Central Christian School
To be named a National Blue Ribbon School is quite a distinction. The U.S.Department of Education designation goes well beyond academic performance to look at other criteria for excellence: overall culture, curriculum and instructional practices, family engagement, and achievement across racial and academic groups. Central Christian School is one of 50 private schools nationwide to receive the award this year and wears its ribbon proudly.
Jennifer Whitmer, director of assessment, says she believes the Gospel-centered community was honored in part because of consistently high test scores across a diverse population and an admissions policy that emphasizes the ‘right fit’ of the whole child over specific academic achievement. “We want to know we can serve our children well,” Whitmer says, “and we strive to honor each child in our instructional practice.”
Consequently, lessons are designed to appeal not just to multiple intellects, but also to different personality types. Through Multiple Intelligence testing in third grade and by administering the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to fourth-graders, the school is able to gain insight into what motivates a student to learn and how best to teach them. “We try to find out what’s going on inside our students’ minds, and what the most effective teaching methods will be,” explains Dana Scheidt, director of curriculum and instruction. “What does an introvert or extrovert need, for example, and how do we help each child organize his/her thinking best for learning?”
The school also is attuned to the cultural and racial diversity of its community: Students come from 45 different zip codes, and 32 percent identify as African American, Latino, Asian or multiracial. “Teaching such a diverse population comes with challenges because each student needs to see themselves reflected in the curriculum,” Scheidt explains. This means that, where possible, lessons are infused with the narratives of different cultures. “By being exposed to varied outlooks, students and educators are challenged to engage with a changing world,” she says. “At Central Christian, we strive to teach children to understand themselves and their uniqueness, while simultaneously seeking to understand the perspectives and needs of the ‘other’ in the classroom, neighborhood, city and world.”
Eighty-five different churches are represented in the student body, and to be admitted, a child must have at least one parent who is a professed Christian. The school takes a biblical world view, examining enduring Christian truths wherever they are revealed. These tenets, explains Scheidt, are then echoed across the curriculum. A study of the American Revolution in history class, for example, will prompt discussions of self-serving priorities and conflict resolution in other disciplines, she says. “Life is not fractured into separate subjects as we interact with society. Our curriculum simulates the complexity of real life; therefore, unit themes are studied holistically, and instruction and assessment practices are based in real-world application,” she notes.
Scheidt concludes by saying that Central Christian begins with the end in mind: a clear picture of the kind of graduate it hopes to produce. “Our young people have an others-centered mentality,” she says. “They are well-rounded problem-solvers who aren’t afraid of being in the world.”
Pictured: Sixth-grade camp
Photo courtesy of Central Christian School
Central Christian School, for children ages 3 through sixth grade, is a gospel-driven, academically excellent community for each unique image-bearer of God. The school is located at 700 N. Hanley Road. For more information, call 314.727.4535 or visit centralschoolstl.org.
Cover design by Julie Streiler | Cover photo by Tim Parker Photography
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