My wife and I were introduced to Providence Classical Christian School years ago when we were seeking support in our home school efforts. We remained at Providence for many reasons, but the school has three main strengths that have caused our family to stay. The first reason we remained is the school’s high academic standards. Quite frankly, we have been blown away by how much our children know and are capable of. We can see that our children will be able to compete with any student on any academic level. My wife and I have been privy to many of their conversations where they spontaneously discuss topics that we can only enter into at a surface level! I remember watching a historical movie with them depicting the Civil War. They were naming the battles, the colonels and the generals before they ever appeared on the screen! We have been very impressed.
Because of the high academic standards, our children are gaining a work ethic that they will be able to carry with them throughout their lives. If they practice and achieve the high expectations set for them now by their teachers, they will eventually set high expectations for themselves in life. Without even realizing it, they are developing a love for learning that will continue to blossom as they grow older.
Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed on the ground (Mark 4). “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain-first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.” It’s like a mustard seed, “which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”
I see my children like that. I’m responsible for their growth. I plant seeds as their father, and each seed sprouted and begins to grow until it becomes a tree. If you’ve ever planted a small tree, you know that if you want it to grow up healthy and straight, you must attach it to a straight stick. The straight stick becomes its guide. I’m one of those straight sticks, and I’ve tied myself to my children, but I can’t do this job alone. As they grow stronger and older, that sapling can begin to bend in other directions. I need a couple of other straight sticks to join me. The teachers at Providence, along with our church community have been the other two sticks.
I remember how meaningful it was for us when one of our daughter’s teachers stopped my wife in the hallway and said, “I was praying for your daughter the other day and thought about a strategy we could use to help her…” We were grateful for the strategy, but to know that our daughter’s teacher was investing personal prayer time into her life meant far more! When Mrs. Kniss had our daughter in class, we were concerned about some issues, and she printed articles for us and invested herself personally in our daughter’s success. Several years later, Mrs. England challenged the sixth grade girls to read the Bible and pray every day for an extended amount of time. Our daughter is still reaping the rewards of that challenge today as she told us this week that she only missed six or seven days in reading her Bible and praying throughout the year. The value of this kind of investment from teachers can carry no price tag.
We’re impressed by the academic standards of the school and by the teachers, but the number one reason that my wife and I have kept our children enrolled at Providence is the kids. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” The students are iron sharpening iron…and we have sharp students! In the world we live in today, some of the most abnormal things have been twisted to become not only acceptable, but normal. The student body at Providence helps one another to establish patterns and standards that redefine what “normal” living is.
Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 1:13 to “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me…” Paul had established routines, standards, and patterns in his life that Timothy could follow. It doesn’t matter if it’s a business, a church, or a school; there are patterns established that set each organization apart from others. There are patterns for customer service at Nordstrom’s, there are patterns for how to make and sell coffee at Starbucks, there are patterns set at a church–almost its own language– that make it distinctive. An atmosphere or culture is set by those patterns. A spiritual climate or an unspoken ethical code is established by those routines and patterns that are practiced on a consistent basis.
Providence has its own patterns. Some patterns I have seen manifested in my kids are:
- They learn a pattern of thinking, learning not just WHAT to think, but HOW to think.
- They develop a pattern of tenacity and self-discipline. In grammar school, they learn that they can accomplish more than they thought. They receive new homework assignments and think they’ve never had to stick to a train of thought for so long, but as their year continues, they have a new standard for what hard work is and for what they can accomplish.
- They develop a set pattern of behavior. It’s one thing to know that respect should be demonstrated between student and teacher, but when a child sees that standard played out before her very eyes by your peers, she suddenly takes ownership of that standard of behavior. It leaks out into every area of life.
- Patterns of godly character are set. This type of character can’t be taught–it must be caught. Providence provides the atmosphere and standards for our kids to develop and demonstrate character and integrity.
- They learn social skills that will cause them to be successful in life. Many parents don’t want to send their children to a place like Providence because they fear that their child will be sheltered or socially inept somehow. Here’s what I know to be true of these kids: they’re articulate, they look you in the eye when they talk to you, they’re respectful, they have a good measure of confidence, and they can interact inter-generationally with those older as well as those younger than themselves. They’re mature, thoughtful, well adjusted, and happy!
We’re setting the bar high for what “normal” is: it’s normal to be courteous… it’s normal to be respectful of other people… it’s normal to work hard… it’s normal to be productive…it’s normal to be capable of articulating your point of view…it’s normal to exercise grace and dignity.
My goal in sending my kids to Providence is to help them from a very young age not merely to be Christians but to be potent Christians. When they walk into the room they should be the ones who shape the conversation. They should be the salt and the light that Jesus talked about. And this goal isn’t just for extroverts. Their character will speak for itself. I want to let them know they were born for greatness! They’re here to make an impact. God brought them into the world because He has something special that only they can do. He has put greatness inside them. Because Providence is smaller in size, that greatness can be brought out. Providence provides more opportunity to see at what you’re great, and the teachers recognize and draw out greatness that my kids didn’t know was there.
If you’re looking for a place where your child can receive not only information but also impartation, I can confidently recommend Providence to you and your family.