By WILLIAM PAINE
For The Patriot
Monday, August 15 marked the first day of classes for the newly established Valley Harvest Christian School in Dublin, which offers instruction for students attending 1st through 10th grades. School Administrator Derek Burton and Lead Pastor Steve Willis, along with several members of the VHCS staff and all 35 new students, marked this auspicious occasion with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The campus of Valley Harvest Christian School is located on the church grounds of Valley Harvest Ministries in Dublin, where Willis has served as Pastor for more than a quarter century. This isn’t the first time Willis has attended such an event. Before coming to Dublin, Willis took part in opening a Christian School when he served as an Associate Pastor in Ohio.
“We’re excited about today,” said Willis. “I think all of us came today with a lot of anticipation and maybe just a little anxiety. We had high expectations because we worked hard all summer to get things ready. We spent quality time meeting and interviewing parents and students and we were confident we were just going to have a great group of kids and families to work with this year.”
The Valley Harvest Christian School staff has been busy readying the building for the inaugural school year. New learning “offices” were installed to provide each student with their own study area. Other furniture needed assembly and walls were given a fresh coat of paint.
The students, who range from 4 to 16 years in age, are divided into Upper and Lower Learning Centers, as is appropriate for their learning levels. A Supervisor, who answers questions regarding the subject matter, is assigned to each Learning Center. In addition, five Monitors will be on site to assist the Supervisors in their instruction, as well as answer questions the students may have about their lesson plan. The recently hired Physical Education teacher will visit the campus once a week and the janitorial staff has been expanded for daily cleaning with plans to do a deep cleaning of the facility at the end of every week.
School Administrator Derek Burton and his wife, Pastor Crystal Burton plan to be available throughout the school day, as do Lead Pastor Steve Willis and his wife, Pastor Sheila Willis.
“I’ve been here all morning and honestly, I’ve been amazed at how well-behaved the kids have been,” Willis enthused. “We’re just encouraged that this is going to be a great year.”
Students will attend classes from 8:30 till 3:30 Monday through Thursday. Valley Harvest Christian School will utilize the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) program of learning, which uses the Packet of Accelerated Christian Education (PACE) system.
“This week we’re doing diagnostic assessments,” Burton explained. “One of the big things with the ACE program is to tailor the education plan for each student in accordance with where they are in each subject. So, this week, we’ll be doing the assessments. Next week, they’ll start working through their curriculum. Then it is four days a week and then an occasional, usually about once a month, homeschool day.”
This year’s enrollment of thirty-five students means that that the Valley Harvest Christian School is at full capacity, but expansion is on the minds of the school’s founders. Their intention is to offer 11th and 12th grade level classes in the coming years.
“We do have plans to expand again next year to a third Learning Center,” said Burton. “So, we’ll have the three Learning Centers along with additional staff and be able to take on more students. We’re believing that next year we’ll have over 50 students enrolled.”
The students themselves seemed to be in fine spirits as they held the red ribbon for Monday’s ceremony and accompanying photo. Their mood only improved afterwards, when cake was provided to celebrate the official opening of Dublin’s’ new Christian school.
“I just want to thank the community and our church members and it’s just been an overwhelming response of support,” stated Burton. “Not only from our church family, but throughout the whole community and neighboring churches. With everybody really getting behind us and helping and supporting us and providing resources … we’ve just been truly blessed.”
For more information on the Valley Harvest Christian School go to: VHMDUBLIN.ORG.