It Takes a Community
by Fonda Cox, Directory of Development & Marketing for Education

The car progressed down the winding road, passed all the fields with the newborn lambs, through a small deserted town and finally stopped at a quiet little church school. Though it had been a year since children had graced its doorways, it stood proud and full of history. Something stronger than an offer for employment, or the obvious challenges ahead, or the promise of church member support, drew the young college graduate to accept the offer extended to her and walk through those doors as the newly hired teacher.

With a deep commitment to God, community, and Christian education this young Walla Walla University graduate took her first steps as a teacher in a one room Seventh-day Adventist school. That community did rally behind their school and teacher, and with God’s blessings the school grew from a mere eight students to forty two and a waiting list. In five years the school was completely remodeled, including outbuildings, playground and landscape, and had grown to include two teachers.

How did this rural school in a community where the industry had died years ago and that was virtually deserted grow? Through the years that question has come up many, many times.

Here are some lessons gleaned from this little school’s experience.

1. Dedication to God’s work was number one. A mission focus was taken and sharing Jesus with family, friends and community was a priority. Raising church leaders from within the school was important.

2. The school helped the church when and wherever they could, and in turn the church members poured out their help to the school. The church and school worked together to build each other up. As one grew, so did the other. The tie between the two was obvious, intentional and real. The church viewed the school as part of its ministry.

3. Positive comments about the school were the norm. Constant positive updates were shared with the community and churches. It became infectious and everyone wanted to join in.

4. Improvements to the academics were made. Languages, computer skills, music, arts, and tutoring were all added, often by volunteers.

5. Miracles were celebrated. People were drawn to drive miles to attend this school because something “amazing” was going on there and they wanted to be a part of it.

The Oregon Conference currently has 32 amazing schools, with 12 of them classified as small schools, having only 1 or 2 teachers. Our next world and church leaders are right now being trained in our Seventh-day Adventist schools. Be prepared to be amazed as I share stories that have been shared with me here in future issues. Praise God for all He is doing with and for our schools.

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