II - Answering your questions.
Greetings BCS family. I’m going to take a few minutes this week to finish answering the questions that came in at the end of last year from a few of our parents for the town hall meeting. If you have other questions, I would love to answer them, simply leave them in the comments section of the blog. If you missed Part I of answering parent questions, please visit my previous post here.
What is this school's approach to student discipline and safety?
Let me discuss student discipline first. As with all aspects of the school, the approach to student discipline flows from our mission and vision. As a school, we desire to partner with families to create an environment of learning that educates the whole student and cultivates a Christ-centered life. This means that our primary goals are all related to discipleship - molding disciples of Christ. It is no coincidence that the word disciple and discipline are nearly the same word.
This mission of discipleship leads us to a relational model for discipline. Our goal is not simply obedience, but rather sanctification. Our desire is that discipline leads to a changed heart. This means that we deal with each student individually and relationally with each instance of discipline. Admittedly, not having a hard and fast system is more messy, and sometimes can appear on the surface level to be unfair. But it is the best way to partner with what is going on at home and give each student what is truly needed for deepening their discipleship.
I would encourage you to go back and read carefully the parent-student handbook on pages 19-21 for a more detailed look at our discipline philosophy and policy.
Student safety incorporates many things: physical, emotional, and social. Our physical safety includes training such as First Aid and CPR for our staff and emergency training drills. It also includes policies like sign in and sign out, door policies, medication procedures, and safety rules for students. These policies are constantly being reviewed and updated to create a continually safer environment for our students. Our mentoring program, Bible classes, discipleship programs, Bible studies, and intentional interactions between students and teachers help build opportunities and relationships for students to grow in their emotional and social lives. Our administration also has an open door to our families so that we can partner in the overall health of our children. I would again refer you to our handbook for more details on many of our safety guidelines.
What are the guidelines for what to expect when I log on to Renweb?
We get a lot of questions about Renweb, especially about assignments and homework. Primarily, Renweb is our database software, we use it to track all of the important information about our school and your student such as grades, homework, attendance, medical records, and contact information. Additionally, the ParentWeb feature gives parents and students the ability to login and see their own information. Ideally, we should see Renweb as an enhancement to communication, not a replacement. Here’s a few things to keep in mind when using the service:
1) Teachers make every effort to keep the homework assignments posted accurate and up to date. However, the primary responsibility falls to the student to write down the assignments each day and track them on their own. In elementary this happens through the Steno; in the secondary students should develop their own system. Renweb should be used as a backup when there is confusion or something has been forgotten, but it should not be the primary method.
2) Renweb can also be a checks and balances system. Teachers input many grades every day. There are sometimes errors or oversights. Renweb gives parents and students the ability to check in and notice if something seems incorrect. A quick communication with the teacher or office can quickly remedy small errors.
3) Generally speaking, our teachers input grades in a two week window. Often large tests or projects will not show up right away.
4) The system does have some bugs and limitations. We monitor the system carefully, but it does contain thousands of pieces of information for each student. With that much data, there are bound to be some flaws. They key is to remember that Renweb is a tool, but does not replace the relationships and community that we share at BCS. Our communication together should be enhanced by Renweb, but not replaced by it.
If you are ever having technical difficulty with the service, please don’t hesitate to call the office. One of our administrative team members will gladly assist you with resetting your password or troubleshooting a question about Renweb. We encourage all parents and secondary students to check in often.
How strong are we as an entity - enrollment, finances, future. Can you share anything as a directive for increased prayer and support?
This is a timely and challenging question. Quite honestly, I could probably write a book in response to this! I’ll do my best to give some details and prayer requests in the three areas mentioned.
Enrollment: Our enrollment is lower this year, however we did meet our projected goal. While we had a number of families choose to leave the school, we also had our largest enrollment of new families in many years. What that means is that God has provided a fresh group of families to work together at BCS. We do need to now grow again as we look to next year. Please pray for new families to join us and for our scholarship programs to grow. You can support enrollment by volunteering on the development team (contact Beth Bromwell) and by talking to other people about the value of Christian Education. Nothing helps the school grow more than a referral from someone who sees the importance in what we do. You will all be receiving more details about our referral program within the coming weeks. Imagine the impact on our community if each family referred one additional family to our school.
Finances: As is no surprise to no one, our finances are tight and we are working hard to be responsible with our limited resources in a challenging economy. However, “limited” and “challenging” do not apply to God. It has been a pure joy to see God provide exactly what we needed for this year. We met our budgetary goals without losing programming in a very challenging year. We should not sugar coat where we currently stand, but we can stand in awe and thankfulness for God’s provision. As we move forward please pray for growth of scholarship funds, increased giving from alumni, and continued provision from God. You can support our finances by talking to business leaders about EITC and OSTC. This is the biggest source of funding we can grow and also allows us to give more financial aid and scholarship to let more families join our community. Join us in prayer by continuing to pray for God’s provision in many different ways.
Future: Our future is strong because God is making us strong. Our focus is on growth because
our mission demands it. And so we plan and push ahead looking for every avenue to fulfill our mission better. We could point to some of our programs as indicators of our future such as ACSI accreditation, new classes in the high school, etc., but we can put our hope in these things. The only thing we can hope in is God’s hand of blessing. Our organization will continue to strengthen as we humbly follow the voice of our Great Shepherd.
Pray for our leadership, our board, administrative team, our teachers. Pray for students to be impacted by the gospel, and to grow deeply in their discipleship. Pray for the reflective nature of BCS, that we would shine God’s love brightly in our community. And pray for each other; we are a community and we must be committed not to the school, but to each other.
Grace and Peace,
Philip S. Warner, administrator of Berks Christian School.