Cover Story

Close & Caring: Covenant Christian School

The hallways at Covenant Christian School are filled with students who know each other by more than just names. Its small enrollment creates an intimate environment that encourages student exploration, family involvement and trusted relationships. Here, community is a way of life.

“We have about 150 students, age 3 through grade six, and that’s our maximum,” says head of school John Roberts. “We made a conscious decision when we opened 14 years ago to be this size.” A ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Town & Country, the school’s vision is to be Christ-centered, grace-filled and academically excellent. “We’re unique because we really focus on relationships, especially across grade levels,” Roberts notes. The majority of recess sessions are at the same time for all students, and the student body gathers three times a week in the morning for prayer, singing and scripture memory. “From the first day they start school here, we expect students to lead and care well for one another, especially our youngest ones,” he says. “By remaining small, we truly can focus on this idea of taking care of others.”

OBC_covenant-christian-school-NO-BOX-8.31One way to build community is through the morning gathering, a time when the entire school meets to share news and interests. It is also an opportunity to encourage public speaking skills. From the 3-year-olds on up, everyone is expected to speak in front of the entire student body. “It starts with show and tell or sharing something they’ve learned in class for the little guys and progresses every year,” Roberts explains. “By second grade, students give speeches and recite poetry. In sixth grade, they give two formal presentations. From an early age, students feel comfortable using a microphone in front of a large group. They know they are supported and loved.”

Along with a formal curriculum, Roberts says they recognize that students have different interests, gifts and abilities. “We want to help them explore those while they’re here,” he notes. “We encourage student-initiated projects. We let students know they have to do the work, but we’ll help. Unless there is a good reason to say no, I never do.” An example is the recent addition of a fairy garden last year, prompted by the fourth-grade girls. “Our outdoor classroom director helped the girls create it, and an alumnus helped build what they wanted.”

The experiential, hands-on philosophy of Covenant Christian School is evident everywhere. An extensive outdoor classroom, which is conveniently integrated into the playground space, includes a working windmill, campfire circle, school farm (named Miss Annie’s Farm after the student who spearheaded the project), berry patch, compost bins, small fruit orchard, greenhouse and the school’s science building. “We’re blessed with great outdoor space,” Roberts says. “Kids climb trees and explore the woodlands, and we’ve worked with the Missouri Botanical Garden and Missouri Department of Conservation to create a nice prairie over the last eight years.”

‘Blessed’ is a word Roberts uses to describe many things about the school. “Our faith is just who we are. Each member of our staff has a deep faith in Christ, and it’s something we’re very purposeful about,” he says. Thirty churches from a wide variety of denominations are represented, and Roberts says a relationship with Christ comes out in every aspect of the school. “Children are more than intellectual beings,” he says. “They are spiritual beings as well, created in the image of God, and we want them to really understand who they are and find success.”

Pictured: Students hard at work in the science classroom.
Photo: Tim Parker Photography

Covenant Christian School, a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church, is committed to providing students age 3 through grade six with a Christ-centered, grace-filled and academically excellent education. It is located at 2145 N. Ballas Road. For more information, call 314.787.1036 or visit ccsstl.org. Pictured on the cover: Head of school John Roberts with students in the outdoor classroom.

Cover design by Jon Fogel | Cover photo by Tim Parker Photography

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