State of the School

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Welcome to the recap of our 2024 Seattle Christian State of the School event, presented on behalf of Superintendent Chad McNatt and the Board of Trustees. This reimagined Annual Membership Meeting aimed to inspire, inform, and foster connections among our community members. When I think of Seattle Christian, beneath the mission and all of the things that make up our school, with its 78-year history, we desire to be a place of flourishing, a place where we usher students into God’s presence each day and where we encourage and equip their hearts and skills in just the right way that they may ultimately live out their own calling and impact their world for Christ. (Click here for an excerpt on flourishing from our Parent-Student Handbook)

As partners in our mission, we extend this summary to ensure everyone is linked in on the key highlights discussed during the evening.

Prayer for Sierra Lenca

There is so much we can praying for, but we wanted to pause and pray for the community in Honduras we are supporting through World Vision in a program called Ignite. We give money each year to be used in impactful ways in this community referred to as the Sierra Lenca community. In addition to the financial commitment, the partnership includes learning about their culture, linking with individual children in that community through our elementary homerooms and secondary squads, and doing some school-wide events such as the Walk for Water last spring.

The State of Christian Schools

In terms of our country and Christian schools from a legal perspective, while there are some potential legislative concerns in the works, we not only trust the Lord, but a couple of years ago, entered into a partnership with Alliance Defending Freedom, a robust Christian law group dedicated to serving churches, ministries, and Christian schools on “religious freedom” matters from the first amendment. They have reviewed our key documents, advised us, and we have made some strategic revisions over the last couple of years as a result. Our partnership includes a document review and legal counsel as needed. We are partnered and positioned to navigate any legislative concerns in a way that honors Christ by standing firm on our mission and being kind and respectful as we do so.

Better understanding this generation of students can help us as parents and as a school more effectively come alongside them in their faith journeys. One of the terms commonly used today regarding faith in this generation is “deconstruction.” While it can have different meanings and connotations, one perspective from apologist, speaker, and teacher Sean McDowell is the idea of taking apart the elements of your faith and then putting them back together to make something stronger than before. Deconstructing is rooted in unanswered questions, bad theology, the need for certainty, hypocrisy in the church, and more. From one research study, it seems that less than 1% of 13-14-year-olds hold a biblical worldview. As parents, there is no higher calling than to prepare our children to know, love, and serve the Lord with all of their being.

Click here for more on why we are teaching students about apologetics.

We are part of a regional group of Christian schools with regular connection points to share perspective, troubleshoot, and prayer for one another. We are also part of a state level group of private schools called the Washington Federation of Independent Schools (WFIS) that connects weekly to share anything at the state level of interest, address any concerns at hand as a larger group of schools, and more. We are also part of a national and global network called the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). They are not only the primary accrediting agency for our school but also provide training opportunities, insights from a legislative perspective, research-based surveys to help schools flourish, and more. By the way, next school year is an accreditation year. A team of fellow educators will come to verify the work we are doing based on the self-study we’ll be putting together. We can look forward to that as we continue to learn and grow in living out our mission.

The State of SCS

Since the founding of Seattle Christian School in 1946, we have been about Christ and representing him in this community and the world. Coming out of one of the darkest times in world history, World War II, came light shining through the first inter-denominational Christian school in the Seattle region. And here we are, still shining with gratitude for all who have gone before us and anticipation of all who will come after. We remain committed and unwavering in seeking the Lord, embracing our mission, and doing so together. A key ingredient to this endeavor is, of course, our school culture. Culture can be defined in lots of ways, such as… how we roll. At certain times, it’s helpful to get people’s perspective on that for us as a school. We already do a school-wide survey each spring regarding culture, leadership, etc., but this year, we’ve added another survey built around ACSI’s research on what makes a Christian school flourish. Thanks to all those who took a few moments to complete it a few weeks ago. From across our various stakeholder groups (parents, students, faculty/staff, alumni, and board), we met the thresholds for each category, ultimately receiving 716 total responses, making this a valid survey result. While not fully analyzed or ready to broadly share yet, one overarching theme emerged. Across the domains and items, the collection of participant responses either landed right at the benchmark for flourishing, just below or just above. Even though more unpacking is needed to see what we can really discern specifically from this perception data, the overall indicators are that we are tracking with the benchmarks to be a flourishing school.

In terms of finances and operations, we have much to be thankful for. The Annual Stewardship Report released just before the end of 2023 provided a concise snapshot of the financial aspects of our work together. In addition to the report, a few overarching financial highlights include receiving a clean audit once again for 2023, owning the building free and clear, and remaining committed to a balanced budget and to strengthening both our reserves and our endowment to position us for sustainability. Thanks primarily to the commitment and sacrifice of SCS families in tuition dollars, along with giving that comes in throughout the year and at key events like the golf tournament and upcoming auction, our annual fund is on track to be met once again this year. We’re looking toward increased intentionality around the endowment in the coming season and have revamped the giving portion of our website to be ready for that with trust in the Lord for his provision. Also, and you may not know this, but Hope of the City Church has been renting our facility on Sundays beginning in November. That has been a blessing in terms of partnership in God’s kingdom as well as some additional revenue. God is so good at providing. We just have to be good at stewarding.

We are not just a community of parents, faculty, and staff at SCS. We are partners in our mission. That partnership is not just about finances and volunteer/SALT hours, but about prayer, being in relationship, and holding one another up as we live out the mission. One of the ways to jump in more as a partner is through out Parent Teacher Fellowship (PTF). Over the course of the past year or so, this once vibrant group of parent leaders and volunteers has been reawakened with a new steering team of people raring to go and ready for more. Our steering team includes Jason Ruiz as team leader, along with Allison Seumae, Stephanie Jansson, and Jordan Thayer. There is a PTF info night coming up on April 16th @ 6:30 pm for all those who want to learn about how to be more connected as parents at SCS.

When education is at its best, it functions like mass customization, where we do things as a system but tailored to the gifting, story, and abilities of each student. For a small percentage of students, the traditional model of school may not be ideal, even when done extremely well. To that end, we have been in a process over the last few years with Matt Althoff as the point person to discern what we might do about it, resulting in the launch of Activate Academy for 2024-25. This special program for incoming 9th and 10th graders, in particular, is a competency-focused, project-based pathway to a diploma rather than the traditional setup of classes and credits.

To learn more, reach out to Matt Althoff.

Core Values & Table Time

Our commitment at SCS is to live out our mission in a manner that results in our global ends, ultimately equipping students to “impact their world for Christ.” Each element of the mission statement is a commitment we are making as a school. It’s one of our foundational documents. As an accredited school, we have a team from ACSI come every five-six years to verify the work we’re doing and the progress we’re making based on a set of standards for flourishing Christian schools. At our previous visit during my first year in this role, one of the action items that came out of that visit was to really dial in our foundational documents, including an articulation of our core values. Even though we are clearly a school community with values, we don’t currently have a set of core values officially stated. The State of the School serves as a kick-off to that conversation as a community at tables together. This is one of several different iterations around core values such that over the summer, we’d be ready to wordsmith and finalize these with the Board ahead of next school year. Core values are the “why” beneath the mission. It’s a handful of words or phrases that speak to what we deeply care about as a community, considering questions like…What do you care about as it relates to our Christian school? How would you describe the ideal graduate from SCS in terms of who they are? What are they like? What are their qualities? This work together also extends into another foundational document we’re in process of developing, our “Portrait of a Warrior.” Numerous insights were shared and scribed on chart paper during this roundtable time, and once themes are discerned, will be shared with the larger community as the process continues. Special thanks to the student and adult leaders who helped facilitate table conversations throughout the evening.

A Glimpse of Heaven

In Revelation 7:9-10, John expresses a picture of heaven: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. If this is the picture of what we will experience in eternity, may we have the courage, the humility, the intentionality, and the curiosity to embrace that at our school, in this community.

Whether you attended the State of the School event or are perusing this recap, your questions and feedback are valuable to us. If anything from this summary sparked a question or if you've been pondering something, please don't hesitate to reach out. Feel free to email Chad McNatt at cmcnatt@seattlechristian.org or contact the Board of Trustees at board@seattlechristian.org. Thank you for your partnership and engagement.

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