Monthly Archives: March 2014

ECS Stakeholder Surveys: Thanks for your feedback!

In January, ECS utilized AdvancED surveys to gather feedback from parents, students, and staff. For two consecutive years, survey participation by stakeholders in the ECS community has provided valuable responses about school culture, curriculum, communication, and services. Thanks to everyone who participated by telling us what you like best about ECS, what you like least about ECS, and how you suggest we improve our school. The administrative staff and board value the input and the opportunity to continually improve and serve of all ECS stakeholders.
ECS is preparing for an on-site visit in November 2014 for a joint accreditation by AdvancED and the Association of Christian Schools International. Survey information, school data, and a self-study provide a reflective analysis of Evansville Christian School and the development of a school improvement plan. All staff utilize the school improvement plan to enhance student learning, to provide professional development for teachers and staff, and to address recommendations of our stakeholders.
The administrative team analyzed the results of the 2014 survey data and organized the comments by trends:
• Positive growth for every indicator on the parent survey over the 2013 survey
• Comments regarding what parents like best include our school’s culture with a focus on Biblical integrity and excellence, the school staff, school’s challenging curriculum and Biblical integration
• Comments regarding what students like best include Biblical integration, friends, technology, and a variety of extra-curricular activities
• Comments regarding what staff likes best includes Biblical integration of academics, prayer, school culture that focuses on collaboration and relationships
The ratings and positive comments serve as validation of the partnership of ECS enjoys with families and the work of a dedicated staff. There are also areas where ECS will strive to improve and to communicate its efforts.
• Cost of tuition: ECS continues to work to expand the voucher, SGO, and tuition assistance programs.
• Facilities: As ECS continues to work towards providing a high school, leadership is aware of the pressures on our current facilities and continues to address concerns.
• Student services: ECS has increased its resource staff, character development programs in elementary and middle school, teacher training in Response to Intervention and Differentiated Instruction, and as a part of our upcoming accreditation has reviewed and compiled resources that are available to students as support services.
• Technology: ECS leadership knows the value of technology and essential 21st Century litercies, has conducted a feasibility study to determine wireless access, and is developing a new technology plan to address this ever-changing field to find innovative ways to access the latest technology.
• New Playground: A new East Campus playground will be installed this spring.
We celebrate that Evansville Christian School’s AdvancED Stakeholder Survey rating increased from a level three in 2013 to a level four in 2014! The survey results indicated a collaborative partnership of parents, students, and staff to continue a steadfast commitment to exemplary education that focuses on Christ as the focus of our school.

Summary of Parent and Staff Stakeholder Survey

http://tinyurl.com/2014ECSSurvey

Summary of Student Stakeholder Survey

http://tinyurl.com/2014ECSStSurvey

In His Service,
Susie Masterson
Elementary Principal

Learning to Change – Changing to Learn

I have recently watched a video about learning in the current age that had a profound impact on me (Learning to Change – Changing to Learn).  It looks at what we as teachers have students do in school vs. what we really want them to know how to do.  As we look toward what it means to learn in 2014 and beyond, from Pre-K through 12th grade, we have to look at what is being called the new essential 21st century literacies.  American writer Alvin Toffler said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” So what are we doing to prepare students to learn, unlearn, and relearn?  We have to turn the question back to individuals.  In this information-rich society, each individual, to maximize the ability to learn how to learn in any context, must be able to answer each of the following questions for himself/herself:

  • Do I know how to find information?

  • Do I know how to validate it?

  • Do I know how to synthesize it?

  • Do I know how to leverage it?

  • Do I know how to communicate with it?

  • Do I know how to collaborate with it?

  • Do I know how to problem solve with it?

I would make the argument that anyone who values learning cannot argue with these seven essential literacies.  What I see in them is that learning is beyond just integrating technology.  Knowing how to find information is resource neutral – it involves any type of media.  Knowing how to validate that information creates the legitimacy of a thought.  Knowing how to synthesize it is the foundation of developing an argument to a claim.  Knowing how to leverage that argument to build positive momentum to a cause gives us something to communicate.  Knowing how to use our communication to share passion and build a greater city, state, and world is the ultimate collaboration.  If we can teach our students to do all of this, calling them “problem solvers” won’t sound big enough.

Our God is a God of wisdom and knowledge.  Proverbs 2:6 says, “6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  With all of the resources that are available to use to learn in today’s age of information, I call upon all of us to be praying for our students, our families, and our school to have wisdom, knowledge and understanding.  Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.”  Father, God, let it be so.

In Service,

Mike Allen

 

Duty or Desire?

John Piper tells the story of coming home on his wedding anniversary with a big bouquet of flowers for his wife – one beautiful, long-stemmed rose for each of the 25 years they had been married.  When he walked in the door and surprised her with the flowers, she responded, “Oh John, you did not need to do that.”  He then said, “Yes, I did.  I have been reading a book on marriage, and it says that is what good husbands should do.  It is my duty.”

Roses

In telling this story, Piper says that those hearing it always laugh when he says duty – even though doing one’s duty is a good thing.  Because we all know that buying flowers for your wife out of duty is no way to show love.  In fact, no wife would feel loved if her husband said, “I really didn’t feel like buying flowers for you, I wanted to spend the money on something else, but I disciplined myself to do this out of my duty toward you.”   

I believe that many of us, perhaps most of us, approach our walk with Jesus in this way.  We can begin to fall into the trap of doing our religious duty.  We go to church because we know we should.  We serve on a committee or teach a class because we ought to.  We feel guilty when we don’t read the Bible or pray – so we ask others to hold us accountable.

I will be very honest with you – no one ever needs to hold me accountable to do the things I love to do.  If there is an IU basketball game on TV, I do my very best to arrange my schedule so that I make sure and watch it.  I don’t need a group of men to ask me each week if I watched the game or not.  I love watching IU basketball, so I happily watch it – well, maybe not so happily this year.  But even when IU is not that great, I watch because I want to – it is my desire, not my duty.

I want my walk with the Lord to be the same way.  I want to follow Jesus out of desire, not out of duty.  And it is what God wants as well.  He does not want to be the object of our duty, He wants to be the object of our desire, of our love.  A.W. Tozer said that “God waits to be wanted.”  “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).  God is worthy of more than just my duty – He is worthy of my desire.  

I have been meeting with a group of 8th grade boys every Thursday over their lunchtime to study the Bible and talk about faith and life issues.  We are beginning a study of what it means to really follow God from desire – to thirst for Him, to long for Him.  I hope it is something that they can at least begin to get a taste for, to get a glimpse of what it means to love God with all their hearts, and to begin to follow Him out of desire and not duty.

I hope the same for myself – and for you.

In Him – Scott Winslow

Community in the Classroom

Sometimes I think about what a great job I am blessed with and what an honor it is to get to be in ECS classrooms all the time: observing teachers, reading to students, watching special presentations, taking visiting families in to observe, or just checking in on what students are learning. In fact, I talk to visitors (and to anyone who will listen!) about the culture of learning and the spiritual impact of ECS all the time. Having been a teacher and a parent at ECS myself, I have my own personal experience to share regarding how ECS has positively influenced my family. Certainly ECS prepared my child for her next academic steps and equipped her spiritually for challenges and changes along the way. It is gratifying to see the fruit of that investment even now.

Parents expect an emphasis on academic and spiritual investment in their child during their years at ECS. At ECS, administration, teachers and staff expect it too!
Every time I visit a classroom, I am still impressed by what I see: the dedication of the teachers, the energy and interaction of the students, the “light bulb” moments when a child understands, the team work among students as they work in groups, the academic conversations in the classroom among students from ages four to fourteen, the ownership of learning by students, and the joy of relationships among teachers and students. Listening as teachers interweave spiritual truths within academic instruction makes the learning more relevant, and students contribute biblical integration of their own, which is always impressive!

This “like-mindedness” within the classroom creates a sense of community that extends to every aspect of our school. To be clear, it takes work to develop a sense of community, striving to work together for the same purpose, and we don’t get it right all the time. Our intention, though, is to communicate to our students that “we are a ‘family’ or a ‘team’ in the classroom”, as one of our teachers shared with her class recently as they discussed how to work together productively. She followed up by reading Romans 12:15 to them, “We rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep”.

Community is built as students collaborate in learning, as they invest in one another through the daily classroom activities, and as they learn to apply the Word to their lives and pray together. Community is created when students and teachers look for ways to serve, within our school and beyond, and know that together they can impact our community and our world.

We are all “better” in community, and we appreciate the prayers and support of all the stakeholders at ECS. Thank you for praying for our students as they learn and grow in their faith and for our teachers and staff who serve them every day.

Part of school life includes testing and accountability, so we appreciate your prayers as our third through eighth graders take the ISTEP+ test the week of March 10.