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'This Is a God Place': Why I Send My Kids to Christian School

'This Is a God Place': Why I Send My Kids to Christian School

Mustard Seed School teaches my children—and many others—that they are loved.

Ms. Baker passed me the bag with the wet shirt at school pick-up. My shirt-sucking 6-year-old ran to me with a big smile and latched onto my leg. Since my husband lost his job last summer, our house had become all hills and valleys—mostly valleys. It was starting to show in the kids.

At our kindergarten parent-teacher conference, Ms. Baker told us what we could not see for ourselves: Joshua had been exhibiting some anxiety. "He is fine with the academics. Our goal for Joshua right now is for him to learn that he is loved. We want him to trust that we have a plan for him each moment of school, even if he doesn't know the plan. If sucking on his shirt helps him right now, we'll change his shirt when it gets too wet." Joshua doesn't know that his teacher has a deep impact on the person he will become, that her care for him matters in his academic work. He feels safe. And he doesn't know that in Jersey City, the quality of the education he receives is a privilege denied to the majority of children.

I did not set out to put Joshua and his brother, Isaiah, in an independent Christian school. I value public education and as a Christian, I want my family to be the presence of Christ in our neighborhood. School is a natural place to do that. But while the national conversation flounders around test scores, public school choice, bullying, leaving children behind and who is to blame, Joshua and Isaiah need an education. My husband and I chose Mustard Seed School in Hoboken, New Jersey, because the school lives out the gospel dynamic of putting the "last first" and "caring for the least" among us. Some 50 percent of students receive need-based financial aid. And students are not handpicked to be the highest performers. The school intentionally seeks to mirror the diversity of the kingdom of God in all its beauty and messiness.

And it can be messy. This week is my week to provide "community snack" for the kindergarten. Through eating a common snack with the guidance of teachers, Joshua learns to serve his classmates, take only what he needs from the bowl, ask for what he needs, and think about the needs of others. I am learning to let go of control of snack for the sake of community. On one end of the spectrum is the parent who wants to serve only organic food. On another end of the spectrum is the parent who provides their week of community snack from stretching food stamps. Over the years, the parent community has wrestled a lot over the simple act of eating from the common bowl. It is important work. Lessons learned at the snack table apply to life in the classroom. Kindergarten snack is part of a well-planned, school-wide social curriculum that teaches serving one another, enacting reconciliation, and forgiveness.

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Comments Are Closed

Displaying 1–5 of 9 comments

Tyler

April 13, 2012  12:54am

I won't hesitate to say that I had some bad experiences while growing up through Catholic schools. However, I won't lie when I say that I had some of the best experiences of my life during them. The things which learned from them are things which I will never forget. If God places a wife and children in my life I will not hesitate to send them to a school based upon Jesus Christ. It brings music to my ears the wonderful experiences the author and her children have found in them. I thank her for sharing.

Nate Clarke

April 11, 2012  7:53am

At This Is Our City we appreciate and encourage civil debate. We know that the question of where you send your children to school is heated. Institutional biases are important to discuss and investigate whether we talking about public or private schools. As this discussion progresses we value the personal experience and stories of individuals but let's make sure not to paint with too broad strokes.

JEFFREY L RUDLOFF

April 11, 2012  7:51am

And to Karen specifically: You can help your children have less of a "hard time with God and Christians" if they hear consistently from you that these people were the worst kind of example of what Christians are meant to be - not the norm - and if you expose them to a church and/or other believers who truly and faithfully live out the Word. Sadly, the damage done by poor examples of any group - and especially Christians - is painful and unfortunate; I pray you will be able yourself to forgive enough to help them overcome that damage.

JEFFREY L RUDLOFF

April 11, 2012  7:36am

I am saddened to hear the comments of those who have faced mistreatment and discrimination at the hands of some supposed "Christian" schools. However, as a person who has been involved in ministry for more than 30 years, in several geographic areas and in connection with many Christian schools, I feel the need to point out that I have NEVER encountered a similar experience to those recounted here. Granted, students with physical challenges are frequently underserved by these schools; but this is often the result of their inability to meet governmentally imposed requirements on facilities, staffing, etc. for institutions which serve those populations. The discrimination and abuse described by Karen and TSJ are unacceptable in any school environment. But to be accurate, those children were not hurt by "Christian School" as an entity, but by a particular school or schools. It is unfair to dismiss all Christian-based education on the basis of one - or even a few - seriously flawed examples

Karen

April 11, 2012  6:52am

@TSJ Don't feel bad. These schools discriminate against everyone that isn't in their perfect little clique. They discriminated against me and my children in countless ways, too numerous to mention. In my daughter's third grade class there was an african american student that my daughter was friends with. The teacher repeatedly referred to him as "chocolate boy." I don't think these people are Christians at all. I think they are religious, yes, but they do not have the love of God in their hearts. Only judging. My son is pretty messed up from his experience at this school, as are several others I know. It's time the truth be told.

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