Nurture journal for home & school
PP: 255003 / 09358
MARCH 2012 volume 46.1
social media: an opportunity or threat for schools
using facebook with wisdom and integrity
making wise and courageous choices
Nurture March 2012
Contents Volume 46.1
Social Media: An opportunity or threat for schools?
7 Celebrating together: Parents, staff and year 12
Editor: Suzanne Mitchell Address for correspondence: Po Box 1892 Penrith NSW 2751 Tel 02 4773 5800 Fax 02 4773 5801 Email: email@example.com Website: www.cen.edu.au Advertising, circulation and subscriptions: Kate Green Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Design: Taninka Visuals Tel: 02 4284 0344 Email: email@example.com Printer: Signs Publishing
8 Using Facebook with wisdom and integrity Elizabeth Padgett 10 Creating parent spaces at Covenant Christian School
welcoming parents at Wagga Wagga Christian College Carolyn Parkinson
13 Connect Bob Johnston
Cover image: iStockphoto Subscription rates: Four issues per annum: $23.00 (incl. GST) Bulk subscriptions: $18.00 (incl. GST) Overseas rates: AUS$35.00 p.a. All families in CEN schools: $12.00 Publisher: Christian Education National Ltd. Copyright: All material appearing in Nurture is copyright. It may be reproduced in part for study or training purposes subject to an inclusion of an acknowledgement of the source and with permission of the publisher. Publications committee: Managing Editor: Suzanne Mitchell Committee: Margaret Aitchison, Anne Blair-Hickman, Deidre Collett, Elizabeth Padgett. Editorial policy: 1. To challenge Christian parents to a fuller and deeper responsibility towards the training and education of their children. 2. To bring before the Christian community the compelling claims of Christ centred education which supports parents in this task. The opinions expressed in editorials, articles, reviews, letters and advertising are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Christian Education National Ltd. Letters to the editor are invited: letters may be edited to meet editorial requirements. All advertising/editorial copy may be edited, condensed or refused for publication. Anonymous contributions will not be published. 22 nurture March 2012 March 2010 nurture
14 Read with me series: Exploring the world of the emergent reader
16 Writing a social media policy for a Christian School
18 Our school meetings are never boring
19 Becoming cybersmart detectives at Illawarra Christian School
Making wise and courageous choices
22 Snippets Suzanne Mitchell
editorial It is critical that school communities, both parents and teachers, seek to educate new people in communities in what it means to educate from a Christian perspective. As we begin a new year we face many challenges. Our schools face uncertain times – this is not new –but through life’s uncertainties God remains constant and faithful. It is always encouraging to look back on past events and sometimes, through what seemed at the time impossible odds, our schools have flourished when faithful parents and teachers have worked together to ensure their children receive an education that has God at the centre of all knowledge and practice. It is critical that school communities, both parents and teachers, seek to educate new people in communities in what it means to educate from a Christian perspective. When I first sent my children to a Christian school I had no understanding of what a Christian education was but through various topic nights at the school became aware of the depth of what I was committing to. As I began to read both Nurture and The Christian Teachers Journal and attended various conferences organised by Christian Education National my understanding was further deepened. This journal seeks to unite a diverse community of schools by telling stories of people that inspire and challenge us all and to publish articles that challenge our thinking in Christian education and affirm the important role of parents in the education process. This edition I have featured articles on social media and cybersafety. As technology revolutionises the way education is delivered it is important for our students to embrace the benefits and be wary of the pitfalls. A
recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald talked about the dangers of people posting too much personal information on social media sites and the negative consequences; personal information being sold to advertisers, information being available to any future employers, and the potential for intrusive surveillance. “When people go on Facebook and share a photo or video what really being shared is the connection” says inventor and social media researcher Mark Pesce. Friendship connections reveal which people have the power to sway their friends’ decisions or actions, a phenomena known as “network of influence”. Friendship networks affect not only people’s political affiliations and shopping habits but also their weight, smoking status and happiness1. This technology has an enormous influence on the lives of social media participants. As our children are trained to understand what is happening in the wider sphere of their tight knit friendship group, hopefully they can use these sites ‘with wisdom and integrity’ as Elizabeth Padgett has outlined in her article. Illawarra Christian School has an article about the Cybersmart Detectives program to train students to recognise dangers and make wise choices. Stephen Chatelier has written a thought provoking article for teachers and parents about helping students to ‘make wise and courageous choices’ Stephen sees the task of the Christian school ‘ to ensure that we not only concern ourselves with our students’ minds, but
1 http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/look-whos-watching-its-not-the-fbi-its-facebook-20120224-1ttk6. html#ixzz1nd4szRnV
also their hearts and actions’. This is a vital component of Christian education, that we are not just concerned with academic achievement but the hearts and actions of our students. Statistical information can inform us about academic achievement but it cannot measure ‘the hearts and minds of our students’. Philip Cooney gives an outline of a social media policy in a Christian school and Neil Pierson reveals how Covenant Christian School has embraced the use of technology for the benefit of the whole school community. We have the first of a ‘read with me series’ by Christina Belcher from Canada looking at children’s literature across various age groups. This journal we have the ‘emergent readers’ from 18months – 3 years. I trust you will enjoy reading these articles and that they will contribute to your understanding of Christian education.
Suzanne Mitchell firstname.lastname@example.org Managing editor
Future editions June 2012 Developing student leadership/ involving students in decision making September 2012 Bullying/ self esteem/ personal development Due date: 14 May 2012 November 2012 CEN schools in the Northern Territory Due date: 23 July 2012 Please send all submissions to Suzanne Mitchell email@example.com
nurture March 2012 3
Media An opportunity or threat for schools?
4 nurture March 2012
Bricks don’t make a school. People do. We are social organisations of parents, students and staff working together in the mission of training young people. What role can social media have in schools? Is social media a distraction and a time waster, a mess of bullying and superficial friendships, a huge pool of trivia, an opportunity to connect, a melting pot of ideas, or a platform for education? As Storyteller for Covenant Christian School in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, I believe the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ to all those questions! In Australia, Facebook claims to have over 8 million users. Yet modern social media is much more than Facebook. Parents, students and school staff use social media personally, yet most Australian schools don’t. Why? As social organisations schools have been reluctant, or slow, to embrace this aspect of our modern society. A survey of 140 Victorian school principals is reported in Why Schools are Spooked by Social Media. It is well worth a read. As a storyteller my role is to help parents, students and staff engage with the past, future and current story of the school. Our hope is parents ‘taste and see that Covenant is good’. Social media is a powerful tool to achieve this. Traditionally websites were, like school newsletters, a one way communication method. Yet if we redefine social media as ‘people news’ it can be a natural way of expressing the life of our school communities.
Since Covenant’s YouTube channel was launched in May 2009, it has had over 100,000 video views. With over 160 videos, it serves as a wonderful window into the life, colour and variety of Covenant’s education, beliefs and sense of community. A couple of videos are professionally edited but the vast majority are not. Most importantly it allows parents to engage with what is happening in their children’s lives. If one parent, who missed their child’s speech at a school assembly, can then watch it online, it is worth the effort. Some videos will have thousands of views but those with just one admiring parent or overseas grandparent watching are just as important. That is the power of social media. Social media is an experiment that Covenant staff are being encouraged to explore. Two staff members have administration rights to the main Facebook account. Three can run the blogsite while another three have access to the school’s Twitter account and two staff can upload YouTube videos. Some teachers have set up separate Facebook pages or blogsites to communicate with students on a subject level. A couple of parents have, with permission, set up pages for a particular year group as the preferred method of making contact with parents about social events.
It is important however that technology be understood as a servant. Group school tours at Covenant finish with a morning tea where Bill Rusin, the principal, explains the school’s vision, the role of parents, staffing policies and the richness of educational experiences provided. One part of his informal presentation is the role of technology. Mr Rusin explains that education is primarily about relationship. The relationship is between a teacher and their students. He reminds parents that technology has for a long time promised to fundamentally change education. In the 1920s, the introduction of cylindrical records threatened to change the role of teachers: they would become technicians merely playing recordings to students. Audio cassettes, DVDs, computers and the internet have all made similar claims. Yet teaching, and especially discipleship, is still about relationships. Technology can provide great tools but it cannot replace the importance of relationships and the role of modelling. Social media is about relationships. If schools refuse to embrace social media then can we claim to be teaching our students how to live as Christians in society? We are called to be in the world but not of it. Social media, like technology is neither good nor bad. How it is used often reflects fallen human society. Yet that does not mean Christians should signal retreat. As Christians we are called to redeem society – to salt it, to add light. Withdrawal from social media does not fulfil that mandate.
For a school with just over 800 students Covenant Christian School’s website www.covenant.nsw.edu.au generates a considerable amount of traffic. On average there are 2,500 unique visits and 4,500 total visits each week. Why? Fresh content, news, video and lots of photos. The heart of the website is the interactive blogsite www. ourcovenant.com.au which has averaged two stories every school day for over three years. Students, parents and staff are allowed to comment on articles. Yes, some comments are silly, some are spam, but the vast majority are people congratulating and encouraging one another and expanding the story. Approval must be gained before any comments are published. nurture March 2012 5
Social media does take time and resources. Take small steps. Fear not. At Covenant, social media is primarily about connecting with our current community. Yet all schools rely on word of mouth promotion for their future. Parents believe what other parents say. A basic rule of fishing is to go where the fish are. The same applies to school promotion. There is no point having a large billboard beside a road where no one drives. If social media is seen as the main highway where 8 million members of Australian society travel each day it makes sense to invest some time and energy there. 6 nurture March 2012
Importantly as a preschool to year 12 school, half of the school student population is too young to have a Facebook account. While many people perceive Facebook as a teenage phenomenon it is actually the older age group who are the biggest users. The purpose of Covenantâ€™s Facebook account is to connect with parents â€“ not students. Rather than post news and photos on Facebook the site is designed to direct people back to the official blogsite which can be accessed by all students. The blogsite gives the school more control over content, makes it easier to remove a photo if requested and monitor comments.
Where to from here in this experiment? Social media does take time and resources. Take small steps. Fear not. Our schools were started by people with vision who shared their passion through personal conversations. These conversations need to continue â€“ yet we now have additional places to share them.
Neil Pierson firstname.lastname@example.org Storyteller Covenant Christian School, NSW
Celebrating together Parents, staff and year 12
36,000kms travelled, 50,000 minutes of to and from school conversations, 700 hours of school assemblies, sports days, concerts and parent teacher interviews and over 1000 hours of car park chats, coffee mornings and community building – in short 13 years of education at Donvale Christian College. Now of course my children have spent far more time than that with friends and teachers but these numbers represent time spent as a parent building relationships with my children, making lifelong friendships with other parents and participating in the most wonderful enriching Christian community one may have imagined. Having my children educated at Donvale has been (and still is) a wonderful experience. Knowing my children’s teachers acknowledge my role as a parent, share my Christian values and do their best to represent Jesus to my children has been tremendous. With three children having now completed their education and two to go it has been a privilege to have my children educated at Donvale. But equally important has been the Christian community I have grown to appreciate, acknowledge and love. Walking together with so many people from a wide variety of Christian experiences I otherwise would never have met has been a wonderful and
enriching time. In fact being part of such a loving, caring Christian community has been perhaps the highlight of my children’s Christian education so far – and it’s not even about them. Knowing that fellow parents, who want the best for their children, are facing life issues and struggles similar to mine and are part of a praying, supportive and loving community has been a real blessing. It was with all this in mind, the 13 years of experiences, sacrifice of time and finance and the wonderful Christian community experience that the idea of a year 12 parents and students celebration dinner was conceived. Sponsored by Friends of Donvale (Donvale’s parent community group) and the board, and held for the first time in 2011, the dinner was to be an event where parents could be honoured for their faith and vision in choosing Donvale for their children, for their years of service to the college and to receive acknowledgement that this event represents an end of an era for many.
For some of these parents this time is a new beginning and is faced with excitement, for others it is an ending of something special and is faced with some trepidation and for others a time of separation and grief. The dinner represented an occasion for these feelings to be acknowledged and expressed and an opportunity for the community to pray blessing and closure for those who are finishing up their time. Held in an excellent venue with great food and service, professional entertainment (some from graduating students), a brief address from the principal, board chair and Friend’s of Donvale representative along with time for prayer, the evening celebrated the journey. Parents were also given an opportunity to share their experiences and feelings, stories and friendships made. In the days following, many spoke of being acknowledged, honoured and celebrated and of feeling as if they could move on knowing that their years of community and blessing had ended well. The celebration dinner is to be an annual Donvale event so parents of graduating year 12 students can look forward to enjoying a great celebration with their community and their children around their time at Donvale and celebrate moving on to other things. Helena Porter email@example.com nurture March 2012 7
Using Facebook with wisdom and integrity
Facebook is the ever-evolving and ever-controversial communication medium of the present. During my high school years I did not want to be trapped into a Facebook addiction like so many of my friends. After I had farewelled my last HSC exam I decided it was the moment to submit. Now, two years into university, Facebook is a valuable resource. While I check it as regularly as I check my emails, it has not mastered me. Thinking over my last years of school, I am glad my parents and I made an agreement that I would avoid Facebook until the end of the HSC. I had less distractions and wasted time, but less awareness of what was going on in my friends’ lives. My social networking-free life paid academic dividends, but every so often I wonder if I would now be better friends with many more people had I joined earlier. Facebook, like so many of the new technologies that pop up, is a mixed bag. As I see it, parents have a responsibility to care for their children in all areas of their lives, including in cyberspace. Facebook has the potential to strengthen friendships but equally has the power to damage through bullying. Choice is powerful. Children may not be aware of the machinations behind Facebook and unaware that what they post on the internet is essentially public property. This involves more than issues of privacy. My grandmother frequently quotes her grandmother saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Too often we forget that speaking may also include internet chatting, posting or writing. Our metaphorical tongues run away with us; we do not think about whether we would say this to a person’s face before we post it on the internet. And once posted, 8 nurture March 2012
it is very difficult to undo. We can fall into the trap described in James 3:9-10: ‘My dear friends, with our tongues we speak both praises and curses. We praise our Lord and Father, and we curse people who were created to be like God, and this isn’t right.’
Our integrity can also be undermined by Facebook, both social and spiritual. At times, it can be difficult being a Christian user, and perhaps more difficult being a Christian parent with children on Facebook. Many Christians are wise in their choice of posts and their use of this medium to share the gospel, but it is easily undermined. Once I heard local high school students complaining about a friend who posted Bible verses. This is good! Their friend obviously was eager to publicly share their faith. However, we need to be aware of how others will see the Word. We don’t want to turn our friends away from the marvels of God’s love by presenting the Bible as trite sayings for living life. The Word is so much more. Facebook can greatly enhance our social lives, encourage our friends and share the gospel. We just need some wisdom to maximise its potential. And wisdom is from God. ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ...’ Proverbs 9:10.
Elizabeth Padgett firstname.lastname@example.org Elizabeth attended Wycliffe Christian School and graduated in 2009. She has completed two years of a B.Ed/BA at the University of Sydney. When she qualifies as an English and history secondary teacher, she hopes to work in a rural or regional school. Elizabeth is the secretary of the Sydney University Evangelical Union and a member of the editorial committee of Nurture.
Expand the world view of your students What is Just Like Me? Just Like Me? is a collection of teacher resources that include BLACK LINE MASTERS, VIDEOS and ACTION CARDS to provide students with opportunities to learn and make a difference. Just Like Me? aims to make primary school aged Australians aware of other cultures, the similarities and differences between themselves and their peers in impoverished countries, and to provide opportunities to fight against poverty and human rights abuses. It addresses issues such as water, food and education.
visit www.justlikeme.org.au for more information Just Like Me? is a not-for-profit development awareness/community education project co-funded by the Australian Government through AusAID.
nurture March 2012 9
Creating CAFE parent spaces Covie2
at Covenant Christian School Building a sense of community in a school takes work. At Covenant Christian School on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, offering a great cup of coffee has proven to be a powerful way of connecting busy people.
The idea behind Café Covie is simple. The underutilised kitchen attached to the school hall was opened each Wednesday morning. The café counter opens to a fenced basketball court which creates a safe place for toddlers. Café style chairs and tables were added, some toys for young kids, a good quality coffee machine, a grinder and a whole lot of passion. From humble beginnings Café Covie has become a central meeting place. The café serves parents, staff and senior students from before school until the end of recess. The café is run by a member of staff with a fantastic volunteer army made up of parents and friends. As well as Wednesday mornings the café operates for special functions like Colin Buchanan concerts, school musicals, fundraising morning teas plus orientation mornings for new families.
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Café Covie helps to engage and honour the parents in the life of the school. As well as providing great coffee, hot chocolates, good food (at competitive prices) the café provides opportunity for maths, business studies and hospitality students to practise their skills. The café is also part of the community service and internal work experience programs. Interestingly the café was started before the school offered a canteen. Due to the café success a canteen was opened on Mondays and Fridays operating from the same kitchen. There are requests to open the café more often but we like keeping it as a treat in the middle of the week! Drop in and see for yourself. The toasted pear and raspberry bread with butter is a real winner! Suzanne Bennett Covenant Christian School, NSW
Welcoming parents at Wagga Wagga We are big on community at the Wagga Wagga Christian College in the heart of the Riverina NSW. Community is nurtured at the college by providing a parent lounge area which is a place where parents can come and sit and have a drink and mingle.
This area has a kitchen fully equipped for tea and coffee with instant boiling water and instant chilled water, fridge, microwave facility for heating up baby bottles and a comfy lounge area where parents gather together and have a chat and a drink. This area was fundraised by the community group which is made up of parents of the college and it took about 36 months to achieve this goal. This area is also where many community group meetings, volunteer morning teas, class parent representative meetings are held as it is large enough to cater for groups of around 60 people. We keep a large stack of chairs and fold up tables, a large amount of crockery, cutlery and catering supplies in readiness for larger functions. The installation of a dishwasher was vital in keeping this area clean and tidy at all times and giving busy parents a break from chores. This is also the space where parents are involved in fundraising and it is used for cake stalls, mothers and
fathers day stalls. This space because of its central location connects the junior, middle and senior school students with their parents, together forming stronger community bonds. Schools often forget about providing space for visiting guests where they can feel comfortable waiting for say a teacher to come out of class. In very hot, cold or wet weather this is a good place for a parent to sit and wait for their children and have a drink and meet other parents. This is also a great area for after larger events as it is conveniently located downstairs from a small auditorium so after events such as parent assemblies or information nights parents can relax and mingle. Carolyn Parkinson Community Relations Wagga Wagga Christian College
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connect Some of the most inspiring stories of life arise when communities pull together to overcome adversity The tragedies of fire, flood, earthquake and tsunami are devastating experiences, yet the selflessness, initiative, commitment and synergy that spontaneously emerge from the ruins inspire and empower communities to move forward, strengthened by the shared experiences that they have lived through. And these experiences are not just momentary. They are connections that will sustain them and cause them to bond together for years to come. It’s a powerful image, especially in an age of determined individualism where expressions of communal engagement are so often squeezed out by the competitive self-interest of our modern world. And there are lessons here also for our Christian schools. With the endless comparative data that is thrown in our faces and the incessant background media static that pitches schools against each other, our schools are all too often distracted into becoming islands of self-interest, consumed by a competitive culture and a protective mindset towards their intellectual capital. But the lessons of selflessness, initiative and synergy should remind Christian schools of the power of working together as a movement – a community of Christ-centred enterprises across Australia seeking to honour God in education. There are already many powerful stories of our schools being strengthened through partnerships with
other family members. However, we could be doing so much more to benefit from our life together. The core vision of Christian Education National (CEN) since 2009 has been ‘building capacity by increasing engagement’. It is a vision that invites every one of our school communities to both seek and to give from the enormous store of resources and resource people that have been developed in our schools over many years. These include; lessons about visioning growth and lessons about managing contraction; lessons about celebrating strengths and achievements and lessons about bearing burdens in times of tragedy and crisis. We have, within our communities, processes and documents to share, programs and curriculum ideas to pass on and experiences and insights to contribute through our networks. There are important stories about staff development practices, board governance ideas, financial and risk management protocols and community capacity building from which we can all learn and grow. Sadly, one of the greatest benefits of active engagement in the national family are the lessons learned from the failures and disappointments that some schools encounter. Schooling in Australia is undergoing significant and rapid transformation that will stretch our resources to the limit;
expectations that will continue to be written into our funding agreements; the curriculum changes that will be embedded in our school registration processes; the values and priorities that are being imposed upon us through myriad government initiatives – all of these should give us cause to pause and to seek to build our ‘strength and capacity by increasing engagement’ with one another across the nation. It’s a challenge for all parents in all school communities to see the potential that lies in being part of a wider family of shared aspirations and resolve. Just recently, the Gonski Report on the future of school funding in Australia, reminds us all that funding alone will not sustain quality education in Australia. Amongst the other factors that are needed in the mix are: quality leadership, quality teaching, quality curricula and effective community engagement. CEN, through its national and state offices, provides conduits through which the many faces of engagement can be explored and developed. CEN is well placed to respond to the many initiatives that are coming our way by building our engagement nationally. We look forward to sharing the journey of discovery and capacity building as we strengthen our bonds of community in the coming year. Bob Johnston email@example.com Bob is sharing the role of Acting CEO of Christian Education National whilst Ken Dickens is on study leave.
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Read with me series:
Exploring the world of the
This is the first of a number of articles on the significance of reading to children. The first targets the ages of 18 months – three years, what I refer to as the ‘emergent years’ of language arts development. In this article, I will target a key book for the development of language arts, outline the skills this book may contain and suggest ways in which character, culture and worldview may interest in the shared reading process. I shall conclude with providing a list of the top ten books for this age level. The best thing a parent can do for a child is to read with them on a regular daily basis. So read with me.... Most of us may not recall how we actually became literate. Chances are, that for the first six months we engaged the first language art, that of viewing. We noticed shapes and familiar faces. We associated these faces with comforting sounds, smells and other stimuli that made us feel secure. We also began to invoke the second language art, that of listening, and were soon babbling speech conventions of our own making – i.e., dada, laughter, etc. After the first 18 months, most of us had a vocabulary of sorts, demonstrating the third language art of speaking. We were beginning to understand that words held meaning in spoken form. Within the next 18 months, we started to invoke the fourth and fifth language arts of the reading/writing connection and we wrote – be it scribbled – on walls, paper and whatever else was available. Soon thereafter, we became aware of our connection to technology (writing materials: crayons, pencils, paints, words (such as our names) and the living environment of our homes. Thus, the reading /writing connection was innate – even if not always nurtured by a deliberate reading/writing environment. 14 nurture March 2012
As we grew, we gradually applied the final language art of presenting /representing material, through drama, print, song, rhyme, memory and the fine arts. Every day since, we have encountered in our daily lives these language arts – building blocks for lifelong communication. The first book I share with toddlers is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Eric Carle. What children need to attain at this age in their language arts development is a sense of entertainment while reading text. Marinate toddlers in a love of books, from shared reading, an acquisition of the sound of rhyme, a pattern or sequence to a story and how to make an illustration/vocabulary connection becomes pleasurable. So what do we need to know about developing literacy from this book? The predictable pattern of this book “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a ____ looking at me” provides a great opportunity to experience the genre of poetry and pattern of rhyme. In doing so, the language art of listening is enhanced. After at least two readings, the child can often fill in the missing word as follows: Brown bear, brown bear, What do you see? I see a redbird, Looking at me! Throughout this book, the animal changes, the pattern does not. On every page the child encounters a creature that is often familiar, sometimes with a colour that is not familiar, and continues the story. The art of Eric Carle provides bold, colourful, easy to associate pictures with a memorable word/illustrative connection (blue horse, red bird, purple cat) which can assist in learning colours, names of animals, etc. while enhancing the viewing and speaking arts connections. When reading aloud, fluency and the pattern of rhyme provides musical connections to the ear, once again uniting listening, speaking, reading and viewing into a memorable experience. Be dramatic! Enjoy this! Older children love to make similar pattern books from this story using the tools Eric Carle has so generously provided. Books such as Doctor, doctor, what do you see? or Teacher, teacher, what do you see? emerged frequently in my primary classroom during writing workshop when focus on the patterning skills of a writer became engaged . Skill connections are also of interest here, as fiction and realism both come in to play in this wonderful book. One skill for discussion is that of asking and answering questions. The
The more time we spend with a child discussing and reading a book, the greater the reward reader can ask: What colour would you make the horse? What animal is purple? Have you seen a purple cat? What colour is your cat? What animal swims? What page do you like best and why? This teaches a child to both answer a question (in complete sentences) and how to ask one, which is a significant skill. One can also introduce the fine arts by painting with the child using primary and secondary colours. It is amazing what a child can grasp and learn while they are doing language arts activities with a parent or sibling. For life skills, introduce how you care for a pet and discuss the responsibility for this and why it is important. You can also make short rhymes together during the day using the child’s name and the same pattern. For example, Martha, Martha, what do you see? I see a fried egg looking at me! The child can also ask “Mummy, mummy what do you see? And you can respond using the same rhyme. Character, culture and worldview may emerge in discussing the moral and mannerly act of reading; being grateful, caring for animals and the creation, and talking about the difference between what is real and what is not. For the early years, listening and speaking are essential skills and need to be developed before entering the schooling process. The more time we spend with a child discussing and reading a book, the greater the reward. As T.S. Eliot once said, “only an idiot reads a book once”. So when your child says read it again Daddy– they are wise beyond their years in language arts acquisition. Happy reading! Top 10 books for age 18-36 months: (not in any specific order!) Alda, A. (2008). Here a face, there a face. Toronto, ON: Tundra books. Carle, E. (1969). The very hungry caterpillar. London, UK: Hamish Hamilton. Carle, E. (2006). Brown bear, brown bear what do you see? New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.
Tullet, H. (2011). Press here. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. Day, A. (1985). Good dog, carl. New York, NY: Aladdin Paperbacks. Dodd, L. (1983). Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy. Auckland, New Zealand: Puffin Books. Freymann, S., & Elffers, J. (1999). How are you peeling? Foods with moods. New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine Books. Johnson, S. T. (1995). Alphabet city. New York, NY: Viking. Johnson, S. T. (1998). City by Numbers. New York: Viking. Wise Brown, M. (1947/1975). Goodnight moon. New York, NY: Harper Festival. Christina Belcher firstname.lastname@example.org Christina is an Associate Professor of Education at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada. Teaching and areas of interest include literacy, worldview, interdisciplinary collaboration, and higher education. She is editor of the ICCTE journal, serves on various journal boards, and is a frequent speaker at conferences on the topics of worldview, children’s literature, Christian education and higher education. Christina has published articles with writers from various disciplines of study, and enjoys interdisciplinary collaborations that provoke wonder and further learning. Having served in New Zealand and Australia, she is now serving the Lord from Ontario, Canada. nurture March 2012 15
social media policy for a Christian school The school learning community no longer stops at the school gate. Students bring to school skills gained through using social media and they are able to take with them attitudes, discrimination and knowledge which will assist them to build responsible and safe virtual learning networks. Researchers have identified positive outcomes for teenagers from the use of the internet in the context of a broader learning community.1 Lisa Nielsen, creator of The Innovative Educator blog argues about the danger of creating an artificial barrier between the world and language of the classroom, and the world outside of school, together with the danger of a digital world devoid of appropriate adult role models.2 I would expand on Nielsen’s arguments by saying, it is important that no area of life is seen as being outside the lordship of Christ and accountability to our 16 nurture March 2012
brothers and sisters in the church. (Psalm 24:1, Colossians 1:15-20, 1 Corinthians 3:16-19, 5:1-11) Social networking sites may be used within school communities to facilitate collaborative learning and to create personal learning networks. They are among the big shifts in 21st century learning towards self-directed learning, adaptive learning and networked learning. The latter is a shift towards networks of teachers and learners featuring decentralised systems for acquiring information, sharing understanding and demonstrating learning.3 There are growing options for developing these learning networks. While the most secure still appears to be setting up a separate, dedicated SNS (Social Network Services) page, teachers may use fan pages – rather than ‘friending’ students online – to share announcements, blog posts, events, assignments, and provide instant study help right into the ‘live streams’ of those that ‘fan’ their page. ‘Groups’ is another Facebook option rapidly being taken up by educators.
The Wycliffe Christian School ICT policy recognises the need to ‘develop operational policies … which strike a balance between prohibition of potentially unhelpful practices on the one hand, and the provision of opportunities for individuals and groups to develop responsible usage practices on the other.’4 Christian schools are involved in the development of citizens. Our prayer is that our students will become citizens of God’s kingdom. However, we recognise that they will be called upon to exercise earthly citizenship as well (Matthew 22:21, 1 Peter 2:13). We prepare our students to be responsible citizens in the physical world, and we need to be training them to be responsible and sensible network citizens. The use of a social media policy is one learning tool we can use to guide the learning behaviour of our students. Sydney media commentator and speaker, Steven Kryger, sets out three simple biblical character traits that we may draw upon in our thinking and behaviour in the digital world.5 These can assist us to guard our purity in a virtual world where people can ensnare the unwary. These are: • integrity • respect • self-control If you are person of integrity, Kryger explains, you will behave in the same way whether someone is monitoring you or not. No action goes unobserved by the Lord (Psalm 11:4-5). It is also true that other users often observe our online activity, whether or not we are aware of it. Respect for others is central to the command to love our neighbours as ourselves. It prevents us mistreating others in the form of cyberbullying, stops us posting private information about ourselves, and others, and protects us from viewing sexual images that objectify and disrespect others. Self-control is required to monitor what we do online and how much time is spent in a virtual community as opposed to a physical one. In his thought-provoking book, The Next Story, Tim Challies, warns of the dangers of information overload. There is a real danger of becoming information junkies, seeking or finding distraction and possibly re-wiring our brains to expect this over-stimulation. Being online with the students provides opportunities to model discipline in the use of social media.6 Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). A life changed by the Spirit, lived under grace, in accountability to the one appointed
to judge all humankind, is the best defense for our students against the temptations of the virtual world (Acts 17:31, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 2 Timothy 4:1). Many proponents of the internet laud its so-called freedom. This is a lie. Actions such as bullying, harassment, predatory sexual behaviour and copyright infringement are as illegal on the internet as they are in the rest of society. Elements of a social media policy must include and explain such legal obligations. These biblical characteristics, ethical behaviour and legal obligations are the foundation for a code of conduct. Here is an example of a code of conduct, developed, but not yet implemented, for staff and students at Wycliffe Christian School.
Code of conduct: The 4 Rs of social media use The 4 Rs of social media engagement are representation, responsibility, respect and reporting. Representation Playing and experimenting with personal identity and personal profiles is a common use of social media, especially for teenagers. For school-based tasks, class work, homework and assignments using school-based pages users must: • use an identity known to the school. While those setting up the pages will activate privacy settings, it is still recommended that students use only their Christian or given name and the first letter of their surname or family name • be clear that your personal views are yours, and not necessarily the views of the school. Responsibility Users are personally responsible for the content of their posts online. In this context, you have a responsibility to ensure that: • you do not post material that is obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing, discriminatory or hateful to another person, school, business or organisation • you do not disclose your own or other people’s personal information in social media venues or post images without the subject’s permission • your personal online activities do not interfere with the performance of your job (staff) or completion of your schoolwork (students).
• be polite, considerate and respectful of others’ opinions • respect copyright, privacy, and other applicable laws when publishing on social media platforms. Report You should notify your teacher or head of faculty if: • you feel unsafe or uncomfortable online • you see a friend or student being unsafe online or being made to feel uncomfortable by others • someone writes something that you don’t like • someone asks you to reveal information that you know is private • you feel that the welfare of other students or staff at the school is being threatened. Education in the 21st century involves learning networks that operate beyond the traditional school boundaries. School communities that seek to be part of these networks will take up the opportunities of the new media in a wise and considered way. They will model and teach safe, respectful behaviour that seeks the good of others above self and acknowledges the lordship of Christ in all of life and in the entire world. Philip Cooney email@example.com Endnotes 1 Hunter, J. and Cornish, S. (2010). blogED in the connected classrooms program is for pedagogy and student learning. In Scan, (29)3, 6-11. Notley, T. (2008). Online network use in schools: Social and educational opportunities. Youth Studies Australia 27(3) 20-29 2 Nielsen, L. (2010, March 2nd). Why social media curriculum is critical in schools - 140 character conference. In The innovative educator. Retrieved from http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2010/03/ why-social-media-curriculum-is-critical.html 3 Vander Ark, T. (December 28, 2010). Time for Education Innovation Retrieved from http://edreformer.com/2010/12/ time-for-education-innovation/ 4 Wycliffe Christian School, 2008, ICT Policy. May 8, p. 2-3. 5 Steven is available to give seminars at schools and churches. You can find out more about the seminars he led at Wycliffe Christian School and lots more useful information addressing children, parents and the Internet at his website: http://www.communicatejesus.com/2011/06/safetyresources-for-wycliffe-christian-school/ 6 Challies, T. (2011). The next story: Life and faith after the digital explosion. Grand Rapids, Michigan : Zondervan 140,154
Respect You are required to: • be respectful of all individuals and communities with whom you interact online
nurture March 2012 17
remain behind for considerable periods of time engaged in animated conversations.
meetings are never boring At Chairo Christian School we hold two Association General Meetings each year Our Annual General Meeting is held in May and a General Meeting is held in November. These are the official meetings of the Warragul and District Parent Controlled School Association.
and dad are both working and also frequently transporting their children to sporting events, music lessons and part-time work. A quiet evening spent relaxing at home is always a wonderfully tempting option!
So, how do we encourage our school families to set aside these two dates in their busy calendars in order to attend these meetings? Isn’t there a natural suspicion that ‘if I attend a meeting, especially an AGM, that I might get an official job! Aren’t they always looking for new board members? The safest decision is to stay at home and watch television. I can always say that I fully intended to come but, unfortunately, I just forgot the date at the last moment.’
We all know that school general meetings are required to cover important areas of business in the life of our schools. There are budgets and financial reports to be approved, building projects and fee schedules to consider, new board members to elect and numerous other items on the agenda. Whilst these aspects are vital to ensure the sound governance and daily operation of our schools, there are opportunities to include many other items on the agenda that help to showcase the vibrant events that are occurring within our local and wider Christian schools movement.
Do any of the above comments sound familiar? I would like to think that the families who comprise our Christian School Association are so committed to the concepts of Christian education and parent partnership that they would never miss out on a School General Meeting. In many instances this assumption is correct but we do live in a busy world of double-income families where mum 18 nurture March 2012
At Chairo we advertise our School General Meeting as being a family gathering. We always ensure that we have a range of items on the agenda that will be both stimulating and relevant to our wider school community. At the conclusion of our meetings we always provide a sumptuous supper and parents
Guest speakers are always included in our programs. Our tradition is that we invite local members of our school community to share their experiences at our May AGM. In November we seek a high-profile speaker who has some involvement in Christian circles on a national basis. We advertise these guest speakers widely through our school newsletters, on the website and via word of mouth. Over the past years at our AGM we have invited members of our student alumni to share their journeys since leaving school with us. There is usually a theme such as Multiple Career Pathways or Christian Service in the Wider Community. We usually invite these people to speak for approximately 5-6 minutes per person. We have invited three past and present students to share with us about the impact that various Christian student leadership training programs have had on their personal spiritual development. We have also invited whole families – mum, dad and children – to share about the impact that our school has had on them as a family unit. We have also invited members of our early families to reminisce with us about the pioneering days of our School Association. The approach for our November General Meeting differs slightly in that our guest speaker is chosen from the wider national Christian community. Our practice has been to invite this person to attend our school for the full day which allows for a variety of other meetings and events with staff, students, board, pastors and/or the wider local community. The final engagement for the day is to be our guest at the School General Meeting. In 2009 our guest speaker was Brigadier Jim Wallace, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby. In 2010 we invited well-known Australian landscape photographer, Ken Duncan, to be our guest. He also unveiled the winners of a Creation, Fall, Redemption School Community Art Competition at this meeting. At Chairo, our School General Meetings are well attended and we have never been required to postpone a meeting because we could not raise a quorum. Our current School Focus Statement is ‘Productive partnership through effective communication’ and our general meetings certainly play a vital role in working towards this goal. Rob Bray firstname.lastname@example.org Principal
detectives at Illawarra Christian School
The students were huddled in pairs around the computers, avidly reading the messages as they appeared and responding as fast as they could. Gathering clues and asking questions, they worked together to solve the mystery and help someone in trouble. What were these students doing? They were participating in Cybersmart Detectives. Cybersmart Detectives teaches students to be informed, wise online citizens who can identify possible risks and follow safe rules for internet chatting. In the program, students interact with community cybersafety professionals to solve an internet-themed problem. They are presented with a situation in which they develop concern for the safety of another student. They are gradually fed clues and given opportunities to respond and make decisions about the scenario. During the session, ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) Cybersmart guides answer the studentsâ€™ questions and give helpful feedback on their ideas and decisions. As mentioned in the article Partnering with Parents in CyberSafety, (Nurture November 2011), Stage 3 students at the Illawarra Christian School participate in the Cybersmart Detectives program as a part of our school cybersafety
education. We all understand the importance of educating our students on being responsible, safe, God-honouring citizens online, therefore we need to be strategic in the way we teach cybersafety. Teachers regularly take opportunities to instruct in cybersafety issues throughout the year, and each year Stage 3 students participate in one of the two ACMA Interactive Shared Learning activities: Cybersmart Detectives or Cybersmart Hero. After completing the Cybersmart Detectives activity, students often comment on how strong an impact the program has on their online behaviour and understanding of how to be safe on the internet. All Stage 3 students will also participate in Cybersmart Heros; this is another interactive learning activity which focusses on dealing with cyber bullying. For more information on the Cybersmart Detectives or Cybersmart Heros go to: www.cybersmart.gov.au/Schools/Teacher%20resources/ Upper%20primary/Interactive%20Shared%20Learning. aspx Nicole Delbridge Delbridge.Nicole@ics.nsw.edu.au Primary Coordinator Illawarra Christian School
nurture March 2012 19
Making wise and courageous
choices Part of our task here at Donvale Christian College is to ensure that we not only concern ourselves with our studentsâ€™ minds, but also their hearts and their actions. But it is not enough for me or anyone else to just think about it, we need to do it.
20 nurture March 2012
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well” – but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” James 2:14–18 When my wife questions me on a Saturday morning as to why I haven’t vacuumed the floor, my response is usually to give her a reason like: I’ve had a hard week and I just want to spend a little time reading the paper! Now, I may have ‘thought’ about doing some housework – which is a good start – but unless I actually do some housework, my thinking is not particularly useful! One way of dealing with this ‘problem’ would be for Anouchka and me to construct some rules. For example, we could place on the refrigerator the 10 Commandments for our household. One of these commandments might read: Thou Shalt Not Read the Paper Until the Floor Hath Been Vacuumed. To live such a rule-based life, however, seems to me to somehow diminish my humanness. You see, making me vacuum because it is a rule does not make me a better husband or person. Choosing to discipline and will myself to better contribute to the running of the household does. The same kind of idea could be applied in a school situation. If students are misbehaving in some way, then one response may be to simply make a rule that this behaviour is now a punishable offence. This option is relatively easy because it simply requires enforcement of the law. The more difficult option would be work with the students on developing more positive behaviour and/or learning habits. The wisdom suggests that developing positive habits will have the consequence of eradicating the rule-breaking. Tom Wright, in Virtue Reborn, puts it like this. He says that when a lack of rules in an
area leads to some kind of chaos, ‘people are eager to reintroduce rules that will get us back on track. The problem is that introducing new regulations doesn’t get to the heart of the problem. Doing your own thing isn’t good enough, but rules by themselves won’t solve the problem’. Another way of thinking about this is to say that adhering to rules does not require anything from us which could be counted as being particularly virtuous. However, being virtuous does not just happen. Rather, virtue or ‘character’ requires ‘training’. When I play football (which is not very often these days), it is natural for me to take the ball and kick it using my right foot. But when I was playing junior football, I knew that to be a really good player, I needed to develop the ability to kick, handball and bounce using the left side of my body. I always found it difficult to kick with my left foot. I could do it, but I always thought about what I was about to do for a few seconds before completing the action. However, I remember often practising my hand passing with a friend. I would stand opposite him and pass the ball, first using my right hand and then using my left. I would do this over and over – for hours at a time. At first, it felt awkward passing the ball using my left hand, but after a while, I became used to it. Even today, I can still pass the ball to someone using my left hand just as easily as I do with my right hand. I don’t need to think about it. Tom Wright says that this same idea applies to the development of our character. That is, if we want to become virtuous, we need
to practise virtuous behaviour. He describes virtue in this way: ‘Virtue… is what happens when someone has made a thousand small choices, requiring effort and concentration, to do something which is good and right but which doesn’t ‘come naturally’ – and then, on the thousand and first time, when it really matters, they find they do what’s required ‘automatically’, as we say. On that thousand and first occasion, it does indeed look as if it ‘just happens’; but reflection tells us that it doesn’t ‘just happen’ as easily as that… virtue is what happens when wise and courageous choices have become ‘second nature’.’ I wonder what kind of things each one of us could do so that being virtuous becomes second nature. In particular, I wonder what we can do to move closer towards being the kind of people God calls us to be. I am not sure it is just praying and reading our Bibles – though I am convinced it is good for us to do both of these. But perhaps what we need to be consciously doing involves the little mundane things like choosing to forgive someone (perhaps silently) when they’ve hurt us. Another way might be deciding not to put our own interests first when asked to do something for someone. Just as I might think about vacuuming the floor, we can all think about our beliefs regarding the Christian life as much as we like. Moreover, we can all verbalise what kind of Christians we’d like to be. But James reminds us that, without actions, such thoughts and words are futile. Put another way, he suggests that our beliefs, thoughts and words are meaningless if unaccompanied by action. Personally, I hope that I will strive to develop my character by not just thinking or believing the right things, but also doing the right things. Part of our task here at Donvale is to ensure that we not only concern ourselves with our students’ minds, but also their hearts and their actions. But it is not enough for me or anyone else to just think about it, we need to do it.
Stephen Chatelier email@example.com Director of Christian Foundations Donvale Christian College
First published in the school newsletter. nurture November 2011 21
Prayer for Gawa Christian School
ather I beseech you to lead all your children at G채wa to that place in you where we can be blessed together with that one vision which only comes out of a passion for your glory and the name of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, we ask you to open up new doors of knowledge, learning, deeper understanding and compassion amongst us all. We know that it is only through you that we can share in your bounty and offer a hope filled future for the children of G채wa. Father God, please fill the hearts of our community with a passion for you and an understanding of the importance of education for their little children. With you everything is possible, so we ask for your power and your spirit to work in and through this place. Thank you for the opportunity to share together the many joys and blessings that we receive from being part of this community and the love that we share for the beautiful children who are part of all our families! Dear God, thank you for the abundance of blessing you have given our school, help us to appreciate and continually give all our praise to you. Dear Heavenly Father, my prayer is that those who know you would be drawn closer to you, and those who have not yet accepted Jesus as their Saviour would come to know him and love him. I pray that the word of God would be hidden in our hearts so we can stand firm; having put on the armour of God. Help every member of this community to live the life that you intended Printed with permission from the August 2011 newsletter. 22 nurture March 2012
Who is going where? Victoria Rachel Richardson is the new principal at Son Centre Christian School in Swan Hill. Jason Riding (formerly principal at Son Centre Christian School) is now the deputy principal at Mountain District Christian School. Rebekah Alexander is now the interim principal at Melton Christian College. Peter Nelson (formerly principal at Melton Christian College) is assisting with the role of principal for first term at Bethel Christian College. Ellen Prior is the director for Ranges TEC (the new trade training centre) in Melbourne. New South Wales Peter Henderson is the new principal at Namoi Valley Christian School. Phil Kirkwood is head teacher at Wellington Christian School.
Children and animals working together at Donvale Christian College
ver the past few years, Donvale Christian College has had as part of its year 9 program, a small alpaca stud ‘Donchristcoll’, which the students look after as part of their EarthProbe subject. The students are involved in all the areas of alpaca husbandry from feeding to grooming, reproduction and vaccinations. Over the past two years, students have begun showing our alpacas at smaller country shows and competing in the Junior Handlers competition. Last year, our students did very well, winning their age group and then being awarded the Best Junior Handler at the Royal Melbourne Show and again at the Alexandra Show. Last year, students competed at the Alpaca Colourbration show at Bendigo achieving places first to fourth in different age groups. At last year’s Royal Melbourne Show, six students did work experience/ community service assisting alpaca studs from both Victoria and interstate. The students were involved in all aspects of the Alpaca Show from cleaning up the stalls to leading the animals in the show arena. This was a fantastic experience for them as they worked with some of the best studs in Australia for the four days that the alpacas were on exhibit. The stud owners praised our students for their attentiveness, initiative and the way they handled the animals in their care. One of the studs was so impressed that they gave their student, Daniel, their ‘Best Stud in Show
sash, one of the most sought after awards in recognition of his efforts throughout the show. Five of the students along with Scarlett Hangan from year 4, competed in the Junior Handler’s competition on the last day. Our students contributed to making it the biggest junior’s competition that had been at the show. Great results were achieved by everyone with Daniel Stanhope and Judy Kim finishing equal second, Rebeccah Churchward and Grace Dennehy finishing equal third and Rebecca Sierak finishing fourth in the senior age group while Scarlett finished fourth, to the eventual Best Handler in the show, in the intermediate group. In speaking with one of the parents about the ‘educational benefits’ of having alpacas, we decided that it was as much about the life skills such as tolerance, patience, perseverance and self-esteem as it was about the actual animal husbandry. John Harris Environment and Sustainability Manager Donvale Christian College
Daring Dragons from Orange Christian School W
ow, what a fantastic day! Who would have thought, four gruelling dragon boat races would be so much fun. 18-20 parents, teachers and family members had a tough day full of laughter, glucose lollies, sports drinks and lots of silent “Please God, help me once more to survive this race” prayers all in the name of fun and whilst doing so representing our fantastic school!
Orange Dragon Boating held its 3rd annual regatta in November 2011. The opportunity to be part of this event, represent our school and have a lot of fun and laughter was very appealing. The decision was made to get a crew together and enter a team that now carries the infamous name the ‘Daring Dragons’. Staff were invited to join the crew during morning devotions, parents were invited during school pick up and drop offs, and eventually we had enough people committed to having a day of fun. It was amazing to see so many teams at the regatta representing sporting clubs and community groups. As the Daring Dragons, we competed in the community section representing Orange Christian School.
With a very nervous start to the first heat, and a few out of sync paddlers we amazingly managed to achieve 1st place. Feeling very chuffed with this result we took the second heat slightly less nervous, a little cocky in our great debut achievement and we competed against a better team. We came home in second place. It was now time to get serious, start looking at times and try and work out where our team stood against the other 12 teams in the community section. We were coming in 3rd overall. We won heat 3 and made it to the finals. Now the nerves had really set in, Grace our team leader was geed up and ready for victory. As we lined up in the marshalling area, all of us were saying our own little prayers asking for Gods support for just one more race. Rowing out to the starting line we were all over the place with what was meant to be synchronised paddling; fatigue from such a big day had set in. Finally we lined up and got into the ‘paddles up’ position, and then the horn went and we were off and racing. 200 meters later and many loud shouts calling for unison and energy we crossed the finish line right beside another boat. No-one could tell who had won. Could we possibly have won? Or did we scrape into second place by a nose? We sat in our boats proud of our effort, laughing at all the shouting that had been on board and waited. As we docked our dragon boat the news broke....WE WON!! The crowd roared and the fatigue disappeared as we celebrated our success. The Orange Christian School Daring Dragons had achieved two great things: firstly winning the community section of the regatta and secondly, showing others how much fun can be had working as a team within the school community. We are now awaiting our next regatta! nurture March 2012 23
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24 nurture March 2012
Transforming lives through excellence in Christian higher education
Nurture is published by Christian Education National. Covenant Christian School is a member of this association of schools which share a pas...
Published on Mar 1, 2012
Nurture is published by Christian Education National. Covenant Christian School is a member of this association of schools which share a pas...