A Parent’s Perspective | Aurelio Melendrez
Aurelio Melendrez is father to a current fourth grader and sixth grader who started attending Woodcrest Christian in 2020. Aurelio is a Riverside native who served with the Riverside Police Department for over 15 years and is currently a pastor at Sandals Church.
In 2020 Woodcrest Christian parent Aurelio Melendrez came to a crossroads about where his two children would attend elementary school the following year. Previously, Aurelio’s children had attended a local elementary school where he shared that they were doing well academically and had found a good community. Once the pandemic hit, however, and public schools moved to online learning, Aurelio says, “The sense of community was completely lost. Not only was the in-person aspect of learning gone, but the lack of foundational core values being taught was brought to light.”
Recognizing that the post-pandemic public school was not ideal for his children, Aurelio and his wife began considering a change. “Both my wife and I had an urge to change our childrens’ schooling situation. We both began praying about the decision to move our children to Woodcrest Christian.”
In making the decision, Aurelio recounts his first time stepping into the office at Woodcrest Christian Day School. “From the first moment, it truly felt like home. I appreciate that Miss Leach ‘runs a tight ship,’” he says smiling, “and between her and all the teachers I am confident that my kids are being taught well and in love.”
Now two years into the switch Aurelio reflects back and shares, “The past two years have been just what my kids have needed. I know we made the right choice. Education is important, but the environment of learning has been the true draw for me and my wife.”
Having attended public school in his younger years, Aurelio originally thought he wanted his children in public school as an opportunity to be around non-believers to share the Gospel, but now says, “One of the best parts of being at a Christian school is that my children are surrounded with teachers and peers who share the same values that just aren’t present in public schools anymore. There’s still the opportunity to minister because not every kid nor every family knows Jesus. But times have changed—the protection and foundation of Christian values is lost in public school.”
Aurelio recalls memories from his high school athletics experiences and how they would say the Lord’s Prayer before football games. He shares, “Not everyone on the team came from a Christian home, but just the practice of reciting the Lord’s Prayer was a shared respect that instituted a foundation of faith among the players. Practices like this have disappeared from public school.”
Aurelio shares further that even little practices like the “red and yellow” flags in the WCDS cafeteria—indicating either silence or that the kids can whisper—demonstrate the values of respect for authority. “This is just one example of students learning values and practices which put the responsibility of respect on the individual, not on others to do the right thing,” he says. “Although some might think this is strict, the discipline is a huge positive at Woodcrest Christian Day School. Discipline is now unique in our society,” he explains, “but it’s important. Our children are daily being taught how to properly be a part of a community. All kids, at times, need to be corrected, and being corrected in a loving and safe environment allows for an amazing space to learn, grow, and be molded in ways that will serve them as they grow older.”
As Aurelio’s oldest will be in middle school next year, they look forward to continuing at Woodcrest Christian. Aurelio says, “We’ve heard a lot from families who have gone through Woodcrest Christian who have shared how ready their kids were for college and for life. This is the reason we love Woodcrest Christian.” Aurelio’s son has recently been invited by cross country Coach Ben Nunnally to come run with the junior high team. This opportunity is one unique to a community who is for each other, and foundational in Christ. Overall, Aurelio shares that looking back the decision now seems like a no‑brainer and, as a parent, is dreaming of how his kids will continue to thrive at Woodcrest Christian in the future.