‘It feels like walls are coming down’
Since changing the school’s name to reflect its broader reach, Guelph Community Christian School principal Bob Moore says it feels like “the walls are coming down” and the community has expressed more interest than ever in the elementary school.
Formerly John Calvin Christian School in Guelph, the school changed its name July 1, 2008. The decision was made when parents and school supporters discussed the need for a name to reflect the varied denominational backgrounds of the school’s families.
“We have the sense that the community feels welcome, feels that we are approachable and that we want to correspond with the community,” says Moore.
He adds that with the name John Calvin there was a sense from the community that the school was more self-sufficient and inward looking. The community respected the school but there was less feeling that the school wanted to interact with the community.
Moore says since the name change there has been more community involvement at the school.
The school is planning to start offering programs such as choir and band to home-schooling families. The school anticipates enrolling some home-school children in the new year.
“We are acknowledging that we all start from the same point of view — that the parents are the primary educators — and that we can work together. There is nothing to be afraid of,” says Moore.
The school has also changed its enrolment approach from restricted to controlled. The new approach involves the school defining what it does and gives parents the choice of whether that is what they want without as many expectations from the school.
Restricted enrolment schools often require a pastoral letter of reference and may specify expectations for the family’s church involvement.
The school has been working with a metaphor taken from the Old Testament about putting down the stakes of its tent firmly and then loosening the ropes, says Moore. The school’s tent stakes would include its discipline policy, statement of Christian activities in teaching and learning outcomes.
These stakes are well defined in published documents and guide the school’s processes. These foundations will therefore guide families coming into the school.
The school has always strived to educate children in ways of serving in the community, and students have recently been involved in many local events.
“It’s been fun to get out in the community and do a number of things,” says Moore.
The school participated in Guelph’s Santa Claus parade Nov. 16 and won second prize for best school float. Moore says they received a lot of good feedback from their float.
Students from the school have been helping Feed the Children Canada sort through a donation of 100,000 crocs that need to be matched. Students have been to the warehouse several times to help match the shoes.
An idea from a sister school sparked Guelph Community Christian School to invite families who attend a public school to attend the school during a recent public system PD day. Moore says it was a fun day and something they want to continue.
Commencing in January the school is planning Welcome Wednesdays. Each Wednesday the school will be open for drop-in visits from interested parents from 1-3 p.m. Moore says this initiative is another way the school is taking down walls and welcoming members of the community to see what the school is like.
Moore says there is lots of exciting change taking place at the school, which may be necessary to ensure survival as enrolment in many schools has been decreasing.
“(There is) a strong sense that the walls are coming down, that God’s going to be able to make use of our school because we are open to His direction,” says Moore.
To learn more about Guelph Community Christian School, visit www.guelphccs.ca.