Christian academy offers an alternative learning experience

Thursday, August 14, 2008
Berean Christian Academy offers students a Biblically-based education that is supported by leading Christian school curriculums and a caring staff. The school's 15,000-square-foot facility, which is located east of Monett off of Highway 60, features a multipurpose gymnasium, a library with a computers and art and music classrooms. Democrat Photo

Berean Christian Academy (BCA), which is located east of Monett, offers Barry County students an alternative learning experience. The school's curriculum focuses on faith-based education.

"The academy offers an alternative for parents who want their children to receive a Christian education," said Kelli Stephens, who has served as principal at BCA for the past two years. "Everything at the school is Biblically-based to offer students a Biblical world view that is not offered in public schools."

BCA uses leading Christian school curriculums, including Bob Jones, Alpha Omega and ABEKA, which are all Biblically based, said Stephens.

"We have a tight learning spiral, and our kids do very well," said Stephens. "One hundred percent of our students attend post-secondary school. We do not offer advanced placement or dual credit courses at this time; however, we do provide college preparatory classes. Our students take the ACT and other standardized tests."

BCA is very successful in helping students apply for college, take the ACT and secure scholarships and other financial aid funds, said Stephens.

"Our staff members have outstanding credentials," said Stephens. "Most of our teachers have master's degrees or are working on continuing their education.

"In addition to their educational qualifications, we look for teachers who are strong Christians," said Stephens. "Our teachers have a heart for education and for God, and that is what we want them to teach first and foremost. We believe they will pass that along to their students."

BCA students attend a 25-minute chapel service on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and a 45-minute service on Wednesday each week. Students do not attend classes on Friday. The school is in session August through May of each year.

"This school offers a nice Christian atmosphere," said Karyl Vermillion, who accepted a position at the school after retiring from a 30-year teaching career in the Cassville R-IV School District. "Not only are academic skills taught, but Christian values are taught here also."

"These students are challenged in more ways than one, not just academically but spiritually and socially," said Carol Rickard, who teaches fifth and sixth grade math at BCA. "They learn about what goes on around them instead of just living for themselves.

"We teach them that Jesus is first, others are second and they are third," said Rickard. "I think they get a better perspective on where they sit with others and the world around them."

Students who attend BCA have access to a multipurpose gymnasium, which is used for physical activities, a playground, a library with computers and art and music classrooms.

"We have separate classrooms for each grade level," said Stephens. "Our only combined class is fifth and sixth grade and that is due to this year's class size.

"Students are trained on computers in third and fourth grade to prepare them for their upper level courses," said Stephens.

In the future, BCA has plans to construct a building on their campus that would provide additional high school classrooms, a "family-friendly" library and regulation-size gymnasium for the school's basketball program.

Construction will be completed in phases as donations are received for each phase. All donations are tax deductible.

BCA serves over 100 students from Monett, Purdy, Granby, Mt. Vernon, Aurora and Cassville, but the school is looking to attract more students from the southern Barry County area. In order to help parents interested in enrolling their children at the school, BCA has added a transportation stop in Cassville.

"We will have a bus stopping at the True Value parking lot in Cassville at 7:15 a.m. each day," said Stephens. "The bus will also make a stop in Purdy."

Parents who use the transportation service will be charged $10 per week per child riding the bus. The fee covers the school's fuel costs to travel to southern Barry County, said Stephens.

BCA has also received a three-year grant through the Chaney Family Foundation, which will fund a portion of the $2,500 tuition cost for some students attending the school.

"This scholarship program will allow a child to attend the academy for half the tuition price," said Stephens. "Parents are responsible for the child's monthly curriculum fees and the other half of the tuition. Scholarship applications will be reviewed by an independent board outside of the academy."

The school further assists parents by offering discounts for families with multiple children. For instance, the tuition for one child would be $2,500, a second child can attend the school for $2,400, the third child's tuition would be $2,300 and the fourth child can be enrolled for free. Parents will also be responsible for paying monthly curriculum fees.

Additional discounts are offered to parents who pay in full at time of enrollment or pay in two semi-annual installments.

"We also have some students who attend the school through a scholarship that is provided by their family's church," said Stephens. "Those families are responsible for seeking that type of assistance."

BCA has also developed a distance learning program that will allow students to participate in home-based classes. Tuition for the distance learning program is $1,250.

"We provide the materials, and students have access to our teachers and resources," said Stephens. "In the lower grade levels, students complete homework and mail it in to the school for grading. High school classes are computer-based."

BCA can also establish satellite schools at churches or other locations for multiple students. The hosting school or organization is responsible for supervising the classes.

"BCA is accredited by the National Association of Private Schools, this includes our distance learning program as well," said Stephens.

Parents interested in any of BCA's educational programs are encouraged to call 417-236-9088 for more information or to schedule a meeting with Stephens.

"Each family goes through an interview process," said Stephens. "One requirement it that the children have regular church attendance, which means attending the church of their choice at least once a week. Interested families will also need to fill out enrollment paperwork with references."

BCA was founded in 2004 by a group of concerned pastors who saw a need for a local Christian education facility, said Stephens. The 15,000-square-foot facility, located off of Highway 60 east of Monett, was constructed in 2006.

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