This fall, Grand Rapids Christian Schools introduced our Portrait of a Graduate.
This system-wide initiative defines our schools' mission (preparing students to be effective servants of Christ in contemporary society) in terms of student outcomes & describes how we hope to prepare our students to face the challenges they will encounter throughout their lives.
These characteristics capture the values we strive to instill in each of our students.
Because of the unique structure of our school system, these descriptors help our community; parents, students, and staff; have a framework to know how our students are expected to develop as they continue their journey through our schools.
Yes, we educate students at a high level. Yes, we coach them on the field, direct them on the stage, and travel with them around the world. Many schools do these things well. But what really makes a graduate of the Grand Rapids Christian Schools unique?
Our Portrait of a Graduate describes just that.
Throughout the rest of the school year, we will be introducing each of the seven Portrait of Graduate characteristics along with stories and examples of those characteristics on display through the lives of our students and staff, within the walls of our schools and beyond.
This month we introduce to you the characteristic, Disciples of Christ. The Grand Rapids Christian Portrait of a Graduate describes this characteristic as being prepared to follow Christ with faithfulness, resilience, and humility in a broken but hopeful world.
Here is Rockford Christian Principal, Harry Knol's reflection on this Portrait of a Graduate characteristic:
Walking the RCS hallways, I am continuously reminded of the incredible gift of Christian education. Evidence of growing Disciples of Christ and our mission to equip his servants is clearly present. How do I know?
- Every morning at 8:00am, a group of staff faithfully gathers in the band room to pray for the RCS community.
- 5th graders meet once a month with adult mentors to engage in a “Know God” book study.
- 7/8th graders once a month lead groups of younger grades in discussion at Family Time (called community groups).
- Staff members intentionally and faithfully lead devotions with their classes each morning, spending time in prayer and opening scripture.
- At our first Family Time, a parent who had lost his wife to cancer the day before attended. He was recognized and prayed for by the Principal and again by Mr. Phil during the family time. It was a beautiful example of faithfulness and resilience in a difficult time. His children are cared for and loved by the staff on a daily basis which includes help from our School Social Worker to understand and support a grieving child. I saw a beautiful thing, in that a grieving parent chose the RCS community to share his grief publicly, but he also sought comfort for himself and his two children.
- RCS was blessed to have Mr. David Worst participate and present at one of our first Family Times. David, who has Cerebral Palsy, works at the school two days a week. His message that day and continually is one that exemplifies faithfulness, resilience and humility. He is connected to and loved by the students. A faithful parent volunteer provides his transportation to and from RCS every Monday and Tuesday.
When I began my role as RCS’ principal, I wondered if I would experience and observe first-hand these kinds of examples of faith nurture. Would they be simply routine activities? To what extent would students and staff be truly engaged in discipleship and faith formation. As I walk the halls, visit classrooms, participate and occasionally lead classroom devotions, and talk with staff and students, I have found that the teachers and students are very attentive to this core value and that teachers deeply engaged with their students and this community.
To follow Christ you need to know Him and at RCS, students, and teachers truly do know Christ.
Each month will continue to share stories of God working in and around the lives of those who are a part of or touched by the Grand Rapids Christian School community and how our students are living out the Portrait of a Graduate characteristics. We look forward to sharing these stories with you.