My Experience Choosing a Private Christian School

Two years ago my wife and I were making a major decision for our daughters about their future…what school would they attend? We differed in our approach…partly because we had very different experiences growing up. I had a positive experience with the public schools. My father even taught for over 30 years in the public schools. That was many years ago. Much has changed in our world and culture since then. Public school teachers face some big challenges.

My wife’s experience with public schools was extremely negative. She was labeled as slow and lacking capability. At one point in her education a teacher singled her out and presented her to the class as “the one that you never want to be like…an incredibly poor example of a person”. Soon after, Brenda was removed from that school by her mother who began home schooling her. Within a year she was reading many books and went on to become an excellent student. In fact Brenda became the first female in Minnesota to graduate with a post-secondary degree before she would normally graduate from high school. Because of her personal experience, she has a passion for making sure kids are taken care of in school.

My heart really changed when I saw the high school graduation party for some close friends that had attended private Christian school and home school throughout their education. The vision I saw of a community of supporters that would be there for them throughout their next phase of life through college and beyond was so important. I saw that they knew they were not alone in their faith. The way they communicated their past experiences, goals, and dreams to others showed something that I had never seen before in kids graduating from high school.

We investigated several private schools and eventually found one that fit for us. A few of the many reasons we chose a private Christian school for our daughters were:
* Integration of faith and prayer into everyday life. It’s a big deal for kids to see this modeled as a way of life. Many Christian kids only get to experience this 1-2 hours a week at church if that. School adds in many more contact points with excellent role models up to 30+ hours or more a week.
* Smaller class sizes. Having less that 18 students in a class gives kids a huge advantage. Teachers are able to be so much more effective and give kids the kind of attention they need to succeed.
* Excellent curriculum that incorporates belief that the Bible is true and reliable. The reason so many kids leave their faith when they get older is because they haven’t been instructed on why the Bible can be true with their real questions being answered.
* Celebration of Christian holidays including Easter and Christmas without apology.

The biggest negative factor was the cost. How would we make it work financially? This was a sacrifice…because public school is “free”…although we pay for it in taxes of course. I knew that others were able to do it. In the end, we felt it was the right thing to do to give our kids the best chance possible to succeed.

Propeller’s tuition point really makes it possible for so many more families. At $4,500/year it’s about $375/month over 12 months. Many people pay $20,000+/year for child care, $900/year for coffee, or over $2,000/year for pets. We need to make our children’s education a priority. Can a grandparent help with tuition? Could you drive a more economical car?

I’m not saying that everything or everyone that chooses to attend public schools is bad. It’s just that for our values and the outcomes we want for our kids, the cost is worth it. Our children have so much potential and we want to see it come alive. This investment is in their future. It is especially important to start them out early in the right way as it will prepare them for obstacles and opportunities that life presents to them as they get older.

As you make your decision we want to share this blessing with you “May God bless and keep you; May God smile on you and gift you; May God show you his favor and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

Global Trends Reveal Opportunity for Christian Education

In the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink (2009) writes about the impact of the three A’s (Abundance, Asia and Automation) on our current situation and future realities.

Pink’s notion that material wealth has left people desiring more in their lives is similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that says when basic needs are satisfied, people begin to look for more meaning in life. Abundance allows for people to seek beauty, significance and purpose. Our society celebrates acts of selfless care, living to make a difference and seeking your true self. One example is talk show host Oprah Winfrey who inspires and tells stories of people who are making a difference and people who are finding their true selves. Her message resonates with her audience because they want to experience more beauty in their lives. While there is controversy about her belief system, there is little doubt about her impact on our culture.

The rise of Asian economic influence is a new reality within the business sector. The idea that routine functions can be done for less helps to make profit. Another advantage to having these countries economies grow is that is raises their standard of living. For decades, countries with high percentages of poverty (China, India, Pakistan, Philippine’s) have relied upon international aid or charity to care for the poor – if they have cared at all. By creating access to better wages, these countries can provide opportunities for their people and raise the standards of education and economic security. The work ethic, determinism and the ability to see the opportunity makes these workers strong allies in global economics.

The opportunity for industrialized nations is to continue to innovate, invent, and create economic growth in new business development – or as Pink describes, “The Conceptual Age”. Another benefit of globalization is that it is now easier than ever to deliver products and services to new markets and new pockets of people that have never been able to purchase items due to poverty. By opening global markets, Americans can still flourish economically because there are simply more people who need them.    Localized services are still going to be in demand. Children need care providers, elderly people need lawn services, and houses will still need repairs etc. While the debate rages about globalization and creates fear about jobs, I believe that there are many reasons to be hopeful that the future may not be bleak as some futurists predict. While the Bible prophesies Christ’s return, the Bible also commands believers to hold unto hope and to not be afraid.

Automation is a tool to build efficiencies and profitability, but it is not a relational experience nor does not fit every business/education model. Automation allows for reports to be run and for processes to get smoother, but people still need to interact with the automated procedures to create the meaningful experience that customers expect. Recently, I needed to schedule an appointment. I chose to do it online because the telephone option had a 20-minute wait. The criteria for me is that if a computer can do it faster, let it.

When it comes to education, if a computer can replace a teacher – the teacher is not that good. A great teacher knows how to utilize automated technologies to interact with students. For quizzes, tests and tracking activity – it makes sense to automate because it allows a teacher to focus on higher level thinking activities, like discussions, to help develop learners. I firmly believe that technology is a tool; not a replacement for relational connections.

The hardest part of any tool is getting people to know what it is capable of. A piano is a great instrument on its own, but to experience its true majesty, it has to be in the hands of a talented musician who has taken the energy to learn how to make it work. The same is true of educators who are willing to continue to learn how to use new technological tools. Educators who practice and explore new possibilities will advance the learning experience to a true artistic, beautiful and meaningful level. This new reality should excite educators because it will allow them to experience a greater level of autonomy, mastery and significance through their work that is more engaging and fun to participate in.

Intrinisic Motivation vs. Rewards

Have you ever wondered about why some people are highly motivated, and others are ready to let life waste away?

Autonomy, mastery and purpose are highlighted as tools to engage people towards their most significant work. Daniel Pink shares highlights from his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

At Propeller Academy, we are innovating the student experience by engaging them through some of the ideas Pink reveals about motivation.