Williamsburg, Va., September 4, 2015-This school year, there's a new option for education in Williamsburg. Bringing a Charlotte Mason inspired style of Christian schooling to the area for the first time, Covenant Christian School (CCS) opened its doors to students from kindergarten through 12th grade for its first-ever day of school on August 24. Located at 201 Penniman Road, the school building is just a short walk from Colonial Williamsburg.
The educational method used at CCS is based on the ideas of English author, philosopher and educator Charlotte Mason (1842-1923), who founded a teacher training college in Ambleside, England, inspired the creation of the Parents' National Education Union, and shaped the work of education in hundreds of primary and secondary schools worldwide, as well as the homeschool community. Her thoughts are set forth extensively in a six-volume collection of writings, summarized by two central principles that "Children are born persons" and "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline and a life."
Distinctive features of the method include literature-based education, living books, narration, studied dictation, nature study, composer study, picture study, copybooks, and chronological classroom time lines. Instead of textbooks, the CCS curriculum uses a series of carefully chosen classic books, works of art, musical compositions, Scripture passages, skills, and techniques in its teaching - all selected based on the literary or artistic quality of each work and the quality of ideas it contains. Math is taught with a combination of conceptual and computational approaches. By placing the emphasis on the assimilation of ideas and the mastery of skills rather than on the performance of measurement tasks, CCS commits to ensuring that its education is rigorous without being stressful.
Unique to Christian education in Williamsburg, the Covenant Christian School curriculum includes life skills training to fully equip students with the capability for independence and self-sufficiency. Students will discover the joy of using their hands in cooking, sewing, gardening, electronics, carpentry, and a variety of handcrafts. Lifelong athletic activities such as golf, tennis, and swimming will also be offered.
CCS seeks to fill a very specific and previously unmet niche in the Williamsburg area. The school follows a discipleship model of Christian education versus evangelical, which means that CCS believes its role is to specifically support Christian parents in their biblical role as primary educators in the lives of their children.
In addition, in a world where hardship is considered to be something to avoid, and removing the struggle in the education of children is often the goal, Covenant Christian School sees much value in struggle and perseverance, in order to prepare children for what they will face in their lives as Christians.
Another feature that sets Covenant apart is its groundbreaking Homeschool Connections program, which brings local homeschoolers together while providing opportunities to partner with the school for curriculum consultation, yearly standardized testing, participation in classes, extracurricular activities, "Charlotte Mason Days," or an afternoon program for homeschoolers.
Covenant Christian School was founded by three seasoned educators - Erika Jordan, Karen Koob, and Shirley Timmer, who believe in the idea of a Christ-centered, covenant Christian community of learning, where God is glorified, children are "trained up in the way that they should go," and families covenant together to support one another in an effort to raise godly children. Jordan, Koob, and Timmer serve as the administrative leadership team and are joined by several parents and members of the community to form the school ministry team (or board). Since CCS's inception only a few short months ago, five more teachers have been added to the staff.
Head of School Erika Jordan, who has 22 years of experience in educational ministry, summed up the first days of school with one word - "joy."
"From Monday morning's opening notes of Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, our hymn of the week, to the impromptu lunch hour volleyball games organized by the children, the hours spent together have been precious and the atmosphere God-honoring," she said. "I can honestly say that the children are absolutely delightful, and the daily interactions leave me feeling blessed beyond measure to be part of such a wonderful ministry. God has assembled a covenant community of families that so very evidently seeks to raise children who posses a love and reverence for the LORD. I am humbled and honored to be used of Him to lead our school."
The mission of Covenant Christian School is to glorify God by creating a Christ-centered learning community of covenant families in which education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. To learn more, please visit ccswilliamsburg.org.
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