Wednesday, 05 September 2012 20:46

Montgomery Christian School; Making Private Education Affordable and Accessible

Written by  Rachel Fisher
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Today, we live in a region and a nation where the conversation of education is a hot topic with many voices. While the solutions for improving education are vast and complex, there are a handful of schools, committed teachers, and administrators across the country making a difference in the lives of children. Montgomery Christian School is one of those schools standing in the gap.

 


In 2005, Tom Danielson, along with his wife and others discovered the tutoring they were doing with children at Patterson Court wasn’t enough. “We realized we were only scratching the surface with these kids,” said Danielson, who tutored at Patterson Court for six years. “We saw lots of bright kids, but they were struggling in school. In some cases it was the school itself, or it was issues going on in their families, and sometimes a combination of the two” he explained. “We knew we could come together to help in a more meaningful way, so we started to explore our options.”

Danielson and a handful of others began asking questions and meeting together. “What would be a better approach?” and “How can we, as believers in Christ, meet this need?” were some of the questions they began to ask. Soon, they had an answer.

“We started to consider what it would look like for us to start a school that would provide a better option for families who otherwise did not have one,” said Danielson. Schools like Restoration Academy and Cornerstone in Birmingham, Ala. provided a blueprint for what they believed could happen in Montgomery. The goal would be to create a learning environment with a foundation built on the truth of Scripture in every aspect, and catered to lower-income children.

It was then the vision for what has become Montgomery Christian School began to take shape. Since Danielson and the others involved were members at Trinity Presbyterian Church, they made Montgomery Christian School a part of their Missions program. This partnership allowed the school to be housed in the church, which Danielson says is a great location.

In 2007, after months of planning, meetings and gathering the diverse group of people who make up their Board of Directors, Montgomery Christian School, under the leadership of Danielson, opened its doors to the school’s first K-5 kindergarten class. In 2009, the school added a first grade. Since then, they have added an additional grade each year. This year, the school year began with an added fourth grade and a total of 47 students. The board plans to add a grade every year until 8th grade. At that time, Danielson says they will consider moving forward with more grades or stopping altogether after junior high.

The mission of Montgomery Christian School is, first: “To provide an academically challenging Christian education to children in inner city Montgomery.” Though the demographic is roughly 80 percent African-American, Danielson notes there are children who come from across the city of Montgomery as well. The school has formed a strong partnership with Common Ground Montgomery, a local ministry which works toward transforming communities through investing in urban youth. According to Danielson, last year one-third of the children attending Montgomery Christian School came from the Washington Park neighborhood where Common Ground is based, while the remainder of the students came from neighborhoods throughout Montgomery.

“In order to provide a private school choice for families who otherwise have none we had to make it affordable,” Danielson says. He explains this is done through offering a flexible tuition based on family income. This type of flexibility is what separates Montgomery Christian School from other private schools in the area and has allowed them to reach kids across the city. The remainder of the funds are provided through donations and their partnership with Trinity Presbyterian Church.

The second part of their mission is focused on their goal, which is, “To bring every student to spiritual maturity in Christ along with academic, social, and emotional maturity where they can effectively pursue God’s purposes in their personal life, family, church and city.” Danielson says they accomplish this by offering a well-grounded curriculum, with a heavy focus in reading and mathematics, the subjects where students struggle most, centered on God’s truth. They also provide a Christian-based character curriculum.

Zion Golson, a fourth grader, came to Montgomery Christian from another public school. “I love it because it’s a mixed group,” he says. “I get to learn more about reading, which is good for me.” Towana Chapman, whose daughter Stephanie attends the school, says her experience has been, “better than I ever expected.” Towana says that Stephanie’s interest in art and reading has increased in dramatic ways and that she knows her daughter is not just learning about each subject, but about God, too.

Danielson, along with their four full-time teachers and two part-time teachers, believes strongly in not only introducing the children to subjects like art, science, language arts and math, but to Christ…the True Storyteller, True Artist, True Scientist and True Mathematician, Who has laid the foundation in these subjects in an effort to allow children to expand their horizons and see beyond. “For instance, Math makes sense because God is a God of order,” says Danielson. “These are the lines of deeper thinking we want the kids to understand.”

The poet William Butler Yeats once wrote, “Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.” The like-minded group of committed individuals behind Montgomery Christian School believes the fire they light in the hearts and minds of the children who come through their doors, no matter who they are, has the potential to be a spark in changing the world, for the advancement of God’s kingdom and their lives.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can help Montgomery Christian School continue making a difference in the lives of children in the Montgomery area, contact them at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (334) 262-3892.

Rachel Fisher loves learning what God is doing in the world and writing about it. Rachel and her husband, Chase, are members of Strong Tower at Washington Park, a church plant of Common Ground Ministries.
 

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