A couple of weeks ago, WCCS had the privilege of hosting the first annual Educational Therapists of the Carolinas mini-conference. Some of our speakers shared some great information about how to understand the 21st century learner and become more aware of some of the negative effects technology and social media can have on a student’s brain development.
At WCCS, we understand that there are many benefits to using technology appropriately in the classroom, and even believe that it can be used to connect with and reach others for Christ. However, there is powerful research showing that it must be effectively monitored and balanced with more traditional forms of learning - such as reading and having meaningful interactions with teachers. This week, we have asked WCCS Educational Therapist and EXCEL Teacher, Beverley Furrow, to share some insight from conference speaker, Dawn Poulterer Woods to help us all understand and guide our 21st century learners more effectively in school and at home.
The Negative Impact Screen Time Has on Executive Functioning of the Brain: research has shown that social media and gaming are impacting children and adolescent brain development, particularly in the way of executive functioning – this is the area responsible for enabling your student to plan, organize and complete tasks. It is also responsible for regulating emotions and self-monitoring. The part of the brain that houses executive functioning is the frontal lobe, the same part of the brain that is the last to fully develop. When students attempt homework or other cognitive functions while also texting, snap chatting, or multi-tasking with other screen functions, the frontal lobe does not activate properly. Excessive screen time can also lead to Electronic Screen Syndrome (ESS), causing your student to have issues with mood, focus, sleep and behavior. Physicians are having an increasingly difficult time distinguishing between ADHD and ESS because the symptoms of each are so similar. Another interesting fact that researchers are discovering is that the smaller the screen size, the greater negative effect the screen activity has on the brain.
Cognitive Offloading: in today’s world, students literally have the world at their fingertips. This is advantageous in that they can explore and research topics quickly, however the ease to which students can retrieve facts from the internet can also inhibit their ability to think deeply on a topic and rely on memory and deep research rather than a search bar. The brain is a muscle and the less it has to work to retrieve information, the weaker and less skilled it will become at learning and performing.
The Dopamine Effect: The types of activities that are performed on screens release dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that is released into the brain and causes pleasure and arousal. This dopamine effect is what produces addictions, including social media and gaming. Research has shown that addictions formed during the teenage years are the hardest to break and can lead to a lifetime of future addiction problems. It is shocking to think that addiction to screen time has become so common among today’s youth that many are being sent to rehabilitation facilitates to regain freedom from these devices. Even if your child never has to go to a rehab facility, consider the effects technology addiction might be having on his or her ability to establish authentic relationships with their peers, teachers and siblings as well as the ability to develop effective communication skills.
Understanding the nature of how students have been created by God physiologically, psychologically, and emotionally, is essential in successfully educating the 21st century learner. As part of God’s intelligent design, developmental stages and readiness must be incorporated into the methods used for teaching and guiding today’s students. The point is not that all things related to screen time are bad. As in all things, the key is moderation. The activities of reading, daydreaming, unstructured play, and encouraging imagination seem a part of the past. Rekindling these skills is essential for today’s students and would bring about a healthier developmental environment for the 21st century learner.
Below are some tips for maintaining proper “screen health” for your 21st century learner.
Talk to your child or teen about the dangers of overuse of technology.
Delay smartphone and tablet use for young kids as long as possible.
Remove all smartphones from your child’s homework area.
Monitor the content and number of hours your child spends on social media throughout the week and set limits.
Have “screen-free zones” such as the dinner table, the morning and afternoon drive home, your student’s bedroom, etc.
For young kids, stop by the park on the way home from school and encourage physical, outdoor play with siblings or friends.
For adolescents, encourage participation in athletic teams, hobbies or service clubs after school.
Your student needs your help navigating the world of technology and social media in a Christ-honoring way. Their brains are simply not cognitively mature enough to resist the many temptations, pressures and distraction that smartphones and other technology devices pose. As Christian educators, we want to partner with you in sharing helpful information on this growing topic of discussion. For more resources on this topic, visit www.familiesmanagingmedia.com.
As parents, we think a lot about the future. We wonder if the decisions we are making today will best prepare our children for the futures in front of them, partly because we can not even grasp what life will be like for them decades from now. We desire above all else to have no greater joy than for them to walk in the truth and to discover and live out their places in God's world. But we aren't sure how to end up there. We know it takes the work of the Holy Spirit and we are praying to that end. We also know that our parenting matters.
If you are like me, you need all the help you can get. My wife Amy and I have needed to partner with the Christian school and the church in the raising of our four kids. And, I spent time over Christmas break with my oldest son and daughter-in-law talking about the support we received from these two communities and encouraged the same for them in the raising of their newborn son, Jay.
Christian education is a topic for which I am quite passionate, so much so that I was asked to participate in a podcast hosted by our church's denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America. As you know, we are currently in the middle of our priority re-enrollment period. I encourage you to take some time to listen to the following podcast at the link I have provided below and consider the value of a Christian education in the world our kids are living in today. It is my hope and prayer that you will continue to seek out your local church and WCCS as partners in raising your children, so that they are educated to bless our world as disciples of Jesus Christ!
At WCCS, it is our hope for our students to not only receive an excellent education, but to discover the God-given talents the Lord has given to each one of them, and in discovering those gifts, to use them to impact the world around them. When we connect classroom learning with service outside of the school walls, we give “hands and feet” to the concepts they are learning.
Service learning is incorporated into curriculum at both the upper and lower school. Just next week, our 4th graders will participate in our annual Box City project. Like most people, the students are accustomed to eating at restaurants and enjoying traditional Thanksgiving dinners to celebrate the holiday. However, on this day, the fourth graders will each bring in a large box and one blanket as well as a rain poncho or garbage bag in case of bad weather. The box is intended to be the student’s “home” and to give them the experience of celebrating the holidays as a less fortunate or homeless person might. Teachers and their students will discuss what they have learned, pray for the homeless and less fortunate, and write about their thoughts in an essay. On Tuesday, they will travel to a soup kitchen, where they will serve lunch to locals. This is just one great example of service learning at our lower school!
So far this year, we have had upper school students serving at the Salvation Army, the Children’s Attention Home, the Adult Enrichment Center, and Pilgrim’s Inn. Art students have done numerous service projects this year including completing art pieces for a local adoption agency and first responders as well as serving at a local church fall festival! Our Beta Club and National Honor Society have several service projects lined up for the remainder of the school year as well.
As parents, we know that you share this desire with us and long for your children to want to be a part of God’s work. It’s never too early or too late to begin cultivating the trait of servanthood in your child.
For this week’s blog, we have invited Nick Turner, Westminster Presbyterian Church Pastor of Families and Children, to share some practical ways in which you, as parents, might instill a sense of genuine servanthood into the hearts of your children.
“How do we teach our children to serve?” Good question, especially in a world that has us staying so busy. As a parent myself, I realize this firsthand. However, the impact that your influence has on your children is invaluable. There is no better way to spend time with your family than to volunteer together and not just during the holiday season, but year-round. Here are a few thoughts…
How Do We Teach Our Children to Serve?
Acknowledge your own struggle. Jesus redefined greatness as serving others in love (Mark 10:35-45). Serving is difficult. Serving with the right motivation even more so. On this side of eternity, our best service is imperfect. We must own our failure to serve, repent, and receive grace from the One who served us.
Model service for your child. While preaching on God’s design for family discipleship in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Matt Chandler said, “God’s design is so thorough, so good, that you are making disciples. The question is…What are you discipling them in?” Our children will learn to serve by watching us serve.
Keep it Simple. Teaching our children to serve does not require going on a mission trip or creating a fancy service project (though nothing is wrong with both). Simply evaluate where you are currently serving the Lord and bring your child along with you. For example, if you are delivering a meal to someone in your church have your child by your side.
Talk About It. Tell them along the way what you are doing and why you are doing it. Ask questions afterwards like, “How did it feel to serve that person?” or “What other ideas do you have to help others?” or “How do you feel when someone helps you?”
As you talk with your child, remind them that we do not serve Jesus to earn His love. Our service is a response to His love. In love, He laid down His life for us. We serve because He served us. PS – lay down the smartphone…no pictures or video. We are teaching our children that we serve for His glory alone, not for “likes” on an Instagram page.
Looking for ways you and your family might serve others in the Rock Hill community? Check out this comprehensive guide to serving in Rock Hill.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
As mid-term election day approaches this Tuesday, November 6, we thought we would have our 12th grade Government/Economics teacher, Deanne Regier, share some of her thoughts as to how Christians should rightly engage in politics in such a divided political climate.
For the past nine years, I have had the privilege of teaching the Government-Economics course to the WCCS 12th graders. To say the least, the current divided political climate has re-enforced my belief in treating others with kindness, respect and dignity. Regardless of what is happening on cable news networks or social media, class discussions and private conversations for Christians should be gracious and God-honoring. As Jesus states in Luke 6:43b, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (NIV). Therefore, our conversations, Tweets, posts and demeanor reflect our heart condition.
In an attempt to create a God-honoring classroom environment, I have four foundational beliefs that I implement in my class:
Christians historically have been on the forefront of politics and reform movements in this country. For example, the Second Great Awakening of the 19th century was a catalyst for the wide variety of movements: abolition, temperance, educational and social. Because of their love for God, Christians impacted their community for social and political change. Therefore, we, as Christians, should not disengage in this chaotic and vicious political culture. Instead, we should be more engaged. Each quarter, I require students to earn points from a variety of projects that encourage local involvement in politics and discourse. Students attend city council meetings or volunteer for political campaigns. We, as Christians, should engage in current events even more during this time of division and controversy as a “light” to a dark world (Luke 5:16).
Dishonoring a person cannot be permitted and must be openly challenged. So how does this manifest itself in the classroom setting? First, students are welcome to disagree with policies but cannot crush or disrespect a person. We actually practice how we should say something. Students cannot say, “I hate_____.” But they can say: “ I disagree with ____ policies for the following reasons.” Second, we should challenge “person-bashing” conversations and encourage the respecting of humans as created in the image of God in conversations and social media. If we say nothing, we in effect condone the comments. Finally, we can simply honor our leaders with the correct title. Simply adding “President” or “Secretary” or “Senator” can show this person respect. Our words have meaning!
Condemning someone based on hearsay or rumors without due process, rule of law or respected journalistic practices cannot be allowed. Therefore, only approved news sources are allowed to be quoted in class and used in research. Of course, I encourage students to analyze differing perspectives (i.e. FoxNews and CNN) but encourage thoughtful interpretation of the presentation and content.
Since God is far above our simple understanding of Democrat and Republican Party, God cannot be limited to a certain party. I start each year by saying, “God is not a Republican. God is not a Democrat. He is far above our political chaos.” As Tim Keller, founder of the Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New York City, wrote, “While believers can register under a party affiliation and be active in politics, they should not identify the Christian church or faith with a political party as the only Christian one.” (Editorial in New York Times, September 29, 2018) We are commanded as Christians to love your neighbor and defend the rights of the oppressed. But how we “love” and “defend” is open to interpretation.
As I state in my course syllabus, the primary goal of WCCS’s Economics-Government course is to “develop a passion for civic and economic responsibilities as Christians in an international community.” Even though I want my students to be passionate about government and economics that isn’t my primary goal as an educator. My prayer for my students is that they see our hope is not in this government, administration, tax policy, healthcare system or any other current hot-topic. Our hope is in an eternal Heavenly Father who has a purpose and plan for our country and its leadership. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are citizens of the kingdom of Heaven over which Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. We relate to our country as citizens of Christ’s kingdom and direct our actions to please Him. Rest assured -- God is still in charge.
We encourage our families to go out and vote next week in the election! Take your students with you and be sure to have some thoughtful conversation about how we, as Christians, have the opportunity and responsibility to honor our Savior in the political arena and point others towards His grace and hope.
Occasionally, we like to provide resources and articles that might be helpful to you as parents. In this week’s blog, we have asked Michelle Embry, Upper School Assistant Principal, to share some pointers about teaching boys and helping them manage their stress at home and school. We plan to address the special needs of girls in a future blog.
In the book, Writing the Playbook: A Practitioner’s Guide to Creating a Boy-Friendly School, author Kelley King offers many great nuggets regarding how to create positive instructional experiences as well as important ideas about dealing with young men in times of conflict and/or discipline. As I continued through this book, I realized that many of the ideas that the author presented in an effort of facilitating a “boy-friendly” environment in the classroom, are concepts that could be helpful to parents of young men as well. Here are a few tips taken from a section on discipline, particularly when the young man’s behavior may have created a stressful situation:
Ideas dealing with Stress:
Don’t ask a boy “What were you thinking?” right after an emotional or stressful incident. He wasn’t thinking; he was reacting.
Allow boys time to cool off after a stressful incident. A drink of water can reduce stress.
When it’s time to talk, go for a walk. The physical movement lowers stress and increases blood flow to the brain.
Talk to boys privately. Do not lecture or punish them publicly. It will seriously damage the boys’ trust in you if he is embarrassed in front of his peers.
Emotion is dominant over cognition. Identify and help resolve student stress so attention can return to learning.
Another category that I found particularly helpful in the classroom that you can also re-enforce at home was a section regarding how to help boys stay organized. Below are some great strategies for helping your boy complete assignments at home:
Ideas dealing with Organization
Insist your boy consults his planner while working on homework.
Remind him to keep his binder organized according to the structure the teacher has advised.
Advise your boy to keep homework in a consistent location where he can easily locate it to turn it in the next day.
Follow up with boys; don’t let them slip through the cracks. Follow up to make sure he is turning in assignments and understands the importance of homework. Too many boys are okay with taking a zero.
I have no indication that the author is a believer, yet this person has done loads of research and has used the research to support her belief that young men can thrive in a school setting when educators provide an environment that supports who they are and how they are wired as young men. Also, let me say that although this particular study was aimed at helping boys reach their full potential in the classroom, it doesn’t mean all of this isn’t valuable and conducive for our female learners as well. Interestingly, these findings completely support how the Lord God would have us to relate to all of those in our circle of influence--peers and little ones alike. It is important to honor the student/child as a person of dignity and worth and be careful to do nothing to strip away his/her dignity.
Enjoyed this blog and looking for more parenting tips? We desire to partner with you as parents. Our Lower School Principal, Sandi Jolly, is continuing to offer Love and Logic training through the month of November. This training provides practical tools for parents in such areas as providing limits, teaching responsibility, consequences, and healthy decision making. It utilizes story-telling, humor, hope and empathy to build the adult-child relationship. Check out the brochures and calendars below for more information!
In this week's blog, Joanna Swofford, our EXCEL Director, shares a moment she had observing some of her staff recently that really gets to the heart of what makes a WCCS education exceptional. Read on!
I wanted to share with you all an encounter that I had with our WCCS exceptional ed team at the lower campus the other day, because I think it is so characteristic of what makes a “WCCS education” so distinctive.
I was sitting with three women who—combined-- have 90 years of experience in education. They were asking each other for advice and sharing the recent failed attempts they were working through in trying to facilitate learning. 90 years of experience, and they didn’t have the answers. 90 years of experience, and they were perfectly at ease with seeing ideas not work, not having answers, and looking to each other for insight. I was touched with their humility and dedication to the calling, and most importantly to the success of their students. They were not going to give up on working through the messy until the students could shine. During that meeting, I saw them LEAN IN to our Lord and Savior as they worked together for His Children. What a difference this makes in the education of YOUR child! I thought I would share a few other distinctives that I have noticed over the years of my serving here at WCCS.
A Westminster Catawba Christian School education is:
Christ-centered – whether our teachers are instructing students in math and science, to art and social studies, every part of a WCCS education is taught from a Biblical worldview. Students are taught to think critically in every subject and encouraged to know and support why they believe what they believe.
Led by Experienced, Christ-Called Teachers – Our faculty members are well-trained and meet ACSI and AdvancED certification requirements and over 43% have advanced degrees. More so, I have seen first-hand that each of our WCCS educators strive to see that there is no greater joy than to hear our children are walking in the truth (3 John 4) by pointing students to Christ as they teach through each subject area, desiring that students find and pursue their God-given and individual callings.
Focused on the Individual – It has been exciting for me to see WCCS teachers brainstorm together and be willing to try different and new strategies when working with individual students. They work hard to see that each student finds and discovers his or her unique path to learning and God-given strengths.
Grace-filled – WCCS strives to make the learning environment one in which students are shown God’s redeeming love-- through every learning situation, recess, chapel, and disciplinary moment. We realize that only when our teachers and administrators operate from a place of grace can our classrooms become a place of learning where true and lasting change can take place in the hearts of our students and God’s will shine through in their lives.
Whether you are a teacher, special educator, parent, or student, God has every one of our steps numbered and stays right beside us—especially when we get off track. Each day, when we are blessed with the opportunity of another day, He’s eager for us to get up and do something with it. We may not always have the answers, or many times, even the questions, but we do have each other. We do what we can, lean in to Him when we stumble, recognize failed attempts as opportunities to try something else, and work our way through it—together!
As many of you may remember, last spring, our lower school faculty members were privileged to work with Dr. Milt Uecker, an instructional consultant and coach. This was brought on by our desire to continue to improve and establish a strong foundation for mathematics. Teachers were provided with in-service opportunities, demonstration lessons, teacher observation and curriculum alignment across the grades. Dr. Uecker has been brought on staff for the 2018-2019 school year, and we thought we would let him introduce himself and his new role with you in this week's blog!
It was my privilege to serve WCCS last year, and I am thrilled to come on board part time in a school that is committed to providing classrooms where 21st century knowledge and skills are not just talked about but are becoming a reality! The lower school's desire is to take an already exceptional group of teachers and enable them to continue to grow professionally.
The children may have talked about someone’s “grandfather” teaching them math. That is because I am beginning my 50th year in Christian Schools. During that time I taught in all of the elementary grades, was administrator of a Pre-K through fourth grade elementary school, served as program director for early childhood at Regent University and finally as the Dean of the College of Education and the Graduate School at Columbia International University. My doctorate is in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in early childhood from the University of Virginia. My wife Linda and I have three sons and nine grandchildren. Two of our sons, along with their families, live in Indian Trail, NC and the third is in Waco, Texas.
What exactly does an instructional coach do?
According to the PA Institute for Instructional Coaching, an instructional coach is “ someone whose chief professional responsibility is to bring evidence-based practices into classrooms by working with teachers and other school leaders… instructional coaching involves two people: the classroom teacher and the coach. Coaches work one-on-one and in small groups with teachers, providing guidance, training, and other resources as needed. Together, they focus on practical strategies for engaging students and improving their learning.” (Retrieved on August 18, 2018 from http://piic.pacoaching.org/index.php/piic-coaching/what-is-an-instructional-coach).
As instructional coach my goal is to:
Shift the role of the teacher from telling to asking as a means of facilitating thinking within the classroom
Develops strategies that promote active engagement as opposed to passivity on the part of students
Promote understanding as opposed to memorization and simple recall of information
See that students have a positive attitude toward school and their role as a learner
Continue to develop math teachers that are confident, effective and enthusiastic when teaching math
Assist in providing a successful transition to a newly updated science curriculum
Assure that all students, as image bearers of God, have a greater opportunity to reach their fullest potential as they prepare to serve God and glorify Him.
I look forward to meeting you and interacting with you throughout the year as we together strive to bring up and “educate your students to bless our world as disciples of Jesus Christ.”
With the fall season quickly approaching, I wanted to take a minute to talk about the benefits of getting your student involved in the wide range of not just athletic opportunities, but fine arts and service opportunities at WCCS. These after school activities can enrich your child’s school experience, help them perform better in class, and even enhance their relationship with Christ.
I recently came across an article from the National Federation of State High School Association (www.nfhs.org) that sparked my interest and wanted to share five great points that I believe speak to the benefits of student engagement outside of the classroom.
BETTER ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Some students might be hesitant to join a sports team or after school activity because they don’t want it to interfere with their grades. However, studies actually show that students who compete in high school activity programs such as sports, theater, and band have better educational outcomes, including higher grades, higher achievement test scores, and higher educational expectations beyond high school.
A study of this group of students showed that they “earned higher grades, graduated at a higher rate, dropped out of school less frequently, and scored higher on state assessments than did non-athletes.”
Participation in high school activities is a valuable part of the overall high school experience, enhancing students’ school engagement and sense of belonging.
A study looking at social adjustment in making the transition from middle school (8th grade) to high school (9th grade) found involvement in sports helped students with friendships during the transition. Continuous involvement in sports and other after school activities was associated with having more friendships.
More importantly, as they compete, perform, and serve together, students and athletes get to represent not only our school, but Christ to the surrounding community—impacting the world around them.
DEVELOPMENT OF POSITIVE LIFE SKILLS
Sports and fine arts activity programs promote positive youth development and provide opportunities for learning a number of life skills and values not typically taught in classroom education.
In a study looking at learning life skills through high school sports, a very diverse group of students participating in high school soccer reported learning skills related to initiative, respect, and teamwork/leadership.
A study of life skills developed through sports found that the process of participation and striving to win taught life skills such as discipline, work ethic, and emotional control.
Participation in the fine arts provides similar results. Students develop self-confidence and personal responsibility, experience enhanced communication skills, and learn to better time manage as they are required to use organizational skills and planning to get both schoolwork and after school activities completed.
Data shows that participation in school athletics was correlated with many positive educational achievements, behaviors and aspirations in the end of Grade 12 as well as two years later. The positive outcomes included “school grades, coursework selection, homework, educational and occupational aspirations, self-esteem, university applications, subsequent college enrollment, and eventual educational attainment.
A National Survey found that 18- to 25-year-olds who participate in sports activities while in high school were more likely than nonparticipants to be engaged in volunteering, voting, feeling comfortable speaking in public settings, and watching news.
It’s not just about college prep, either. We believe that God has gifted each student with a set of unique talents and abilities. Involvement in activities such as athletics, theater, praise band, MODEL UN, and others help students discover what these gifts are so they can carry them beyond their time at WCCS in preparation for an eternal service to our King!
POSITIVE CHRISTIAN MENTORS
At WCCS, our teachers and coaches act as Christian mentors to our students, pointing them to Christ in every situation. Players and performers play, pray and serve together alongside positive authority figures. It is our desire that through these opportunities, we teach students to use their gifts to glorify God and bless those around them.
If you have a student that is thinking about trying out for a sports team or other activity this year, encourage them! There are plenty of opportunities for greater involvement outside the classroom. I would love to speak with your student and help him or her figure out what gifts or abilities God has blessed them with. If athletics isn’t their thing, we have plenty of fine arts opportunities, service activities, and clubs to check out!
To end, as you talk to your student about the upcoming school year, in whatever they are involved with, encourage them to simply, “Be the light!” as I always say.
Ever wonder what it's really like to be a student at WCCS? We are continuing with our "Day in the Life" blog series where we give readers the opportunity to hear from one of our students on what it is like to learn, play, serve, and worship at WCCS! This week, International Student, Danbi Jung, shares what a typical day is like for her at the Upper School.
Before School (7:30 a.m.)
I arrive at school a little bit earlier than other students for praise band practice every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I play piano and Cajun, a type of box drum. I am glad that I can use the gifts God has given me to serve him in class chapel. I love when people praise God with us. This experience is so different from the other schools I’ve attended. When I decided to come to America, one of the main reasons I chose WCCS was because it was a strong Christian school.
First Period - AP Calculus (7:56 a.m.)
After the praise band practice, I take AP Calculus first period. Mrs. Kendrick, my math teacher, starts the class with prayer and board work exercises. Today, I took a quiz about the area of a curve in a graph.
Second Period - ESL (8:47 a.m.)
During second and third periods, I have ESL classes. I do my homework and ask some questions to Mr. Shaduk. He also helps me to study for tests.
Third Period - Bible Study (9:38 a.m.)
Every Tuesday during third period, ESL students meet with our counselor, Mrs. Sapp, to learn about the bible with a Bible study book. I always look forward to Tuesdays because this class is my favorite. Currently, we are learning about being humble, which is something I try to show with my actions.
Fourth Period & Fifth Period - AP Physics & Modern History (10:29 a.m.)
My 4th period is AP Physics. We do lots of lab activities. We have been using a special machine to measure the relationship between distance and time of different objects that we drop. After this class I have Modern World History.
Lunch - (12:07 a.m.)
After fourth and fifth periods, every high school student eats lunch. During lunch on Mondays and Wednesdays, I have model UN meetings. We research, study, and debate about countries’ international relations. Recently we attended a conference at Winthrop University. Almost every high school in the state of South Carolina participated in this conference, with each school representing different countries in a debate. I really liked this experience because it directly connects with what I want to do in the future. Options like these helped influence my decision to come to school here.
Sixth Period - English (12:41 p.m.)
In the sixth period English class, we are learning about schemes and tropes-- speech patterns that affect structure or impact meanings. My favorite scheme is an oxymoron. The class activity we did for review today was “seriously funny.”
Seventh Period - Band (1:32 p.m.)
I play saxophone in band during seventh period. This semester's theme is entertainment, so we play a lot of songs from movies such as "Jurassic Park" and "Rocky". Dr. Furrow said we are going to learn a second instrument, and I am very excited! I want to try flute and clarinet because those are what my grandparents play.
Eighth Period - Computer (2:23 p.m.)
In eighth period, I have computer class. Here I learn about business, how to use Excel and Word, and how to make an effective presentation. When I finish my work early, I can go to the media center and do research for other projects or finish my homework.
After School - (3:10 p.m)
After school, I have Student Council meetings every Wednesday. We plan for spirit weeks, dance parties, and many other school events. All students in STUCO participate so that we can have better events and make some good memories! I will especially not forget the Spirit Week we had. We dressed up like farmers, people from the 70's, and food. It was so much fun! Being in STUCO has helped me engage with my classmates at WCCS and have lots of fun experiences with my friends.
Home! (5:00 p.m.)
When I finally get “home” I do my homework with my 12-year-old host sister. She’s a competitive swimmer, and she encouraged me to join the school swim team. On weekends, our family loves to hike, camp, and do other outdoor activities. I love my host family because we just match! I’m so glad that I met them, and I’m thankful for how they have helped me adjust to American life. Sometimes, international students only spend one year at their host school, but I’m hoping to stay here with my school family and host family until I graduate. I love it here and could not see myself anywhere else!
Imagine for a minute that you are a delegate to the United Nations tasked with representing your country in a massive debate in the topic of the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
Sound intimidating? This scenario is just a small glimpse into the Model UN experience of several of our WCCS students. Located at Winthrop University, the Model United Nations hosted schools all over the area over the course of the three day event. Westminster students had the privilege of representing the countries of Pakistan, Somalia, and Indonesia and tackled such subjects as human rights, drug trafficking, terrorism, illegal immigration and territorial disputes (just to name a few). 11th grader, Luke Hancock, received the “Top Delegate Award” for his work on the African Union Committee. It was a great opportunity for students to debate policies and discuss issues that affect us all on the global level. Hear what some of our students had to say about the opportunity to problem solve some of the world’s most pressing issues in the simulated debates!
“Diplomacy can be slow and frustrating. [The work that goes on at the United Nations] is a great way to make sure disputes don’t turn in to war.” – 10th grader, Justin Kirk
“I never paid attention to the UN before. I didn’t know the veto powers of Russia and China, and how if they don’t want something to happen, it won’t happen. I learned that Indonesia has lots of human rights violations. Since I was on the Human Rights Committee and had to defend their practices as a country, it was eye opening to see the violations and a bit embarrassing.” – 11th grader, Seth Russo
“Diplomacy requires working together with lots of people. Model UN is a great hands-on experience to show us what social studies is really about.” – 10th grader, Parker Dhillon
Teacher and Model UN Sponsor, Deanne Regier, had this to say about the event: "I find simulation games/activities to be one of the best ways to communicate historic and political information to students. Students love to pretend they are something that they aren’t. The first day students are nervous and say they will never talk. By the second day, they are engaged and often leading their committees discussions. It is a true delight to sponsor this activity for WCCS for the past 17 years! What a blessing to watch students become global learners, engaging in the Kingdom of God!"
Ever wonder what it's really like to be a student at WCCS? We are continuing with our "Day in the Life" blog series where we give readers the opportunity to hear from one of our students on what it is like to learn, play, serve, and worship at WCCS! This week, 11th grader Joel Haley shares what a typical day is like for him at the Upper School.
Before School Devotions (7:30 a.m.)
Arriving at the lower campus, I wait for my two friends Haidyn and Ann Preston to come. As they arrive we go over the plans we have made for the fourth and fifth grade weekly devotions that we lead together. We walk into the gym and await the elementary school students to gather. Then we walk to our room with our teacher sponsor, Mrs. Hunter. We gather together and we lead them in a time of devotion, going over our topic of unity in Christ, taking prayer requests at the end.
This time always makes my day and fills me with joy. It is such a blessing to see these younger students taking a real appreciation of the Lord.
First Period - AP U.S. History (7:56 a.m.)
After our devotions, we leave to head back to the upper campus. As we arrive we come to our first period class, history. We sit down and start our journal entries that are up on the board. We then begin to take notes from the always enthusiastic Ms. Regier, who instills in us a passion for history. She shows us that we must consider the past to plan for the future. Through lessons, such as the ones we learned from World War II, we see how poor leadership and corrupt ideals can lead to poor decisions and horrible events, and we learn how we can avoid this in our own lives.
Second Period - Spanish 3 Honors (8:47 a.m.)
The bell rings and I head to Spanish class. We gather our folders and begin on our morning work, translating or answering Spanish questions on the board. I always enjoy Ms. Janaveich’s fun lesson plans, including telestrations, where we compete in groups to see who can draw and translate the words the fastest.
Third Period - PreCalculus Honors (9:38 a.m.)
After the bell rings, we head over to our pre-calculus math class, where we are greeted by Mrs. Kendrick. We start with some board work, where we go to the whiteboards to work on math problems before class, and then move on to the lesson, where the animated and passionate Mrs. Kendrick teaches us a new lesson in math. Through her enthusiasm, chants, and passion for math, we learn different principles and apply them to various problems. We continue to do math and do some homework until class is done.
Fourth Period - AP Physics (10:29 a.m.)
We then move on to Physics, where we gather around to talk to our teacher, Mr. Cooke, until class starts. Then we take our seats and get out our lab journals. We then finish off the rest of class doing our lab and reporting it in our journals, expressing some specific rule of physics. Right now we are considering how waves move through different mediums, observing the wave generator creating visible waves through the string, which provides a great visual representation of what we have been learning in our class.
Fifth Period - Bible (11:20 a.m.)
After Physics we head to Bible and are welcomed by our teacher Mr. Krueger. We begin by having a fun class discussion about a current topic, then he takes prayer requests and we start our lesson. He teaches us about our life calling and we take notes on the lesson he is presenting. He helps hold the Bible closely to our daily lives and circumstances. We then head to lunch after the bell rings.
Lunch (12:07 p.m.)
Lunch is a great time to take a break and catch up with friends. We can order hot lunch or bring our own. We get some great hot lunches that come from the kitchen at Westminster Presbyterian Church. The school also orders from Papa Johns, Golden China, and Lee's Chicken. I like to order when it's pizza day!
Sixth Period - AP English (12:41 p.m.)
After lunch, we head to sixth period, English. Here our teacher, Mrs. Lindemann, discusses various literary elements such as schemes, tropes, and rhetoric with the class. We have in depth class discussions where we apply all of these literary devices to various situations.
Seventh Period - Finding God in Film (1:32 p.m.)
After English class we start our elective periods. For seventh period, I go to “Finding God in Film”, where we have been watching Indiana Jones and discussing biblical themes seen throughout the movie, such as good beating evil and the uncommon hero. This class is always a nice, relaxing break.
Eighth Period - Study Hall (2:23 p.m.)
After Finding God in Film I head to my last period of the day, Study Hall. This class is usually filled with either finishing homework that I received throughout the day, or playing games with friends. This period can be a real-life saver on some days that are filled with lots of homework. Today we played several games including card games such as Gin or Spit, which is always fun.
After School (3:10 p.m.)
After eighth period lets out, I go to the Student Council meetings that are on Wednesdays. Then I head to swimming practice where we work hard learning different aspects of swimming, especially strokes and drills. The practices are hard but are always a rewarding experience by the end. After swimming I head home and finish the night off with some homework.
I love WCCS for many reasons. It offers great relationships between the faculty and the students, allowing for more personal connections and friendships to grow between us. It also really promotes a Christian worldview, and it is easy to tell the teachers have a passion for Christ that they show to us through daily experiences. These connections and friendships that are rooted in a Christ-centered worldview have helped me to grow as a Christian and reach a more personal level of relationship with Christ.
Ever wonder what it's really like to be a student at WCCS? We are continuing this week with our blog series, "A Day in the Life". Each week, you'll hear from one of our students about what it's like to learn, play, serve, and worship at WCCS! This week, 7th grader Ashlan Stephens shares what her day is like at the upper school.
1st Period Math (7:56 a.m.)
Math class is fun and has allowed opportunities to study advanced topics such as trigonometry, geometry, algebra, and calculus analysis. Having studied the seventh grade curriculum along with teachers making themselves available to teach some of the advanced topics mentioned, has allowed me to prepare to take the PSAT and ACT exams early.
2nd Period English (8:47 a.m.)
English has allowed lots of “creative thinking time”. We are currently reading our second novel, The Westing Game and will soon begin reading The Diary of Anne Frank. Our typical day usually includes journaling to allow us to express our thoughts on the topic provided by our instructor, Mrs. Jordan.
3rd Period Science (9:38 a.m.)
Science class has meant a time for exploration. We have done experiments like dissecting chicken legs to observe muscles, tissues, bones and ligaments. In the past week, we have started learning about the heart and its critical role in the circulatory system.
4th Period Grammar (10:29 a.m.)
Grammar is thought to be very difficult. We focus on things like pronoun agreement, independent/subordinate phrases, helping verbs and pronoun types. Mrs. Turner makes this learning enjoyable by teaching with nifty jingles, colorful cut-and-folds, and interactive games. She presents the material using various approaches and styles to encourage student participation and thought.
Lunch (11:16 a.m.)
Upper School students can order hot lunch or bring lunch from home. We also have a few extra minutes tacked on to lunch as an "unofficial" recess to help let off steam!
5th Period Computer - A Schedule (11:54 a.m.)
Computer class has presented a time to develop our typing skills and conduct low level programming/coding.
5th Period Physical Education - B Schedule (11:54 a.m.)
This year has been spent understanding teaming (working with others) through various sports - badminton, basketball, football, soccer and ultimate frisbee.
6th Period Art - A Schedule (12:41 p.m.)
Messy on occasion, but always fun! We get to use many different mediums (oil, pastel, and watercolor paints, paper mache’, and clay.) Right now we are making paper mache’ vases, which have a history dating back to Ancient Egyptian times. Art class participants have also been able to show off their skills through the WCCS Art Department's support of volunteer opportunities at various local businesses. With "A Schedule" and "B Schedule", we have A classes 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), B classes 2 days a week (Tuesday, Thursday), then the next week we switch!
6th Period STEM - B Schedule (12:41 p.m.)
STEM is one of the most popular classes and only has limited enrollment each year. We have learned to think “out of the box” to create a table out of newspaper, a rollercoaster from cardstock paper, and a grabber from popsicle sticks.
7th Period Bible (1:32 p.m.)
This class has included poster projects, completing Bible workbook exercises, Bible challenge games, movies and opportunities to compare Bible stories to real life situations. We are now learning about God and how Esther was placed in a position to save His people, display tremendous faith in God, and present the message that God has a plan for all of us.
8th Period Regions of the World (2:23 p.m.)
We have learned about the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Our teacher is very hip and challenges us to think! We get to display our knowledge by creating Powerpoint decks that focus on research we’ve done on assigned countries that include focusing on culture, food, geography, language and other features that make us unique, but appreciative of God’s creation!
At WCCS, we are taught that God has blessed each of us with unique gifts and to think like Christ through our daily lives and activities. As it says in Proverbs, the Lord honors those who commit their works to Him and who strive for excellence in everything they do (Proverbs 16:3; 22:29).
Ever wonder what it's really like to be a student at WCCS? This week, we are starting a new blog series entitled, "A Day in the Life". Each week, you'll hear from one of our students about what it's like to learn, play, serve, and worship at WCCS! This week, 3rd grader Mason Metcalf shares what his day is like at the lower school.
When I get into school I copy down my homework for the day. Then we start Bible study. We study verses, play games, and read from our workbooks. Right now we are working on Samuel’s life. On Friday we do the quiz on our verse of the week. I am pretty good at memorizing that.
Next, we do Math. Most of the time we do models, quizzes, and worksheets. We can also play math games. This week we are learning division by nines. Math is not my favorite, but it is ok.
Then, we go to other classes, like P.E., Music, and Art. Sometimes we even have two, but that’s another story. My favorite is P.E. I don’t know why I just do.
Next, we do Language Arts time. Sometimes, I go to Reading Groups with my partner Birdie Means. I like working with Birdie because she comes up with good ideas. Reading Groups is when you read books and talk about them with teachers and students. We do papers and other writing about the books. We are working on a report about a man named Frederick Douglass.
My most favorite part of the day is Recess. We play in the sandbox, playhouse, and mud kitchen. We do this for 30 minutes.
Next, we go to lunch. At lunch we eat the food we brought or ordered and talk with friends. My favorite is when I order pizza.
Last, we look over our language papers and do Science and I rock it! In Science, we are learning about erosion and doing experiments in the Explore Lab. We can also do History depending on which half of the year it is.
At the end of the day we go to car line and go home. I really like Mrs. Winn’s class because we get to sit where we choose like sitting on the carpet. Also, I only have about 10 kids in my class which is fun because you get called on more often! I think this school is different because here we talk about God and do lessons about him. Everything we do points back to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, even in Science!
As I’m sure many of our current families are well-aware, it’s re-enrollment time at WCCS. Our current families have until February 5, 2018 to have priority in signing up for school next year before we open up remaining spots to new families seeking enrollment. And, for many of us, this time when we make commitments for next year also prompts the question: “Is what I pay in tuition at WCCS really worth it?” This question is one that many families, new and returning, grapple with as they consider how to steward their resources well for their families, and I have the privilege of sharing the value of a Christian education on a daily basis.
Last summer, one such family reached out to me for more information. The request went something like this:
“I am writing in regards to the tuition for my child. My husband and I want more than anything for her to continue attending WCCS. My heart breaks at even the thought of her not being able to attend. With the tuition going up each year, we are struggling to pay for her to attend. My parents have graciously offered to pay a portion but only if they know for sure that there are benefits outside of sending her to “public school.” There is no doubt in my mind that every penny spent is worth it for us. However, my parents living over 700 miles away, don’t get to SEE the benefits as we do. We love this school and staff with all our hearts and I pray each day that God will continue to make a way for her to stay at WCCS. If you could help guide us or point us in the right direction, I would greatly appreciate it….”
"There is no doubt in my mind that every penny spent is worth it for us."
And, I got excited….so excited to share WHY we do what we do and WHY we feel a WCCS education has significant value.
When we use the word value, we expect a number to follow, putting a price tag on an item to communicate its worth. Yes, I can provide you with lots of data and statistics from our school showing student successes, growth, and achievement to suggest that you will see a return on your investment. And, educational excellence is important to us because doing our best brings glory and honor to God by preparing our students well to respond to God’s call in their lives, careers, service, and other pursuits. But, how do you put a number on the intangible? Take the feedback we hear from recent graduates (and their parents - here’s one for example) that they feel prepared for college as well as life, especially in the areas of writing, critical thinking, time management, and spiritual discernment – areas in which statistics and surveys who many of our young adults are lacking.
But, for those of us who also appreciate seeing numbers, take a look at some of our outcomes information, with more available in our High School Profile HERE:
Our Class of 2017 graduated 30 seniors, all of whom planned matriculation at a 4 year college, university or technical school. As a group, they served over 2,000 hours in the school and local community. They were accepted to 39 colleges/universities and earned over $375,000 annually in scholarships. You can read more about individual members of the class here: WCCS Graduate Testmonials.
Over the last 5 years, we give God glory for a 100% graduation rate, with 80-90% of those graduates each year going on to the college or university of their choice.
Over the last 5 years, Our average SAT and ACT scores are consistently above national, state, and local averages, and we’ve celebrated several National Merit Semi-Finalists and Finalists.
Most importantly, however, what we experience at a place like WCCS shows the eternal value of Christian education. When you count up the amount of time our children spend in school from Kindergarten through 12th Grades, that comes up to a staggering 16,000 hours. Likewise, they have the opportunity to be in church roughly 700 hours if they attend 1-2 hours in church every week for 13 years. And, I’ll leave the formal calculation to you to prove how much time our children spend with their teachers compared to when they are awake with us as their parents. Certainly, the role of parents and churches is critical in the development of our children and youth, but the undeniable truth is that education helps define your child’s worldview. And, we cannot possibly do it alone as parents. In Luke 6:40, Jesus said “the student will become like the teacher,” and these hours spent in the classroom with teachers who are pouring into the souls of our little (and big) ones will undoubtedly have a huge impact on our children.
"Education helps define your child’s worldview."
BUT, it’s not just about OUR kids, is it? Yes, we want the very best, God’s very best, for your children and my children, but it is “so that” our students can take what they have learned here in skills, knowledge, resources, experiences, and training to bless others in HIS name, therefore bringing others to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Education is an expensive venture, and we recognize paying private school tuition is a sacrifice. We desire to make a WCCS education as accessible to as many families as possible. And, with the introduction of Variable Tuition last year for Kindergarten – 12th Grades, we have shared in many conversations with parents about how we can partner in the financial burden of that cost. I encourage you to seek us out if you are interested in exploring this option for your family. I would love to have the opportunity to speak directly with you about the value of a WCCS education for your family. It is worth it – every single penny!
SEEK (Students Exploring and Enriching for the Kingdom) is a special program at WCCS for students in grades 2-7 who exhibit extraordinary performance capability in intellectual and creative endeavors. In this week’s blog, we interview Cindy Nigro, SEEK Instructor & Inclusion Teacher, to answer some of the common questions we hear regarding this program and to learn some tips for encouraging this type of learning in ALL students.
Mrs. Nigro has been facilitating learning in our SEEK classes for the past four years and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the area of academic giftedness. She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Winthrop University and is working toward adding the endorsement of Gifted and Talented to her teaching certificate. Before serving at WCCS, Cindy taught at the Carolina Christian Academy in Clover, SC, where she taught a class of 1st and 2nd grade students. She has also taught at Carolina Christian Academy, Cotton Belt Elementary, and Gold Hill Elementary. Cindy has also served as the Director of Children’s Ministry at Tirzah Associated Reform Presbyterian Church in York.
What is an academically gifted child?
Our SEEK program is designed to allow academically gifted students in the second through seventh grades a chance to explore learning at advanced levels in a setting of their peers. The academically gifted student demonstrates an ability to learn, and mastery of language and mathematical skills at a level beyond their peers of the same age level.
Why do we need a special program for advanced students?
These students can develop frustration, boredom, laziness, and underachievement when not allowed to function at a level and pace in line with their abilities. Academically gifted students often have trouble relating to peers of the same age level and may gravitate toward older children. WCCS strives to meet the needs of this group of children as part of our mission to educate children, so they may bless our world and be effective disciples.
What kind of tips can you share with parents looking to encourage this type of learning with their student?
One great tip I have for all parents is to encourage opportunities for learning without thinking of limits. Gifted children love to learn, analyze, and evaluate. These children will often determine the direction. This may make it harder for you in one sense, because they really do want to discuss everything. Allow the chance to talk through an analysis of anything they choose. Biblical discussions provide a natural opportunity for discussions of right and wrong. We start our sessions with a Bible verse and focus on its application for nine weeks. It is amazing to me the depth to which students want to discuss God’s word. Encourage action on what they are thinking about. For example, I had one concerned student host a garage sale of toys to raise money for a local homeless shelter. The parent supported this child’s interest beyond a simple discussion.
How do you keep students excited and confident in their learning?
SEEK strives to keep students excited about learning, feel good about their abilities, and develop relationships with academic peers. We do this in four ways.
A Ninety Minute Instructional Class: The lessons are designed to be approximately two grade levels ahead of instruction in the general education classroom. This allows students a chance at more challenging material. It helps students to experience some of the frustration and challenge of pushing limits. I have had more than one student tell me that they have never worked as hard on any problem like they do in SEEK.
Socialization During Class: The students are working with their academic peers. Working together builds friendships and helps students learn to collaborate with others that can add different perspectives, strategies, and solutions to the challenge at hand.
Brain Stretch Exercises: The third way SEEK addresses needs is through brain stretch exercises designed to challenge them daily. Each week, students complete an extra assignment in one of the general education classes. There is always more to learn than the level taught. These exercises keep SEEK students digging deeper into the content area of daily lessons.
Research: Finally, we take one quarter to let students research an approved topic. In the past, I have assigned these topics, but this year I am going to let them study whatever they choose. When I shared this with a seventh grade student, he jumped for joy and shouted out potential topics. Now, that is a true academically gifted student!
What else can you tell us about the SEEK program?
The heart of the program is truly the students. We work on some difficult projects for an hour and a half after school, but the learning doesn’t end there. This year the lower school students were given a problem and ninety minutes to build a solution to the problem. They built boats to hold weights, catapults to fling objects, bridges to hold weight and much more. This was fun, but success for me came from hearing parents share how students are continuing work at home. One student built a swing at her grandmother’s home one day when she was bored. Another student built a chute to transfer candy for crushing over the Christmas holidays. The next language arts semester started with plot diagrams of popular stories. One third grader told me that creative writing was so much easier now that he understood plot. These stories are the best sign of success, because I see that learning continues outside the classroom. This is the ultimate goal for students to appreciate the fact that their abilities have value and can be used for God’s glory.
3rd Grade SEEK Student, Mac Wilson, with his Candy Crushing Chute.
My child is not in SEEK. Is he or she missing out?
The answer is no. Your general education teacher is providing the support your child needs to get to the next level. All of our teachers think through how to challenge the child who completes a specific lesson early. A child who does not qualify in one year for SEEK may qualify in the next. Children progress through learning at different rates. SEEK is designed to prevent problems that advanced learners may have if they do not stay engaged in learning.