An E-newsletter on EXCELLENCE in Leadership
Home-School Students NAD Principals’ Handbook Excerpt
Schools may admit students who have previously been enrolled in home-school. Home-schooling varies widely in instructional design and the use of curriculum resources. Therefore, part of the admissions process should include appropriate documentation to evaluate student learning. This should be completed before grade placement and/or granting secondary credit for home-school subjects.
Schools must follow union/local conference policy and applicable state/provincial regulations regarding the acceptance of home-school credits and testing for grade placement. Generally, secondary credits that are accepted from a home-school should have grades recorded as a pass/fail. Credits already granted for home-schooling by another accredited school should be accepted.
The principal should ensure that the school has a policy regarding home-school participation in academic courses and co-curricular activities. Such a policy should include consideration of student accident insurance, tuition/fees, supervision, etc.
Engaging Home-Schooled Students in local Adventist School Classrooms
Lois N. DeWitt | teacher, San Fernando Valley Academy; Former Teaching Principal, Linda Vista Adventist Elementary School
The growing home-school movement represents a viable alternative for many families seeking to provide quality, customized educational experiences for students. Christian parents, in particular, recognize both the spiritual and educational value of being the primary facilitator in their child’s schooling and often make career sacrifices in order to provide tailored, home-based learning environments in alignment with their educational goals.
While principal of Linda Vista Adventist Elementary School [LVAES] in Oxnard (CA), I encountered several such families in our surrounding communities. Their curriculum goals were laudable. Their students were exemplary in many ways. Yet, both they and I sensed there might be something a school community like LVAES could offer them which was lacking in the home school: a larger, more interactive environment where faith, academics, physical activity, artistic endeavors, and social skills could be further honed.
We learned that opening our school doors to home schoolers could be a win-win, but still required imagination, patience, and forethought to succeed. For administrators and teachers, as well as our prospective parents and students, the most anticipated outcomes prompted close, collaborative engagement. At LVAES, we thus welcomed our home-based learners into environments that provided the integrative experiences they most needed or wanted. This included activities such as Choir, Drama, and Band. It also included invitations to participate in PE classes and after-school sports programs, or the robotics club.
Building relationships was our objective from the start. The desire to include non-traditional students as part of our “bigger family” initiated the process for LVAES and still drives it. We often found ourselves asking “What can we do to better meet their needs while still meeting the needs of the traditional students?” This meant adjusting our procedures or putting new ones in place to accommodate the hybrid model we had undertaken. Accordingly, our tuition and fees for home schoolers were pro-rated, since many would attend only 2-3 days per week. Curricular and extra-curricular activities were purposefully scheduled to allow for maximum participation, also. School newsletters, concerts, church-programs, field trips, and school yearbooks soon reflected the growing presence and unique contributions of our home schoolers, too.
Social interactions between traditional and non-traditional groups of students (and their families) have proven mutually beneficial. From my perspective as an administrator and teacher, I can affirm that the many friendships and collaborations I’ve observed were well worth the initial time and effort spent to integrate home-schooled families into our community. Parents of home schoolers are often flexible and very willing to help in the traditional school setting as club mentors, coaches, PTA leaders, or even as adjunct teachers in the classroom. By expanding the reach of your school to include this demographic, you may thus increase the impact your school makes in the community. A win-win, indeed.
Partnerships that Benefit the Whole
Sara Filipps | Teaching Principal,
Echo Ridge Christian School
As an administrator of a small, multi-grade, SDA elementary school we have all felt the pressure of increasing or at the very least maintaining, our enrollment. This can present a daunting challenge, especially in light that our communities are not what they once were, and families are sometimes overwhelmed with the plethora of schooling options.
While we desire to build up our schools, our ultimate goal must be to build relationships within our church, school, and community that are designed to meet the needs of all our constituent families. But what is the best way to go about it? What can our schools do to strengthen our relationships with the many families that have chosen other options such as home school, charter, etc., while continuing to expand the scope and reach of our mission as an SDA elementary school?
The primary constituent church in our community was growing. Multiple young, professional families were moving into the area. However, when it came to choosing a school for their children, a significant number of those new families were drawn to either home school or charter school options. They communicated their need for daily flexibility and to have greater control over their child’s education. The strong bond that once existed between the church and school was progressively becoming weaker. A program needed to be designed that not only addressed the needs of the K-8 church school, but also those of the growing church community.
With God’s guidance, our local church school has significantly increased its enrollment over the past seven years. Despite that growth, the desire to address the needs and expectations of our constituent families of the children being home-schooled had yet to be fully addressed. Our primary objective was to continue building God-centered relationships while serving both the families and children within the church and in our community. Relationships needed to be strengthened and nurtured. The administration and school board believed that creative solutions would ultimately lead to the unification of the church and school families, in order to further the scope and reach of Adventist education.
Cultural shifts demand that Adventist Education must shift its strategies as well if we are to reach the majority of those we have been called to serve. Continual tweaking and reevaluation of the existing program is crucial to our program’s long-term success. Some questions to consider are: Is it a manageable workload for the administration, teachers, and staff? Is it financially feasible? Have policies been updated to address a wider audience? Are we doing our best to utilize the resources we have been blessed with? Let’s stretch our minds and resources to reach as many children as possible for His kingdom.
Creative Solutions that Promote Inclusion
Below is a list of activities that our school has invited home school families to participate in each year as well as a variety of creative solutions that promote inclusion:
Your list may differ based on the time, resources, and personnel available in your community. More importantly, we must first focus on building trust and forming authentic relationships with those outside our circle. This indeed has been a work in progress in our community over the past seven years. We look forward to seeing how God continues to open the doors of inclusion.
Reaching Out to
Alfred Riddle | Principal of Mesa Grade Academy
W hat do Seventh-day Adventist schools and home schoolers have in common? Many believe very little. And yet, if we look at core reasons for why we all value education, common themes are present:
As an Adventist Educator, I like to start any conversation about the ways we can interface with those educating at home, by remembering these common goals. It is easy for those in our Seventh-Day Adventist schools to develop attitudes toward home schoolers that are dismissive, signal a sense of superiority, or indicate that we can’t be bothered. Without a doubt, parents who make the decision to home school have strong ideas that are sometimes less than complimentary toward the school setting. While we could easily dismiss home schoolers, I believe that would be short-sighted. It is wise for Adventist education to find ways to interface with the home school community by offering our support in creative manners.
Some of the ways we may be able to connect could include the following:
Many parents of home schoolers worry about negative social influences in Adventist schools. They want their children in a place where their child is respected and not bullied. Adventist schools strive to develop those exact attitudes in our students every day. Home school parents will pay for their students to (cautiously) participate in some of our school courses to allow their children to interact in a healthy learning environment. Of course, there will always be judging (sometimes based on the action from a single student). So, keep the expectations of proper behavior between students high.
I encourage you to think about ways you can make connections with those in your community who have chosen to take the home school education route. As mentioned earlier, deliberately take time to speak with the parents of students who are not enrolled in your school and offer them opportunities to enhance their child’s educational experience.
Adventist Christian Education is an important extension of the ministry of our church. At some point, home school parents may discover they need the Christian Education support that we offer. It may be either part-time or full-time, but we want those connections to be with our schools when it does happen. If we have been involved in their student’s education, even a little, there is a greater likelihood they will decide to join your school and the transition will be easier for all.
MISSION: STRENGTHENING ADVENTIST EDUCATION ONE LEADER AT A TIME
Pacific Union Conference, Director of Education
Ed Boyatt, Editorial Advisor