A Story from a New ACCS Parent
The yellow school bus whizzed past our front window and my heart began to race. As bus drivers practiced their new routes for the upcoming school year and retail stores were filled with shiny pencils and notebooks, we were far from ready. As our oldest child got closer to entering the giant public high school just a few miles down the road, we wondered how much longer we could do it. How could we continue to send our child to a public school when our hearts yearned for her to have more?
Additional Resources from Amy Castillo
Making the Leap Podcast
The Lion Blog
Private classical Christian education was never on the forefront for our household. I grew up with a public school teacher mother and grandmother, and an aunt who was an administrator, who all lived and breathed public education. As a single mother, my mom spent her extra income on necessary supplies for her “kids” as she called them. She loved every moment she spent in the classroom. That was the foundation I grew up living. As a parent, I thought no differently when I signed up my kindergartener for public school. It was easy, as it is for many Americans. The process is like a plug-and-play system. Sign her up online, buy the supplies, and find the bus stop. Then we send her off and trust our little girl will be educated. As she inched closer to high school, our hearts were stirred and my husband and I began to feel trapped. Little did we know that God was working out the details and we did have other options.
The summer of her ninth grade year we decided to transfer our daughter to a classical Christian private school. We suddenly had a community and were surrounded by other like-minded parents. We weren’t alone.
The story of Chris and Christine Stigall, co-hosts of the podcast “Making the Leap,” is similar. When they moved their youngest child from a public to a private Christian school, the decision was not easy. However, the change gave their daughter the confidence level she needed in Christ.
“Know who you are and whose you are, and if the place that you are sending your kids to can reaffirm that for you, that’s giant,” Christine said.
We were also encouraged by parents like Lacey Oettel who has made it a priority to raise her children in classical education. With her own experience as a public school teacher, Lacey knew that public schooling focuses on standards and test taking rather than a biblical worldview.
“Classical education wants them to do well in academics, but it’s way deeper,” Lacey said. “[Classical schools] care about their souls and care that they love Jesus, and point them to Jesus no matter the subject.”
Once we were in a good private school, our doubts disappeared. We found there was a more organic type of education and students were not tied to standards. Now we see the changes in my daughter’s heart and in who she will become. We don’t see how we could not have made the change. Collectively we wanted something better — we wanted to steward her heart as much as her mind. Private school offered us that.
“For public school families considering taking the leap of faith to move your child to a Christian classical school, just do it,” Lacey said. “Your kids’ minds are so moldable right now.”
With change comes doubt. If parents worry about whether they can afford the switch, Lacey reminds them that it comes back to faith. “I always tell parents if God’s calling you to do this, He will provide for you, He will make a way,” she said.
John Elliott, Vice Chairman on the Board of Directors of the Herzog Foundation, says the beauty in the process is the educational choices parents have. Elliott says the best way to share the benefits about private Christian education is by your testimony. We can’t remain silent. “What’s the best way for the gospel to be spread?” Elliott asked. “Person to person. That’s by word of mouth and you can’t put a dollar amount on it.”
Transitioning schools can be overwhelming and full of unknowns. If you know a family looking for an option for Christian education, here are some steps we have found to help in our journey:
- Schedule an interview & tour. Come prepared with questions, and ask to meet teachers and administrators.
- Research your financial options. Financial aid may be available. Each school is different but ask your school about the ACE scholarship and an ESA (Educational Savings Account) in your state.
- Support others in their journey. Offer to pray and be their support system. Having someone to walk beside and help answer questions in this new journey is invaluable. For child(ren), having a new friend to walk with them can make the difference they need to succeed at a new school.
Making the Leap Podcast (found on most major podcasts apps)
The Lion blog: readlion.com
Association of Classical Christian Schools: classicalchristian.org
By Amy Castillo
Amy Castillo is a freelance writer in Kansas City, Mo. She and her husband, Wilberto, value raising their children in a bilingual household, and traveling and exploring museums, parks and hidden gems in their local city.