NWCS 2020-2021 Newsletter

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“Eden has a new love for learning.” Your support, along with the support of her family and Northwest Christian Schools helped Eden become a more confident learner.

Read Eden’s story, and other stories of belonging, inside.


You Belong Here

Annika Dollar speaks of marked moments, those times in her life she can look back and remember the Lord’s faithful provision. One such moment happened when she and her husband Brian sold their house in Indian Trail and moved to Colbert. “I loved my house, and I loved my neighbors, but I heard the Lord tell us to ‘sell the house and move.’” And so, they did. Their house sold in a matter of weeks and Annika and Brian found themselves in a new house in a new neighborhood, a few minutes from the Colbert campus of Northwest Christian Schools. “Brian and I grew up in public schools and hadn’t really thought about private school for our kids. But I felt like the Lord led us here and this was the place for our children.” They enrolled their daughter, Eden, in preschool. A few years later when Eden was in second grade, her younger brother, Levi was also enrolled.

Eden was a bright 3rd grader, but struggled to keep up with her reading.

With both kids in school, Annika began looking for ways to give back, especially with her background in teaching and in particular, her gifting in one-on-one learning. She was offered a position in Northwest Christian’s Learning Center, providing individualized learning for students who need help with reading and math. She didn’t realize how providential this would be. Eden was a bright 3rd grader but struggled to keep up with her reading. In 4th grade she was screened for and found to be dyslexic. “Northwest Christian was so incredibly helpful to us as parents.


They provided information and education and we discovered that Eden had all the classic markers of dyslexia. Suddenly all her learning differences made sense. Things just came together for me and Brian.” Annika and Brian discussed their daughter’s needs and decided to see if Annika could have Eden as one of her students. “Once we knew Eden was going to utilize the services of Northwest Christian’s Learning Center, I asked if I could be her tutor.” With the school’s blessing, Annika and Eden set to work, following the Learning Center’s Susan Barton Reading and Spelling Program 1-2 times a week for 30-45 minutes. Eden is now in 6th grade and the transformation Annika and Brian see in her is amazing. “Eden loved school, but she never felt successful as a reader or writer. She was exhausted, frustrated and discouraged.”

Today, Eden is a happier, more confident student. She has better vocabulary and better handwriting. She uses her own iPad and uses it to empower herself.

NWCS seniors served the Spokane community by packing 4000 meals through Generation Alive on April 23. Homeschool seniors recently presented stories of overcoming adversity at the senior chapel titled, God’s Servants are Overcomers! Colbert elementary students in grades K-5 participated in a read-a-thon reading a combined total of 76,024 minutes in a 12-day period. Five NWCS high school students qualified to compete at the Future Business Leaders of America National Leadership Conference in June. Congratulations!

“Eden faces challenges every day. But now, as she learns to utilize her tools independently and confidently, she becomes her own advocate and can embrace her challenges and excel. She’s developed a new love of learning!” Annika appreciates that Northwest Christian’s program helps students realize what they are capable of. They grow in their confidence and become independent learners. And the support isn’t just for students, it’s there for parents too, with education to help them understand and support their child’s learning style. For Annika, one of the greatest things is seeing how Eden is now helping her peers. “For kids, it’s very powerful when they realize they’re not the only ones; they see there are others using some of the same assistive technology on their iPads and computers.” As a 6th grader, some of the younger girls look up to Eden and she is able to help them.

“She’s having an impact, and this is empowering.” Annika and Brian describe Northwest Christian’s Learning Center as a gift. “The power of one-on-one instruction, especially in a godly environment that addresses the whole child, is invaluable.

As their class project, Colbert preschool students had the top selling item in the Gathered in Gratitude benefit auction. To celebrate, students got to spray preschool director, Jennie Atkins, with Silly String.

Colbert and Cedar elementary principal, Mrs. Barbara Tusant is retiring at the end of this school year. She has served NWCS for 31 years as both a teacher and administrator.

DID YOU KNOW? Northwest Christian offers a unique gift as it advocates for the child and supports parents and teachers, building a deeper sense of community all for the glory of God.”

“I can’t imagine how different and difficult Eden’s experience would have been. She had a need, and the Lord knew.”


“Northwest Christian School’s Learning Center program was just what Eden needed.”

The Cedar campus opened a licensed childcare in November. The middle school participated in a live action Human Clue event designed by 8th grade teacher Lydia Kinne and her leadership class. It was Mr. Green (Mr. Ferguson), in the kitchen, with the candlestick!


The Cedar campus Literacy Center currently supports 12 school families and 26 students from the community with literacy intervention and assistance.

The class of 2021 is proud to graduate its 47 high school seniors and five homeschool seniors. Congratulations!

Zachariah Johnson & Theo Turner recognized as Spokesman-Review Notable Seniors NWCS senior Zac Johnson is a hard worker, starting his own landscape business to help provide for himself and contribute to his education. He also does concrete work. Zac is captain of the cross country team and is already sworn in to the Washington Army National Guard with plans of serving his country. Because of the many obstacles he’s overcome, he’s learning to take nothing for granted and is determined to rise above his circumstances. Congratulations, Zac! We are proud of you!

NWCS Homeschool senior Theo Turner is passionate about being a cowboy. He wears boots, jeans, a button-up western shirt, and a cowboy hat if he can. In February he had his fifth brain surgery to remove a malformation in the blood vessels, or arteriovenous malformation, in his brain. Despite a stay in ICU, he didn’t slow down for long, returning to school shortly after to finish his work. On May 15 he graduated with the other four seniors in the Northwest Christian Homeschool class of 2021. Theo plans to work on a ranch as he excitedly looks toward his next step as a full-blown cowboy. Congratulations, Theo! We are proud of you!

Celebrating Academic Achievement Congratulations to senior Taylor Swanson who was named the Northwest Christian High School Spokane World Language Scholar. Taylor earned a 4th place Spokane Scholars Award and an individual scholarship in the amount of $1000 recognizing her as one of Spokane County’s top four students in this academic area. The Spokane Scholars Foundation honors the top students from each of Spokane County’s public and private high schools in a variety of academic disciplines. Northwest Christian’s additional 2021 Spokane Scholars include: Naomi Knudtson, Jessica Coriell, Chiara Carey, Zoe Li, Isabella Tibbetts.

A Few of Our Favorite Things


“I love NWCS because we get to study about God in every subject, not just Bible class. The teachers challenge us to measure everything with the Bible as our guide. Not just in what we are learning, but also things we encounter in our friendships and our homes, too.” NATHAN BALDWIN, 8TH GRADE

“I am grateful for a community that puts Jesus at the heart of everything and bands together to support more than just student academic growth, but also ensure family connection and support.” CHELSEA GINDER, 1ST GRADE LEAD TEACHER, CEDAR CAMPUS

“As a parent, one of my favorite things about NWCS is the prayer and intention that has gone into educating my children. The sensitivity to them and our family as well as a willingness to collaborate to help each child succeed has been such a life-giving experience.” MONICA PORTER, PARENT, CEDAR CAMPUS

“It’s been an awesome place for our family because it’s not only a Christian school, but also a Christian family!” RANDY WRIGHT, FACILITIES DIRECTOR

“I love NWCS because you grow in relationship with your teachers which enhances how you learn and increase in your understanding and knowledge.” LINDSEY BALDWIN, 11TH GRADE

“My favorite part of going to school because it’s my favorite to be with Ms. Bree and Mrs. Mackenzie. They’re my favorite teachers in the whole wide world. I like to play with my friends all the time and I can’t forget them because they’re the bravest and strongest.” GRACE FRIEDLY, PRESCHOOL

“I am grateful for the godly men and women who work as support staff at Northwest Christian, sacrificing and serving our school in ways few will ever know or appreciate. Their dedication to this school is a significant reason why we are able to fulfill our commitment to provide biblical, vibrant, and relational education to students every day.” CHRIS WELLS, HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL

“My favorite thing about NWCS is that I can talk about my faith freely and I have great teachers who guide me and make learning interesting and fun.”

“My teachers truly care about me. They teach and mentor me from the Bible in all my subjects. I am blessed to attend NWCS!”




“I’m thankful that Christ is at the center of everything.”

Meet Bob.

He takes care of maintenance and more at the Colbert Elementary School Campus.

Bob Brown came out of retirement to take a job at Northwest Christian Schools.

“I have the best job in the world!” he says.

Bob Brown spent 25 years on the police force in Phoenix, Arizona. While living in Phoenix, he and his wife, Icela, sent their two children to a school named Northwest Christian. It seemed only natural when, in 2014, they retired to Spokane and chose another school named Northwest Christian for their children, Matthew and Clarisa. “Ironically enough, one of Matthew’s teachers at Northwest Christian in Phoenix was an alum of Northwest Christian in Spokane,” Bob said. Even though the schools have no relation other than sharing the same name, it was that connection that first introduced Bob and Icela to Northwest Christian Schools. “We retired here and enrolled the kids in 9th and 5th grade.” Not long after, both Bob and Icela started volunteering at the school. “She helped at the front desk a few times a week and I helped kids with math. Bob’s math tutoring turned into a Bible study and soon he was doing Bible study on campus with students a few times a week.

In 2015 Bob was hired as a custodian for the Colbert Elementary School Campus. The job turned out a little differently than he expected, morphing into a hodgepodge of facilities, security, and maintenance.

“Basically, I do a little of everything.” “Everything” for Bob includes fixing what’s broken, ensuring doors are locked and the campus is safe, and making sure rooms are cleaned and set up. It also includes spending time with students. “I like to acknowledge them, to have fun with them.”

For Bob this means knowing each student by name. He greets them every morning as they get out of cars in the carpool line. He does it again at the end of the day, helping each student safely get to their parent’s car.

A typical day might find Bob setting up the lunchroom or hauling the recycling. It might also include students saying, “Hi Mr. Bob,” or excitedly asking him to autograph their hands. Whatever the day holds, Bob will be smiling and engaging with coworkers, parents, and students. “When I was in the police force, we worked in the housing projects. We would play basketball with the kids and just be present. We’d acknowledge them and interact with them. Sometimes kids can feel ignored by adults. I want to be a positive male presence.” The Northwest Christian School community has also been a positive presence for Bob.

In 2017 his wife, Icela was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. The school community came around them in prayer and support, providing meals and driving Icela to treatment. They continue to support Bob and the kids since Icela’s passing in 2018. “Northwest Christian is like part of my family. I love interacting with employees, students, and families. I love working in a Christian environment where you don’t have to hide your Christianity.”

“I love this community.”

And this community loves Bob!


Performing for an Audience of One Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Theater director, Rick Taylor, incorporates the school mission by believing that students can use the gifts and talents that God has given them to glorify Him in an act of worship. He helps students understand that they are performing for God and His glory. The pandemic caused three major shows across all grade levels to be shut down. Gratefully, a modified, hybrid platform (in-person and livestream) musical was produced this spring, including students from grades 6-12: HONK! The Musical. It was a lively retelling of the story of the ugly duckling. HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS PERFORMING IN HONK! THE MUSICAL.

Look for a production of Newsies in the spring of 2022.

Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with lute and harp! Praise Him with tambourine and dance; praise Him with strings and pipe! Praise Him with sounding cymbals; praise Him with loud clashing cymbals! Psalm 150:3-5 For band teacher Tom Brown, Psalm 150 sums up his philosophy of teaching. Music is a form of worship and there are over 1000 verses in the Bible that refer to singing and using instruments as worship. Northwest Christian was one of the only schools in the state to have band all year during the pandemic. This blessing was particularly evident when Mr. Brown and his 6th-8th grade band students took first place in their division at the Silverwood Music in the Parks Festival in Athol, Idaho in May. Congratulations Crusaders!


“I was able to grow here.”

Alumna Jordan Seiersen shares how Northwest Christian prepared her for college and equipped her with a sense of belonging. Now she brings that full circle by giving back to current students.

Jordan Seiersen transferred to Northwest Christian Schools as an 8th grader. In high school, Jordan became involved in academic clubs, theater and choir, earned a spot on the chapel worship team, and in student leadership. “I loved being a student here,” she says. “Even though I hadn’t gone to Northwest since kindergarten like many of my classmates, I had an instant community and found an amazing group of friends.” A big reason for this was teacher and theater director, Mr. Rick Taylor. “There was a group of us that just connected with him. We all used to eat lunch in his classroom every day.” After graduating from Northwest Christian in 2015, Jordan attended Whitworth University, majoring in art with a minor in visual communication and general business. “I felt incredibly prepared for college. There were about 9 or 10 of us from the same class at NWCS who went to Whitworth and we all felt very prepared. We knew how to study, and we knew what was needed to be a successful and prepared student. Those skills were just the standard at Northwest Christian.” Today Jordan uses her skills as the graphic designer and marketing coordinator for Northwest Christian Schools. “It’s kind of funny,” she says, “how some of my former teachers are now my colleagues.” One of those is Rick Taylor, who continues to direct the theater program. She also runs her own freelance graphic design business, and serves in various capacities at her church. Every spring, the NWCS theater students perform a musical. Since she graduated, Jordan has been right there. “Rick asked me if I’d be willing to help and for the past six years I have been able to serve alongside my friends and former classmates as stage manager.


I love spending time with students, seeing them have a similar experience to mine. Community and camaraderie are still a big part of the theater department. It has been a privilege to experience it from the other side.” Reflecting on her years as a student, Jordan sums it up like this, “Northwest Christian was a foundational time for me. I was able to grow here in ways I otherwise might not have, specifically in my interpersonal relationships and in my relationship with Jesus. Northwest also instilled in me a love for learning, helping me see things I wanted to grow in, like art and design. I never imagined my career would include working here, but the Lord has blessed me in unexpected ways and I’m grateful.” To see more about alumni, and read more stories of belonging, visit: nwcs.org/alumni

Competition at Last!

Pandemic restrictions may have altered schedules, but they couldn’t alter spirit! All Northwest Christian athletic teams competed this year, celebrating perseverance, teamwork, personal bests, championship games, and the spirit that is Northwest Christian.

NWCS Girls Softball NE2B District Champions

Team Awards*

Congratulations to our Fall All Opponent Team Members!

• • • • • • •

Volleyball – 3rd place in League Girls Soccer – 3rd place in League Cross Country – 4th place in League Softball – 1st place NE2B District Tournament Boys Soccer – 2nd place NEA District Tournament Boys Baseball – 2nd place NE2B District Tournament Boys Track & Field – 6th place NE2B District Meet Girls Track & Field – 7th place NE2B District Meet

Due to the pandemic, all state tournaments were cancelled this year. Senior Taylor Swanson 1st place and school record in the Pole Vault at 9 feet

• • •

Football – Aaron House, Jonny Lester, & Zach Patrick Volleyball – Eden Clemmer and Makenzie Nelson Girls Cross Country –Naomi Knudtson Boys Cross Country – Ben Graham & Nate Pranter

Visit the NEW

nwcathletics.org for all athletics information, awards, streaming, photos, and more! *Basketball and wrestling seasons are ongoing at the time of printing. Visit the above site to find up-to-date stats and info.

Congratulations to all!

From the Heart How would you sum up your first full year? What have you been most grateful for or found most surprising?

With the pandemic and resulting health protocols, this year has been very challenging for all. Nothing has been predictable and certainly not consistent with a typical academic year. This has allowed us the opportunity to really look closely at our approach. What value do we bring to students as an academic community? I have been incredibly grateful for in-person learning and for the way our school community, faculty, staff, students and parents have adapted and adjusted to make it possible. I’ve also realized that the absence of some of the regular social activities and experiences we’re used to is requiring us to be more intentional in our approach to foster relationship within our community moving forward. On a personal note, at the end of my first full year, I’ve felt overwhelmingly welcomed into this community. Not just me, Patty and 12th grader, Brady, too. I’ve enjoyed a great year of getting to know faculty, staff, students and families. The caliber of the community we have here, particularly in the way it is expressed through the connection and care of our students by teachers and staff, is greater than any other school I’ve served in.

Q & A WITH YOUR HEAD OF SCHOOLS ROGER GERSTENBERGER Can you give us three words to describe what being part of Northwest Christian Schools means to you?

Serving, collaborating, and fulfilling. For me leadership is serving–serving our students, families, faculty and staff. Collaborating together to nurture and grow this Christian educational community that we have. And finally fulfilling God’s purposes and vision for this organization and also preparing and equipping students to fulfill the purpose God has on their own unique lives.

What are you learning by working at NWCS?

I’m learning a new reliance on the Lord. Not to rely on my own understanding or my trust in ways that have worked in the past. Rather, the Lord is asking me to place every decision before Him. (Continued on back)

You’re only as strong as the foundation on which you’re built. What do you appreciate about NWCS’ history and those who have come before you?

One thing I have been very impressed with is that this school has an amazing legacy for a K-12 school. This speaks very highly of the leaders who have come before me. There are generations of strong family threads woven through this institution, and I love that. This school was built on a foundation of prayer and the centrality of Christ and that has continued to sustain it and will support the future things the Lord wants to accomplish here. This is an incredibly generous community. The support of NWCS through prayer, the giving of time, and the giving of financial resources is just incredible. HEAD OF SCHOOLS ROGER GERSTENBERGER AND HIS WIFE PATTY

What’s one hope you have for the NWCS community?

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year?

How can we be praying for NWCS? For you personally?

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. In this book on leadership, Sinek, who is not a believer, applies spiritual principals to how we value people and organizations. He argues that success should not be measured by short term wins and losses, but by purpose and values that span time.

My hope is that every student and every family that is a part of this community feels like they belong here.

The enemy hates Christian education. Outside of the church and family, Christian schools stand alone as caretakers of spiritual and godly character development in young lives. We need to be praying for protection. We need God’s blessing on this important mission to help students discover their true identity in Christ. For me personally, pray that I would lead, love, and serve well in fulfilling God’s purposes for this community.

Do you have a favorite verse or passage of Scripture?

Our school verse this year is Jeremiah 17:7-8. This has become one of my favorite verses. The phrase, ‘whose trust is the Lord,’ speaks to me personally. This is a verse about having deep faith that is tied to the sustaining power of God. It’s a picture of the Lord’s provision.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. NWCS school verse, 2020-2021

A book you recommend?

A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. It’s one of my favorite books on leadership and I believe one that every Christian leader should read. It looks at brokenness through the lives of Saul, David, and Absalom. I try to read it every year because it grounds me.

What are some of your family’s favorite Spokane activities?

Do you have any hobbies, or pastimes you enjoy?

Again, this would be anything outdoors. I did recently join an adult co-ed soccer league. We play games on Sunday afternoons. It’s pretty fun and usually, after playing on Sunday, I can walk again by Wednesday.

What’s something we would be surprised to learn about you?

I love to cook! Patty and I enjoy having people over for dinner and I often do all the cooking while Patty whips up some amazing dessert. I also like to write. It’s something I started long ago, writing poetry for Patty. I even started writing a book years ago on the heart. I don’t know, maybe there’s a book in me somewhere in the future.

We love to be outdoors! Hiking, camping, exploring the beauty around Spokane. During the winter, Patty and I did a lot of snowshoeing and I did a lot of skiing with our three boys. Pretty much anything that gets us outdoors.

None of this would be possible without YOU. Thank you for all you do to support Northwest Christian Schools. For all Northwest Christian Schools information or to make an online gift, please visit our website.


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