PILGRIM Journey Winter 2018
IN THIS ISSUE What is our Measure of Success? p.2 Presenting at CEA - A Teacher Reflection p.6 Innovation Lab - A Place to Create p.8 Faith on the Field p.14
What is our Measure of Success? by Wendy Hofman, Head of School
If we want to truly understand the quality and value of a Lansing Christian education, the first question we need to ask ourselves is, what kinds of skills and dispositions do we want to equip LCS students with if we are preparing our graduates to engage the world and transform it for Jesus Christ? In the world of business, in non-profit work, and in education, leaders are expected to understand how their organizations measure success. As a Christian school with a vision of equipping young men and women to engage and transform the world for Jesus Christ, we too need to understand our measure of success with students now and post graduation. LCS has a comprehensive curriculum that meets State of Michigan graduation requirements and includes nine different AP course offerings. Our test scores outpace Michigan public schools, and nearly 100% of LCS students attend colleges and universities all over the country. Is this a measure of success? While this kind of academic credibility in our community is important and certainly a measure of success, as a Christian school with a viable mission we are called to so much more. Student learning at LCS is moving away from a focus on just mastery of content to focus also on learning experiences that give students an opportunity to develop important skills across the curriculum and engage in authentic learning and real work that forms self and shapes the world. Over the last year, the LCS Leadership Council, comprised of lead teachers and administrators representing each level of the school, worked to develop school-wide learner goals. These goals cross all grade levels and areas of curriculum, and they reflect the kinds of skills and dispositions we believe
The Lansing Christian School Board of Trustees
Tamara Cutler, President; Brad Banasik, Secretary; Ken Howard, Treasurer; Stephanie Buchalski; Vince Tardino, Dave Tebben; Eric Vanden Bosch and Rina Woodland I 2 I Journey
The LCS Leadership Council worked to develop SchoolWide Learner Goals.
students need to engage and transform the world for Jesus Christ. Throughout this edition of the Pilgrim Journey, you will read about specific examples of how our school-wide learner goals are transforming the student learning experience and contributing to the spiritual formation of our students. You will read about learning that encourages our students to look inward, acknowledging who they are as image bearers of God, endowed with unique gifts and abilities. You will also read about how our students are looking outside themselves, exploring the world that God created in new and relevant ways, and engaging in learning experiences that promote service to others and to the world. On the next page is a list of the LCS SchoolWide Learning Goals that will help shape the kind of learning experiences LCS will continue to advance for the purpose of forming young people that love God, love others, and engage the world for Jesus Christ. This will be a measure of success in the years to come.
LCS School-Wide Learner Goals Demonstrate proficiency in foundational knowledge
LCS students demonstrate proficiency with the established curriculum across subject areas, applying and connecting ideas to make sense of complex concepts and problems from multiple perspectives.
Practice essential skills for learning
LCS students pursue academic excellence through practicing: ● Critical thinking ● Problem solving ● Creativity (idea generation) ● Thinking for innovation (acting on the idea to add value) ● Persistence/resilience
Pursue ongoing growth
LCS students are curious and recognize the value of lifelong learning.
LCS students have both strong listening skills and the ability to communicate their ideas orally and in writing.
LCS students work together toward shared goals both in and out of the classroom.
LCS students seek to deeply understand the experiences, perspectives, and needs of others.
Recognize and communicate their role in God’s story
With the support of teachers and families, LCS students discover and develop their God-given gifts and abilities and grow in areas of improvement as they live and learn in Christian Community.
Engage in creative service to meet the needs of the community LCS students live lives of service and look for needs they can meet in the classroom, the school, the community, and beyond.
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GLORIFY GOD Service – Loving the World by Tim Blamer
Service is not limited to a project or a week or a short trip, but is a way of living which stems from the outpouring of love that God has given to us to be shared with others.
Jesus’ fundamental command to love God and to love others calls us to something greater than ourselves.
The spiritual themes for the past two school years have been building off the vision of LCS: “Equipping young men and women to engage and transform the world for Jesus Christ.” The theme last year was “Growing a Heart for God’s World.” This year’s theme is “Living Out Community.” Service to others is at the heart of the vision and the two spiritual themes. Jesus’ fundamental command to love God and to love others calls us to something greater than ourselves. We cannot follow his command if we are only concerned with our own lives because Jesus tells us to look outward to God and to those around us. To be Christ followers, to show his love to others, to be people who engage and transform for Jesus, is to recognize the brokenness in ourselves and all around us and respond to His call to bring shalom to the world. At LCS, we seek to grow the hearts of our students to see the needs around them and creatively engage in service that will meet those needs. Our hope is that our students I 4 I Journey
will develop empathy and a mindset that looks outside of themselves to the needs of others. The other might be a family member, a classmate, someone in their neighborhood or church, someone in their city, or someone farther away from their immediate surroundings. In this Pilgrim Journey and in the months ahead, we are excited to share stories of alumni who are living lives of service in the places to which God has called them. They are doing so in a variety of places and fields. We trust you will be inspired and blessed to see our vision being lived out. At the same time, we are raising up the next generation of Pilgrim leaders. At each level, we are equipping students, through the teaching and lives of our faculty, to develop their own heart for serving in God’s world. Our students are learning to serve within the school and throughout the Lansing community in partnership with area schools, churches, and organizations. We pray that, through the work of God, we will grow in our capacity to see needs and creatively serve others to His glory and for the life of His world.
GLORIFY GOD How are we serving? Below are a few examples of how LCS students are engaging in service: Elementary – love sacks, food bags, Samaritan’s Purse, food collection Middle School – working at Sheridan Road School, Samaritan’s Purse High School – NHS winter coat collection, NHS food drive, World Vision, Service Week
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EXPECTING EXCELLENCE Presenting at CEA â€“ A Teacher Reflection by Candyce Tjarks
The Christian Educators Association (CEA) conference provides an opportunity to hear speakers share their expertise on a vast range of topics. It is a time of educational and spiritual renewal for hundreds of Christian educators. A year and a half ago I sat on a motor coach with my colleagues headed to South Bend, IN for the annual CEA conference. As we began our departure that morning, Mrs. Hofman warmly welcomed us and began discussing events of the day. She also mentioned that one of our colleagues, Dr. Jamie Wernet, would be presenting and encouraged us to attend the presentation. We were also asked to consider being a presenter at a future CEA conference. As I poured through the pages of available CEA sessions I found several that pertained to growth and development which would surely be beneficial to me and my students, but there were no sessions that specifically addressed ways to help students who struggle academically. In those early morning hours I silently began to pray and then plot out my idea for presenting at a future CEA conference. That day, I spoke with several CEA event organizers and discussed options for presenting at a future conference. My ideas were warmly received and after speaking with Mrs. Hofman about the opportunity, I formally applied for consideration of my topic. The wheels were now firmly in motion, and I waited several weeks in anticipation before finding out I had been accepted as a presenter. This would be my first experience speaking to a group of my peers about my field of knowledge and I was humbled by the opportunity. Over the next year I gathered extra sets of tools that I use daily, created new resources to aid students in areas they struggle with, and poured through websites for additional advice and support. The process and results of my material collection was astounding. The seed that had been planted in the early morning bus trip bloomed into an insatiable search for tools to aid teachers and students alike. My dream of gifting colleagues in education with a few quick tools morphed into a vast I 6 I Journey
amount of resources that filled the trunk of my little sedan as the 2017 CEA conference approached. The boxes in my car that held these resources overflowed with opportunities that would hopefully open the doors of knowledge for teachers and students whom I had been praying for over the past 12 months. The title of my presentation, Supporting Students who Struggle Academically: Tips, Tricks, and Encouragement for K-12 Educators, turned out to have a catchy enough tagline. What I thought would be an intimate discussion format with 25 or 30 teachers turned into a slightly larger presentation for roughly 115 educators. In the course of an hour I was able to share more than 45 different ways to accommodate students in areas of math, reading, writing, and attention. Overall, I felt the presentation went well for my first attempt, but as any good teachers knows, there is always room for improvement. Driving home after the convention was finished, I thought about the hope the empty boxes in my trunk held for next year. I had already begun planning to present at future CEA conventions.
LCS Teachers that Presented at the 2017 CEA Convention
Andrew Kleyn, Candyce Tjarks, Jamie Wernet and Katherine Lohman
Developing Logic and Critical Thinking through Coding by Carrie Belanger
As our world changes and is becoming more dependent on technology, it is important that future generations move beyond merely interacting with technology. They need to be prepared to be active participants and creators of new technologies.
Students are developing the use of logic, strengthening problem solving skills, and building digital literacy.
In this digital era, more professions are requiring coding skills. Programming is expected by many to be one of the fastest growing occupations over the next decade. Second grade students at LCS are being introduced to the world of programming through the use of Ozobots. Using a color coded programming language; our students are able to interact with the bots. The students can command the Ozobots to follow designed paths at different speeds and functions, complete mazes, solve problems, and even race their fellow bots. Students are developing the use of logic, strengthening problem solving skills, and building digital literacy. The Ozobots are a powerful tool. They allow students to develop an understanding of coding and begin to build programming skills through exciting and creative exploration. I 7 I Journey
Innovation Lab – A Place to Create by Kelly Joos
The Innovation Lab is a unique space on our campus that allows teachers and students an opportunity to practice school-wide learner goals in a tangible and practical way. The entry wall to the lab will soon display the fundamental purpose for the space: “A place to create for the One who created us.” In our dreaming of the possibilities of the space, we have developed a list of “permissions” as an invitation into what it truly looks like to innovate and collaborate for the purposes of transforming the world for Jesus Christ. These permissions align directly to our school-wide learner goals and are painted around the room as reminders to students and teachers alike. We are excited to provide students with a unique learning environment where they are given opportunities to explore, analyze, create, innovate, test, learn, and grow in the context of a culture of collaboration, restoration, appreciation, and enjoyment.
Innovation Lab Permissions Be creative and flexible problem-solvers.
Take initiative and learn new things.
Value curiosity, wonder, and questions.
Be open to new ideas and alternative solutions.
Take on challenges and explore your passions.
Be inclusive, encouraging, and generous in spirit.
Embrace the struggle of learning and don’t give up in the face of difficulty. Take risks and celebrate failures as opportunities for discovery.
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Listen well and value the contributions of others. Foster connections with our local and global communities. Walk with humility and integrity.
Mindset: What is it, and why does it matter? by Jamie Wernet
When it comes to learning, our mindset is the set of beliefs we hold about our abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. While working on test corrections recently a student said, “I hate it when I make little mistakes!” I reminded her that recognizing our mistakes can help us grow in our learning. She sighed, and responded, “Brain growth!” It was music to my ears. One of our school-wide learner goals is for students to pursue ongoing growth. We refer to this as having a growth mindset. This can apply to all kinds of skills and tasks, like reading literature, conducting a science experiment, teaching, dancing, drawing, or fixing a car!
Math Talk by Betsy Jackson
The more my first graders do Math Talk the better they understand math. What is “Math Talk?” It’s a shift away from teacher directed lessons to student guided discussions. Math Talk is a learned process in which students discuss their mathematical thinking in order to better understand what they are learning. It takes a few months to teach my class how to do it. At first I do a lot of modeling and ask how they have solved problems. After they become comfortable dialoguing with me in the group I begin asking individual students to show me their work which leads to copying my model for explaining.
When we approach a task with a growth mindset, we recognize we can grow and improve through effort and experience. When we approach a task with a fixed mindset, we focus on natural talent we attribute success to being naturally gifted and failure to intrinsic weakness in that area. So why does it matter? It turns out that students’ mindsets are foundational for what and how they learn. A fixed mindset often leads us to avoid challenge and grow discouraged by criticism and the success of others. A growth mindset leads us to embrace challenge, welcome criticism, and be inspired by the success of others. In short, pursuing ongoing growth can be an important first step in meaningful learning.
One of our schoolwide learner goals is for students to pursue ongoing growth.
This speaks to our faith, too. We are so often called to do things we are not “naturally” good at, but we can trust that God will equip us to fulfill his good purpose for our lives. These are the messages we promote in our classrooms throughout the building: on students’ understanding, valuing mistakes as ways to move our thinking forward, and providing opportunities for students to focus on growth and improvement.
Now when my class works on a given math problem, I choose a student to lead Math Talk, and one student draws, writes, and explains to the class how they solved it. As that student talks everyone actively participates. Instead of passively listening to me they ask each other questions, agreeing or disagreeing with methods and answers, and understanding strategies through a first grader’s perspective. I always learn a lot from these talks! They are essentially teaching each other. I am proud of how well my students can articulate their reasoning and lead studentto-student academic discussions! They are building skills as public speakers and problem solvers, while creating a community of learners at the same time. Math Talk has really changed how we learn math in first grade! I 9 I Journey
CULTIVATING CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY Allison Olmstead by Melissa Keeley
After graduating from LCS in 2014, Allison Olmstead enrolled at the University of Kentucky. Although a major change from her small class sizes at Lansing Christian School, Allison credits LCS with preparing her academically and spiritually to study in a large university environment. While completing her undergraduate coursework, Allison embraced leadership opportunities and served two consecutive terms as an Undergraduate Senator for University of Kentucky’s Student Government Association as well as other leadership positions in other organizations. Recently, Allison was accepted into and began the University of Kentucky’s four-year PharmD program to receive her Doctoral degree from the College of Pharmacy. Currently in her second semester, Allison says her coursework is difficult, but she is thankful for the training she received at Lansing Christian School that prepared her for her work in graduate school. According to Allison, “I truly believe that Lansing Christian gave me the educational and spiritual foundation to help prepare me for the challenges of undergrad and professional school.” Allison specifically credits Ms. Joos, her AP Biology teacher, for the invaluable support she provided and the guidance she gave to use disappointment as a chance for growth and improvement. Allison says, “I remember feeling discouraged after receiving my first AP Biology exam grade. Ms. Joos took the time to help me change my study habits and really pushed me to succeed in her class. She encouraged me to become more confident as a student and reminded me that life is so much bigger than one test grade. I felt that she truly cared about each student’s success as well as our spiritual development outside of the classroom.” Alison says she has learned to rely more on God as she faces academic and spiritual challenges and knows that God has bigger plans for her. She is encouraged by the fact that she feels called to this profession and the knowledge that becoming a pharmacist will allow her to use her God given gifts and abilities to serve others. Allison says, “Although the classes are demanding, I truly believe that God has called me into this profession to use my skills to provide quality healthcare to patients… I believe that being a pharmacist will allow me to exemplify Christ’s love through the way I treat my patients.”
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Theresa Casey by Melissa Keeley
Theresa (Cloutier) Casey (’08) traces her desire to serve others back to her time at LCS. Theresa recalls, “Lansing Christian’s coordinated service trips for students helped open my eyes to the value and ‘soul’ reward of serving others and sharing Christ’s love to those in need.” Although working for a mission-based organization was not Theresa’s initial plan after graduation she says her time as an alumni representative on the LCS Foundation Board opened her eyes to the possibility of a career in fundraising. After receiving her degree in Public Relations and Marketing from Grand Valley State University Theresa began working as a Donor Relations Manager for Kids Hope USA, an organization that serves at-risk youth by pairing school children with mentors from local churches. Now in her fourth year at Kids Hope USA, Theresa’s responsibilities include working with individual, corporate, and foundation donors as well as working on major fundraising events. Theresa says, “It’s an absolute pleasure to share Kids Hope USA’s mission with others and invite them to be a part of our goals to reach more atrisk children across the country by empowering churches to reach outside of their four walls and into their community.” Theresa says she is thankful for the teachers at LCS who encouraged her to ask challenging questions and to seek biblical truth—all while building her academic skills and a passion for service. Theresa credits those skills and the practice of serving others with helping her develop a focus on service in her career at Kids Hope USA and in her own family which includes a two-yearold son and another baby on the way. Theresa states, “the habits instilled at Lansing Christian to not only serve in a church environment (through chapels and special events, etc.), but also within our community (service week and mission trips) translated into who I am as an adult: being involved in a local church, serving my community through volunteerism and my career, and my husband and I both making a strong Christian lifestyle a priority as we build our family.”
The habits instilled at Lansing Christian to not only serve in a church environment, but also within our community translated into who I am as an adult.
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Sabins Family Elizabeth Sabins joined the Lansing Christian School staff this fall and teaches Middle School/High School Spanish as well as providing technology assistance to our elementary teachers. Before Mrs. Sabins became a member of the LCS staff, she and her husband, Jacob, were LCS parents who made the decision to send their daughter Lydia, now in the 3rd grade, to Lansing Christian School. We asked Elizabeth to tell us a little more about her unique experience as both a parent and teacher at LCS and why her family chose Lansing Christian School. What made you decide to invest in a Lansing Christian School education? Jacob and I started talking very early about where we would want our children to attend school. We toured several schools, both public and private, before choosing Lansing Christian. As parents, we were interested in the school atmosphere and the relationships we saw between students. Our children would be spending the majority of their day at school, and it was important to us that they would be in a safe, nurturing environment where they were challenged academically, and cared for as individuals. As a teacher, it was also important to me to choose a school with smaller class sizes, a wide range of opportunities for academics and extra-curricular activities, and a thriving student population that enjoyed their school and their teachers. When we took our tour of LCS and saw how the Bible was woven across subjects and how God was a part of every school day, we knew this was the school for us. We are happy and grateful that we are able to invest in education for both of our daughters at LCS. We have no doubt that attending LCS is helping Lydia to grow spiritually and academically and have been so pleased with her caring and supportive teachers. They truly care about her academic, social, and spiritual well-being. Anna is excited to attend next year! You sent your daughter to LCS first and then began working here yourself. As an educator, what made you want to work here? I knew as soon as Lydia started attending Lansing Christian School that I wanted to join the teaching staff. It was all a matter of God’s timing! I am so excited to be able to share my faith and to help build the faith of my students! I also enjoy the small class sizes which allow me more time to help students individually, and the iPads and laptops that allow us to practice our Spanish and learn about other cultures. I truly appreciate the caring staff and their willingness to speak into the lives of their students and to challenge them to grow in Christ. You have worked and trained in different academic environments. What do you think sets LCS apart? I have had the opportunity to work in both the public and virtual school settings. I am continually impressed with the academic rigor at LCS and how engaged students are in class. Students come to class excited to learn and work hard with one another. I see the fruit of the strong relationships they have formed with one another from the time they spend together in class, in sports, and during experiences like Retreat. Parent involvement also stands out to me -- parents are eager to help out and attend special performances and field trips. They are also very encouraging to their children’s teachers and work as partners in their children’s education. I 12 I Journey
Black and Gold Celebration by Melissa Keeley
Thank you to everyone who supported this year’s Black and Gold Celebration. It was thrilling and humbling to witness the love and financial support our community showed for Lansing Christian School during the event. I am excited to share that thanks to that spirit of generosity we raised more money through this year’s event than any previous Black and Gold Celebration, which will help make a quality Christian education accessible for more families in the greater Lansing area.
Homecoming Week Thank you to everyone who came out to support the school during this year’s homecoming week. We had a wonderful spirit week that included activities for PreK-12th grade students.
PreK-12th grade students participated in theme dress-up days and enjoyed fun activities during the week. The high school students were involved in a variety of competitions which included creating a space, class poster, and video, as well as the always popular battle of the bands. The week culminated with a packed gym as the LCS community gathered to cheer on the girls and boys basketball teams. During the evening the school recognized the 2018 high school class representatives, 2017 Boys Golf team, 2017 Girls Varsity Soccer State Championship team, the 2017 Boys Basketball Final Four team and honored our Distinguished Alumni, Melanie Seal. It was great to see the engagement of our LCS families and alumni during this fun week. I 13 I Journey
ATHLETICS Faith on the Field by Bonnie Binioris
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Athletics at Lansing Christian is more than baskets made, goals attempted, or X’s and O’s in a playbook. Participating in athletics gives our students a tangible platform to share their faith with their teammates, coaches, opponents, and supporters. Glorifying God through athletic competition is being thankful for the opportunity to compete, regardless of the outcome; to set good examples; to lift up your opponent through acts of kindness. Praying with teammates before competition, offering good sportsmanship to an opponent, leading other teams in joined prayer at times of need; these are examples of ways our student-athletes use their light for Jesus to brighten the world. Lansing Christian athletes graciously use their athletic platform to share faith: Davis Tebben and Dawson Block led the cross country team, and their opponent, in prayer after a meet; Amilia Velasquez and Abby Gipson prayerfully united an entire gymnasium for a little boy suffering from pediatric cancer during a fundraising event for his family; and the volleyball team blessed a family in need with a Thanksgiving meal. Sports are just games, but these lessons will last a lifetime. I am proud of our athletes and their willingness to connect with others, to share their faith and to run the race with their eyes fixed on Jesus. I 14 I Journey
Game Manager Program Black and gold... and lime green! The athletic department introduced the â€œGame Managerâ€? program to the Lansing Christian community in August, 2017. This new program was put in place to help manage and organize home athletic events, welcome visiting teams, ensure all volunteers are in their proper positions and enforce good sportsmanship practices. Game Managers are easily identified by their lime green shirts and act as the official representative of the athletic department during home games and tournaments. The Game Manager provides a safe, well-organized event for athletes, coaches, officials and event attendees.
Cross Country Success!
2017 was a great year for the Cross Country program! Congratulations to both teams, and Coach Jon Watson, for a successful season! The varsity girls cross country team won Regionals for the first time in school history and qualified for the State Finals! On November 4, 2017, the girls team traveled to the Michigan International Speedway to compete in the Division 4 state meet and finished with a strong third place finish. Freshman Madison Volz finished 5th overall with a course time of 19:02.5. Senior Davis Tebben was an individual competitor in the boys Division 4 state meet, finishing ninth with a time of 16:45.2. I 15 I Journey
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HAVE IT ALL AT LANSING CHRISTIAN SCHOOL What makes an excellent Christian education? At LCS we believe you need three things - active faith, exceptional resources and programs, and affordable tuition. We think it is possible to have it all and at LCS, we provide this unique combination to families in the Greater Lansing area. Equipping young men and women to engage and transform the world for Jesus Christ.
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