Beacon Christian School teacher Ron VandenBurg says a next step in defining Christian education is applying the solid theories into practice.
People notice the difference in Beacon Christian School students as they “shine their Christ lights” and have a distinct way of treating and approaching people, he says.
Building community and having the neighbourhood know and see the school as a positive force is important, he says, and there are often opportunities like connecting with a retirement residence up the street.
He points to the Choices and Decisions curriculum, a Grade 7/8 OACS resource in development, as putting ways to implement these kinds of relationships into people’s hands.
Built into the curriculum are throughlines, which outline the important understandings students should takeaway from a course. The throughlines go across curriculums and subjects in a school.
“From the curriculum out comes service learning opportunities, and with those service learning opportunities students have that time where the curriculum basically comes alive and extends out into their community and I think that’s a really important thing,” he tells the OACS News.
Throughlines are a number of concepts that schools hope to instil in their graduates and in a Christian school could include things like being an Earth keeper, a community-builder, a God worshipper, and an idol discerner, explains VandenBurg.
He says throughlines have to be defined and then a particular lesson or unit describes how it is applied.
When it comes to putting theories into practice, there should be ways to see what it means to be a God worshipper, for example, as well as how to teach that and the tools needed, he says.
Community collaboration and relationships is an area that he says needs to be further built, and would result in having more explorations outside of the school building.
Beacon has an adopt-a-leader program, which VandenBurg says is a great initiative that sees the school interacting with other institutions and people in the neighbourhood. The Grade 2 class, for example, is visiting the city’s mayor.
“Those kinds of things I think are positive ways that school communities can make an impact with community leaders, it lets them know that we are there and that we care about them,” he says.
Imagining the outcome of extremely strong community connects, VandenBurg says the school community would open up to what’s around them and leaders would be more aware of the school’s existence and community of people.
“That awareness goes both ways — people become aware of what’s in their own community where they might not know otherwise,” he says.