By Susan LeDoux
On Tuesday, March 27th Greece Christian School held its annual Open House and Science Fair. A ministry of Greece Assembly of God, 750 Long Pond Road, GCS remains committed to “providing a quality education for the born-again Christian community.” Dr. Herbert E. Parker, principal, and the staff welcomed visitors, students, and their families as they displayed academic achievements, along with Christian fellowship, topped by ice cream treats.
Asked about the fact that several area Christian schools recently closed, Dr. Parker said, “At a recent American Christian School International (ACSI) Northeast conference in Lancaster, PA. Christian educators were informed that while they see a trend in Christian schools closing due to low enrollments, the ones remaining tend to be stronger due to an emphasis on a culture of academic rigor built atop the foundation of a Christian worldview.”
From the enthusiasm among the students and their parents, not to mention their teachers, Greece Christian School looks like it will be around for quite a while, teaching students from preschool through 8th grade.
A visit to Mrs. Beck’s 4th grade classroom found children and parents gathered around simple machines the students created. Using inclined planes and axes, flowing water, moving balls, and weights, one triggered object would initiate a chain reaction that was almost hypnotic.
Mrs. Beck, who teaches all subjects in her 4th grade class, displayed some of the material she uses to teach spelling, vocabulary, and reading. When asked about implementing Common Core, which has not gone away, she said she combines elements of Common Core with traditional education, especially in Math. She explained some children handle abstract concepts better than others, and she must help all children learn. She uses resources for 4th grade level but also some material for students learning at a higher level. The recently upgraded library, with some 5,000 volumes, also uses Accelerated Reader (AR) for improving students’ reading comprehension.
One parent commented that when she was young, she especially enjoyed one the chapter books Mrs. Beck had on display. As the conversation turned to her experiences in 4th grade, she and her husband laughed. They were in the same 4th grade class in a Christian school, only to later meet again in college. (Added bonus to attending a Christian school — you may meet your future spouse there.)
Mrs. Fitelson, the 2nd grade teacher, enthused about her students. When asked how teaching second graders has changed over the years, she said children are learning to read much earlier. Now, by second grade, they have the ability for deeper comprehension, and can make connections more readily.
She said she enjoys doing hands on projects with the children and pointed out slides of her students measuring items in the classroom. (As any carpenter can tell you, “measure twice, cut once.”)
At Greece Christian School, God is included in all lessons. Fitelson begins the day with the Bible, and said she prefers a devotional approach. She teaches about the lives of the prophets Daniel and Elijah, and King David, from the Old Testament.
“I like to teach the entire story of these people, not just snippets here and there —the whole picture,” she said.
Again, Common Core could become an issue, but like Mrs. Beck, she makes it work for her students. She presented this statement about Common Core and Greece Christian School’s Education Standards.
“In its 35 year history GCS has never adopted New York State standards, but adapted (and attempted to exceed) said standards, based on the Bible and our current understanding of our community/society and their needs. Put in the current vernacular, our response to the state standards (currently falling under the broad stroke term ‘Common Core’) has not changed. We educate ourselves, and pursue our stated educational and philosophical objectives as a private/non-public school.”
It seems to be working well for them. The gymnasium hosted displays of many science projects. According to Dr. Parker, “We believe that we do a wonderful job with these, and have received awards in competitions with area Christian schools in the past. The children researched a topic, and included a scripture verse applicable to it. Eighth grade projects incorporate the scientific method.”
Innovations at the school this year include a co-ed volleyball team and the upgraded library. They have a championship Chess Club. Currently all students in Middle School have a Chromebook assigned to them, and next year they expect to have Chromebooks for all remaining grades.
“The ministry has invested in fast internet with access points throughout the building so connectivity and bandwidth is sufficient to allow course material in math, and other subjects, to be accessed by students and teachers for instruction in the ‘cloud,’” Parker said.
In a time when worldly misinformation bombards our children, respect and caring among students is rare, and teachers are overwhelmed, Greece Christian School is an oasis of Christian love, academic excellence, and simply the celebration of childhood with all its wonders.
To learn more, visit http://www.greecechristian.org.