Sacred Trust: A Precious Partnership between Parent and School
By Jim Sullivan, Woodcrest Christian School Superintendent
Growing up, my brother and sisters used to play with the neighbor kids on our street for hours every weekend. Most of the time, we were outside, but there were times when we played inside various neighbors’ houses. My parents never worried about where we were because they knew that pretty much all of the neighbors were on the same page in terms of values and expectations about behavior and respect.
That shared belief provided a foundation that included the confidence that if any of us kids misbehaved, the other parents would hold us accountable and correct us as needed. It was also understood that we would respond respectfully to that correction.
In much the same way, we, Woodcrest Christian and the home, work together in the raising and educating of our students. We act, as the Latin says, in loco parentis, in the place of the parent.
This is a longstanding principle upon which the American education system was founded. However, what was understood to be a “temporary” assuming of responsibility during school hours has since been transformed to a belief that schools not only know how to be better parents but that they can and should take the complete place of parents. That is not the case at Woodcrest Christian and serves as a very distinct difference in the world of education.
Our school’s guiding principle is to come alongside parents in partnership with them, not to replace them. For many reasons, public schools, especially, have become the parents of their students. In some situations, it is a responsibility that they have assumed because so many parents have “abandoned” their parental duties. In other cases, schools have usurped parental responsibility because they believe they can do a better job and/or desire to change the values and beliefs of students away from what their parents believe. That is wrong on many levels.
Our school’s guiding principle is to come alongside parents in partnership with them, not to replace them.
As parents, God has given us the responsibility to raise our children and that responsibility is not to be passed off to anyone else. Scripture repeatedly reminds parents that their primary responsibility is the raising of their children.
Deuteronomy 6:1-2 is a well known scripture regarding this responsibility. “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God command me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.” God’s command comes with a promise not only for the parent, but for the children and grandchildren!
Moses continues regarding the teaching of God’s commands to children as he says, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Over and over again, we see that God bestows parents the important challenge and privilege of raising children. As a school, we value and guard that assignment jealously.
Over and over again, we see that God bestows parents the important challenge and privilege of raising children. As a school, we value and guard that assignment jealously.
We understand that “loaning” us your child for 6+ hours a day is a sacred trust. Your child, our student, is your most precious treasure! Therefore, our task is to support your efforts as a partner and not a replacement. Only you can provide them the foundation and values that they need. Take heart these Words that I give you today. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you’re at home or away, when you lie down or get up. Only parents can meet this command. Only a parent can have that kind of impact on a daily basis. An elementary teacher might have a student for six hours a day (a secondary teacher only has him/her for one hour a day!) but that pales to the 18 hours a parent influences a child. And that’s they way it should be! Parents see their students in countless situations that require teaching, training, encouragement, accountability discipline, and so much more. It is not the school’s place to replace that powerful influence in a child’s life.
We also will continue to provide whatever resources we can to assist you in your parenting knowing that when both of us (school and home) are diligent, share the same values, and are consistent with our individual responsibilities, your child, our student, has a better chance of spiritual, academic, and emotional growth and success.
So, we will continue to partner with you in the education of your child and defer to you as the parent regarding those areas that are importantly yours to navigate and work through with your child. We also will continue to provide whatever resources we can to assist you in your parenting knowing that when both of us (school and home) are diligent, share the same values, and are consistent with our individual responsibilities, your child, our student, has a better chance of spiritual, academic, and emotional growth and success.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Woodcrest Christian School Superintendent