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Head of School Blog

On Harvard and TCA

November 05, 2018
By Mike Skaggs

Everyone knows Harvard, right? What most people do not know, however, is that it was founded for the purpose of training Christian ministers. In fact, soon after its founding, Harvard University adopted a document titled “Rules and Precepts” which contained the following:

“Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, Let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seeke it of him (Prov. 2:3). Every one shall so exercise himselfe in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in Theoreticall observations of Language and Logick, and in practical and spiritual truths, as his Tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing the entrance of the word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130).”

I’m sure Harvard’s founders were proud of this statement...and they should be! Over time, though, things have certainly changed at our nation’s oldest university, and much has been said regarding their drift from that original mission. But I see something else worthy of a conversation here. Notice where the responsibility for mission success rests. While teachers were to “instruct plainly” and make clear the purpose of learning, mission success fell to the student. It was the learner’s job to take his studies seriously, always being ready to demonstrate his proficiency in the required curriculum. Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?

Now, let’s take a look at our school’s goals. TCA’s vision (the direction we look to and move toward) is to help each student fulfill God’s purpose for his/her life and reach maximum potential. This is done in an active partnership between the school, the home, the church, and the student.

On the school and church side, this makes sense. Like good old Harvard, our teachers work to “help each student fulfill God’s purpose” by instructing plainly and directing them toward a right understanding of God and the world around us (including math, science, languages, creative arts, etc.). Our curriculum and learning environment does this well, and so does a church with a good education program.

But what about the parents? We know our kids still need us, but we also understand that they’re capable of a great deal. How do we avoid Helicopter and Lawnmower parenting styles that can cripple them emotionally, spiritually, and academically without throwing in the towel completely, embracing Free Range parenting that can, at its worst, leave kids without the boundaries needed to safely grow.

It’s not easy to keep it all in balance. But take heart parents, you’re not alone. You’re part of a team! God has given us direction in His Word, and His church is a crucial source of wisdom and support. Countless resources exist online for Christian parents seeking help. Other parents can give sound advice, especially seasoned parents who’ve walked the tough road of raising kids and lived to tell the tale. Finally, don’t forget that the men and women on the TCA staff. They love your child and want what’s best (not easiest) for him or her.

The ultimate responsibility for learning, however, falls to the learner. I mentioned this to a group of teachers a couple of weeks ago, and TCA Bible teacher Jeff Anderson shared the following from a talk he’d given a few years back about the role of the student in the learning process. He identified the student as being responsible to (1) prepare for instruction, (2) be present, (3) receive instruction, (4) work to understand instruction, (5) be assessed, and (6) apply instruction. I would argue that these reflect the same truths that Harvard identified almost 400 years ago. It’s our job (school/parent/church) to press our kids toward these responsibilities and then step back. Succeed or fail, it’s on them, and lessons are there regardless. It’s the end result of godly men and women that we’re aiming for! (Interestingly enough, these same responsibilities apply to personal spiritual growth, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

One of Trinity Christian Academy’s most important core values is that our students will “value personal responsibility for their actions and decisions.” As this happens rightly, kids at all age levels assume increasing levels of responsibility. The results are transformation for them and all around them as success in this area brings real value not only to their lives, but also to their present and future families, to our school, to our churches, to our community, and eventually to society as a whole. Let’s work together to do this well for their sake and ours.

I think John Harvard would be proud :)

Being a "Real Gardener"

August 20, 2018
By Mike Skaggs

Years ago, I remember looking forward to the time when my kids would hit the teen years and my yardwork days would come to an end. Oddly enough, once they were big enough to run the mower, I didn’t want to hand it over! I found that while I enjoyed the labor and needed the exercise, I appreciated the isolation provided by the mower’s roar; it allowed me precious time and space to think. In fact, TCA’s motto of “Student Success for God’s Glory” came to me while mowing my yard 15 years ago!

Mostly though, I like the sense of accomplishment yardwork provides. Bringing order to chaos by trimming trees or laying stones to create a garden just feels good. Cultivating, tending, and helping establish something that will last seems to meet a deep, God-given desire within us all.

Author Ray Bradbury says puts it this way in his novel Fahrenheit 451: “...the difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

As we enter our 26th year as a school, I think we can learn from this.

We have been given a great foundation. We have a legacy of strong leadership to build on. Those who came before worked, prayed, and sacrificed together to see their God-given vision come to life. They left a garden that was in many ways well-tended and in order.

But the past is past. Today it is our time to maintain order in a world where, without a constant, intentional, caring touch, our garden will quickly fall into disarray and chaos.

So we work. We sacrifice. We pray. We dream. It will not be easy. The enemy wants to divide us and destroy the work, but we will not allow it. Instead, we will approach the next 25 years just like we did the first 25--together, in lock step, moving toward the common goal of helping students fulfill God’s purpose for their lives.

Thus, it is fitting that this year’s theme is “Stronger Together.” For only together can we move successfully into and through our next 25 years.

One day 25 years from now, we will proudly leave another generation with a garden that is well-tended, flourishing, and fit for use. But that doesn’t just happen. Thanks for joining us in the task.

25th Anniversary Legacy Dinner

April 23, 2018
By Mike Skaggs

Again and again I have heard from the TCA family and people throughout our community what a wonderful evening the 25th Anniversary Legacy Dinner turned out to be. Well, of course it was! When you combine a rich history worth celebrating and a group of staff and volunteers that are extremely talented at event planning, you can’t go wrong!

First of all, it was incredible to see our goal of $150,000 not only met, but exceeded! The final tally was just over $180,000 (after expenses). Praise God! As a result, TCA will purchase a new bus to transport students beginning next fall. How exciting! And not only can we proceed with improvements to the elementary playground, but we can also provide needed upgrades in the elementary building! Look for “in progress” updates on the TCA Facebook page over the summer months as those projects get underway. Finally, we will implement a variety of security upgrades including the installation of security bollards, improvements to campuswide video security systems, and the application of shatterproof film to exterior windows.

On a personal level, it was fun for me to tell stories that night about my great-grandfather Willie Skaggs and his brother Frank. I shared about these two “circuit rider” preachers to illustrate what it means to leave a legacy. Little did I know how that would resonate with those in attendance! It has been fun over the past few days to hear stories of similar legacies in other TCA families.

Perhaps the most touching part of the evening was seeing so many faces from TCA’s rich history. Our founder Dr. Marsha Barber was on hand along with former staff, board members, and even alumni from those early years to celebrate all that God has done through the ministry of Trinity Christian Academy. What a blessing to hear their stories! I love them all and it was good to be in the same room again.

But now...a couple of weeks have passed. Barber Gym is back to normal, and that special evening is itself in the history books. All that’s left are memories and that weird “morning after” sense that can leave us asking, “Now what?”

The answer is easy! We just keep doing what we do. We begin another 25 years by being faithful today. Alongside families and churches, we continue to help students identify the Lord’s purpose for their lives and reach their God-given potential. Through a Christ-centered, biblical perspective, we continue to devote ourselves to developing excellence in education, character, and leadership development. It may look different in 2018 than it did in 1993 (as it should), but the heart of TCA has not changed, nor will it.

Again, thanks to those of you who played a part in the 25th Anniversary Legacy Dinner. Looking forward, I also want to say thanks in advance for doing your part in laying the foundation for another celebration 25 years from now when those planning TCA’s Golden Anniversary gather to share OUR story. Let’s give ‘em a good one.

Let’s be good ancestors.

Mike

Taking Our Kids to Hard Places

April 03, 2018
By Mike Skaggs

In Six Reasons to Take Your Kids to Hard Places, Jamie Dew, Dean of the College at Southeastern in Wake Forest, NC encourages Christian adults to intentionally expose our children to “places where poverty and brokenness are rampant, the places where pain and suffering abound.” This thought was heavy on me a couple of weeks ago as I accompanied a TCA I-Term team for a week in Chicago.

It was not a fun trip.

Don’t get me wrong...we laughed, ate good food, and made great memories. In short, we had loads of fun, but but it was not a fun trip. We worked! Over the course of that week, our team served meals to the needy, sorted and bagged over 6.5 tons of potatoes for distribution, taught ESL classes to refugees, loved on low-income children, and gave dignity to the homeless by engaging them in meaningful conversations at a men’s shelter.

While we were always safe, there were times of real physical and emotional discomfort. Still, I never heard a word of complaint. In fact, as the week drew on, I heard our students say things like:

  • “He had a life just like us before coming to America” (about a refugee from Myanmar)
  • “They just want love and attention” (about kids at a childcare facility for low-income families)
  • “She is really smart, she just doesn’t know English yet” (about a refugee from Afghanistan)
  • “The only real difference between him and us are a few bad breaks or poor choices” (about a man spending the night in a homeless shelter)

Our first instinct is often to protect our kids from difficulties, but over the years, I have seen great benefit to stretching our kids (and ourselves) in service to others. At times this can include risk, but we don’t have to be reckless to take a trip to a nursing home, soup kitchen, or homeless shelter. It is there that we can give our kids the gift of an authentic look at what life is like for those who are oppressed or suffering. Don’t forget, those are Jesus’ people. He sought them out, and so must we.

As you read this on April 3, plenty of time remains (within proper limits dependent on age and maturity) to make plans this summer to expose our kids to some of the difficult realities of life. And for good reason! Here are a few Drew gives in his post…

  • It helps our kids see the difference between good and evil.
  • It can teach gratitude and thankfulness.
  • It nurtures a concern for other people.
  • It helps us consider the potential impact of our own lives for good in the world.
  • It drives us to pray. When burdens are overwhelming, there are times when we can do nothing but ask the Lord to intervene.
  • It follows the example of Christ.

May we see the world as Jesus does, for only can we respond to it as he did.

Blessings,

Mike

Re-Enrollment Reminders

January 08, 2018
By Mike Skaggs

Current TCA families may begin the process of re-enrolling their children for the 2018/19 school year one week from today. Each family will receive detailed re-enrollment information soon with instructions how to complete this important online process. If at any point you have questions regarding re-enrollment, please contact our enrollment coordinator, Dionne Wyly. She will be happy to help with any questions you might have about the process or other matters related to enrollment.

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

First and foremost—several classes on both the elementary and secondary campuses reached capacity this year, and we expect that to be the case next year as well. We don’t want any of our current families to lose their child’s spot at TCA! Dr. Newby and Mr. Nobles have been busily conducting admissions interviews with new families for 2018/19 on an almost daily basis for weeks now, and we expect a strong turnout when enrollment opens to the public.

A second reason to re-enroll now is more practical and helpful on our end. We often see a last-minute “flood” of re-enrollment right at the deadline. Trust me...I can put things off with the best of them, so I completely understand the temptation to “do that tomorrow”! But, if all of our 300+ families waited until just before the deadline to re-enroll, managing that rush would be a huge challenge for office staff who are also working hard to daily serve our students and staff. Re-enrolling today can really help them manage that workload more effectively.

Re-enrollment begins Tuesday January 16. This protected re-enrollment period lasts for 3 weeks, ending on February 2nd. Open enrollment to the public begins on Monday, February 5.

We look forward to an exciting year at TCA in 2018/19. Re-enroll today and secure your spot in that great future!

Blessings,

Mike Skaggs
TCA Head of School

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