CURRYVILLE – The Pike County Christian School is helping some students who might otherwise fall through educational and spiritual cracks.
For the last four years, the Christian school has met four days a week from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the former Curryville School. For three years before, they met in the Peno Baptist Church.
Frank Welch is co-pastor of the church, director of missions of the Salt River Baptist Association, and administrator of the Christian school. The association office is in a room in the school building.
“We have some dedicated teachers that work solely off a stipend,” he said. “Their hearts are into teaching the children. We’ve seen some great things. Children have turned from failing (in public schools) to being an A student. I give all the credit to the teachers and to God.”
But a small school has plenty of challenges.
“It’s been a real faith-builder,” Welch said.
One challenge was what curriculum to use, before ABeka was chosen. ABeka adopted Pike County Christian School for four years, giving teaching materials. That was helpful, because finances are tight.
“We do quite a few fundraisers so we can keep the tuition low–$125 a month or $1,500 a year,” Welch said. “We have a good rapport with the churches and they are always willing to bake pies or whatever. Everyone works together to make it all possible.”
The Christian school is interdenominational, and while most, if not all of the 24 Baptist churches in the association contribute in some manner, so do several churches of other denominations. Local public schools also helped by providing discarded computers, shelving, and dining room tables.
While last year was a banner year with a high enrollment of 35 students, that has fallen to 16 this year. Some people moved away, but some quit coming, despite their children doing well in the school, because of spiritual differences.
“Some wanted to bring in Harry Potter,” Welch said. “Some didn’t want the ministry aspect. They were used to the public school system. We didn’t run anyone out. We tried to minister to them.”
The school motto “Help parents teach the students a good Christian education” is a reminder that education also occurs at home.
“We are an evangelistic school,” he said. “We get board members who try to find families without a church.”
Because of the evangelistic effort, several students have come to know the Lord, and in one family, a mother and grandmother also got saved.
“We’re trying to raise good Chiristian leaders in a nation that really needs it,” Welch said. “One young man who graduates this year tested at a 13-plus grade (college level) as a junior.”
Welch said the small class sizes help offer more personalized attention for students like this student, who wanted to learn business math so he can eventually start his own business.
Welch said the students take the Iowa Basic Skills Test and “they always test out real good.”
“God’s always been good to see us through and take care of things. We have a lot of good supporters – God’s people at work.”