School Guide Magazine

Triangle Faith-Based Education

Posted June 6, 2007 2:00 p.m. EDT

In addition to secular private schools, such as Ravenscroft School and Durham Academy, Triangle residents also benefit from a wide array of choices when it comes to faith-based private education.
Faiths represented in Wake, Durham and surrounding counties include those of the Catholic, Episcopal, Jewish, Baptist, Lutheran, Islam religions, as well as others.

For parents trying to decide if sending their child to a faith-based private school is the right choice, Dwight Ausley, administrator of Raleigh Christian Academy, suggests they “ask themselves whether or not their current educational choice for their children is compatible with their belief and values system. If it is not, then they really have no choice other than to find one that does.”

Ausley recommends that parents also ask themselves the following questions when evaluating educational options for their child:

  • Does my current school support what our family considers to be core values?
  • Am I alarmed by the things I see in the textbooks?
  • Am I alarmed by the culture that seems to be prevalent on the school campus with students and faculty?
  • Are the things that our family considers as absolutes distorted and considered “relative” in my child’s school?
  • Are the principles that are taught in my church reinforced at the school my child attends?

Not only is selecting a faith-based private school a very personal choice, making the decision regarding which of these schools is the right school for your child can be a complicated one. “Parents really have four choices when determining school choices,” said Michelle Cannon, director of admissions for Cresset Christian Academy in Durham. “There are faith-based schools, private schools, home schools and public schools. A faith-based school should provide a high standard of academic learning and varied extracurricular programs.”

The obvious difference between secular private schools and faith-based schools is the religious philosophy and theology that shapes the environment of the latter—both inside and outside the classroom. Using Christian schools as an example, Cannon explains that “the Christian world view pervades all curriculum. The teachers teach with materials that incorporate Biblical principles, while appreciating that students learn from the very lives of their teachers.”

How effective is a faith-based private school education? “According to the Educational Perspective brochure of the Association of Christian Schools International,” says Cannon, “’Year after year, standardized achievement test scores affirm that students taught by Christian school educators achieve well above the national norm.’” Cannon adds that, in addition to academics, “Christian private schools often provide a wide range of student programs that can include fine arts, speech meets, academic meets, student leadership conferences and strong athletic programs.”

Introducing a faith perspective into a child’s education is a key component of private schools with religious affiliations. In the case of schools such as Cresset Christian Academy, “every child will leave his or her educational experience having developed a world view,” says Cannon. “This world view is defined as an underlying belief system that will determine one’s attitudes and actions in every aspect of his or her life. From a Christian private school perspective, we partner with parents in training their children so they develop a God-centered world view rather than a man-centered world view.”

Cannon suggests several items parents should take into consideration when deciding which faith-based school will best meet the needs of their children. They include the following:

  • A school’s educational philosophy and biblical world view
  • Academic programs
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Special needs programs
  • Qualifications of faculty and staff
  • Test scores
  • Accreditation
  • School’s facilities and classroom size
  • Discipline
  • Financial policies and practices
  • School location
  • Recommendations from other parents who have children at the school
  • After-school care

For many families, private faith-based education is an ideal solution for the academic needs of their children. It provides the intellectual rigor and religious support they are seeking. The opportunities for such an education abound here in the Triangle and will most certainly hold the right choice for families choosing this increasingly popular path.