Head of School Blog

The Horizontal Impact of a Christian Education

April 18, 2017
By Mike Skaggs

Last week I shared about the importance of the partnership between home, church and Christian school in discipling the young men and women. The goal of this discipleship process is twofold. The first and most obvious advantage is that our students would enjoy in increasing measure the personal benefits of a growing relationship with God now and into eternity. This can be seen as the vertical impact between individuals and the Lord. But there is another important purpose accomplished when young people grow spiritually--a positive horizontal impact upon the world around them. Allow me today to quickly address some of the ways we hope to see TCA students have a positive horizontal impact in our world.

In Genesis 1:28, God gave mankind the mandate to “subdue” the earth and to “have dominion” over it. His expectation was (and is) that we not just seek ways to use natural resources, but that our intellect, curiosity, and creativity would be directed toward filling the world with culture and civilization, discovering new and better ways to maximize the usefulness of creation while continually pressing it toward God’s ideal.

We love seeing our students pursue studies in science, medicine, law, engineering, and technology, but our hopes for them are higher than worldly definitions of success defined in terms of good jobs and comfortable lives. Our hope is that they will regard themselves as stewards of a divinely given trust, and that they will work toward a world that reflects God’s intended ideals as much as is possible this side of heaven. While some Christ followers may skeptically steer clear of fields such as politics and environmentalism, we believe that there is much value here when properly directed, and we rejoice when we see our students learn in all grades of the importance of being good stewards of the world around us!

Another end we hope to see in our students is that they will use all they’ve been given to bless other people. From the Old Testament laws regarding gleaning to the New Testament church sharing of all things, Scripture is full of instructions to care for others. If we acknowledge that all we have is a gift from the Lord, we can understand His expectation that we will use all we have to bless others. This “all we have” goes far beyond money to include our possessions, skills, social standing, friendships, personalities, interests, time, prayers, and anything else we might call “ours.”

A great example is God’s gift of manna to His people in the desert. This miracle food appeared each morning, and people simply went out to gather it up. Naturally, some were better gatherers and could physically collect more than others, but God’s desire was for everyone’s needs to be met (interestingly, anything hoarded spoiled and become useless). In 2 Corinthians, Paul compared money to manna, teaching that it’s as much a gift of God as manna was to the Israelites. Today some of us may be better “gatherers” for various reasons, but our possessions are still gift to be shared. This is a value we seek to instill in our students.

In his work Generous Justice, pastor Tim Keller writes that "God loves and defends those with the least economic and social power, and so should we. That is what it means to ‘do justice’” (Micah 6:8). When we are concerned about widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor, we reflect the heart of God and His deep concern for the vulnerable all around us. In this way, individual Christ-followers, their families, our churches, and our Christian schools, can reveal God's glory and character to a world. Space simply does not allow the dozens and dozens ways our students and staff serve the needs of others through the ministry of Trinity Christian Academy.

As always, thank you for your partnership in the God-sized task of preparing a generation of young men and women who will use the skills they’re learning every day in our school and in your home and church out into the world. We are engaged in so much more than just doing school! May our students continue to bless and be blessed!

Mike

PS...While we work hard to keep our tuition rates significantly below those of similar independent (not church supported) Christian schools, many families who desire a Christian education for their children simply cannot afford the kind of gospel-centered training that our children are blessed with. Perhaps God has allowed you to be an effective “gatherer,” and you could bless another family out of your excess. Please visit http://www.tcaeagles.org/giving/ for information regarding how you could help support the ministry of Trinity Christian Academy.

The Value of Vision

April 10, 2017
By Mike Skaggs

Two weeks ago, members of our school family gathered for the first TCA Family Dinner. What a special evening it was as we enjoyed a sweet time of fellowship and sharing of how TCA has blessed families over the years. I look forward to events similar to this as we prepare to celebrate TCA’s 25th anniversary next year.

My thoughts below are based largely upon remarks I shared at the Family Dinner. For those of you who couldn’t join us that evening, I hope this is helpful and useful to you in terms of better understanding what we’re about here at Trinity Christian Academy.

Thanks for your partnership,

Mike

***

An organization’s vision is important. As the word suggests, “vision” is a mental image of an ideal future if the organization successfully fulfills its purpose. This idea is then accompanied by the organization’s mission which goes on to describe how the vision can be brought to fruition. Simply put, vision is the “what” and mission is the “how.”

Trinity Christian Academy’s vision (our reason for existing) is “to help each student fulfill God’s purpose for his/her life and reach maximum potential in a joint effort between school, student, family, and church.” Our mission (how we carry out that vision) is to develop “excellence in education, character, and servant leadership through a Christ-centered, biblical perspective.” We filter all we do through these statements. In fact, our administrative team begins every one of our weekly meetings with a reading of these statements.

With vision being such a big deal, we must seriously consider the question: “So what is God’s purpose for our students?” This is an important question not just for our children, but for us all. To answer it well, we look to scripture.

In Matthew, Jesus taught that our purpose is to love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind. He followed this with a command to love other people just as we would want to be loved, going to say that these commands sum up all of the law and prophets. Since He is, after all, “the Word made flesh,” he ought to know! So, let’s look back a little further in God’s word at what the Bible has to say through one of the Old Testament prophets.

Micah 6:8 summarizes God’s purpose for each of us, and, as should be expected from an unchanging God, it lines right up with Jesus’ teaching. Micah tells us that what is “good” is “doing justice,” “loving kindness,” and “walking humbly with God.” Bottom line? The eternal, divinely appointed purpose for people and for institutions bearing His name (including families, churches, and Christian schools) is to Love God and Love People wholeheartedly.

Accordingly, this is our school’s goal in all things – academics, athletics, creative arts, social activities, relationships, service projects, trips…everything! We won’t always do it perfectly, but this is our heart. And when this is done alongside families and churches that share this vision, we stand a pretty good chance of developing young men and women with lives that are “good” from a divine perspective. Our boys and girls can grow to become men and women who walk with the Lord, act justly and love kindness. But even then, this is going to look different for different people.

Some organizations literally bear the name of Christ (churches, Christian schools, parachurch ministries, etc.), and some individuals engage in full or part-time vocational ministry, spending their working hours singularly focused on loving God and people. In our school’s relatively short history, we’ve seen a number of TCA students go on to live out this calling as pastors, missionaries, worship leaders, Christian school teachers, and other forms of occupational ministry.

But at TCA, we know God’s call to love Him and others applies to all walks of life. We believe that if we are to live fulfilled lives in keeping with God’s design, everyone should engage in loving God and loving others well. This is the ultimate purpose for everyone in the TCA family (students, staff, and parents alike). In fact, I venture to say this is the purpose of every person!

This brings us to another key part of what TCA is all about.

This call to love God and people well is reflected in Jesus’ final command to go out and make disciples. This call to discipleship informs all that we do here at TCA. At the core, every part of TCA school life is a vehicle for discipleship.  

I believe this to be the heart of intentional Christian parents too, and I know it is the heart of our area pastors. But none of us should have to do it alone. There’s simply not enough time or energy in our busy world! Working together, however, we can offer our children the chance to grow into all God designed them to be, fulfill His purpose for their lives. What a blessing for our students to have this opportunity!

Thanks for your partnership in this effort, and thanks for your help in making this type of training accessible to as many students in our area as possible.

Mike

Plod On!

February 27, 2017
By Mike Skaggs

I love it that kids at TCA study the lives of godly men and women of years past who took the good news of Jesus around the world. As a parent, I enjoy it when my kids coming home and tell what they’ve learned about people who answered the call to missions when it truly meant dying to oneself and saying goodbye to friends and family to be immersed in a completely foreign culture. In fact, do yourself a favor and read about early missionaries like Adoniram Judson (1788-1850, Burma), David Livingstone (1813-1873, Africa), Hudson Taylor (1832-1905, China), Amy Carmichael (1867-1951, India), Jim Elliot and Nate Saint (1927/1923-1956, Ecuador), or Eric Liddell (1902-1945, China). If nothing else, when you meet these heroes of the faith one day, you’ll have an idea of what to talk about!

To save you some time, let me share briefly about the man often called “The Father of Modern Missions.” Born into a poor family, William Carey (1761-1834) obtained little formal education. He was apprenticed to a shoemaker (during which time he became a Christ-follower), but he wasn’t very good and was released. This was followed by an unsuccessful stint at running a school, an unhappy marriage, and the death of a young daughter. He remained a deeply committed believer, but his pastoring attempts were hindered by his “tedious and boring” sermons.

Some might have given up In the face of such adversity and disappointment, but not William Carey. Never one to quit, he established the Baptist Missionary Society and was himself the first candidate to sail to India. During his many years of service, he translated the Bible into Bengali, Oriya, Marathi, Hindi, Assamese and Sanskrit, and portions of Scripture into 29 other languages! And what did he do when he lost ten years’ worth of translation work in a fire? He just started again. God used this faithful, obedient man to impact the earthly lives and eternal destinies of literally millions of people.

Late in life, Carey learned of plans to write his life story. Instead of wanting to be remembered as a skilled linguist, writer or printer, he insisted that the only proper way to describe himself was as a “plodder,” and that “anything else would be too much.” This man who taught himself Latin, Hebrew and Greek, and who was so influential in the lives of many other missionaries wrote, “I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.”

May the people of TCA have this kind of character and faith! May our kids choose as heroes people like William Carey! May kids see their parents and teachers model this kind of consistency and celebrate this kind of faith.

Plod on friends!

Re-enrollment Information

January 23, 2017
By Mike Skaggs

Re-enrollment for the 2017/18 school year has begun, and we’ve already seen families begin to re-enroll using our brand new, fully online process. While changes like this always come with a few hiccups along the way, things have been going smoothly so far, and we are excited about this new model as we seek to be more efficient and future-minded in this and other processes. Our enrollment coordinator, Dionne Wyly, will be happy to help with any questions you might have about that new online process or other matters related to enrollment.

As always, we ask TCA families to re-enroll without delay for two big reasons.

First and foremost—we anticipate classes reaching capacity next year, and we don’t want any of our current families to lose their child’s spot at TCA! Mrs. Squyres and Mr. Nobles are conducting admissions interviews with new families for 2017/18 on an almost daily basis (the phone rang as I was typing this with someone scheduling a visit!), and we expect a strong turnout when enrollment opens to the public in February.

A second reason to re-enroll now is more practical and helpful on our end. We often see a last-minute “re-enrollment flood” right at the deadline. Managing this rush can be a challenge for office staff who are also working hard to provide daily services to TCA students and staff. Re-enroll this week and help them manage that workload more effectively.

As I said, re-enrollment began today and families may re-enroll through Thursday, February 9th before enrollment will be opened to the public. Friday, February 10th is reserved for open enrollment preparations, and no re-enrollments will be accepted that day. Open enrollment to the public begins on Monday, February 13.

We look forward to an exciting year at TCA in 2017/18. Re-enroll today and secure your spot in that great future! And if you’ve already re-enrolled, THANK YOU!!!

Blessings,

Mike Skaggs
TCA Head of School

The Selfie Syndrome

December 05, 2016
By Mike Skaggs

(This is an adaptation of a blog post by Edward Earwood, founder and managing editor of Focus on Christian Education. Dr. Earwood also serves as the Executive Director of the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools.)

“Selfie Syndrome” is a term used by psychologist and parenting expert Michelle Borba.  She notes that the “rise of social media, as well as changes in our culture and parenting styles” had produced a generation of self-absorbed youth.  Borba offers some alarming statistics:

  • Narcissism rates are up 58% compared to three decades ago.
  • Nearly 3 out of 4 college students admit cheating in class
  • One-third of college students report being depressed to the point of “having trouble functioning”

Probably safe to say this is not what was envisioned a generation or two back!  So what can Christian parents do to cast a better vision for our students?  Here are some good places to start:

  1. Model a life of serving others – Jesus came as a prophet, priest, and king, but His greatest example to us is that of a servant. Before he completed His mission at Calvary, he washed feet. Our children need to see us serving those around us by providing meals in times of illness, praying with others, and assisting them even when we’re not required to do so.

  2. Seek empathy opportunities – Empathy involves seeking to understand the personal needs of those around us--our neighbors, other parents, teachers at school, etc. This helps our kids see how to love and be kind to those that are different than them.  Our job is to help them “walk a mile” in others’ shoes.  Guide them to give time and/or money to relief efforts.  As a family, seek opportunities to assist the elderly or work in homeless shelters or rescue missions. Go beyond “How was your day?” conversations at mealtime to talk about how others in their class might be struggling and then discuss what might be appropriately kind words or gestures in response.

  3. Focus on self-sacrifice not self-esteem – Our culture tells parents to teach self-esteem, but the truth is that success comes when one’s life is guided by self-sacrifice. Jesus told His disciples to deny themselves rather than to be consumed by self-interest.  Isn’t it interesting that suicide rates are on the rise in our world that is so given to building self-esteem? The truth is that life does not revolve around us, and when kids are taught that it does, it’s hard to reconcile the difficulties that are bound to come. Rarely do students need help building an esteemed self!

  4. Honor those that sacrifice – Our first thoughts may go to our military members or first responders, but there are many more examples of those that “esteem others better than themselves.”  What about a person who donates an organ to family, friend, or total stranger?  It may be someone who sacrificed to assist storm victims, the poor, or a mission project? What about someone who has chosen a “helping profession” such as teaching, ministry, or public service?  

  5. An others-centered project – As a family, choose a long-term project that allows all members to see, understand, empathize, and sacrificially invest in other people, letting your kids offer ways that they can be used to meet the needs of others.  Facilitate opportunities for your children to have an actionable part in helping.  Go beyond just giving money, clothing, or food. Money does not solve all problems and it is often too easy to give material items and then return the focus to oneself.

Effective parents teach their children to live for something greater than self.  As our culture caters to the desires of self, let’s be intentional about showing and teaching our students that the end of a life marked by Selfie Syndrome is disappointment, not lasting success!

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