This time of year makes me glad to live in North Carolina. I hope you’ve had some time to enjoy the beautiful weather and fall colors. This month I have several significant updates. I hope you’ll take time to read this update fully.
There will be no school on Friday November 19.
We are preparing for an accreditation site visit in February and we have some last-minute work to do completing required CEUs in advance of that visit. On the Friday before Thanksgiving, we typically see a large number of absences, so this is a good day to complete the needed in-service training with minimal disruptions. For your information, we are dually accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International, and Cognia, the pre-college division of the Association of Southern Colleges and Schools. We fully expect a smooth reaccreditation process, largely thanks to Suzy Deneen and Rebekah Leonard who are spearheading our efforts.
In October, our Lower School Head Mark Apgar successfully defended his dissertation, completing his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Gardner-Webb University. His dissertation is titled “Teacher Evaluation in the Christian School Setting.” Mark completed this monumental task as a full-time working professional, with a large family, during a global pandemic. When you see him, be sure to congratulate Dr. Apgar!
This month we welcomed two new members to our School Board, Dr. Amy Alexanian and Mr. Greg Long. Both have served extensively as SLCA volunteers (a prerequisite for Board membership) and both bring valuable professional expertise and leadership abilities to our Board. You can read member bios and find the Board Policy Manual on our website. Board meeting minutes will also be posted to the website once approved by the Board. The School Board serves three primary functions – to protect the mission of the school, to provide financial oversight, and to supervise the Head of School. Should a parent wish to appeal a decision made by SLCA administration, he or she may do so in writing to the Chair of the School Board. This policy appears in our Parent-Student Handbook on page 7 under the heading “Arbitration Agreement.”
This month the SouthLake Presbyterian Church Session and the SouthLake Christian Academy School Board both unanimously approved the terms by which the church and school would separate as legal entities. In reality, very little about the daily operations of the school would be affected by the outcome of these deliberations. Nonetheless, I encourage you to read carefully the emailed document which gives a thorough explanation of the history of this issue, the reasons for separation, the benefits for both entities, and the terms by which the entities would separate. The final decision on the matter rests with the members of SouthLake Church, but I wanted you to be fully informed on the matter. We will host a town hall meeting on November 10 at 7:00 p.m. in the First Building Commons. We will devote the first part of the meeting to the church-school issue, then open the floor for discussion of other issues attendees may wish to raise. I am sure COVID safety protocols will come up. I’ll be back in touch with a reminder about this meeting and details about the format. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have about the church-school issue.
Outstanding Classroom Instruction
Recently I had the privilege of observing one of our JK teachers in action. Pam Spano has been at SouthLake for nearly 25 years and is one of our most experienced and masterful teachers. The day I visited she led the class through a graphing exercise whereby students took colored foam objects and sorted them by shape, counted each shape, matched each shape to a color, and recorded the number of each shape by coloring in a bar graph. In a single exercise, students had to demonstrate knowledge of shapes, colors, numbers, letters, and words, using kinesthetic skills and attentive focus to follow directions carefully. This is a sophisticated collections of tasks for pre-kindergarten children. With patience and abundant energy, Mrs. Spano kept the class on track while working individually with students who needed extra help. We are only 9 weeks into the semester and Mrs. Spano’s students have already learned many of the fundamentals they will need to be happy and successful students in the years ahead. Some parents opt to start their kids’ education in kindergarten, but for those who start SouthLake earlier, the advantages are clear, both academically and spiritually. As she finished the lesson, Mrs. Spano prayed for the class and then led the kids to lunch, giving a bunch of hugs on the way.
I am grateful for the faithful dedication of SouthLake teachers like Mrs. Spano.
Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy