Parents see accessible Christian education as outreach opportunity
Four more independent faith-based schools joined the public school system last year in Alberta. Under the province’s alternative program funding, they now receive full government funding for education but are still able to maintain their faith mandate and teachings. These four schools join 12 other formerly independent schools that have come under the umbrella of the public education system since 1998.
Views are mixed on the alternative program funding among Alberta residents.
For Tracy Sedens, the funding is a blessing from God, primarily because it has made Christian education more accessible, both to those who profess the Christian faith and those who don’t.
Sedens is a parent of four children, three of whom attend Strathcona Christian Academy (SCA) in Sherwood Park. Her oldest child graduated from Grade 12 last year. The Sedens began sending the children to SCA in 1993, when it was still an independent school.
“We were looking for a Christian program,” she says to explain why she and her husband chose the academy.
Eight years ago, SCA came under the umbrella of the Elk Island school division after an in-depth consultation with the parents. Tuition dropped significantly. The Sedens now pay a small monthly stipend for the Christian component of their children’s education but the rest of the education cost is covered by the government.
Sedens notes the school population has increased dramatically in recent years. Plans are now underway to build a second school across the street to accommodate the growth. She attributes the growth to the change in the financial picture at the school as well as an increase in population in Sherwood Park.
She sees the expansion as a good thing.
“It’s a responsibility as well as an opportunity to reach into more lives,” she says, noting that the number of families who don’t profess the Christian faith has also increased considerably.
Sedens considers her role as a member of a praying parent group the most important volunteer work she does at the school. In particular, the group prays for the many children attending the school who apparently have no Christian teaching at home.
Sedens says students have an opportunity to learn God’s word and truth, and all that teaching goes home in the form of Bible memory and other homework, impacting more lives.
Sedens has also found many more opportunities to connect with other mothers who may not profess the Christian faith.
Lisa Mol is an educational assistant as well as a parent of students at SCA. She concurs with Sedens that the opportunity to reach into more lives has increased since it has become government-funded and enrolment has increased.
“I’ve been able to present the gospel to people that have never heard it before,” she says, noting this has happened in particular with public education consultants and others offering special services who come into the school.
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