By Tim Bennett
Most Christian parents today are rightfully concerned about the growing gulf between public school education and Christian values and yet there seems to be only two alternatives—teaching your kids at home, or sending them to private Christian schools which can be very expensive. Some parents may want to homeschool, but feel ill-equipped to teach their children as they enter junior and senior high school. Other parents may feel they both need to work in order to pay the bills and cannot take the time to homeschool.
Jeshurun Christian School, a new school for students in 7-12th grade, birthed through The Korean Church of Syracuse in 2015, has created a third option, which integrates homeschooling methods into the classroom and costs less than most Christian schools in the area. Speaking with Grace Song, one of the main teachers at Jeshurun Christian School, she said: “We use the commonly used homeschooling materials from Veritas Press, Apologia, and Abeka and use the ones that best help the individual students.” Song further explained that the role of the teachers was not to give lectures in front of the class but rather to come alongside the students, like in homeschooling, and to facilitate learning as students work through the curriculum that is best-suited for their personal needs.
The vision for a school began in 2009 when the word “school” kept repeating itself in the mind of Rev. Dr. Young Ju Jee, who has been pastor of the Korean Church of Syracuse on 1800 East Genesee Street for more than 15 years. Convinced that this word was a directive from the Lord, Dr. Jee spent several years praying, conducting research, visiting various Christian schools, assembling 12 staff members, and doing all the preparations necessary to bring the vision to fruition. Originally, Dr. Jee thought the school would be for ‘MKs’ or ‘missionary kids’ who would actually live in a dorm on the property. Later, the staff saw the need for a Christian school for local families. Song said: “Christian education is hard to implement– even in the home. With kids going to public school, kids are learning about these very sensitive issues from a young age that are not appropriate so we’ve broadened our base to include students from Christian families.”
Jeshurun Christian School follows a North American curriculum, which fulfills the High School requirements under NYS law of education. Teachers also prepare students for the TASC (Test Affecting Secondary Completion), which is the official test that has replaced the GED. Over the four years from grades 9-12 students also carry out an in-depth weekly study on a specific topic covering eight topics related to godly character development. They include: 1) Knowledge of the Gospel, 2) Effective Communication, 3) Self-Discipline, 4) Creativity, 5) Cultural Awareness, 6) Mission-minded, 7) Skill Development, 8) Loving God.
As part of their Christian training, Ms. Song said, students are involved with two outreach programs of the school. One is called the Boaz Project which involves sharing the Gospel with refugee children who come to the school for free computer education. Another program is called the Lodi Summer Camp, which is a week-long summer camp for children that takes place in the city of Syracuse. JCS students are involved in various activities such as Bible class, arts and crafts, or games.
In terms of sports and other extracurricular activities, JCS schedules regular outings at the YMCA with a group of homeschooling families where students can play sports like soccer, swim, and take art classes.
When asked why families should consider Jeshurun Christian School this September for their children, Grace Song said: “Our school is a sound Christian school that provides a meaningful and biblical education. Anyone can excel at academics, but when it comes to teaching someone to be a person of God…that is what we focus on and I think that’s why our school matters.”