Tag Archives: school

ACSI accreditation

November 2012

ACSI-logo

Under the supervision of Stephen Meier, Brazosport Christian School (BCS) recently accomplished something that no other Christian school in the United States has yet to achieve.

Under the supervision of Stephen Meier, Brazosport Christian School (BCS) recently accomplished something that no other Christian school in the United States has yet to achieve.

The school was due to go through the normal accreditation process.  However, Stephen introduced a new concept to be added to the accreditation process.  Instead of striving for simply renewing their current accreditation with ACSI (Association of Christian Schools), they also wanted to become accredited with SACS (also known as Advanced Ed) which is an accreditation program used more often by secular private schools.  Although many Christian schools have achieved accreditation with both ACSI and SACS, this is first time that a Christian school has requested to process both accreditations at the same time with the help of a team from ACSI.

This became possible only recently, because ACSI has partnered with SACS in order to send a team of administrators to process both accreditations at the same time. Stephen’s first few months of the school year were focused on that goal of helping the school complete this dual accreditation process with success.  For several weeks, I would see stacks of binders being brought home as Stephen filled out all the proper paperwork that was needed. He supervised his principals and teachers as they created standards, collected evidence and created master binders that would reflect all the important curriculum and activities of the school.

The accreditation team from ACSI arrived on the afternoon of October 14 and visited the school from October 15-17.  After interviewing teachers, visiting classrooms and looking through countless binders, the team decided that the school was approved to be accredited by both ACSI and SACS.  It is such a new process that no other school has yet attempted to do the same thing.  Stephen was able to become part of a trail blazing effort that produced successful results.

The school was due to go through the normal accreditation process.  However, Stephen introduced a new concept to be added to the accreditation process.  Instead of striving for simply renewing their current accreditation with ACSI (Association of Christian Schools), they also wanted to become accredited with SACS (also known as Advanced Ed) which is an accreditation program used more often by secular private schools.  Although many Christian schools have achieved accreditation with both ACSI and SACS, this is first time that a Christian school has requested to process both accreditations at the same time with the help of a team from ACSI.

This became possible only recently, because ACSI has partnered with SACS in order to send a team of administrators to process both accreditations at the same time. Stephen’s first few months of the school year were focused on that goal of helping the school complete this dual accreditation process with success.  For several weeks, I would see stacks of binders being brought home as Stephen filled out all the proper paperwork that was needed. He supervised his principals and teachers as they created standards, collected evidence and created master binders that would reflect all the important curriculum and activities of the school.

The accreditation team from ACSI arrived on the afternoon of October 14 and visited the school from October 15-17.  After interviewing teachers, visiting classrooms and looking through countless binders, the team decided that the school was approved to be accredited by both ACSI and SACS.  It is such a new process that no other school has yet attempted to do the same thing.  Stephen was able to become part of a trail blazing effort that produced successful results.

A Homecoming Update & Prize Winners

November 2012

At Brazosport Christian School (BCS), their annual homecoming event was supercharged this year by a fund-raising event set to deliver prizes to a few lucky participants who took the time to donate money to the school. To attract donors, the school contacted a local car dealership to provide the school with a brand new vehicle to give away in a raffle at the school’s home coming game.  The only requirement for those who wished to participate would be to buy a raffle ticket worth $20.  For each ticket purchased, the greater the chance the person would have to win the car.  Although the free car was the grand prize, there were various other prizes to be given.

There was a $1000 gift card and a free iPad to be given away.  Tickets were given to each of the students at the school and classes competed against each other to receive a special prize to be enjoyed in the future. Jared was excited to participate even though he didn’t know very many people to whom he could sell the tickets.

The night of the homecoming game in early November, BCS students and their families filled the stands.  Friends and supporters and many who had purchased tickets were also there.

Half way through the homecoming game, the box of raffle tickets was brought to the middle of the field and the winning names were drawn.  /The winners turned out to be perfectly matched to their support of the school.  Each winner had already provided a lot of financial support to the school in the past.  It felt really good to watch them claim their prizes.

BRAZOSPORT CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

A Trip to Waco

April 2012 – We had been living in Texas for ten months before we made an overnight trip (as a family) to any other location in Texas.  In November 2011, we made a trip to Mississippi.  In March of this year, we made a trip to Mobile, Alabama and to Gainesville and Ocala, Florida to visit family.  But we had not done much traveling around Texas.  We had driven up to Houston several times, Galveston and even New Ulm, but we never traveled so far that we had to spend the night there.

One afternoon, Stephen came home talking about the BCS varsity boys’ baseball team being invited to the state championship games in Waco and Belton, Texas.  Stephen wanted to travel with the team to attend the games and then asked if he might be able to take Jared with him.  I thought about it a while and then asked him why not all of us go up there together.

So, we made our first family trip up to Waco, arriving there just in time to watch the team with their semi-final game. The final game was to be hosted in Belton the following afternoon.  We found ourselves a hotel on the outskirts of Waco, at dinner at a nearby IHOP and then took advantage of swimming in the indoor heated pool (since it was still too cold to swim outdoors).

The following morning, we took our time leaving the hotel and then had a picnic lunch in the park area of a Ranger Museum.  The picnic table was underneath a perfect climbing tree and we all took turns getting up into the tree.

We missed most of the final baseball game because Stephen didn’t realize that Belton was a city about 45 minutes south of Waco.  When we got there, we were there to watch the final innings in which the BCS team won the state championship for the first time in many years.  Everyone was excited about the victory.

We made our way back home that evening after stopping to pick up some dinner.  It was a short trip, but it gave us a chance to see something new in Texas.

Deck the Halls

Every new job situation had provided us with the opportunities to learn how the staff celebrates the holiday season at the end of the year.  Although some things are universal, there are many things that make each place unique.

As Stephen becomes more integrated into the culture of Brazosport Christian School, he also learns what they do to make Christmas special around the school.  One tradition they have is a special door decorating contest.  Each teacher and staff will decorate their classroom (or office) door and a special panel of judges gets to decide which door is the best decorated door.  On the day of the Christmas chapel, the winner is announced.  Stephen didn’t decorate his door, but his secretary made sure he didn’t miss out by decorating it for him.

Notice the little running shoe in the bow.

Jared and Luke pose proudly outside of "Daddy's office."

Another tradition is to have a special Christmas chapel on the Wednesday before Christmas break.  Stephen got a chance to speak a few words at the end of the chapel.  So, he decided to read one of the Christmas stories that he had been reading to the kids from the Christmas devotional.  Stephen tells me that the school purposefully avoids mention of the secular figures and symbols of Christmas (Santa Claus, Frosty, etc.) so that they can focus on the story of Jesus coming to earth as a baby to become the Savior of all man-kind.

The message given by the teacher was on the gifts of the Maggi and explaining the spiritual significance of each.

Gift-giving is a big part of the BCS traditions.  Each staff member who wished to be involved could become a “secret angel” and give gifts to each other anonymously until they reveal themselves to each other a few days before Christmas break.  Stephen decided to be involved and I was quickly drafted to find some Christmas gifts around $1 each and then one nice gift to give the person on the final revelation day.

The staff "fireplace" where they hung their stockings for their secret angels to deposit gifts.

Stephen received gifts from his “secret angel” but he also got many gifts from staff, students and parents.  Gift cards appear to be a very popular item this time of year.  Perhaps this is not a new observation to many of my readers, but it is something I had not discovered before in the few years that I had celebrated Christmas within the U.S. borders.

We now have gift cards of various values for Wal-Mart, Chick-fil-a, and other local shopping locations.

My favorite tradition so far is the two week vacation that comes to those who work within the system of education.  Now Stephen doesn’t have to work until the Monday after Christmas and we can enjoy some time together as a family.

Graduating the class of 2011

For the first time since we’ve been here, I was unable to get a babysitter to watch my kids during graduation.  Our first year, I had someone babysit Jared and I took Luke with me to graduation.  He was only five months old and slept through most of it.  Our second year, I found a couple babysitters to watch Jared and Luke and I was able to spend some time greeting the graduating seniors after the event was over. 

However, I still have the same challenge each year.  My regular babysitters want to attend graduation and I have to find someone the boys are unfamiliar with who doesn’t plan to go to graduation.  This year, I wasn’t able to find anyone who didn’t want to go to graduation. 

So, Stephen and I came up with a back up plan.  I would borrow one of the classrooms attached to the gymnasium where the students would graduate.  The boys could sit in there and watch a movie and I could sit right outside the classroom door with the baby to watch the graduation from there. 

Although I couldn’t focus my full attention on the graduation procedures, I was able to there when Stephen was presented with a special trophy for his three years of service at the school.  I also watched him get bear-hugged by one of the seniors.  (Stephen thought he was going to fall off the stage with that hug.) 

I kept getting flash backs from my graduation in 1995, as I watched each student so proudly walk up on stage and pose with the Stephen to receive their diploma.  By 9pm on June 17, 2011, every senior was turning their tassel on their graduation cap and reveling in the fact that they were done with high school. 

In their honor, I’ve created a modified version of Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

 A Time for Everything (at AAI)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity at the AllianceAcademy:
A time to register for classes and a time to clean out lockers;
A time for seating charts and class syllabi,
And a time for collecting returned textbooks and giving final exams.
A time for greeting new students and time to congratulate graduating seniors,
A time to set down firm rules, and a time to tolerate senior pranks,
A time to teach and a time to learn,
A time to give lectures and a time to provide study halls,
A time to grade papers and a time to hang out,
A time to stress and a time to relax,
A time to hand out homework and a time to gather it in,
A time to hand out hall passes and a time to hand out diplomas,
A time to practice and a time to perform,
A time for new teacher bar-b-ques and a time for final staff chapels,
A time to give detentions and a time to give merit points,
There is a time for setting goals and a time for assessing the work that has been done.

Congratulations, AAI’s class of 2011!

Stephen’s Current Job Opportunities

The year began slowly as Stephen found himself back at the beginning of the process of looking for a new job.  He began to send out more applications to more schools both in and out of the United States.  He looked at the job conference taking place in Chicago in February for a while.  After much prayer and asking different people for advise, he decided the expense of the trip wasn’t worth the risk of not coming back home with a sure job offer.

So, we continued to wait.  As the weeks of February passed by, he received both positive and negative feedback from different schools.  He was interviewed over the phone and Internet for several schools.  A school in Lake Jackson, Texas, called Brazosport Christian School (BCS) was the first to ask for an on-site visit from Stephen and agreed to pay for his travel expenses and hotel stay.  Soon, they had scheduled him to leave Quito on Wednesday, February 23 and return to Quito the evening of Saturday, February 26.

Bangkok, Thailand

In the midst of talking to this school in Texas, another school in Bangkok, Thailand called International Community School (ICS), had also started interviewing Stephen.  Just a few days before Stephen was planning to leave on his trip to Texas, they also asked for him to take a flight over 12 time zones to come and visit them. 

With Cristina’s due date approaching, he asked for the trip to be booked soon after he returned from Texas.  Just this morning, he has been given a tentative itinerary which would have him leaving Quito only 24 hours after returning on February 26.  His flight will leave soon after midnight on Monday, February 28.  He will arrive in Thailand on Tuesday night and spend all of Wednesday and Thursday there before flying out early Friday morning to arrive in Quito late on March 4.

Fortunately for him, we have a two day holiday on Monday and Tuesday for Ecuador’s “Carnival” vacation.  So, he will hopefully be able to recover from his jet lag soon after returning to Ecuador.

Besides these two schools, there is a school in Peach Tree, Georgia, which has told Stephen he is among their top eight candidates for the administrative position they have there. There is also another international school in Casablanca, Morocco (northern Africa) and in Tegucigalpa, Honduras that have been interviewing Stephen, but have not requested an on-site visit yet. 

However, since Cristina has requested that Stephen not travel anywhere in her last four weeks of pregnancy, these two trips are the last he will make until our third little bundle of joy arrives on the scene.

If you would like to call Stephen and encourage him in the next few days while he is Texas, he is using the following cell phone number: 352-215-4524.

A 24 hour Upheaval in Ecuador

Link to a recent CNN article: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/10/01/ecuador.unrest/index.html

On the morning of Thursday, September 30, I woke up a little earlier than normal and was busy trying to plan out the rest of my day, having little clue of how those plans were going to change in the next few hours.

I was trying to prepare myself to teach my third period class an entire hour earlier than normal.  This week was Spiritual Emphasis Week for our secondary students (seventh through twelfth grades) and the morning schedule had been rearranged to allow for a longer chapel session directly before lunch that ran from 11am to 12:10.  My third period class for Thursday and Friday was scheduled for 8:45am, when I ordinarily teach it at 9:40.

I was not looking forward to it.  I had not been getting enough sleep all week.  By the time my class ended at 9:25, I knew that I was going to be sick if I did not lie down and rest for a bit.  I thought about the fact that faculty and staff members were “highly encouraged” to attend the chapel events, but I didn’t think I would make it through my afternoon classes if I didn’t get some rest that morning.  So, I went home and took a little nap, waking up shortly before noon.

I groggily came out of my bedroom to help the nanny get Jared and Luke and little Isabella ready for lunch and their afternoon naps.  I also had a lunch meeting with some students that I needed to prepare for. 

My thoughts were interrupted by a series of 10 bells ringing out from the speakers placed all aroundcampus. Sonia continued with her duties while I listened to the voice of the director of the school announce that he was beginning the emergency evacuation drill and that all students needed to go pick up their things and be ready to leave campus.

My first thought was, “Why are we having a drill right before lunch time?  We didn’t even get an e-mail to prepare us for this.” 

Then I began trying to explain the process of preparing for an evacuation drill to Sonia, because this was her first experience with it.  I told her that this was only a practice drill and that she needed to take the three children to the back corner of the room until we received further notice of where we should go. 

Just as I was  finishing explaining the evacuation procedures, I heard the director announce again that all secondary students whose parents did not work for the U.S. embassy needed to go to their 6th period classes and that their teachers should meet them there. 

I felt confused as my heart pulled me in two different directions.  I didn’t want to leave Sonia and the kids to figure out what to do by themselves, but I did have a group of 10 students who would be waiting for me to show up in the computer lab.  I also felt annoyed by what I still thought was just a procedural practice drill to prepare us for real situations in the future.

I asked Sonia if she had her cell phone with her, and she said that she didn’t bring it to work with her that day because she had lent it to someone.  After a few minutes, I promised Sonia to call her on the house phone and let her know what she should do next.

Then I scurried off to my sixth period class. 

As I walked down the hallway, through the secondary locker area and toward the building where my class was, I saw different scenes that seemed strange and unusual.  Students were gathering items from their lockers as if they were getting ready to leave.  Some students were with their parents.  There was a general sense of confusion in the air. 

I arrived in my classroom to find my students and another teacher who was trying to cover for me until I arrived.  The first thing I heard was her voice as she argued with the students not to listen to rumors but to wait and find out what was really going on.  Some of the students were asking if they were going to die, if there was a bomb in the school, or if some other natural disaster was about to occur. 

I was told by the teacher that I was supposed to stay in the classroom until each of the students were picked up and taken home by their parents.

That was the first moment that I really began to realize that this was not just an ordinary drill.  Something was happening.  The first thing I did was call Sonia and told her to start feeding the kids, because they wouldn’t be going anywhere.  The connection was bad, so I didn’t bother explaining the situation.

I followed this with a call to Stephen to find out what was going on and what I was supposed to be doing with the students in my charge.  He came up and explained that parents were currently being notified and that they were supposed to come and pick up their kids and take them home as soon as possible.

“A student cannot leave unless his name is called over the loud speaker or if a parent arrives with a notice from the office saying that the child is free to go with them,” Stephen told me.  

I looked at my watch.  It was nearly 12:40pm.  I looked at my students.  One student was out sick and one other student has been picked up by his mom.  That left me with nine students to supervise.

My head started to swim as I realized that I was getting hungry and I had no idea how long I would be up here with these students.  Some of them were worried that their parents would not be able to pick them up because they lived outside of the city. 

Then a new thought jolted my brain.

“Is this thing affecting the Alliance Academy only, or all schools in Quito?” I asked Stephen.

After he told me that all schools in the city were being shut down, I suddenly thought of the nanny.  Sonia Yanchapaxi has two teenage daughters attending schools in Quito.  One is an eighth grader and the other is twelfth grade.  She had no idea what was going on, because she didn’t have her cell phone. 

I told Stephen that I had to get home as soon as possible and let her know that she had to take care of her own kids.  After he found someone to take over my class, I rushed home in time to find Sonia calmly trying to put my boys down for their nap, oblivious to the sounds of various students names being blasted over the loud speaker intermittently telling them to go to the office or meet their parents at one of the entrances to the school.

“This was a bad day to forget your cell phone,” I told her. 

Her eyes got big as I explained the evacuation situation happening across the city and that it had to do with some kind of rioting going on in the city. I gave her my cell phone so that she could start calling her family members and took over the job of getting the boys settled down for their nap. 

Meanwhile, Isabella’s mom came to take her home.  By the time the boys were asleep it was 1pm.  Sonia told me that the police force was on strike at that there were bands of thieves taking advantage of the situation to rob banks and other local businesses.  A couple of malls had also been attacked that very morning. 

“My husband closed his shop, because the police aren’t doing anything to stop these thieves,” she told me. 

Businesses all across Quito had already closed at some point that morning and schools were officially told to close at noon by the ministry of Education. 

After I let Sonia leave to meet up with her husband and daughters, I spent the rest of the afternoon looking at the local television news to figure out what was going on.  That was when I realized what had started at approximately 8am that morning.  Watching images of people rioting on the television, made the situation seem as it was thousands of miles away. As I watched, I heard the director make more announcements over the loudspeakers.  By 2:30 all the students had been picked up by their parents.  Then there was an announcement that school would be closed on Friday.  In the end, there was silence across campus.  The only action happening was on the television screen.

In the end, the news could come out that the president had been kidnapped and sequestered in a hospital building for the whole day.  I have actually been in that building in the past, because it is adjacent to the hospital building were Luke was born and I used their civil registration office to get Luke’s paperwork done.

Throughout the day, a group of rioters came out to protest what the police were doing and a group of rioters (who agreed with the police) came out to protest the president’s new law.  Those who were involved in these riots were the ones at risk of injury or death.  For the rest of the population, who went home and stayed out of the way, they stayed safe.  For those who were in the center of Quito, trying to leave the city, they faced a few challenges and obstructions in the way of rioters burning tires. The rescue of the president, late that Thursday evening, signaled the end of the riot at the cost of the lives of two police officers. 

By Friday morning, there was no trace left of the event.  I took a taxi through the center of the city to do my grocery shopping and nothing on the street could give me any indicators of what had happened the day before.  The only big difference was the amount of people shopping with my on a Friday morning.  Typically, it is very quiet at that time.  That day, however, the store was packed to capacity.  The lines behind the check out counters curved around the back of the front isle to accommodate the 6 to 10 different people standing at each counter. I think it took me 45 minutes standing at the front of the store, before I reached the check out counter myself. 

Now, it is the weekend and it looks like the situation that had been created such tension and distress for a few hours, has settled into a dust of recovery.  I am guessing that school will be back in session on Monday, as the police force is doing their best to gain back the  trust of the people and hope that they will not be among the group of officers who are “purged” from their jobs for the actions that took place on the last day of September.

As for me, I am grateful to be living in a place where we remained virtually untouched by the turmoil around us.