Dr. Milt Uecker serves as our Lower School Instructional Coach. He provides ongoing staff development and assistance to WCCS teachers and administration in fulfilling a classroom in which students learn to think, problem solve, develop a love for learning and prepare to discover God's purpose for their lives in a modern world. Dr. Uecker has an Ed.D in Elementary Education and Administration from the University of Virginia. Previously, he has served as the Director of the Early Childhood Program at Regent University and Professor of Early Childhood at Columbia International University. He also served as the Dean of the College of Education and the Dean of the Graduate School at CIU. Bringing a high level of expertise to the conversation, for this week's blog, we thought we would have him briefly share his thoughts about what parents should be looking for in a quality Kindergarten program as they investigate options for their children.
A former colleague of mine at Regent University used to say, “We can “program” a child to excel in anything through repeated experience, but it is always at the cost of something else.” The classic example is creativity. No one argues with the fact that little children are creative and yet research has shown that by the second grade creativity seems to wane. Why? Because often in the conventional classroom, creativity is replaced with seeking after one “right” answer, and inventiveness is replaced with “Teacher, what do you want?” Academic and professional success is and will increasingly be dependent on the ability to think, communicate, solve problems, and persevere. In the near future, our children will be solving problems and working in careers that currently don’t even exist. Therefore, we must engage them in an early education that regularly provides these types of experiences.
The ability to create, think and problem solve are viewed as essential 21st century skills, and yet, these skills are often devalued within classrooms where rote recall, one right answer, and drill and practice take center stage. The brain is shaped through experiences, and the brain that “goes to school” is hardwired and in place by the age of five. If creativity is to blossom, then opportunities to be creative must abound. If communication skills are to be developed, then classrooms must provide new experiences that require thinking and the expression of thought through oral communication. In other words, curiosity, engagement, and thinking must be encouraged and practiced. As image-bearers of Christ, all children have potential in these areas, but without encouragement and use during the critical preschool years, children are likely to fall short of their full potential.
At Westminster Catawba Christian School, our developmental approach to learning centers on the education of the whole child—mental, social, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Every aspect of the child is viewed as equally important. From the perspective of a biblical worldview, the ability to create, communicate, and solve problems is part of the child’s very nature. These cognitive attributes reflect what it means to be made in the image of God. Additionally, a developmental education values the dimensions of cognitive development that extend beyond merely knowing.
At WCCS, our Early Childhood program is both developmentally appropriate and provides experiences that lay the foundation for future success. As we continue to work together, let us continue to enable children to “keep on increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.” (Luke 2:52)
In this week's blog, WCCS School Chaplain, Jake Tassy, has a special invitation to WCCS families, students, and friends to join us over Christmas break in preparing our hearts for our spiritual emphasis week, REFUEL! There is also an opportunity for you to help us bless our local community! Check it out below!
I love Christmas traditions. Each year, my wife Katie and I get our kids an ornament marking something that either happened or was symbolic of their year. The ornaments have ranged from silly to serious but are always a reminder and an opportunity to reflect on God’s constant presence in our family’s life. One year, we had bats in our attic – right above my daughter’s room! We found out that bats are a protected species and we had to wait for them to finish nesting and naturally leave the attic by a one-way tube put in by our exterminator. As you can imagine, hearing baby bats practicing their take-offs and landings on the attic floor was a fun bedtime ordeal! We eventually got the hole closed after about 3 months. Guess what ornament my daughter received that year? Yep, a bat! I wanted it to serve as a silly reminder to her that God protected her and calmed her fears while those bats were partying above her head. My kiddos are close to the age that when they end up spreading their own wings and leaving the house, they can take all of their ornaments with them. We are almost there with our first child. Time flies.
Our spiritual emphasis week, REFUEL, will be Wednesday, January 8 – Friday, January 10 when we return from Christmas break. Much like my giving of different ornaments to my children, my hope is that when we do events like these, it will cause a spiritual Ebenezer, or sign post – an ornament in the lives of our students that they will always remember. I invite you to join us during these 3 days and to begin praying right now that hearts will be impacted and lasting change created in the lives of our students. UPWARD. INWARD.ONWARD is the Refuel moto again this year. WPC Worship Director, Ryan Thomas, will be leading us UPWARD in worship. Lead Pastor, Joe Davis from Grace Life in Sarasota, FL will be providing INWARD teaching using the story of David as well as his own personal testimony. He will be discussing the connection between repentance, confession, and closeness to Jesus. In addition, for the ONWARD portion of Refuel week, the Upper School will be holding a food drive for the Catawba Terrace Care Center and the Lower School will be collecting items for the Salvation Army Warming Center. I invite you all to bring in as many nonperishable goods as possible so we can reach out and bless some families in the local community. You can click on the links below for a list of needed items.
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas as we are reminded that HE HAS COME (& will return again)! In the hustle and bustle of life, may we find complete JOY THAT He did come. Phil. 2:2 says “…then make my joy complete by being one mind, having the same love, being united in spirit and purpose.” To that end, please join me in prayer and expectation for Jesus to show up during Refuel week!
At WCCS, we believe there is no better way to show the love of Christ to our local community than to roll up our sleeves and be the "hands and feet" of Jesus. For this reason, our faculty and staff are intentional about incorporating service into our curriculum and making it an everyday part of school life, classroom discussions, lessons, and activities.
We have had several great service projects recently at both the upper and lower school. Our seniors traveled to the Bethel Men's Warming Center as part of their fall senior service day in October and just last week, our Varsity Soccer Team served at Samaritan's Purse, helping to box up 50K shoebox gifts to be sent to the countries of Colombia and Peru. Before Thanksgiving, 4th graders spent some time serving at a local soup kitchen and participating in our "Box City" project. The week prior, another group of lower school students stuffed pillows for cancer patients and spent some time writing notes of encouragement and praying for these families.
Parents, did you know that Christ has called you to be a family "on mission?" As a school, it is our hope that serving others would become a way of life for our students - that they would truly seek to bless those around them as they notice needs arise in their own families and community. For this week's blog, we have invited 4th grade teacher, Jessica Coulter, to share her thoughts on how you can allow God to use your family to impact the world for Christ.
This week launches the first week of Advent… a time to draw closer to Christ as we prepare to celebrate His birth as well as His second coming. As we draw closer to Him, how can we as families join Him in His mission of sharing His story of redemption with the world? From His birth in a humble stable to His death on a rustic cross and ultimately His resurrection, Christ lived in mission with His family; His earthly family as well as His extended family, a group of tax collectors, fishermen, and women who ultimately would change the world by living out His Father’s mission to be the light in the darkness. As you see the lights of Christmas around you this season, look for ways to be that light in the darkness by sharing His love and joining Him in His mission!
Since God is the creator of the family unit and calls us to live missionally, what does living as a family on mission actually look like? It looks like living out our everyday lives for Him in such a way that we share His love with those around us by simply living life with Him and others… wherever He places us… on the playground for a playdate, at the ballet studio, on the soccer field, and around the dinner table. To help live out this missional calling, it might help to think about the things that families on mission have in common.
Families on Mission look for ways to share Christ in the everyday moments. That might include a few more people around the dinner table sharing in a meal… a few more kiddos in the carpool for moms and dads to help each other in the busyness of life…. or a few more teenagers invited to a special outing as a way to use every moment as a discipleship moment.
Families on Mission look for ways to serve together… regardless of age. Serving together might include making no-sew blankets or blessing bags for the homeless… packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child… picking out food at the grocery store together to donate to a local food shelter… and more! Talk as a family and see what God lays on your hearts to do together!
Families on Mission look for ways to share God’s love to those around them through simple acts of kindness. These simple acts of kindness could include raking leaves for a neighbor who might be unable to do so, making cookies for the local fire station, making cards for the retirement home… the opportunities are endless!
Families on Mission share the story that God is writing in their own lives with each other. They share what He is doing in their hearts with those around them by sharing their joys and struggles and in doing so offer encouragement to other families who might be celebrating or struggling as well.
Families on Mission live authentic life together in community. Just like Christ ate with His disciples, spent time with His disciples, and prayed with His disciples, He asks us to do the same with those around us. As parents, how do we live authentic life with our children as well as other families in our circles? As a school family, how do we extend the invitation to other families in our classrooms to live authentic life as well?
Jesus changed the world over 2000 years ago by living life in mission with His extended family. He is continuing to change the world today in that same way. He invites us to join in sharing His story with the world… by living closely with Him as we live everyday lives in the family in which God has placed us. How will your family change the world around you this Christmas season by joining Him in His mission of spreading the light of hope, peace, joy, and love in the darkness of the world around us? He is going to use your family in amazing ways and in the process change not only the world around you but the hearts of your own family as well!