When Nepean’s Redeemer Christian High School was established 35 years ago as the Community for Christian Learning, it was thought of not just as a Christian-centred alternative to established educational practice, but an alternative educational experience altogether.
Margaret Van Dyk sat on the original board of trustees in 1976 and today, she sits on the board again. She says the original school countered the large classrooms, and formal instruction of conventional public education with a strong Christian element.
Courses, such as advanced woodworking or drafting, which were electives in the public system, were part of the curriculum in the new model.
As time went on, Ontario’s Ministry of Education required a certain amount of conformity and the school complied, yet the focus remained on education from a Christian perspective.
Principal Chuck Schoenmaker says marking 35 years at Redeemer in June is about “celebrating the faithful contribution of those that started the school, as well as the ongoing support of individuals who are committed to a school that teaches from a Christian worldview.”
The roots of the school in the Ottawa area are strong, says Schoenmaker, and in good times and bad, the community has worked to sustain the organization in order to offer the best education possible, always reminded that “God has sustained us and that we are merely vessels that are used to accomplish His work.”
Part of the success of the school can be found in the fact that educators at Redeemer are encouraged to think outside the box to bring the curriculum to students in a meaningful way.
Schoenmaker says innovative approaches will continue to be an important focus as the school looks to expand into the future. He sees opportunity in what is lacking in education elsewhere in Ontario.
“With the challenges facing the public and Catholic schools, many committed Christians are looking for alternatives that will challenge their child to think,” he says.
Marketing has become an important part of the school’s mandate, and a key to growth will be maintaining strong relationships with post-secondary institutions in the region and sharing messages of success with the public in general.
There will be challenges ahead, but as Schoenmaker says, “we are not a school that is here today and gone tomorrow. We have roots and a past.”
Commitment, dedication and faith will carry the school forward for generations to come.
“We want our community to know that we are here for the long haul and that we are committed to modeling Christ through education in the Ottawa area,” he says.