Local Christian school enrolling for next year
Betty Ann Duzik said she was led by God to start a Christian school, but she needed a little more guidance.
One year ago, she enlisted the help of Carol and Robert Whitehead, who had been involved with such schools before, and Eagle’s Wings Christian School was born.
“It was really needed here,” said Carol, who is the school’s secretary. “It’s a much different program than anything else offered around here.”
Earlier this summer, the school finished its first year with six students. They had one kindergartner and one eighth-grader with the rest in the first and third grades.
It functions like a one-room schoolhouse, with all of the children doing their work in the same area.
They began with one teacher, Duzik, who tried to split her attention among all of the students.
Duzik said there was a lot of trial and error in the classroom, like everything else involved with the school’s first year.
“We found that the kindergartner really needed someone with them at all times, because they couldn’t read yet” Duzik said. “So we ended up hiring an aide for the kindergartner and an aide for the eighth-grader to stay on track.”
There are many options for Christian schools when it comes to curriculum, she added.
The Association of Christian Schools International offers varied resources on curriculum and teaching methods.
The organization was helpful to Duzik, who said she was new to teaching.
“They really guided us and gave us good ideas about how to start school,” she said. “We also talked to a lot of home-schoolers because it’s the same kind of curriculum.”
The partnership between Eagle’s Wings and home-school parents goes both ways, too, as the school provides a home base for the parents’ record-keeping and testing.
Although the school’s purpose is to educate its children academically, the Christian influence surfaces in many aspects.
“Part of our mission statement is, ‘An extension of Christian home,'” Duzik said. “We’re supporting what they do at home. We’re not taking that authority away from them. Parents are the kids’ real teachers.”
The students are given a half-day on Fridays for music and art, which often are related to Christian teachings.
The Christian influence teaches the bible exclusively without subscribing to any particular church doctrine.
“We want to teach good morals, with God as the basis,” Duzik said. “You can have good morals, but if you take God out of it, eventually down the line, people might make their own decisions. God has his laws, and we stick to the Bible.”
Whitehead, whose own two children attended Christian schools, said the academic atmosphere in the small school acts like an extension of her faith.
“The values we teach are helpful, because they can understand it’s not just a person saying, ‘No, you can’t do this,'” Whitehead said. “It’s God that’s saying you have to be kind to your friends. Here, we have the freedom to teach creationism, biblical values and standards.”
Duzik and Whitehead admitted to some obstacles in their first year of operation.
“No school is without problems,” Duzik said. “We don’t want to function like a public school. We’ll just have to endure and stay with it. Hopefully, people will take us seriously in a few years.”
One of the problems they noticed was the location – at the corner of Victory Way and Yampa Avenue – is a difficult place to have a school.
They were uncomfortable with the students playing so close to a main road.
One of the main goals this summer is to find a new, safer location.
Duzik said several churches have offered up space, but she would like to stay away from having to teach any specific church doctrine.
She added she hopes to gain exposure in the Christian community.
“We want them to know that we want to stay around,” Duzik said. “We want to use the word of mouth from the parents who have their students here to show that they are learning, because academics is a huge part of it.”
Duzik and Whitehead said the school wouldn’t be what it is today without the parents’ support.
They were understanding and supportive during the successes and trials of the first year, Duzik said, and will be an integral part of the continued growth of the school.
“It’s been a lot of work, and a lot of prayer,” she said. “It was a struggle for the first year, but we got through it with the Lord’s help. As long as we have the parents, we will keep going.”
Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The month of January has been a strong one for Moffat County, in terms of combating the COVID-19 pandemic.