working together so learners can flourish

The Evergreen Campus of Lynden Christian Schools 

Evergreen is offering a Spanish Immersion Program preschool through grade one. Here’s what they say:evergreen

“Along with our excellent traditional Christian education, Evergreen Christian offers a Spanish Immersion program in our Threes & Fours Preschool, Kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms. The program will grow by adding a grade each year. In middle school students will take some of their content courses in Spanish, to maintain their Spanish language skills, while still rotating classes with their traditional English classmates. This program is designed to immerse students in the Spanish language while maintaining a high-quality, Christ-centered education.

What is Immersion?

  • A research-based, proven method of educating children by immersing them in a second or “target” language so they become fully bilingual.
  • The classroom environment becomes the setting for language acquisition through core subject content instruction, educational discourse, and social interactions.

How does it work?

  • Students begin their immersion experience in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade. . .” Read more

You can view a video about immersion programs here.


Ellensburg Christian School

Ellensburg Christian students are practicing the virtue – the liturgy – of praying for the larger Christian education community. This is what I received during the Thanksgiving season.


Thank you ECS third grade students!


Mount Vernon Christian School           

On Nov 6, the Superintendent of Mount Vernon Christian tweeted:

 MVC worship team @cornwallchurch Skagit great message on forgiving and forgiveness #allaude #asweforgivedebtors


To lean more about the activities of MVCS as well as some highlights of the October teachers’ Convention follow the Superintendent.


Sunnyside Christian School             

 “Our Jr High Choir sang at Sunnyside’s First Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony last night! Thanks for sharing your talents with our community!”

sunnyside To see this post as well as others go Sunnyside’s Facebook page.


Oak Harbor Christian School

Read the Wednesday Note to see what is going on at OHCS.ohcs

Among many other things you will learn about – “Caroling at Harbor Towers:  K-6th grades will be walking to Harbor Towers to share much of our Christmas program with the residents on December 8th at 10 am.”



elaine brouwer, Alta Vista, NWCSI




Celebrating NWCSI Schools-1

Even as I write, two NWCSI teachers are attending the first Christian School Educators Science Academy – a joint effort of Christian Schools International, science-academythe Association of Christian Schools International, and the Van Andel Education Institute. Rebecca Swier and Darlene VanStaalduine, both from Ebenezer Christian School, Lynden WA, are two among 50 educators chosen from a large pool of applicants that are engaging in two days of instruction in the Van Andel Education Institute’s Community of Practice model, designed to support transformation of science teaching and learning to a practice-based culture. Click here for more information about the institute and the participants.

Congratulations Rebecca and Darlene! We look forward to hearing about your experience.


Shoreline Christian School:

Andrea Grafmiller, SCS School Counselor, is teaching students skills for coping with problems at school or at home. In her blog post she writes:

“As the school counselor, I think it is important to interact with students in the classroom and teach them skills for coping with problems at school or at home. This year, I visited each of the elementary classrooms to teach the students about Kelso’s Choices. Kelso is a frog puppetkelso that helps me teach the students about how to solve their own small problems. First, I help students understand the difference between small problems and big problems. A big problem is when a student feels scared or there is a risk of someone getting hurt. They are instructed to tell a grown up if they have a big problem and the grown up will help. A small problem is something that a student is strong enough and smart enough to solve themselves. Examples of small problems are: someone cutting in line, someone taking a pencil without asking, someone refusing to share a ball at recess, or . . .” read more


Everett Christian School Weekly News – From the Principal – Joel Alberts


A few years ago an Everett Christian School theme verse was Micah 6:8, which states, “He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  In this verse we have a clear picture of what the people of Israel’s relationship is to be with God. He has showed them what is good, and, because of this he requires that His people seek justice and mercy while they continue a relationship with Him.  Though Micah wrote to the people of Judah around 700 B.C., his message applies to Christians in the 21st century as God showed his goodness to us by sending Christ into the world to live, to die and to rise and give us salvation.  Even though grace is freely given, God still requires His followers to be in a relationship with Him and to seek justice and mercy.  “Justice-seeking” is a discipleship characteristic and a way in which a person acts as a hero.

At Everett Christian School, “justice-seeking” means that “students will act as agents of change by identifying and responding to injustices.”  This starts with a recognition that we live in a fallen and broken world. Yet because of God’s sovereignty in over the whole earth and the fact that He has called us to bring forth His Kingdom on earth, we are called to actively pursue that kingdom.  This means that we need to recognize that there are issues of injustice, that our relationships between other humans, God, ourselves and nature are not as they should be. . . read more


Monroe Christian School

Thanksgiving Feast for Students

Next Tuesday, November 22, we will have a traditional Thanksgiving Feast for students during lunch, Kindergarten-8th grade! The students (and staff) always look forward to this wonderful time together.


You are invited to join the 6th grade in being Christ’s hands and feet this Christmas. We are working with Matthew House to help families who have a loved one in prison. Many of these moms have never received a gift from their children, so please consider blessing these families by putting together a small gift bag that the children can give to their moms at Christmas.


Bellevue Christian School

Superintendent’s Blog – A Few Good Minutes:

One of today’s leading thinkers about Christian education is Dr. James K. A. Smith who believes that “The primary goal of Christian education is the formation of a peculiar people, a people who desire the kingdom of God and thus undertake their life’s expression of that desire.

In a nutshell, that describes the foundation of Teaching for Transformation (TfT). What makes TfT different than traditional Christian education are three core practices:servant-worker

First, every Christian classroom must have a powerful and compelling vision of the Kingdom that creates a longing and a desire within every student to play their part in God’s unfolding story of creation-fall-redemption and restoration.

Second, every classroom must have an articulate and inspiring student profile that invites every student to imagine how to play their part in God’s story.

And third, every Christian classroom must provide authenticity, that is, real work with real problems and real people; authentic opportunities for students to practice living the Kingdom story.       Read more


elaine brouwer, Alta Vista


Two films screened at the 2016 InspirED Convention in Lynden, WA may be valuable resources for your school community as you engage with social and environmental justice issues.

The first is The Harvest/La Cosecha (2011) is a story of children who feed America.

About the Film   the-harvest

 Every year, more than 400,000 American children are torn away from their friends, schools and homes to pick the food we all eat. The Harvest/La Cosecha profiles the torrid journey of Zulema, Perla, and Victor from the scorching heat of Texas’ onion fields to the winter snows of the Michigan apple orchards, and back South to the humidity of Florida’s tomato fields, to follow the harvest. We learn how these three young people labor as migrant farm workers, sacrificing their own childhoods to help their families survive.

La Cosecha/The Harvest tells the stories of Zulema, Perla and Victor; only three of the estimated 400,000 American child migrant farm workers who are torn away from their friends, schools and homes to pick the food we all eat. The conditions they live in are extremely difficult. They earn no overtime and no sick days and often do not even receive a minimum wage. From the age of 12 or younger, their family’s necessity forces them to work in all weather extremes. They are exposed to hazardous pesticides in what is the most dangerous occupation for minors in the United States of America.

This is legal in America because the Fair Labor Standards Act, enacted in 1938, is a federal statute that introduced better labor conditions like the maximum 44-hour, seven-day work week, established a national minimum wage, guaranteed “time and a half” for overtime in certain jobs, and prohibited most employment of minors in “oppressive child labor.” However, this act excluded agriculture and thus left thousands of children unprotected.

An educator guide can be downloaded here.

The second film is Racing Extinction

Plot Summary

racing-extinctionScientists predict we may lose half the species on the planet by the end of the century. They believe we have entered the sixth major extinction event in Earth’s history. Number five took out the dinosaurs. This era is called the Anthropocene, or ‘Age of Man’, because the evidence shows that humanity has sparked this catastrophic loss. We are the only ones who can stop it as well. The Oceanic Preservation Society, the group behind the Academy Award® winning film THE COVE, is back for “Racing Extinction”. Along with some new innovators, OPS will bring a voice to the thousands of species on the very edge of life. An unlikely team of activists is out to expose the two worlds endangering species across the globe. The first threat to the wild comes from the international trade of wildlife. Bogus markets are being created at the expense of creatures who have survived on this planet for millions of years. The other threat is all around us, hiding in plain sight. There’s a hidden world that the oil and gas companies don’t want the rest of us to see. Director Louie Psihoyos has concocted an ambitious mission to call attention to our impact on the planet, while inspiring others to embrace the solutions that will ensure a thriving planet for future generations.

Education resources can be found here.

elaine brouwer, alta vista

Begin With Why

This summer I had the privilege of listening to James KA Smith, keynote speaker at Christian Schools International’s Worldview Summit held in Grand Rapids, MI. He was speaking primarily from his recent book – You Are What You Love: the Spiritual Power of Habit.

You are what you love. But you might not love what you think.youarewhatyoulove

. . . author James K. A. Smith shows that who and what we worship fundamentally shape our hearts. And while we desire to shape culture, we are not often aware of how culture shapes us. We might not realize the ways our hearts are being taught to love rival gods instead of the One for whom we were made. Smith helps readers recognize the formative power of culture and the transformative possibilities of Christian practices. He explains that worship is the “imagination station” that incubates our loves and longings so that our cultural endeavors are indexed toward God and his kingdom.

 More on this very important book will follow. For now, in reviewing my notes of Smith’s presentations, I was reminded of his reference to a Simon Sinek video. While addressing a different audience for a different purpose, Sinek contributes to the conversation by talking about how people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. What you do, he says, serves as proof of what you believe (Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Sinek urges us to begin with ‘why’. Smith urges us to examine our practices, our habits to see if they indeed reveal that we love what we say we love – that our stated ‘why’ is the practiced ‘why’. Engaging with these ideas could lead to some very fruitful conversations in our educational communities.

Other Sinek TEDx talks:

After why comes: trust.

Restoring the Human in Humanity

Responsibility and Leadership



  • original, entertaining and impactful
  • amazing speaker
  • made me think about how I can create a flourishing classroom
  • filled with hopeandy
  • opened up some new dimensions for discussions about what it means to be vulnerable
  • thought-provoking, convicting, and encouraging
  • helped me think in a different way
  • great example of Christ filled leadership and use of power
  • The reminder that we are called to help all people flourish and especially those most vulnerable among us was wonderful.

These comments are representative of the responses to Andy Crouch, the keynote speaker at the recent InspirED Convention (formerly the CTABC/NWCSI Teachers Convention) – October 6-7, 2016 in Lynden, WA.

Many responses referenced the 2×2 chart that Andy used to talk about authority and vulnerability. For those of you who want to follow up, Andy makes extensive use of the 2×2 chart in his most recent book – Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing (strong-and-weak-cover22016)

“Two common temptations lure us away from abundant living—withdrawing into safety or grasping for power. True flourishing travels down an unexpected path: being both strong and weak. We see this unlikely mixture in the best leaders—people who use their authority for the benefit of others, while also showing extraordinary willingness to face and embrace suffering. We see it in Jesus, who wielded tremendous power yet also exposed himself to hunger, ridicule, torture and death. Rather than being opposites, strength and weakness are actually meant to be combined in every human life and community. Only when they come together do we find the flourishing for which we were made.”

For an article that also deals with the vulnerability paradox see – The Vulnerability Paradox – by Ed Noot, Executive Director of the Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia –

If you are engaging around these ideas with fellow educators, please share your conversations by commenting on this post.

Study guides of Andy’s previous books can be found at along with selected articles and speaking engagements.

elaine brouwer


In my last post, I called attention to a site called I suggested that perusal of the resources on this site might aid us in our continual quest to make it more likely that our Christian faith will be integral to our teaching and learning. In this post, I continue an exploration of this resource.

whatiflearning examples

The ‘What if Learning’ approach uses three steps in designing teaching and learning – seeing anew, choosing engagement, and reshaping practice. The intent of the steps is to underline a “concern with how teaching and learning happen, not just with what content gets taught and when certain Christian words and ideas feature in the curriculum.”Cogs-Seeing-Anew-Engagement-Reshaping-Practice


The first step “Seeing anew“, “is about being open to new ways of looking at our teaching and what goes on in our classrooms, ways that can let connections with faith, hope, and love come into focus. Shifting from looking at a learning activity just in terms of the information conveyed, for example, to seeing it as at the same time a chance for moral growth or spiritual challenge can open up new possibilities.”


The authors offer examples of ways that Christian faith might lead us to see anew – in ways of seeing our pursuit of learning, our place in the world, our life together, and our service. The list is meant to be evocative, not exhaustive.


Examples of the “seeing anew” approach include:


Many more ‘what if’ scenarios are offered each with a discussion of strategies for engagement as well as an elementary and secondary example for each.


The plentiful resources on offer us a new lens and a new set of vocabulary with which to consider what we are currently doing. The examples offered, which are the heart of the site, can spark rich discussions of how we can make it more likely by design that our Christian faith will be integral to our teaching and learning.


As your staff engages with the ideas on this site, I encourage to share your own examples of seeing anew, choosing engagement, and reshaping practice. Through intentional collaboration, we can strengthen and encourage each other in our collective journey toward a distinctively Christian approach to teaching and learning.

elaine brouwer, director of alta vista

As Christian educators we are always on the lookout for authentic ways to make it more likely that our Christian faith will be integral to our teaching and learning. We want to avoid the bookends or the icing on the cake.

As one way to address that concern, I want to explore in this and future posts an approach described anCHOC CAKEd illustrated on a site called ‘What if Learning.’ In a Powerpoint on the site, the authors use the image of “a triple chocolate cake” to illustrate “where Christianity influences the ethos, the content of the curriculum, AND the teaching and learning.” Check it out.

The site is intentionally built around concrete examples of elementary and secondary teachers connecting their Christian faith with their teaching using three great strands of Christian thought and action – faith, hope, and love (I Corinthians 13:13).

whatiflearning examples

Each example includes:

  1. A brief commentary explaining how it connects with a Christian understanding of faith, hope and love.
  2. A brief explanation of how it connects with the ‘What If Learning’ approach.
  3. Suggestions for how you could create more examples like it.
  4. Hints for digging deeper into some Christian ideas that might illuminate the example.


A glance at a few of the titles of the examples (102 in all) gives you a glimpse of the ‘What if Learning’ approach:


The ‘What if Learning’ approach uses three steps in designing teaching and learning – seeing anew, choosing engagement, and reshaping practice. The intent of the steps is to underline a “concern with how teaching and learning happen, not just with what content gets taught and when certain Christian words and ideas feature in the curriculum.” These steps are meant to serve as aids in focusing on some key points of contact between Christianity and the way we teach. More on these ‘steps’ in future posts. In the meantime, I encourage to explore a few of the examples.

elaine brouwer, director of alta vista

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