I believe we can all agree that 2020 was a tough year for education.
A global pandemic, nationwide school closures, quarantine, and virtual learning were not on anyone’s radar last January. As frustrated families around the nation took to social media to vent about how their school districts were struggling with COVID-19, I had never been more proud to be a Concord Lion. As both a high school teacher at Concord Christian School and an elementary parent, my assessment was from “both sides of the counter.”
I watched in amazement as CCS handled the pandemic with wisdom and transparency, always mindful of involving teachers and parents in important school decisions every step of the way.
A task force was formed to review pertinent information and to consult with the health department and other medical providers to ensure the safety of our students and staff. On June 16th, 2020, Concord’s task force released Knox County’s first comprehensive K-12th Reopening Plan which provided crucial guidance and enabled CCS to resume classes on August 13th, 2020.
Although much of Concord Christian School’s recent success can be attributed to the experienced administrators working in school leadership, of utmost importance is our school’s Christ-centered foundation and the legacy we’ve been working to build for the last 25 years. I’m often surprised when I meet people who have never heard of our school, or who think it is only a primary school.
In reality, our campus serves children from birth to their high school graduation. Concord Christian School was an idea proposed in the early 1990s by a group of dedicated church members at First Baptist Concord. FBC already had a renowned preschool program that had been operational for over two decades. After much prayer and planning, CCS was founded in 1995 and opened its doors to students in elementary school in 1996. Additional grades were added over time, and Concord was proud to graduate its first class of seniors in 2013.
Though Concord has enjoyed ongoing growth for the past 25 years, I love that it has retained its family feel and small classroom sizes. In the elementary school, the average teacher to student ratio is 17 to 1. As a parent with a graduate degree in education, I’ve been impressed with how far ahead of the curve Concord’s curriculum is in every subject area, including extracurricular classes like Spanish and computer.
My son was in kindergarten learning how to type while simultaneously learning how to write and spell. Building on these skill sets early in his academic journey will serve him well in our technology-based society. Not only is the curriculum at Concord more academically advanced, but it is also more spiritually focused. Teachers at CCS are committed to Dr. Glen Schultz’s Kingdom Education and equipping the next generation of students through a curriculum that is Biblically integrated and champions a Biblical worldview. In other words, learning about faith isn’t something that only happens during the time allotted for Bible class but is the cornerstone of every subject that students learn in school.
As students continue through the more challenging years of middle school, their environment stays familiar, and as one family shares, “The teachers and staff are wonderful. They are good role models and clearly love and care for their students.”
Beginning in 8th grade, the Lion’s Leadership Initiative lays groundwork for what Christian leadership is by inspiring students to explore leadership traits such as integrity and service. In addition, a student’s entrepreneurial spirit is sparked when the class hosts exemplary community leaders and business owners as guest speakers.
As one student shares, “I love leadership class. This is my favorite class! I have learned what it means to be a leader and how to lead others to Christ.”
Each year, students also participate in local and international mission initiatives on both a class-wide and a school-wide level. These service projects have the dual purpose of teaching them how to be servant-minded while also getting them excited to see their community (and ultimately the world) transformed by their efforts. One middle school parent summed up her experience by saying, “I like that it is a close-knit and supportive atmosphere. My middle schooler is somewhat shy and can struggle with confidence. However, I feel that the environment and encouragement at CCS has had a positive effect.”
While our high school is younger than many of the other private schools in the area, it is no less accomplished for its age. In addition to a wealth of AP and DE course offerings, students have the opportunity to challenge themselves with unique courses that they likely won’t find at any other school in Knox County. One such example is Forensic Science.
In Forensics, students get to investigate “crime scenes” and analyze DNA samples to fulfill a science credit. Our high school is home to a flourishing international program, an award-winning marching band, a decorated Science Olympiad team, and twelve different varsity sports teams. Our most recent graduating class was comprised of 36 students who were collectively awarded an impressive $3.2 million in scholarships.
The class of 2020 were high achievers, with the top 25% of the class scoring an average of 31 on the ACT and maintaining a 4.2 GPA. Every student in this graduating class went on to college, with 76% attending a four-year college or university, and with some earning acceptances from Ivy League schools.
As we continue to pursue our mission and grow in strategic ways, exciting days are ahead for CCS. With an impressive K-12th staff boasting a combined 771 years of teaching experience, supportive church and school leadership, and a strong gospel focus, there really is nowhere else I would rather be teaching (or sending my children).