BELTON—A second generation of students is being educated with a Christian worldview at Heartland Academy and High School.
Heartland is now in its 26th year and the first student of an alumni is expected to graduate in 2015. The school is proud to count among its graduates pastors, deacons, Sunday School teachers and missionaries. Alumni are serving the Lord on every continent of the world.
“For all of the students, we make them think about not only the things we teach them, but what are they doing with their lives,” said Superintendent Trey Dimsdale.
Heartland is an evangelistic ministry of First Baptist Church of Belton. The school shares facilities with the church and pastors provide leadership.
With that in mind, the school welcomes families from all faiths. The 120 students in kindergarten through 12th grade represent about 20 different churches. Dimsdale said through the years, students have included those of many Christian denominations, as well as Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish and atheist beliefs.
Parents are attracted to Heartland because it is a contrast to many public schools.
“They’re not always looking for a biblically based education, they’re just looking for a better education,” Dimsdale said. “While we don’t compromise in what we believe is true, we respect people from other religious traditions.”
All teachers are mature Christians who can be good role models and the Bible is taught at all grade levels.
The family atmosphere at Heartland helps her to learn, senior Katie Osiier said.
“Since it’s a small school, you can get a lot more help during class,” she said. “I’m less scared to ask questions than if there were a lot of students.”
The teachers emphasize preparing for college, Osiier said, both in the way they teach and in the material that is covered.
Sabrina Lacen is a 16-year-old exchange student from Austria who is attending Heartland through the E.F. Foundation. Lacen said she has benefited from Heartland and its small atmosphere.
“It’s way more personal. I have a good friendship with everybody,” she said. She’s involved in volleyball and soccer. “You always have a chance to play. You should try everything.”
Heartland makes the most of the opportunity to teach international students. While some are Christians, many are not and some become believers after hearing the Gospel at school. One such student from Croatia is now serving in her home country as a missionary with Campus Crusade for Christ.
About 90 percent of Heartland graduates go to college, but Dimsdale said they are most proud of another statistic.
“A large majority of our graduates remain active in church after graduation,” he said.
Dimsdale graduated from Heartland in 1997. His wife, Brooke, is also an alumnus and now teaches high school English. She was awarded a prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and attended training in Boston this summer. Their son is now enrolled in kindergarten at Heartland.
Even as an established school, Heartland faces challenges, Dimsdale said.
“In this economic climate, Christian schools are suffering a lot,” he said, noting several schools in the Kansas City area have closed.
First Baptist underwrites the education of every student and has committed to keeping tuition low. Many scholarships are provided.
“We aren’t a wealthy church. We have to be good stewards of the resources God gives us. He’s been faithful and in 26 years we’ve never had to shut off the lights,” Dimsdale said.
Current students are thankful for that blessing.
“In general, it’s a very positive attitude about the school. There are a lot of opportunities to be involved,” Osiier said.
For more information, visit www.hfministries.org.
SUSAN MIRES/contributing writer