As the weeks of October began to fly by, Stephen came home announcing that he was planning on attending a conference at the end of the month that would help the school develop a HomeStay Boarding program. He was really excited about this concept, because it was something that he had a vision for since his years working at Shenandoah Valley Christian School in Virginia. A HomeStay program would open the door for international high school students to attend particular schools in the United States. The idea was not to use a dormitory to house these students, but to ask local families to take in one or more students into their home. Each family would be given a certain amount of compensation by the school for room and board and they would be responsible for making sure the student had transportation to and from school. This would all be included in the tuition charged to the students’ parents.
Stephen used Southwest to find an affordable one-stop flight to Chicago.
Therefore, Stephen was off to Chicago from Monday, October 24 to Wednesday, October 26. The conference was hosted by Wheaton Academy in West Chicago. Stephen was able to attend various workshops concerning all the logistics of bringing international students into a U.S. school system and finding host families to take care of them. He got to meet some of the international students who attend Wheaton Academy and talk to administrators from schools where the HomeStay Boarding program is working.
The keynote speaker of the symposium was none other than Dan Egler, who had once been a secondary principal and director of the Alliance Academy in Quito, Ecuador. Stephen had first met Dan Egler at various events held in Quito for ACSI.
Stephen returned to Lake Jackson very excited about starting this program at Brazosport Christian School as soon as possible. He has a vision for 15 international students to start attending the school as early as the second semester of this year. It took a few meetings to convince some of the teachers at BCS, but everyone is on board for this new project. The school currently has a handful of international students, but all of them live at home with their parents who have moved to Lake Jackson, as well. So, the biggest challenge right now would be finding the host families who would be willing to take on one or more students right after the Christmas holidays.
It’s an amibition plan. But those of you who know Stephen know that he doesn’t every dream little. Keep him in your prayers as he works to make this project a success that will help the school grow.
“Have I told you I love my job?”
The question brought a smile to my face, but I tried to keep it hidden. Stephen used to ask me this question constantly when we were living in Ecuador and working at the Alliance Academy. We had been living in Lake Jackson for over a month before I heard this familiar phrase being directed at my person. I was actually starting to get a little concerned. Was Stephen finding the job more difficult than he expected? Was it not everything he wanted it to be?
But, no, here was that question again, and now I know that Stephen is enjoying his new job at Brazosport Christian School (BCS). We arrived in Lake Jackson on July 8th and Stephen began working on July 12. Classes began on August 17 and things have been busy ever since. Stephen is working on promoting the school in anyway he can. At its highest enrollment, the school had over 300 students. Now, BCS has approximatel 190 students total.
Recently, he had the opportunity to attend a dyslexia conference. He was interested in attending because of his own issues with dyslexia and also to help students who might have this problem at BCS. He has also become involved with the Chamber of Commerce in Lake Jackson and joined a pastor’s prayer group. He keeps a busy schedule throughout the week. He tries to get to work before 7am so that he can get some work done before students arrive to start classes at 8am. Most of the time, he is able to come home for lunch to see Cristina and the kids, and then returns to work until 4pm before coming back home.
In spite of the financial difficulties we continue to face because of moving and relocation expenses, Stephen feels that he is in the place where God wants him to be. He has said that this is giving him great experience in running a school. He knows this is where God wants us to be and we’ll stay here until he wants us to go somewhere else.
Stephen takes in the view with Grace from the top of the playground.
Stephen poses with a "cool" shaded Luke.
Stephen always manages to stay busy. He leaves the house at about 7:45 each morning and (except for a lunch break) often doesn’t come back home until a little before 6pm.
After returning from his conference in Florida at the end of January, he felt he had been equipped with more tools to proceed with the development of curriculum at the school. He has put into effect a curriculum mapping program to help continue to improve each subject area that is offered at the school.
This is also the time of year in which current teachers are required to let the school know if they will be continuing in their position for next year. Several vacancies have opened up in the secondary department in the past few months and Stephen has been involved in the searching and recruiting of new teachers. Slowly, but surely, we are getting those positions filled.
Now only is he interviewing new teachers to come to the school, he has also been interviewing new students looking at transferring to the Alliance Academy next year. His days are usually filled with meetings of different kinds and he doesn’t get to his administrative paperwork until the end of the school day when everyone is gone.
He has also began searching different international schools for openings in secondary administration, especially high school principal or director/head master of a school. Many of these positions hire a year in advance. So, he is beginning his search this year for the 2011-2012 school year.
We still plan to stay in Ecuador for at least one more school year.