Community Christian: A new beginning

CCS rebounds from time of uncertainty

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen With the Mona Lisa looking over her shoulder, Community Christian School art teacher Lindsay Stephan shows a group of third- and fourth-grade students how tint and shade work. The full-time art program was added to the school’s curriculum this year.

The spring of 2016 brought many challenges to Community Christian School in Fort Dodge.

Internal conflicts led to the departure of the school’s administrator, leading to significant staffing changes.

In all, 15 faculty members had to be hired during the summer, according to Jean Black, business manager.

Out of necessity, Black took on a leadership role within the school.

She began her duties Aug. 1.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Surrounded by art supplies, Tyson Nelson, 10, of Fort Dodge, gets ready to answer a question about shade and tint during an art class at Community Christian School. The full-time art program was added to the school’s curriculum.

Black, along with lead teacher, Diane Macek, and a part-time licensed administrator, Maurita Aubrey, lead the school as a team.

“Losing that high percentage of staff, we were uncertain of our future, but God provided in amazing ways,” Black said. “This year has really been a new beginning for us in many ways.”

The transition was tough in the beginning, but now the school is in a better place.

“It’s been great,” Black said. “Our teachers are settling in and have all of their routines down. It’s going very well considering where we started.”

For Black, it’s been an opportunity to learn herself.

“I am loving it and learning so much about the world of education and the challenges that come along with the changes in our culture, especially in the Christian school setting.”

CCS has 66 students in kindergarten through eighth grade and another 48 students in preschool.

Black earned her bachelor of science degree in microbiology from South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota, before moving to Fort Dodge in 1983 from Tulare, South Dakota.

Once in Fort Dodge, Black worked in administration at Fort Dodge Animal Health until 2002.

In 2007, she began volunteering at CCS.

One of her top priorities is helping families.

“Trying to help broken families or families that are hurting is a challenge,” Black said.

Home schooling is an area that CCS is particularly focused on, she said.

“We have rolled out our Homeschool Extension Program,” Black said. “We have been in contact with several home-school families that are looking at the options we have available. We are also trying to get a contact in the home-school community who would be interested in starting a home school support group that would meet at our school.”

Partnering with home schools would allow those children an opportunity to participate in more activities.

“Home-schoolers can take a look at what fits in their schedule and they would have an opportunity to register for academic classes or sports or cheerleading,” Black said.

Other opportunities, such as music, band, art, and math olympics, are other options available to home-schoolers.

“They would also have the option of participating in state assessments or social events or other programs,” Black added.

Black feels strongly about the role of parents in their children’s education.

“As a school we believe education is the responsibility of parents,” Black said. “Even though we are involved in the education of students, the ultimate responsibility lies with the parents. So we just really believe in what home-schoolers do and we would like to help them in anyway we can in order to provide support and in areas that they just can’t do on their own.”

CCS also introduced a new full-time art class in the fall of 2016.

The class is taught by Lindsey Stephan.

Black said the class has been a hit.

“The art program has been extremely successful,” Black said. “The kids love being able to get more involved and actually have an art curriculum that allows them to learn systematically different art concepts.”

Stephan has been collecting all of the art projects to be showcased during an art show, Black said.

The art show is planned for May 23.

CCS is also trying to get recognized through Christian Schools International.

“We are in the process of going through accreditation with Christian Schools International, which should help us raise our bar of excellence in what we do here,” Black said.