Benefits Above and Beyond the Students: Part 2 of 3
As administrator I have to worry about budgets, schedules, management and logistics. I also recognize my responsibility to be a good steward of the resources and equipment that our school has been blessed with. From that perspective the implementation of the iPads has definitely been a win/win situation.
From a time management perspective and making effective use of precious classroom time the iPads have the definite advantage. Prior to their use students were lined up, walked down the hallway to the computer lab at the opposite end of the school and would sit down waiting for their machines to boot up. This old way of doing things easily lost 5- 10 minutes of time in a typical 40 minute period. Students were forced to use the same machine every time to ensure they had access to their previously saved file. The computers were not always reliable (often buggy) and students would sometimes have to go a different machine meaning that they would be starting a previously started assignment from scratch. Those students who required extra time to complete a project would have to use the computer lab at lunch under teacher supervision to complete their assignment.
With the iPads the devices can stay in the back of the classroom so they are readily available. Students simply have to open the cover and they are ready to go. This easily allows for students to be working at different activities and different paces all at the same time. This efficiency and flexibility is a definite advantage for differentiated instruction and a multi-grade classroom.
Financially, when compared to the costs of having desk top machines the iPads are an affordable option. Not only are the devices more cost effective to purchase there is also ongoing savings in hydro expenses, and the expense of the multiple software licences that needed to be purchased in the past. They are many apps that are free to use and even the ones that come at a cost are reasonable compared to licensing and purchasing of software previously required. This is especially a cost saving since as a private school we did not have access to Ontario wide public education site and licenses for programs. Through the use of iBooks no longer is it necessary to order a class set of novels or textbooks. Recently looking at new text books options there was the choice between the $35 hardcover or the $10 e-book edition, the cost savings continues.
The efficiency, flexibility and cost effectiveness of the iPads definitely make them viable option for administrators making the decision for the best technology options for their school.
Roots and Wings Going Above and Beyond: Part 1 of 3
A year ago we started meeting as a Technology Advancement committee to decide how we move forward in using technology to provide the best educational experience for our students. I have to admit that I was the skeptical one when we were considering moving to iPads. I read lots of reviews online and as with most things there were reviews and blogs both for and against. After further research the decision was made to purchase iPads and after a generous donation, the school penny drive, and our hot lunch program all expenses were covered.
Now, one year in to using our iPads in the classroom and I am totally convinced of their benefit. I know that we have not reached near the full potential of these devices but with the little that we have tapped into they are invaluable. A dictionary, atlas, encyclopedia, thesaurus, calculator, camera, video camera are all in this one small device and so much more. The devices are equally beneficial for creating as they are consuming.
With so much information instantly accessible there are a new set of learning skills for this new generation. As we move ahead education is no longer just about the 3 R’s or reading, writing and arithmetic, they now also include the 4 c’s of collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking. As we develop these skills within our students we are helping them to not only develop basic lifelong skills we are equipping them to go above and beyond. As a Christian school we also have the responsible to ensure that as our students have wings that they also have well established roots in their faith and in their understanding of God and his world. Ultimately if we provide our students with roots and wings we are enabling them to go above and beyond, be agents of change and to truly meet their full God-given potential.
When I was a little girl I would wake up early in the morning and tip toe down the stairs from my upstairs bedroom until I got to the bottom step and I would sit and wait. From that bottom step I had a perfect view of my parent’s bedroom door and I would wait for my dad to wake up and start the day. I would then get ready to go to the barn with him to start the morning milking. As he worked I would tag along and we would talk, time spent alone together. I loved mornings.
I still love the mornings. Contrary to public perception I don’t love the mornings so I can get to work and start the busyness of my day. I love the morning because there is such a quiet peace and stillness in the air. The morning sun, the glistening dew, the chirping of birds, it is absolute beauty. Personally, when I experience the beauty and stillness of the morning all my heart can do is give praise back to God. It is in those moments that I am blessed by the beauty of His creation, I am overwhelmed with His love, and I am in awe of his power and greatness. There is nothing else I want to do in that moment but spend time alone with my Heavenly Father. It is in those moments that I truly feel his presence and my greatest desire is to pour out my heart in prayer. I want to share everything with Him, my needs, my hurts, my failings, and my heart of gratitude, praise and thanksgiving.
My thoughts and feelings resonate the with the words of Christian artist Nicole Mullen in her song entitled "Redeemer”
Who taught the sun
Where to stand in the morning
And who taught the ocean
You can only come this far
And who showed the moon
Where to hide till evening
Whose words alone can
Catch a falling star
Well I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
All of creation testifies
This life within me cries
I know my Redeemer lives
The line of her song, "All creation testifies,” is related to the verse found in Romans 1:20. In the New Living Translation it reads, "For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. "Creation and nature around us does gives us a deeper picture of who God is and I believe one way He reveals himself to us.
I understand not everyone is a morning person. However in the busyness of life you need to find those moments and those places to breathe in and experience the beauty of God’s creation and to feel his presence. In our media rich, fast-paced, pressure driven world we are losing out on the opportunity to experience God through His Creation and we need to intentionally set time aside. As it reads in Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God.” For some it may be on a fishing boat, others a golf course, it may be taking in a sunset, or sitting on a beach, or simply time spent on your back deck, wherever it may be find your place. Yes, I loved those mornings as a little girl spent with my dad, but nothing can compare to the morning moments I now spend with my Father, my Creator, and my Redeemer. It is in those moments, that I can truly say, "I know my Redeemer lives.”
Principal – Sonrise Christian Academy
From the Kindergarten Classroom
It’s that time of year to reflect and this brings me to that well known song, "The Sound of Music” where Julie Andrews gets up twirling around her bedroom with the children rhyming off their favourite things. Now, if you are anything like my husband, right now you are singing like a woman in an accent sounding like the Duchess of England, rolling your eyes because, The Sound of Music is not one of your favourite things. But that’s OK, we are all made differently and I happen to like it.
So to get the point, I am here to tell you my favourite things during our last term of Junior and Senior Kindergarten for 2014. Now, if you ask my students what their preferred subjects were this year, they would say "lunch, recess and playtime”. And then all teachers say "Ahh! If they only knew how much work we put into the rest of their year!” But that’s OK too. That is how they are made.
So to begin, my first favourite thing would be our new Butterfly Unit. To back track a little bit, my students like to collect bugs all year long and admire God’s beauty within them. As you get older you wonder where the beauty in a spider is that is found crawling up your wall. But there is beauty even there, it’s all in the eye of the beholder, and thank the Lord, God thinks we are beautiful despite ourselves.
So, this year we ordered 10 little caterpillars online who are, amazingly, making themselves (through the design of our Lord) into chrysalises. The children have been amazed to watch them transform, even in a day, from caterpillar to a little green cocoon. We are still awaiting their arrival, and when they do turn into lovely little butterflies, the children are eagerly waiting to name them. Now what did I learn from this example of God’s amazing power? For me this year, it is that God can transform even myself and my students, from sinful creatures always seeming to try to get to the land of somewhere, only to find themselves and others in the land of nowhere. Yet through His mercy, He can redeem us and make us soar on a daily basis, if I we are willing to try. He can reinstate us daily. He can make all of us fly anew in His grace.
My second favourite thing this year was Track and Field. Our little K’s were constantly outside this term getting ready for the big day! There were many times when tears would come, children would be discouraged that they came in last, or didn’t beat the others in a running race, but we talked about how it just mattered that we did our personal best, and that everyone had different talents. We also discussed how at the other side of the winning line was Jesus, with arms open wide waiting for them to finish, even if they fell. This seemed to immediately change their attitude from some sadness to determination, and on the BIG DAY that is exactly what happened to each and every one of them. Not one child had a sad face if they didn’t get a ribbon. Each one completed the race, even if they were behind the others, and still had a big smile to boot. Some children were even willing to share their ribbons with others, and one, even after falling and suffering a split lip, stayed to the end to finish all the events. How proud we should be of our children. Some had red ribbons, some blue, some white and some the royal purple participation ribbon that reiterated that Jesus was joyful that they (the students) had finished their race well, and that HE was WELL pleased. If there isn’t a lesson in that, I will tell you part of it, run your race, ask Jesus to pick you up, and He is there at the finish line waiting for you with eyes gleaming, proud as can be!
My last favourite thing is something I meant to do all year long but forgot to do it till just recently. We have a bulletin board in our room with a tree on it, and each season it has changed from green to colourful leaves, to Christmas snowy branches and now to spring blossoms. Kieran came up to me a couple of weeks ago, and reminded me that in September it was supposed to be our prayer tree and that we haven’t been using it. God bless him. He was right. So now we have been. Each time the children have had prayer requests, we have written it down on a leaf and put it on the tree. We then put a check mark on it if the prayer request had been answered. In one of our devotions, we learned that God’s answers to our prayers were one of three things, "yes”, "no”, or "wait” because each answer was for our good and because Jesus loves us. The students easily grasped this concept and still excitedly or compassionately put their hands up for prayer, but usually not for themselves. Prayers like my Grandma’s cat died, she needs comfort. Pastor Peter has had an operation, we want him back. My Dad is working on the water all the time now and I want him to be safe. A family member is sick and wishing them to be healed and to come home, or a pet has died and hoping that God would have it waiting for them in Heaven.
What is on your prayer tree today? We learned this year that God does listen, He does care, and He does answer. I think I learn more from the children sometimes than they do from me. It is my job and your job to tell them what we learned from them, for God has said, "to come to Him as little children.” They are such good teachers. We are all very blessed.
This summer, think of your favourite things for they are God’s blessings to you. Look for them, "for all good things come from Him” and they are there every day. From our class memory work this year we heard through God’s word that, "He thinks of us every moment, even when we wake He is still thinking of us.” Let’s ask Him to find His eyes for us, His care for us this summer and to be grateful for such a loving Lord. And as He reminds me, this summer I am to look through my children’s eyes to see HIM. Grab your blessing, it will be worth it. This summer is your gift. Let Him help you make the most of it. See this summer through the eyes of your children. They own the Kingdom. Let the Lord bless us all.
The Olympics, races, and competition have so many parallels to our daily Christian walk. During these past two weeks of Olympic competition we have been able to share different verses and illustrations with our students. We have helped them make connections between God's word, our personal faith, and what so many athletes endure to be in the Olympics.
During one chapel I shared the story of Derek Redmond. Derek Redmond competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. He was a British athlete, and a medal hopeful competing in the 400 metres. He already had faced disappointment during the 1988 Olympics after suffering an injury to his Achilles. Therefore in 1992 he was determined to finish, and do his best during those Olympic Games. He successfully finished his first round race with the fastest time, ran his quarter final race and was competing in the semi-finals when 250 metres from the finish his hamstring snapped. In intense pain he still managed to get up and hobbled along determined to finish the race. His determination amidst his extreme pain is inspiring on its own, but what happened next is what truly makes the moment memorable. His father makes his way through the stands and onto the track. He fends off security not letting anything get in the way from him getting to his son. He puts his arm around his son’s waist; they embrace, and together finish the race.
The footage of this race has been used in advertising campaigns by the International Olympic Committee, Visa and Nike. It is a story of courage. It is a story of perseverance and determination. It is a story that mirrors what true love between a father and his son can be.
I shared with the students that as a Christian, when I watch this video footage I see it as a beautiful illustration for each one of us. The Bible parallels our life on earth to an athlete running the race. Hebrews 12:1 says, "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Perseverance, as I would describe it to my students is the ability to keep going in spite of difficulty. Derek Redmond modeled perseverance in his determination to finish the race. We need to live our lives with the same perseverance. When we go through life we are going to have our moments of struggle and pain. We may feel it is hopeless and that we cannot possibly go on. We may struggle on our feet trying to continue on, and it may seem that it is just too much. It is then that we need to remember that we are not running the race alone. God is there running beside us. The Bible promises us that God will never leave us nor forsake us. Just as Derek’s father overcame all obstacles to be with his son, and support him to the finish, God is right beside us ready to see us to the finish as well.
There were tears in the eyes of some staff and students when I showed the video coverage of the race and told the story. I encourage you to watch if for yourself. A simple Google search will take you to several online choices. Watch it and think about your own spiritual race and journey.
This summer my husband and I vacationed in the Pocono Mountain region of Pennsylvania. Usually, we stay pretty close to home and road trips in unfamiliar territory are not part of our vacation plans. However, this was a trip we won courtesy of a local car dealership, so how could we turn it down. As we were preparing for the trip it became more and more obvious to us that it was about time we invest in a GPS. We thus left our trusted, familiar paper maps behind and instead embarked on this new journey with the GPS in hand.
All was well until we passed the border into Pennsylvania. The GPS which we now called Garmin was telling us to get off of the interstate. This was the critical turning point in our journey in which a quick and hard decision had to be made. Do we trust the way of Garmin or do we ignore his recommendation and stay on the familiar highway? Well, to keep this story short we chose to follow Garmin.
The next three hours of our trip were beautiful, scenic, peaceful, yet nerve wracking all at the same time. We were now traveling through the back roads of Pennsylvania. Our elevation was constantly changing as we traveled up and down the winding roads mile after mile with scarcely a town or person in sight. Night was falling along with our hopes that we would ever reach our destination. We were now completely alone and reliant solely upon this GPS. In the end, thankfully, after 3 hours of back roads the GPS guided us perfectly to our destination.
Guides us perfectly, that is what Jesus does for us when we trust totally and completely in him. It may not be the path in which we would choose for our self but it is the path he has chosen for us. If we venture back to those Pennsylvania back roads those were not the roads my husband and I would have chosen. However, I have to admit without that part of the trip we would have missed out on some amazing landscapes, quaint hamlets and lots and lots of wildlife. We would have reached our destination but we would have lost out on some of the joy of the journey.
This trip was the perfect illustration for me of trusting in God. When we were traveling on those back roads we were completely dependent upon our GPS for our every move. (I don’t believe I have ever held on to a device so tightly in my entire life.) God asks us to trust in Him with the same need and dependency. In Proverbs 3:5, 6, it reads, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not onto your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” God calls us, wants us, to trust in Him completely. He will always direct our paths. It may not be the easy path, or the straightforward path, but it will be His path, with his directions and his leading. And for me that is the path I want to be on.
As a staff one of our goals for the 2013-14 school year and beyond is to develop an appreciation and love for reading in our students. We want reading to become part of the culture of our school and our students. At our June staff meeting the teachers were enthusiastic and came prepared with tons of fantastic ideas for us to implement. Personally, as principal, I wanted to set the example to the students and get the ball rolling. Therefore, this summer I am on a quest to read as many children’s chapter books as I can. I am choosing my books from the list of the top 100 children’s chapter books of all time from childrensbooksguide.com.
I must say that as a child myself I was never much of a book reader. My home was filled with newspapers and magazines which I read regularly but I missed out on reading the classics of children’s literature. Some of the books I have read as an adult for teaching purposes but there are still many on that list of the top 100 that remain unread. My husband on the other hand was often read to as a child and some of the classics on this list are found in our bookshelves at home. Therefore, I didn’t need to go the library to start my personal quest.
Let the reading begin.
Book 1: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien.
Whoever thought that a novel about mice and rates could be so engaging? Once I started reading I had a hard time putting down the book. Mrs. Frisby is a widowed field mouse who is trying to take care of her four children. Her task comes greater when her youngest son Timothy falls ill and is not well enough to travel to their summer home and safety before the farmer starts plowing the fields. Mrs. Frisby shows love, courage and determination in seeking help to ensure the survival of her son and family. On her journey she gains help from the rats of Nimh and learns a great secret about the rats and the heroism of her late husband.
Book 2: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
I have seen this book on our bookshelf for years and frankly the book never interested me. I actually thought the cover of the book was a bit scary and I have never been a huge fan of fantasy or science fiction books so, on the shelf the book remained. I thought I was going to have to force myself to read and persevere through the book but again found myself pleasantly surprised and quite engaged. In this story Meg Murray and her brother Charles Wallace go on an adventure through time and space to find and rescue their father. On their journey they are joined by their friend Calvin and receive help from the strange and mysterious Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. It is interesting to read scriptures verses interspersed throughout a book with mysterious creatures, unknown planets and time travel. In the end an important truth and message prevails – love conquers all.Book 3: James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
I picked this book up and read it in a day. I love books with short chapters. I find it keeps me motivated to keep reading. I must say though the short chapters was not
the only thing that I liked about this book and kept me motivated to keep
reading. Poor James Henry Trotter loses
his parents when they are swallowed up by a rhinoceros. His life gets worse as he his sent to live
with his two very mean aunts. Then
everything changes when James is handed a sack of green crocodile tongues. Yes, you read that right green crocodile
tongues. James is then taken on an incredible
journey that you would have to read to believe.
Book 4: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
I was unpacking books at the school when I found a class set of this book. It was a nice afternoon read. This book is definitely an example of quality over quantity. In the story Caleb and Anna live on the family farm in the early 1900's with their widowed father. It is obvious how much the family misses their mother and the sound of singing in their home. Their dad posts an ad for a wife and mother and Sarah, plain and tall replies. After letters back and forth Sarah arrives wearing her yellow bonnet and carrying her cat named Seal. The reader is drawn in as you wonder if Sarah will leave her family and the sea to become the wife and mother this family so desperately needs.
Book 5: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Even though I heard of this book I had no idea of the story before I started reading it. This is a story about a boy and his love for coon hunting and the numerous hunting adventures he goes on with his hunting dogs. In the end once you have finished reading the novel it is easy to realize that this is a story about so much more than coon hunting. It is a story of love, friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. The book kept me engaged and I anxiously waited to find out the meaning of the title only revealed in the last chapter of the book. The book was so good that once I finished reading it I immediately went back to the first chapter to start reading the opening chapters again.
Book 6: The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
This is a book I have read many times before - just not recently. The story reminds me so much of BunBun a favourite toy of one of my students. Most of us can relate to the one favourite stuffed animal that becomes a treasured friend. Even though it is a familiar story I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and was even once again surprised by the ending.
Book 7: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
This is the classic tale of the adventures of Mr. Mole, his good friend, Mr. Rat, Badger and Mr. Toad. I have to admit I found the book a bit slow until I got to the part with Toad’s misadventures that land him in jail, his great escape, and then the final battle to regain Toad Hall. There are lots of lessons to be learned in this book about friendship, loyalty, and pride. I would have to say the vocabulary found in this book would be difficult for most children ( and some adults) and I would definitely classify it as more of a read-aloud book.
Book 8: Sounder by William H. Armstrong
This book is not listed on the top 100 list I have been following but did receive the Newbery Medal in 1970. Much to my surprise this is the second book I have read about a coon dog. I found this to be a very sad story about a poor African-American boy growing up in the 19th-century South. Sounder, the dog, has a place in the story but it is so much more a story about the boy. It feels in the story that the boy is always searching for someone or something. Even though the boy and his family live a difficult life the mother continues to share and recite Bible stories and trust in the good Lord. Now I will need to get a copy of the sequel Sour Land to read about the boy's life as an adult.
Book 9: The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
This was my first time reading this familiar story. I have seen it on screen and stage many times before. I love that the edition I was reading from had the original pictures from when the book was first published. It was a good reminder that I was reading a book first published in 1900. The author uses so much detail and description it is easy for the reader to get swept into the land of Oz alongside Dorothy. Even though I knew the story well the true creativity and mastery of writing is not fully appreciated until you read it for yourself.
Book 10: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
This is one of Mrs. Hoornweg's favourite novels and she told me I would enjoy it and she was right. I picked it up to read early one morning while I was away on holidays and had finished it by the next morning. Whereas I appreciate and marvel at the creativity of fantasy writing; historical fiction is still my favourite genre especially in children's literature. Bud, not Buddy is the story of a 10 year old orphan boy living in Michigan during the Great Depression. After being mistreated by a foster family he runs away and is forced to survive on his own. Bud has learned a lot of lessons in his young life and it fun to relate to them as you read His Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself (not that I am endorsing lying.) For example take Rule Number 87. "When a Adult tells you they need your help with a problem get ready to be tricked. Most times this means they just want you to go fetch something for them." This book will now be added to my list of junior grades read aloud books.
Book 11: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
This is a delightful, heart-warming easy to read story of India Opal Buloni, the preacher (her dad), and her dog Winn-Dixie. Opal is pretty lonely living in the adult only trailer park her dad and her recently moved to in Florida. Her boring and lonely life soon changes after bringing home the stray dog she found at the Winn-Dixie grocery store. Because of Winn-Dixie the door is open for Opal to meet many new friends old and young alike. Through the story you realize that it is not only Opal that was in need of a friend, but there are many people around her in the community in need of conversation and fellowship as well. For beginning chapter book readers the storyline, layout of the pages, and the short chapters make this book a good choice to read and enjoy.
Book 12: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Once again a book and a story I knew a lot about but had never actually read. This is a story about true friendship. Jess is a boy who has one great ambition in life - to be the fastest runner in his grade at school. On his first day back not only is he defeated, he is defeated by the new girl in his class- Leslie. Jess and Leslie surprisingly end up being the best of friends. They create their own fantasy world called Terabithia in which they are king and queen and reign supreme. They are inseparable until a terrible tragedy occurs that changes everything. Throughout the book the characters struggle a little bit about who God is and the purpose of church. A good chapter book for older readers.
Book 13: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
This book is an interesting read with lots of room for discussion afterwards. In this novel the Tuck family drank from a magic spring which in turn gave them eternal life on earth. While many people may see this as a blessing the family realizes that it is more of a curse than a blessing. They try to keep the spring a secret and live their lives inconspicuously trying not to be noticed or have attention drawn themselves. This changes when a girl, Winnie Foster stumbles upon their family secret. In the end, what measures will this family take to maintain the secret of the spring?
On Sunday, February 24th, the founder of our school Rev. David Gingrich passed away and went to be with his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We are thankful for his vision for a Christian school in Prince Edward County and his work in the establishment of our school.
Below is his account of the early history of the school.
A Brief History of Sonrise Christian Academy
written by David Gingrich
In 1984-85 the growing congregation of First Baptist Church began constructing an addition to their church building. About the same time Pastor David Gingrich received an invitation to attend a conference, to be held in Rochester, NY on the subject of Christian Schooling. Since his schedule coincided with this event, he decided to attend and invited Mr. Lynn Revell to accompany him. Lynn was the loans manager at the Bank of Nova Scotia at the time but had expressed a desire to return to teaching at some point in his career.
During that conference a vision was born. Pastor David began to realize that the secular system of education, as good as it is, had moved far from the moorings of a Christian world view. Biblical values were taught as part of the general curriculum in years past had been abandoned in favour of humanistic situational ethic. He knew he wanted his children and those of his church family to have the option of returning to the roots of Ryerson’s educational model for Ontario. One where the Bible could be a companion textbook in every subject.
Upon returning to Picton Pastor David proposed the matter to the Board of First Baptist Church. A decision was made to seek the congregation’s approval. Building plans already underway were examined and a few changes were proposed which would accommodate the school for the first years. Mr. Lynn Revell committed himself to become the principal, should the project proceed.
At the congregational meeting which followed, there was a great deal of discussion about the need for a Christian School in our community. Also discussed was the rationale behind Christian Schooling and the costs involved. Several things were decided:
to begin with only a few primary grades and build slowly
to adopt a conciliatory rather than confrontational attitude toward the public school board
to fund start up costs but work to see the school financially independent
to seek the active support of other churches in the project.
The first opposition to the formation of the school came from a couple of the town councillors. Their feeling was that the zoning the church was under did not permit this activity. It was pointed out to them that many schools existed in churches, but the opposition continued. Then one day Pastor David received a telephone call in which the caller stated he thought there had at one time been a school in the basement of First Baptist. A quick trip to the library confirmed that Happy Hours School had its beginnings in the 1950's in this building. What’s more it had been begun by the Picton town council!
The opposing councillors then changed their tactic to say that there was not enough vacant property around First Baptist. They said that in an emergency there would be no place to assemble the children without having them in the street. This time it was St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church to the rescue. They offered the use of their building in any emergency. The opposition from Council eventually evaporated.
A name needed to be chosen. Several were suggested. Eventually it was agreed that Sonrise was a good choice, especially with its purposeful spelling change. The idea of "beginnings”, "enlightenment”, and "Jesus” were all in it. Christian was a natural choice. That addition would reflect the core reason for existing. There are some discussion between Academy and School as the third word of the name. Eventually Academy was chosen as a mark of distinction. SONRISE CHRISTIAN ACADEMY was a reality.
Next came the formation of a Board and the writing of a constitution. In the former, representatives from several churches were procured. Sonrise was to be interdenominational in scope. The Gospel Hall, Salvation Army, Presbyterian, Baptist, Standard, and Christian Reformed churches were all represented on the initial board. Two of the board members were public school teachers. In the writing of a constitution leading to incorporation a key decision was made. Sonrise would be open to all children, regardless of race, creed, educational standing or any other critieria. In light of this, parental input would be sought in all matters concerning the school, but parents would not participate in the actual running of the school. By this means the integrity of curriculum, standards and focus would be safeguarded. Sonrise was awarded status in Ontario as a not-for-profit corporation and charitable recognition by Revenue Canada.
Sonrise opened in the fall of 1986 with a Junior and Senior Kindergarten, taught by Mavis Vader. Mavis came with an excellent background of 22 years in the public system. What’s more, her father was Principal C.M.L. Snider for whom the Wellington Public School is named. The curriculum chosen was "teacher-centred” rather than "self learning” as is common in some Christian schools. The budget for the school was $56,500 with $16,500 being underwritten by First Baptist.
Each year more grades were added at increased cost. The financial commitment of First Baptist peaked in 1988 at just over $18,000, not including any costs associated with housing the school. After that year direct funding from First Baptist slowly decreased as Sonrise became financially independent. During its last year in First Baptist the student body had grown to the point that two classes had to be housed in the fellowship hall at St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church.
Today Sonrise Christian Academy occupies a beautiful new building with spacious playgrounds on Johnson Street. It is supported by many churches and its students come from varied backgrounds. It is an asset to the community and forms part of the excellent mosaic of education in this area. We can all be proud of our school.
Here is my most recent article submitted for the County Weekly News.
Since I worked at a live theatre for 10 years I have seen countless stage productions. With all of the productions I have seen and particularly musicals Les Misérables far exceeds them all as my personal favourite. I have seen it a few times and find the music powerful and the story line engaging. I still prefer the live production but I must admit the characters and storyline took on a whole new depth and meaning when I watched the recently released movie.
There is no denying that this is a story about redemption and the power of grace. In the movie after nearly 20 years of imprisonment Jean Valjean (convicted of stealing a loaf of bread) is released. He is required to carry papers stating he is a former prisoner. With these papers in hand there is no chance for him to find work or shelter and as a result he is basically dying on the streets cold and hungry. That is when a priest finds him, invites him in, and provides him with warmth and shelter. However, in desperation Valjean steals some silver pieces from the priest. It is not long before the authorities nab him and take him back to the scene of the crime. This is the point of grace. The priest tells the authorities that he freely gave the silver to him and even offers him his best silver candle sticks as well.
Valjean could easily have been put back in prison and forced to spend the rest of his life as an imprisoned slave. However, that act of grace, a free gift, undeserved, given to him, changes his life. He becomes a respected business man running a factory that hires many and aims to treat them well. The rest of his life is spent extending grace to others. From using his strength to save an injured man, to taking in and caring for the orphaned Cosette, to sparing the life of Jalvert the officer who pursued him and chased him for years.
In this story one act of grace has a powerful and life-long impact on one person and from there impacts many others. This is an example to all of us of the potential difference we can make in the life of another by extending human grace. However, the act of grace we may receive from another person does not even compare to the grace that God extends to us. What is God’s grace? I don’t even pretend to have a full grasp and understanding of all that it is and all that it encompasses. I do know this - that through God’s love and grace I receive forgiveness, and a new life in Jesus Christ. I know that God’s grace is available to all of us, his grace is free, and his grace is a gift. No one, not one of us deserves this gift but it is still available. It is not a gift I earn by good works or good deeds all I need to do is accept and receive. Why does God extend such grace? The answer is simple – He loves us.
In the end Les Misérables is just a well written and intriguing story about love, grace and redemption that pulls at our emotions and heart strings and momentarily impacts our lives. In contrast, God’s love, grace and redemption is not just a story, it is real, and it is true, and it will change your life forever.
Sonrise Christian Academy
Lately I have been spending a lot of time researching and thinking about technology and its role in education and the role it is going to play in the future of our school. The more I read articles, research and ask questions the more I realize that the question is much bigger than just what tools and devices we are going to put in our classrooms. It is actually a question of rethinking how we teach in a world of digital learning when access to information is readily available at our fingertips. How do we best prepare our students for the skills they are going to need to thrive in their secondary, post-secondary education and beyond? How do we best train our students to sift through the wealth of information that is available to them in order to solve real world problems? What needs to happen in the layout of our classrooms, our approach to teaching to help students develop the 21stcentury skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and effective and efficient use of technology?
These are important and timely questions that we need to be asking ourselves as a school. I am the first to admit that I am an "old school” teacher. I believe that there are a lot of skills that need to be specifically taught. At the same time I am excited about the trends that I see happening in education. I think that ultimately that the key is found in balance. If we maintain elements of teacher directed instruction with the opportunities for students to collaborate, use technology, solve problems and communicate to a real and genuine audience then I think we will have found education at its best.
When I was a little girl on Christmas Eve we would get milk and cookies out and leave them on the kitchen table. My parents would then load us up into our brown Ford LTD and we would go to grandma’s house. For some unknown reason my mom would always be the last one out of the house. As you probably have predicted when we returned home the cookies had disappeared, the milk was gone and there would be presents under the tree - a Christmas tradition.
For my husband’s family his Christmas traditions looked much different. His dad would lead Christmas Eve services at church. Then the family would gather together for the reading of the Christmas story from Luke 2 followed by the reading of the children’s storybook The City That Forgot about Christmas. In the morning grapefruit would always be served as part of the Christmas morning breakfast. Christmas traditions that are carried on in my home today – that is everything but the grapefruit, thankfully.
Every child has their own unique memories of Christmas and every family has their own traditions. However, as special as our traditions are at Christmas we need to ensure that our Christmas isn’t just about traditions and that our Christmas never becomes routine. In school right now my students are reading the novel The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. In this book, Christmas, and even more specifically the biblical Christmas story had become routine. The narrator of the book gives the following description of the upcoming Christmas pageant, "It’s always just the Christmas story, year after year, with people shuffling around in bathrobes and bedsheets, and sharp wings.” In the book that is how the entire church was feeling about the story of Jesus’ birth – it was just a story that they had already heard and seen over and over again. And perhaps if many of us were honest we may feel the same way.
Well in the book Christmas changes that year because a new family comes to church who had never heard the story of Jesus’ birth. This new family, "The Herdmans” are made up of six children who are known for lying, stealing, swearing and even smoking cigars. However, the story of Christmas takes on great interest for them. They listen intently and ask questions at every part of the story. Words that sound so familiar in our ears were totally new in theirs. They take such a keen interest in the story that they volunteer for all the parts in the Christmas pageant. The role of Mary ends up being played by Imogene, described as the rudest, bossiest, nastiest Herdman of all. Everyone expected the pageant to be a disaster and the worst ever but it actually becomes the best. It isn’t the best that year because of great acting, costumes or sets. It was the best because it was being portrayed by children who were experiencing the story for the first time. The story became real again. During the play Imogene starts to cry on stage as the story and the character of Mary takes on full meaning, the audience also tears up and to be honest every time I read that part of the story I too am also in tears.
May I challenge you this Christmas not to get stuck in tradition and routines. Take the time to read the story of Jesus’ birth from the second chapter of Luke with new eyes. Don’t let it be just a story that you hear year after year or just a story that you think you have heard already. Discover for yourself anew a story about more than just a baby in a manager- a story about a Saviour.
I have now been teaching long enough that the students I taught in my first years of teaching are now well into their young adult years. I truly enjoy interacting with them as adults and learning about their lives today. Two weeks ago I had a young man who was in my first class at Sonrise proudly introduce me to his new bride. Last week I sat down in church to have a very proud mom show me the ultrasound pictures of her future granddaughter. This future mom is a past student who had also returned to our school as a volunteer. These interactions act as a confirmation to me that our school truly is more than a community, we are a family.
Over the past 6 months it seems that I have seen our Sonrise graduates everywhere. I am so proud of their accomplishments. During the spring and summer I was able to regularly read of the track and field accomplishments of a student from the graduating class of 2011. It was an honour in June to watch four young ladies graduate from Quinte Christian as Ontario Scholars. From that same graduating class I read of the award winning accomplishments of our grads who chose to attend PECI. My list goes on. We now have one of our graduates on staff teaching our grade one and two class. She is passionately diving into her new profession. Tomorrow, we have another grad coming in to share as a chapel speaker. She was in Elliot Lake this past summer during the tragedy of the mall collapse and was able to minister to young people in that community. As I occasionally attend other churches I have seen past students now taking on leadership roles in their local church. I see grads in the work force and I am so proud to see their work ethic and polite treatment of customers.
I am now convinced that the feeling of being a proud teacher must come a close second to the feelings of being a proud parent.