Monthly Archives: April 2014

Connecting the Dots

The new 7th and 8th grade campus at First Southern Baptist Church’s Christian Life Center (CLC) sure came together fast (we actually expect to receive final approval from the church on April 30)!  But it is an answer to our prayers and it has been humbling and inspiring to see how God connected the dots to make it happen in His time.  We just needed to keep taking steps of faith as he opened doors.

Our enrollment is taking off for next year – we will be up significantly and were looking for ways to create space to add classes and add sections (to make smaller classes).  We also were starting to talk about how to create a different environment for our 7th and 8th grade students as we work toward a high school.

As we were dealing with our issues, God was at work in the hearts of the people at FSBC.  They were approached by another school about using their facility.  The congregation voted in favor of housing the school and even vacated the offices in the CLC building.  Then, the school changed their mind.  However, this got the church thinking about what was possible and excited about the idea of using the CLC to impact youth through education.

Then, the Children’s Pastor at FSBC enrolled his child at ECS and learned about our need for space – he asked if we had ever considered their facility – a 26,000 square foot facility with a full-size gym, indoor track, multiple office, large classrooms, outdoor field, etc.!

After an initial analysis of the facility, we knew we would need to file for a variance from the State and were told it was a low probability to be approved.  We hired a consultant who asked the State to put our request on the agenda after the filing deadline.  The State agreed and on April 1 (yes, April Fool’s Day), the State approved the variance.

Multiple things have come together to make this a reality.  There are lots of opportunities to be explored as we launch this campus specifically designed to meet the needs of our 7th and 8th grade students – stay tuned and please keep our efforts in your prayers!

ECS is Awesome!

i_awesome3Life can often be like those crazy mosaic pictures that are made up of a thousand tiny pictures.  When you just glance at it, it looks like anything you’ve seen before…the Statue of Liberty, a famous portrait, the president.  But when you look closer, the picture you think you are seeing is actually made up of hundreds of tiny little pictures.  These pictures are often the ones that tell the story of the bigger picture.

From April 4th to April 11th, ECS had to extend their school days by an hour to make up for time lost during snow days.  We chose to add 30 minutes on to the beginning of the school day and 30 minutes on to the end of the school day.  In this time, we did something that kids in school rarely get to do…we orchestrated a full-school project that involved students in pre-kindergarten through 8th grade across three campuses.  In short, it was awesome.  In fact, the whole project that we were creating was to a parody song called “ECS is Awesome,’ so you know it was awesome.

Over those six days, a glance at our school in the morning and afternoon could produce the thought that we used our extended time to simply make a video together.  But if you look closer at the hundreds of tiny little pictures that make up the bigger picture, you’ll be amazed at what took place.

Each of our 5th-8th grade classrooms were partnered with a PK-4th grade classroom to create a collaborative video with  choreography that some students and I will produce over the next few weeks.  Watching 8th graders lead 4th graders, 5th graders lead kindergarteners, and everyone in between, was truly a work of art.  The learning that happens through being a genuine team of students, staff, and family is different than any historical battle you could learn about.  It is the kind of learning that breeds leaders, wonder, and creativity.  It meant being able to watch the value of relationships play out across the entire school.

We are meant to be collaborative beings.  In Genesis 1:26, God says, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  God exists in relationship – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Why should we expect to be any less?  It makes perfect sense that we find satisfaction  in being with and working with others.  It’s in our DNA.  We are collaborative beings.

This experience we had to celebrate our school and each other, through creative and exciting partnerships, was one of the most special things I’ve had the good fortune of witnessing in my career.  I saw a 5th grader spending time praying with my  son.  I heard 6th graders talking about how excited they were to do another project with the kindergarteners.  There were teachers working on getting their classrooms together again at the end of the year because they had experienced the health of collaboration.  I’m excited for you all to see the finished product!  But more importantly, I want you all to know how amazing the process was in order to have a product.  ECS is, indeed, awesome.

 In Service,

Mike Allen

Finishing Well

Next Monday, April 21, will be the 118th running of the Boston Marathon.  Most of us probably remember the tragic bomb attacks that happened at last year’s Boston Marathon.  As runners were struggling to finish the 26.2 mile run, two bombs exploded within seconds of each other.  But despite the attacks, this year there will once again be over 20,000 people lining up to run and, hopefully, finish well.

Boston Marathon

In a race, we all want to finish well.  When a runner sees the finish line, there is often a surge of hope and energy that just wasn’t there for much of the race.  But sometimes in the race of life the opposite is true. We have all heard of “senioritis.”  It is the tendency for students to coast in the senior year of high school when the finish is in sight and most of their school work is behind them.  It is also possible for 8th graders to struggle with the temptation to coast through their last year, so in August we challenged them to work hard and finish well.

This week we had our second-to-last Student Leadership Institute (SLi) with our 8th grade students.  They are down to their last 28 days here at ECS (not that anyone is counting) – but it seems like only yesterday that we had our first SLi of the year when we encouraged them to not fall prey to “8th grade-itis”.

In our SLi meeting this week we talked about Ephesians 5:15-16:  “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”  We had spoken with the students about the importance of being intentional and setting goals for their time in high school – because it is not only important to finish this year well, but to be wise about how they spend their time throughout their lives.

But it is not only important for students, it is important for all of us to finish well.  God wants all of us to be wise about how we use the time He has given us; He wants us to spend our time well for His purposes.  And to be very honest, talking about this idea with the 8th graders was very challenging to me.  It is very easy for me to be unwise in how I invest my time, but I want to take these verses to heart.  I want to make the best use of my time.  I want to finish well.

May He grant each of us the grace to do so.

In Him,

Scott Winslow