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Insights into Christian School Education - Three Key Factors for Student Success

We have been a part of Bible Baptist Christian School for about sixteen years. If we were to combine the school years of each of our children it would total 45 years. BBCS has 130 — 140 students currently enrolled, and it is well known for its involvement in sports programs and participation in the Georgia Association of Christian Schools fine arts competition. For example, several students were selected last year to compete in a national fine arts competition at Bob Jones University. Among the students attending this competition were two of ours, Rebekah in the speech category and Edmund in science. However, these are not the reasons why we have been a part of BBCS for so long. It has been my experience that to get the most benefit from a Christian school, the school needs good teachers, the parents need to be involved, and the children must respond to the opportunities given.

Recently, my husband Daniel and I had the opportunity to attend a school sponsored staff and spouse dinner at a local restaurant. While riding on the bus with about thirty others, I realized that each staff member was a committed Christian, walking faithfully with the Lord and married to a godly spouse. Furthermore, many are young couples who are raising children of their own.

Bible Baptist has acquired staff members who are strong in the faith and are concerned for not only the academic success of the student, but also their spiritual walk. The teachers have a desire for the children to have a personal relationship with God, and they also strive to involve the parents. When we have approached these teachers with a problem, they have gone above and beyond what was needed to help us. For example, this school year we were trying to make a quick decision of whether to switch one of our children, who is in tenth grade, to another school. Typically, at BBCS the tenth grade class takes Algebra II before they take Geometry in eleventh grade, but we wanted him to take the Geometry class in tenth grade instead of Algebra Il. We explained our desire to the principal and the possibility of switching this child to another school. He responded with great understanding, and he allowed our child to take Geometry instead of Algebra II. The faculty at BBCS contribute a lot more to the students' education than just book knowledge.

This past year one student from Bible Baptist switched to another school that was considerably bigger. This was a very good school which provided more programs and opportunities, but after attending for two months, the student returned to Bible Baptist, because he missed the spiritual atmosphere and attentive care of the teachers. He had previously attended several other Christian schools, but he found that BBCS was very different. Here, he found he really appreciated the strong faith of the staff and the time that they would invest in his life on a personal level.

Such good teachers are a vital resource, but the parents play a major role as well. Ted Tripp, author of Shepherding a Child's Heart, puts it this way:

“Recognizing that God has called you to function as His agent defines your task as a parent. Our culture has reduced parenting to providing care. Parents often see the task in these narrow terms. The child must have food, clothes, a bed, and some quality time. In sharp contrast to such a weak view, God has called you to a more profound task than being only a care-provider. You shepherd your child on God's behalf. The task God has given you is not one that can be conveniently scheduled. It is a pervasive task. Training and shepherding are going on whenever you are with your child. Whether waking, walking, talking or resting, you must be involved in helping your child to understand life, himself, and his needs from a biblical perspective!’

This challenges parents to be more than just care providers. This passage has opened my mind, and it has helped me to be more involved with my children to understand what God wants for them. A few ways we have tried to help our children in their spiritual walk are by finding good times to talk with them and to just listen to them. Going for walks, taking car rides, and working on projects together are a few examples of such times. Some of our children like to talk at bedtime, and I have learned that it is important to always be ready to listen and pray with them. It’s essential to pray for them daily that they will understand their need for God and the importance of applying His truth in their lives.

When working at school, I've noticed that many parents focused mainly on being care-providers. Several of these students are very well cared for, but they continually struggle emotionally. They have a hard time getting along i ith other students, keeping up with academics, and respecting and obeying their teachers, despite the fact that the teachers work really hard to reach out to them, especially to those that are struggling.

This points out the crucial need to develop children into godly young people. Parental involvement helps them to form good friendships, to achieve more in school, and to respect and obey their teachers better, improving the atmosphere and interactions in the classroom. As a result, children learn to identify the most important things in life, whether it's doing the right thing when no one is looking or getting along with others. Parental involvement also makes the teachers' job more delightful and less of a trial. The teachers will not have to spend so much time attending to just one child who does not exhibit the discipline he should be receiving from his parents; instead, she can invest more time into the class as a whole.

Proverbs 23:12 says, "Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge!” I really appreciate this verse, because it reminds me that I am not the only one who wants to capture the child’s heart. God wants the children to pay attention to His Word, and He encourages them to listen to the wisdom that He has given them. Verse 26 says, “My son, give Me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe My ways'’ Many times, Proverbs 23 calls children to apply their hearts and ears to be wise and their lips to speak right, to fear the Lord, to guide their heart, to buy truth, instruction, understanding, and to observe the way. God truly desires for children to know His ways.

The three Bible teachers at BBCS explain God's Word in a way that is understandable to the children, and they are very enthusiastic and earnest about their ministry. And yet, it can be difficult. Once, I was in a Wednesday chapel meeting, monitoring the K4 students while sitting across the aisle from sixth grade. My eye caught one of the sixth graders who was not listening to the message, but kept talking and distracting other students. This same student struggles in many other areas in school, and the teachers have found that his parents are not aware of these problems. Another student had to be suspended because he had been caught cheating on several occasions. In spite of the teacher's correction, he would not stop cheating, but because the parents were not involved, they believed that the school was at fault. Still another young lady had attended BBCS for many years and graduated as valedictorian, hoping to go into the medical field. She was a wonderful person and always very happy. However, I recently learned that she considered herself “married" to another woman. These are examples of children and a young adult, even while in a good environment, who still needed to respond to God’s truth.”

However, I'm very grateful for those who have responded and given their hearts to God. Many graduates from BBCS have gone on to become teachers and pastors. One graduate who has responded to His truth is our son Joshua. He is always eager to visit his teachers when he's on vacation, and they, in turn, love to hear about what is going on in his life. In essence, a teacher's ministry is ongoing even in the lives of students who have graduated.

Being a part of this school for so many years has helped me understand not just the importance of enrolling my children in a Christian school or teaching them a few life habits. It's also vital to teach them to appreciate the teachers for who they are and what they are doing. Also, as a parent I can work alongside their teachers by being involved in my children's lives at home, helping them to see the value of paying attention to what God wants for their lives, and to learn to respect and obey—both at home and at school.

Ultimately, children can benefit from a Christian school if they have good teachers, parents who are involved in their lives, and hearts to respond to God's truth.

Written by Pari Pass, BBCS Parent

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