New faith-based school opening this year
Local parents will have another education option in August for their elementary age children.
Michael and Nicole Ward felt called by God to start a new school that incorporates their religious faith into the educational process.
New Life Christian Academy will operate out of the New Life Church building on 188th Street beginning this August for Kindergarten through third grade. Each grade level will have 20 students, one teacher and a teaching assistant to begin before they expand a grade level every year in the hopes of having a full Kindergarten through 12th grade school. They plan on adding fourth grade for the 2024-25 school year.
Michael Ward said the seeds had been planted when his spouse Nicole was in the army on a 13 month deployment that created a challenging time for suitable daycare needs for their oldest child.
“The Lord provided in spades,” he said.
They held an open house Sunday, Feb. 26 at the current New Life Church building on Moonlight to introduce the community to their plans and provide information on how they could enroll their children.
Enrollment begins Wednesday, March 1 and will run through the entire month. Michael Ward said he anticipates a wait list. The first day of class will be Aug. 23.
Michael Ward led the open house with a prayer.
“We are excited for this opportunity,” he said. “The more we get into it, it feels like we are on the doorstep of something historic.”
He said the percentage of Americans not affiliated with a religion had gone up to 21 percent and church attendance had been going down by half.
Ward said the nonfaith ways of solving people’s daily problems didn’t appear to be working for kids.
Ward said he had also noticed kids in private Christian schools, specifically Trinity Christian School from Wichita, were more engaged and excited to be at school than his experiences with public school.
“When you are able to give kids and ourselves daily bread and that injection of Jesus’s truth every single day they absolutely come to life,” he said. “So that is the truth. That is the vision we have for New Life Christian Academy. We would be able to help believing parents raise their children in a dark world to be a light.”
Ward read scripture from King Solomon in Proverbs from the Bible that coincided with their passion and beliefs to educate and train children up in the way they should go.
“We are not teaching the Bible as a separate class but how to apply our faith every moment to every day,” he said.
Ward also shared from Moses in Exodus about looking at what is in Jesus’ heart.
“It is deeper than memorization,” he said. “It is deeper than that.”
Nicole Ward is currently a special education teacher in the Gardner Edgerton school district said public school made her who she is and she wouldn’t be where she is without her amazing education team and resources.
“Each step of the way has prepared us,” she said. “God knew we were ready now.”
Ward will be the second grade teacher and said she will be able to see what kids need and tap into an area she hasn’t been able to before as a public school teacher.
“We can connect with them spiritually. We can pray with them and include the Lord in learning,” she said.
Ward said her years as a special education teacher helped prepare her for working with children on a more intimate level and getting to know their needs.
“You get to know the kids on a more personal level,” she said.
Ward said she is still pouring 100 percent of her heart into her current students and working as a special education teacher in public schools had been a great experience.
“But putting the Lord on top that experience completes me as an educator,” she said.
Meredith Hall was hired as the school’s director. She has fifteen years of educational experience including as an elementary teacher in public and private schools. She is passionate to partner with families to foster academic excellence and spiritual growth and believes all children are a gift from God.
Hall said she wasn’t anti public schools, but public schools had been in a hard place since after the pandemic. She felt called by God to help with New Life Christian Academy.
“We have passion in our hearts to know our Lord and Savior,” she said.
Hall said it was going to be great to be an environment where they could interweave their faith in lessons and have pastors readily available in the same building. She is excited to see their community being built.
“Gods hands are all over it,” she said. “I am thrilled to be here the community.”
Hall said she is excited for the teachers they had hired this week and to watch God put together their school community. She said they were “the best of the best” after a highly competitive process.
One of those teachers is Tina Haas, a current teacher at Wheatridge Middle School in the Gardner Edgerton school district, who will be teaching third grade.
Haas said she loves being able to teach about Jesus to kids.
“I love being able to worship with them,” she said.
Haas said she was excited the opportunity had presented itself for her to teach at a private Christian school and to use her skills and gifts to share God’s love.
“Jesus left breadcrumbs that led me here,” she said.
Haas said Covid and social media had changed the public school landscape and she looked forward to teaching in a private school for the first time that shared her values. She said the angry voices on social media and the world were seeping into kids’ phones that was taxing on the soul.
“My colleagues already have a love of Jesus in their hearts,” Haas said.
Their curriculum will be focused on Saxon, SonLight, Classic Conversations, Abeka, Shurley, Walking with God and His People, Bob Jones University Press and Answers in Genesis. The final selections will be posted online in April.
Michael Ward said their goal is to also not have their students on screens all day.
New Life Christian Academy is seeking accreditation through the Association of Christian Schools International. ACSI was founded in 1978 to give a voice to Christian education and now serves 24,000 schools in more than 100 countries.
ACSI follows three pillars of advancing, access and advocacy for leading Christ focused education.
They state they exist to “strengthen Christian schools and equip Christian educators worldwide as they prepare students academically and inspire them to become devoted followers of Jesus Christ.”
Meredith Hall, director, said students have to be five years old before the first day of school August 23 and meet the basic readiness requirements. Some of these requirements include knowing the alphabet, colors, recognizing letters, counting to 10 and identifying numbers, knowing simple one syllable rhyming words, knowing their name and being able to spell it, holding writing utensils and scissors correctly, knowing their shapes and being able to follow simple two to three step instructions.
The Wards said if the New Life Church’s new site isn’t completed by August 23 they have a contingency plan to teach at Grace Baptist until the site’s construction is completed.
“God has prepared us every step of the way,” Michael Ward said.
Tuition per student will be $7,450 per year or $620 per month. There will be a onetime non-refundable $80 application fee. Upon application acceptance there will be an additional $250 non-refundable fee to cover books, classroom materials and more. Households with multiple enrolled children will receive a 15 percent discount. Financial aid will be available to families who qualify as the funds are available through a needs based scholarship fund. A catered lunch through HyVee will also be available ranging from $6 to $8 per meal.
Parents can go to Apply Now | New Life Christian Academy (nlcagardner.org).