ANDERSON — Celebrating 40 years of service, the Indiana Christian Academy has changed its mission statement to “to love our students while challenging them academically in a Christian atmosphere.”
Administrator Kevin Plew said the school wants the community to know “exactly who ICA is and what sets us apart.” While continuing to provide a quality education, he said, the focus has been shifted from academics to people.
“Stemming from that (mission statement) and other changes, (ICA is) trying to be a school that demonstrates love for students,” he said.
Indiana Christian is accepting students that other private schools are turning down for academic reasons, Plew said, because they want to ensure every family that “wants a Christian education gets one.” About 10 students, or roughly 8 percent of ICA’s population, have come from those schools.
Vouchers are also helping by making a private education more affordable. They are given out based on income guidelines.
“Every child, regardless of where they’re at, deserve to know they’re loved,” said Jeremy Cowin, the former superintendent of Liberty Christian School.
Cowin has been working with ICA’s school improvement team to make evaluations and change the community mission for his new company, Kingdom Education Consulting. Plew said he’s provided an outside perspective.
Cowin added that the school is reaching a more diverse population by helping both those who are academically gifted and those who are struggling.
The school’s voucher population has provided close to 50 percent of ICA’s growth, Plew added. Last year, the school ended with 129 students. This year, it has 192.
Before General Motors’ decline in Anderson, ICA enrollment peaked at 450.
Other schools, like Anderson Christian and Liberty Christian, have also seen an increase in voucher students.
Mom Kylie DeVault said there are more new students than returning ones this year and that it “was exciting to see the new faces.”
“From day one,” she said, the school has maintained great communication with the parents and given students the academic skills needed to be successful. Any problems they’ve had have also been fixed quickly, DeVault said, adding parents “don’t get that sort of feedback” from many other places.
“This is a huge investment for us,” she said, with the family not using any vouchers. “But it’s the type of investment with immediate return and immediate growth. Otherwise we wouldn’t be spending the money.”
Other changes at the school include more one-on-one instruction between students and teachers, like mentor groups at the secondary level and church volunteers helping with tutoring after school.
That one-on-one time is one of the things the Rev. Darnell Williams, of New Purpose Ministries, likes best. He and his wife moved their son, Elisha, to Indiana Christian from the Anderson Community School Corp. this year for a couple of reasons: the Christian experience and the fact Highland Middle School received an ‘F’ grade from the Indiana Department of Education last year.
But Williams doesn’t lay all of the blame on ACS as they still have two children at Anderson Elementary School and are pleased with their education there. “ACS has great teachers,” he said. “Anytime a school fails,” Williams added, it’s not just on the educators but the parents who should be more invested in their children’s education.
They chose Indiana Christian because they’d “heard a lot of good things about the curriculum and small class sizes,” and Williams said the school made them feel welcome while assuring them a teacher could help Elisha with the challenges he faces in math.
And so far, ICA has done as stated, Williams said, adding that they checked out other private schools but waited to “make sure it was a great fit” before settling on Indiana Christian.
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