Why BCCS-Education with a Purpose

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As an enrollment coordinator, I deal with all types of questions from parents regarding the choice of school for their family.  When discussing the reasons for Christian school, I could talk about many valid reasons why BCCS is the right choice. Aspects of our education include teaching staff (and influence they have on the kids), the academic programs, the class size, extra-curricular activities, the spiritual development,  Christian practices, the growth of the whole child, faith integration into all subjects and so much more. However, the following example and thoughts are a main reason why Christian education is so important to me.

While walking the hall one day, I noticed two students headed to the playground. One student (let's call him Abe) was helping another student (let's call him Bob) calm down and prepare to spend recess with friends.  As I walked by, I recalled a few other times this year I had seen Abe helping Bob with tasks during the day. I smiled at this kind act and returned to my office. Later, I thought about what I had witnessed and how it encapsulates why Christian education is the best investment anyone can make. You see, It is not in Abe’s action, but in the reason behind Abe’s help that is key.

First, some background on this situation. Bob is a student with some specific learning needs. He sometimes struggled academically and socially because of those needs. Abe is a student who excels both academically and socially, a student that could be considered ‘top of his class.’ This school year, Bob is succeeding at BCCS as he learns academically, makes friends in the classroom and grows emotionally. Most importantly, his teacher shared that one day he began to cry when he learned that he was sinful (which of course led to a conversation about grace and Jesus). In the same way, Abe is succeeding at BCCS as he grows spiritually in the grace of Christ. He is exceptional in academics, a leader for his peers and participates in extracurricular activities.

The other important thought that came to mind was the integration of all students. If I am being 100% honest, sometimes I worry that with so many different types of students in a class, how can they all succeed. Then, I watch things like this happen and have to laugh at my foolishness. Both Bob and Abe are succeeding and accepted for who they are. And Bob and Abe are helping each-other succeed.

All that said, the reason Christian education is important is WHY the students are interacting in this way.  Abe interacts with Bob because he wants to, not because someone told him to or because he gets recognition. Like many BCCS students, he acts the way he does because BCCS teachers join with parents to teach students to show God’s love using their unique gifts. In everyday instruction, teachers strive to help students discover their passions AND recognize who gives purpose to their passions and their life. Each child is able to develop as an individual and as a community member. They receive an excellent education, which is rooted in God’s Word, so they are prepared to serve the world around them.

This makes a difference in their lives now, like seeing Abe help Bob, but our hope and prayer is it will make a difference in their lives and the lives of those around them for many years to come.

Watching Abe and Bob reminded me why Christian education is so important. It is education that not only helps students succeed in all areas, but also develops a real foundation for each student so they are prepared for growth and service that starts now and that will last a lifetime.

True Community

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We desire our students to know they are unique children of God, made in His image, fearfully and wonderfully made.  We also desire our students to know they are a part of the larger Body of Christ and are called to be active members of their respective communities.

The challenge is to combine these two important concepts, which almost seems contradictory. To overcome this hurdle, fifth grade students meet six times in September and October with some facilitators from Edgeline Resources, a local team-building consulting company. Together with the fifth grade staff, Edgeline coaches help students understand Romans 12. The goal is to encourage them to live out who God created them to be while living together and working as one body.

The main concept began with students brainstorming which behaviors and attitudes should be demonstrated in the Body of Christ. In contrast, they also wrote down many negative behaviors we often see and put those ‘outside of the body.’ As part of the process, students discussed that while they sometimes still act in ways outside of the Body of Christ, they know that God sent Jesus to take our place, thus making each one of us 100% valuable in the eyes of God. Since we no longer have to look to others (or things) for value, we are free to serve using our gifts (Romans 12:4-8).

Mr. DeVries commented, “I love seeing our fifth graders go through our Edgeline program. They learn about what it means to be the Body of Christ, think about their unique role in it, all while enjoying games and challenges with their classmates. Our mentors in this program have been a blessing to our fifth graders for years, and this is always one of the highlights of the fifth grade year.”

The unique aspect of Edgeline is that it uses a hands-on learning approach, where students actively participate. Students participate in discussions, work together to find solutions, participate in team-building activities, play some interesting games and even attend a day camp to cement the learning. Our hope is that what is covered in fifth grade provides a strong foundation for growth in middle school and beyond!

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Quality, Christian Education Requires Learning AND Action

During first semester, one of the second grade social studies units covered the topic of community. From a curriculum standpoint, this calls for lessons where students learn about common characteristics of all communities: natural characteristics, buildings, transportation, businesses, places to have fun, and human characteristics. Mrs. Kooyer said that our students “also decided that the most important part of a community is the people.”  The kids interviewed someone about what makes Byron Center special and wrote about their favorite places here. Teachers also incorporated a map study and students created their own town maps.

This is an important foundational lesson for the subject, but the lesson did not stop with simply learning about a definition. Teaching for Transformation (TfT) helps our staff ensure all subjects and lessons have real world applications and experiences.

For this particular lesson, teachers designed a learning experience that allowed our students to become community builders. To start, students wrote prayers and cards for the community businesses in Byron Center. Then, on a chilly Tuesday afternoon, teachers and parents took the students to those places. At each location, students stopped and prayed as a group for that particular establishment and brought the cards to an employee inside. Watching our students thank God for community businesses and ask for His blessing over employees was incredibly moving!  

Excellent education calls for students to simply learn about community. However, at Byron Center Christian, excellent education must also be rooted in God’s Word and prepare students for lifelong service. Watching students pray for our community and deliver a message of support shows that our students not only learned, but but also experienced authentic community on that day.


Building with a Purpose

South Christian High School (SCHS) opened in 1954 and has been faithfully striving to provide an excellent Christian education for the surrounding community since then. Their current mission is “to equip students to live Christ-centered lives and serve God to their greatest potential.” The school’s vision is “to be a spiritually vibrant educational community that reflects God’s Kingdom. We seek God’s leading in providing academically exceptional offerings, culturally relevant methods, and service oriented community with a heart for students.”

Byron Center Christian and South Christian are members of South Suburban Christian Schools, a group of four elementary/middle schools and the high school. The group serves as affiliated schools to provide preschool through 12th grade education to our communities! In January 2019, SCHS opened the doors to its brand new high school campus. The facility was made possible by families, grandparents, supporters, businesses and other partners who are all committed to ensure SCHS can fulfill its’ mission and vision. The campus is designed to not only serve current students, but also allows for future growth!

The new SCHS features many open community spaces, creative classroom designs, two gymnasiums, student collaborations stations, expansive co-curricular spaces/classrooms, and beautiful auditorium (just to name a few things). It is exciting for BCCS families as they look forward to their children one day attending school there. Our prayer for our students (even as they begin preschool) is that every grade they enter helps them grow more into the people God has created them to be. We are grateful to partner with SCHS as we know that growth will continue in high school as well!

Click this link to read the Christian Reformed Church article about the new SCHS!

Junior Kindergarten & Kindergarten Open House

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The Byron Center community is invited to our Kindergarten Open House on March 13th, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. The event is held at our early education campus, which is located at 8705 Byron Center Ave SW. The evening is an opportunity for new families to tour the campus, meet the teaching staff, and pre-register for a class of preference.

Please note, some classes may fill that evening, so come with a few options on which class you would prefer. See the Early Education Brochure for class details and tuition information.

Contact Andrew Reidsma at 878-3347 or reidsma@bccs.org with questions. If you cannot attend that evening, you may schedule a personal tour of our Kindergarten programs at any time!

Who: Everyone (your children are invited as well)

What: BCCS Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten Open House

When: Wednesday, March 13th from 6:30 to 8:00 PM

Where: Early Education Campus, 8705 Byron Center Ave SW, Byron Center, MI 49315

Why: Discover the difference an authentic Christian education can have on your children and learn how BCCS is the best investment you can make for your family

Questions: Contact Andrew Reidsma at 878-334 or reidsma@bccs.org


We look forward to seeing you there!


Preschool Open House

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The Byron Center community is invited to our Preschool Open House on January 16th, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. The event is held at our Early Education campus, which is located at 8705 Byron Center Ave SW. The evening is an opportunity for new families to tour the campus, meet the teaching staff, and pre-register for a class of preference.

Please note, some classes will fill that evening, so come with a few options on which class you would prefer. See the Early Education Brochure for class details and tuition information.

Contact Andrew Reidsma at 878-3347 or reidsma@bccs.org. If you cannot attend that evening, you may schedule a personal tour of our preschool at any time!

Who: Everyone

What: BCCS Preschool Open House

When: Wednesday, January 16th from 6:30 to 8:00 PM

Where: Early Education Campus, 8705 Byron Center Ave SW, Byron Center, MI 49315

Why: Discover the difference an authentic, Christian education can have on your children and learn how BCCS is the best investment you can make for your family!

Question: Contact Andrew Reidsma at 878-334 or reidsma@bccs.org

We look forward to seeing you there!


Excellent Instruction in Action

How can a teacher teach an entire class and address all the individual learning needs? How can they help students at different academic levels? How can all the students get one-on-one instruction?

I am glad you asked! At Byron Center Christian, we recognize the importance of fostering strong reading and writing skills in our students. Teachers and staff use specific instructional methods called reading and writing workshop to accomplish this goal. The pictures below show this in action and the following paragraph describes how it works (and answers the initial questions).

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In a workshop block, teachers will give a mini-lesson on the particular topic or skill (i.e. poetry, a new reading strategy, spelling, five paragraph essay, etc.) and then allow students to break into individuals or groups. From there, students actually apply what the lesson was on (i.e. writing a poem, trying the reading strategy, spelling practice, typing an essay, etc.). The teacher is then free to conference (or help) students on an individual basis to make sure everyone has a strong understanding of what is being taught. This also allows the teacher the ability to challenge high performing students and assist students that have not yet grasped the particular concept. Following the work-time, teachers can have the students share their work with the class or can summarize and review what was taught. While this is not how instruction always happens, workshops are a powerful tool for almost any subject.

This practice seems simple, but it takes careful planning and a strong knowledge of and relationship with each student to ensure success. We are able to use these instructional methods to teach to the group and to the individual student. We are also able to address the individual academic needs of our students so each child is able to succeed. While no teacher or classroom is perfect, we are blessed with amazing teachers who want to help each student grow!

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Rescued

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While Teaching for Transformation (TfT) has helped teachers introduce through-line themes in the classrooms for students, our 8th grade theme team still had the opportunity to choose our school verse and song for the 2018-2019 school year. The verse they selected is 2 Timothy 1:7, which reads “For the Spirit of God does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” The school song is “Rescuer” by Rend Collective.

The verse is a powerful reminder that not only is God walking with us, but also He equips us with the tools we need to faithfully serve him. As a school, we want our students to know that God gives love, power, and self-discipline and His spirit helps them practice those things on a daily basis. It is not always easy to see God’s large plan for our life, but using Timothy as a reminder can help us focus on the simple tasks of loving those around us, being disciplined in our faith walk, and influencing with Christ-like power.

Corresponding with the verse is the popular Rend Collective song that talks about how Christ has rescued each of us. In one of the verses, it calls listeners to “come and be chainless, come and be fearless,” which fits with what Timothy says about living with power and self-discipline. It is important for students of all ages to know that everyone (including ourselves) will remain chained in sin unless we turn to Christ. Realizing that we need to be rescued allows us, in turn, to point others to Jesus.

Here at Byron Center Christian School, we are excited to see how God uses our school (students, staff, parents, and supporters) to help us develop the self-discipline to grow in faith, love deeply, and influence powerfully.

Pure Worship

Do you ever get ‘that feeling’ when singing in church, attending a concert, or even during your morning prayer - a rush through your body, sometimes even goosebumps, while worshiping in the presence of God? Every Thursday when second grade has worship time, that is exactly what one can experience.

As Christians, we are called to worship daily. At Byron Center Christian School, that is one aspect (of many) of a quality Christian education. Everything must start and end in Christ.

Mrs. VanWieren commented that sometimes worship occurs within a daily lesson, but other times it takes place by design. In a similar fashion, Bible is taught as a specific subject, but Bible is also present and prevalent in every subject. Teachers purposefully work to craft an environment where worship can happen not only during devotions or chapel, but also when exploring math, science, and social studies.

As adults, we sometimes have an inhibition or timidity when we come to worship, but our second grade students do not. Every Thursday morning, the entire grade gathers in one room to sing praises together. There is no hi-tech sound system, no fancy lighting, and sometimes not even an instrumental accompaniment. However, when you walk by Mrs. Battjes’ classroom, you will encounter one of the most pure forms of worship brought before our Lord and Savior. The kids are singing their hearts out to their Creator. There is no inhibition or worry about how they sound, but just powerful, authentic worship. There is no way to describe what is taking place, but it is absolutely beautiful. Simply put, the second grade students are fulfilling what God created them to do. And while our teachers encourage and lead this time, it is God working in each of their hearts. It is our hope and prayer that He will continue to provide us opportunities for pure worship of Him.

Educational Support Services at BCCS

With each child being created in God’s image and being a reflection of Him in many ways, we get a broad spectrum of beautiful gifts and learning styles. At Byron Center Christian School, our goal is to help every child to work to their fullest ability. Our school is blessed because of this great variety. With this in mind, we take a special approach to inclusive education. The thing is, you might not ever notice the amazing work that our Educational Support Services (ESS) team does, because it is meant to blend seamlessly within the classroom. Our desire is to educate parents on what an amazing benefit and blessing ESS can be to a wide range of students. ESS Director, Kathy Fleet, said last spring in the New Family Orientation, parents often take an apprehensive sigh when they get a call from her, thinking, “What’s wrong with my child?” If there is frustration in the home or at school for the student or parent concerning their education, ESS is a welcome set of eyes on each student.

The analytical and intervention approach are all geared toward each student’s success. Anything that interferes with a student’s ability is covered by ESS. There are many factors, such as attention, anxiety, learning differences, physical and/ or social skill needs. This is why our team has a response to intervention framework that includes four tiers. Intervention is simply the word used when ESS becomes involved with helping a student.

FOUR TIERS OF INTERVENTION

1. The ESS staff provide consultation to the general education teacher to assist with meeting student needs in the classroom (i.e. seating placement).

2. ESS staff design a more targeted approach for various students which could include a paraprofessional in the room. Progress is monitored.

3. When Tiers 1 & 2 have not met the needs, then a more intensive intervention is provided outside the classroom by a highly qualified teacher (one of the ESS staff). One example is Reading Recovery.

4. Students will have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) to include frequent and complete monitoring of all academics by ESS staff. Most of these students will have a full time instructional aide throughout the day to promote inclusion.

It is often thought that the current children placed in Tier 4 are the only children that our team services. However, there are approximately 75 students in their care. Our ESS team meets with each teacher weekly to assess each plan in place and diligently reviews all of our students’ needs. Parents are contacted if a student requires Tier 2 involvement. If you feel that our team would be beneficial in helping your student succeed, the ESS team is here for you.

An ESS plan can be initiated by our team or the parent. Our team creates individual plans to build on your student’s strengths, providing opportunities for them to develop strategies surrounding triggers that prohibit education for themselves or others, and they are always solution-finding in their approach. As parents, you wonder if you are making the right choices for your child, and with an ESS partnership, you can feel more confident in how your child is doing at school. Discover the Difference of what Educational Support Services can do for your family.