school with a facility that promotes community, education and safety.

Please pray for us as we work towards building a school that will enable Christian Education to flourish in St. Thomas.

 

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Re-Build: Addition

St. Thomas Community Christian School is growing! Over the past couple of years, God has blessed us richly through our enrolment as we have increased from eighty-four students five years ago, to one hundred and twelve students presently. As a result, we are starting to burst at the seams.  What a wonderful “problem” to have: so many students!  At one of our last Board meetings we were wrestling with some of the challenges we face as a result of our recent growth when one of our Board members stopped us for a moment to remind us of the times when the Board dreamed of having so many students.  It was good to reflect on the ways in which the Lord has blessed our community: good and humbling.

In order to address our growth, we are planning to build an addition to the school.  We are hoping to add several new classrooms, redesign the parking lot, increase storage space and address several other needs in our current building.  This is a very exciting time as we plan to develop our facility in a manner that will meet our current needs and sustain Christian education in St. Thomas for the next fifty years.  Please pray for us as we embark on this journey and trust fully in God’s provision.  

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you 
and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

 

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Re-Frame: Work Groups

Community is a big deal at STCCS. In the Bible we read, "for just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others" (Romans 12: 4-5). We are called to provide quality Christian Education in St. Thomas and it requires all of us to do the best for our children.  That's why we work so hard to partner with our parents.  It's why we have a Board of Directors made up of parents and community members who are committed to Christ-centered education.  It's why we have volunteers who care deeply about our school and want to see it continue to flourish.

In order for volunteerism to thrive at STCCS, it needs to be sustainable.  It must work the way our community works.  In our strategic plan, we are building sustainability by moving from committees to work groups.  Work groups are goal-driven: they accomplish a specific goal in a set amount of time.  At STCCS, we don’t believe that volunteering has to lead to burn out and frustration.  It can be enjoyable and fulfilling as well as a blessing for our school community.  

If you are interested in volunteering at STCCS please contact us.

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Re-Think: Arrowsmith Program

God values each and every child. The Bible states that Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14). Incredibly, God leaves the responsibility of caring for His children up to us.  He has chosen to work through broken pots such as us to share His love. As you may recall, we have recently updated our mission statement.  Our mission is “to know and serve every student, encouraging them to reach their God-given potential.”  At St. Thomas Community Christian School, we take this mission and our responsibility to care for God’s children very seriously.  In fact, we have started a new program at STCCS as a result of the commitment that we have made to our mission.

We strongly believe that all students are unique.  They each learn differently.  Some students learn best through a hands-on approach, some in groups and some on their own.  Some students struggle with significant learning disabilities, which often means that a “regular” approach in a “normal” classroom may not be enough.  More must be done.  Much more.  God calls us to care for “all” children.  We believe that the Arrowsmith Program can be a solution.  It inspires hope to overcome severe learning challenges and can have an impact on the future for students with these types of learning disabilities.  Listen to what a child psychologist said about the program after visiting it earlier this year:

“I was very impressed by this program ...this is one of the first times that I have seen students who struggle with learning feel proud about their accomplishments and fully engaged in the learning process. While the program is designed to build the foundational skills for learning, the format of the self-guided learning modules also builds students’ confidence and motivation. The Arrowsmith Program is truly a ‘gem’ in our current educational resources and students benefit greatly in all aspects of their development!”  

Dr. M. Gilpin, C.Psych
Child and Adolescence Psychologist, Mt. Brydges, Ont.  

If you believe that the Arrowsmith Program could help someone that you know who is currently struggling with a learning disability, please give us a call or send us an email.  

If you think that you would like to attend or support a school that believes strongly in supporting every student, feel free to, check out our website, give us a call, or send us an email.    

 

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Re-Focus: Vision Statement

The description of the first church in the book of Acts is amazing. It says that "all the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had" (Acts 4: 32). You could argue that this sounds like a vision statement for the first church.  Recently, STCCS adopted a new vision statement that encapsulates what a school community should strive for.  Our new vision statement states that we want STCCS to be “an engaged school community that is led by a Biblical worldview where every student is discipled and educated.”  This means that we are committed to being a community that actively cares for each other and wants to see Christian education thrive in St. Thomas.  It means that we want our children to grow up in the Word with a deep knowledge of who our Creator is and how He “works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).  It means that we believe in educating the hearts of our students as well as their minds.  In the same way that the first church was an example to those living during that time, we believe that quality Christian education can demonstrate the glory of our God to the world around us in our time.  It is our hope that we will be a school that demonstrates love and a willingness to serve God through the education we provide to the children of our community.    

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Re-Focus: Mission Statement

St Thomas Community Christian School has adopted a new mission statement. Our mission is “to know and serve every student, encouraging them to reach their God-given potential." This means that our top priority is to recognize who our students are: their gifts and interests, their struggles and challenges, their personalities and their learning style.   As we work to understand our students better, we use that knowledge to serve them as best as we can, both academically and spiritually.  This is a lofty goal.  It demands that we strive to meet each of our students exactly where they are, in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them.  We put the curriculum, our time and our paycheques second to our students.  Jesus said "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14)  It is clear that God loves each child who enters our school and has a purpose for their life.  We want to be an organization that helps students discover that purpose and reach their potential.

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Amazing Forts Require Amazing Teams

Well, it’s that time of year again: fort building season! This is one of my favourite times of the year because it is so fun to watch our students play at recess time. They are busy rolling snow into boulders, packing it into bricks, cutting big chunks of it out of the snow piles that surround the parking lot, and transporting their new found building materials on sleds over to their half-built forts.  It is so much fun.

But there is more to it than that.  I am always so impressed with the collaboration and teamwork that is required in such operations.  To build a truly amazing fort requires a truly amazing team effort.  I’m not sure if you have ever tried cutting large chunks of snow out of a snow pile, but it isn’t easy.  Pull too quickly and your boulder breaks.  If your team doesn’t push the snow together, evenly… it breaks.  The margin for error is pretty small.  Really, the only way to be successful is to work together, communicate well and trust each other.  Pretty cool things to be learning at recess time.      

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To Know and Serve

Recently, as part of our strategic plan, STCCS has updated it’s Mission statement. It is now:

To know and serve every student, encouraging them to reach their God-given potential.

I am very excited about this statement and our staff has been working very hard to accomplish it. Typically in education, a school functions in a way that prioritizes the curriculum over everything else, making it the focus point of education.  Now, obviously curriculum is important and we continue to focus on delivering it to the best of our ability; however, I believe that a Christian Education should prioritize the Lord and the call that we have to “love one another.”  With this calling in mind, I   believe that it is our responsibility to put our students first... to make  caring for them, and discipling them, our top priority.  At STCCS, we are dedicated to getting to know who our students are and what makes them tick.  Armed with that knowledge, we strive to serve each student, through education, in a way that will benefit them and help them to reach their God-given potential.

 

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Dare to Dream

I had a great time in Toronto last night celebrating thirty-five years of the Arrowsmith Program. As a school, we feel very blessed to offer the Arrowsmith Program here and, although we have only been running it for a of couple months, we are amazed by the growth we have already seen in our students.  I had a chance to meet Howard Eaton and Barbara Arrowsmith and thank them for the work that they are doing in the field of neuroplasticity (the brains ability to change and grow).  All in all it was a very inspiring and wonderful evening.

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Bucket List

A couple of weeks ago my family celebrated my Oma’s ninetieth birthday. Although her health is starting to deteriorate and we recognize that God may call her home soon, it was awesome to be with her on that day and celebrate her birthday. Ninety years is certainly worth celebrating! 

On the drive home, I began to reflect on my Oma's life to this point.  She had lived through WWII, crossed the ocean and immigrated to Canada as a young adult, raised a family here in Southern Ontario and had many, many other adventures along her journey.  She has watched as her children and grandchildren grew older and now she even has a large group of great-grandchildren running and crawling around.

For some reason, all of these things made me wonder if my Oma had a bucket list.  I wondered if there were things that she had wished that she had done.  Places she wished she had seen.  A lot of us have a list of things that we want to do before we die, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.  But hear what the apostle Peter thought about his bucket list.  Peter knew he was going to die, and in his last days he wanted to remind us of our role to “make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”  Peter believed that “if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1: 5-9).  If we think about it, shouldn’t serving our Saviour be number one on our bucket list?  Shouldn't our goal always be to celebrate God, share Him with others and love Him?  I think that is one of the major roles of Christian Education: we provide a setting where we can celebrate God, share Him with others and love Him.  Although we may still have Switzerland or Hawaii on our bucket list, I hope that we will always remember that our first goal should be a heavenly one.  

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