“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
– John 13:35
One of the first things people notice when they visit Cary Christian School is that all our students, from kindergartners to high school seniors, are in one building. As an alumna, the structure of our community is one of the greatest blessings I have experienced at Cary Christian School. Having small classes and being all together in one building makes the classical Christian approach to education more personal and more relational–and therefore even more effective. Relationships that span grade-levels not only help develop strong leaders, but they also help cultivate a community that encourages being known and being loved. The familiarity that comes with small class sizes can lead to deep and meaningful conversations.
When I was a student at Cary Christian in middle School, I had two siblings in high school. While middle school is a difficult time, I was blessed to have relationships with students older than me whom I could look up to, talk to, and be encouraged by. The House system, sports teams, the arts, clubs, Kinder-buddies, and History Day can encourage and help establish these vertical relationships. The older students are empowered and equipped to help lead the younger students, and the younger students are excited to look up to the older as role models. When I was in high school, my mom taught kindergarten. Not only were there older students pouring into me at the time, but I had the opportunity to pour into younger students on campus. Because of my time in my mom’s classroom, I learned that I was passionate about education and seeing students come to know the Lord.
As a teacher, I was able to see this vertical unity play out even more. One of my favorite memories is watching my 8th grade students have so much fun playing with the K-2 students on “Buddy Day.” I saw my students in such a different light when they were playing with their younger peers. They were still 8th graders, but they embraced the responsibility and did an amazing job encouraging their younger brothers and sisters. With our small community, our students have many opportunities to develop these life-giving relationships.
With our small class sizes, teachers are also able to develop meaningful, life-giving relationships with their students. The 1:13 class ratio allows teachers to engage their students on different levels. They can plan their lessons based on real-life conversations that they have had with their students. Teachers can foster and cultivate meaningful moments in their classrooms because they are aware of the questions and struggles with which their students are wrestling.
During lunch and after school, it is not hard to find groups of students hanging out in teachers’ classrooms. Although this might keep the teacher from getting other work done or just taking a break, the teachers embrace these moments. They see their jobs as more than just that paper that needs to be graded. They see the eternal ramifications of the relationships they are forming and the beauty of having a tight-knit community.
…is that these encouraging relationships between students and between teachers and students would always permeate our school, that Christ’s love would be evident through our students’ relationships with each other and with their teachers, and that our school would be known as being a place that encourages and challenges our students through relationships, and that every student who walks through our doors would be known and loved by their brothers and sisters in Christ.