Homewood has a new Director, Justin Richardson
Mr. Richardson along with his wife, Liz and three sons, Liam, Rhys and Brennan, have been a CCS Homewood family since March of 2015. The Richardsons attend Covenant Presbyterian Church, where Justin volunteers with Children’s Ministries and Liz sings in the choir. They live in Homewood and as a family enjoy reading, Netflix and traveling, with Disney vacations being a family favorite.
Like a Disney Magic Band which holds your room key, forms of payment, and park passes; Justin’s educational portfolio includes a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and three Masters degrees in Biblical studies, Divinity and Theology respectively! In addition to theology, he also loves to talk about the Patriots, music and home renovations.
Justin has a diverse background and skill set ranging from teaching and mentoring children as a private school educator and youth leader, to long-term experience in customer service and organizational logistics. His extensive theological education, as well as his real-world experience, gives him a unique outlook and approach to teaching, discipleship and business that we believe will make him an excellent Director for CCS Homewood!
Justin will begin his new role as Director on August 7th. He is looking forward to serving our Homewood families, caring for your children, and getting to know each of you personally. Please be sure give him a warm CCS welcome!
Hello! From our new Valleydale Campus Director, Carter Knighten
Carter and his wife Katherine enrolled their children at the Homewood campus shortly after its opening in 2015. As parents they witnessed firsthand the impact that CCS had on their 2 children daily. They were excited to see that their oldest daughter was reading, writing and reciting scriptures!
Carter quickly realized that the CCS vision aligned right along with his own passions of working with children (within ministry) and now 2 years later, Carter sought and found a leadership opportunity at CCS.
Before coming to CCS, Carter served as a missionary in China for 7 years where he taught English to both university and primary school students. But the English students weren’t the only ones learning! Carter too was studying language and he graduated with a degree in Mandarin. Ni hao (nee-how) means Hello in Mandarin! He then spent the next 9 years working as a purchasing manager, selling products and translating between English and Mandarin speaking businesses.
Carter is excited to become involved in CCS as a Director and is looking forward to interacting with children on a daily basis, teaching Bible and working with staff and families. He is most excited about the personal relationships he will build with families and the impact he will have to better serve CCS and continue to develop the Valleydale campus.
His family are members of Redeemer Community Church in Avondale.
So, the next time you come through the front doors of Valleydale send a warm ni hao his way!
1 Corinthians 2:9 “But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.’”
There are two types of wisdom that exist: God’s wisdom and the world’s wisdom. The wisdom of the world teaches us to rely in our own strength and accomplishments, and save God for emergency situations. The world does not understand the things of God, and they often think the Church is foolish for putting our faith in Jesus. The world condemns Christians for using Jesus as a crutch, but the world misunderstands our faith. Jesus is not our crutch, but He is our stretcher! We do not lean on Him, but we are carried by Him.
With a new school year starting, and numerous activities and celebrations coming down the road, it is easy to take control of all these things and attempt managing life. Our aim as believers is to walk by faith and not by sight, but what we see easily consumes our thoughts. We see the holidays coming, and various gatherings of family and sport events. Mix that with your work and school schedules, and you have a pretty intimidating school year coming at you fast! But that is worldly wisdom, not godly wisdom.
Godly wisdom tells us to pray and rely on God for all things. We do pray for God to prepare us to handle and perform all our responsibilities, but most of our prayers should be focused on surrendering things to God and seeking His help. My question for you as we break into another academic year is this: Do you expect God to answer prayers and work in your life? If yes, then once you say amen, your mind should be different. When we pray, we believe that God has heard, and that He is working all things for good.
I want to encourage you to surrender fully to God. According to the world, God is useless and can do nothing. But we know better! God is willing and able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine. This season, recall 1 Corinthians 2:9, and let it drive you to God and rest in His love and faithfulness. I pray you have a blessed start to your Fall season.
Jones Valley-Due Winter 2018
Homewood Infant Center - Due Fall 2017
Do you know anyone interested in opportunities at these locations?
We are currently taking pre-registration applications for Jones Valley! Visit our campus page for more information! And don’t forget about our referral program for CCS parents who refer their friends and family to CCS!
CCS is also looking to expand its admin and teaching teams! If you know anyone who loves children and would love to work in a fun and purposeful environment, direct them to our employment page.
Thank you for choosing CCS as your trusted childcare provider! We truly love our CCS families!
As Memorial Day approaches, consider the importance of passing on to our younger generations the tradition of honoring those who have given their lives during their time of service. Their lives demand to be remembered and their stories deserve to be retold. We’d like to share this video with you (feel free to share with others).
With spring having sprung, it is the time of year where people tend to get happier. It could be the weather warming up, it could be the spring flowers (unless you have allergies!), but something seems to lighten our moods. I love this time of year because there are numerous options of flowers I can buy to surprise my wife with. Marriage is such a blessing, and this time of year always causes me to think more about love and marriage. With this in mind, I wanted to pose the question: what can we do to make sure we have a godly marriage?
Marriage is amazing. A beautiful union in which God knits two lives together to become one. The longer you are married, the more you see yourself becoming one with your spouse. A good and healthy marriage takes time to form because it takes time to learn to live with the person you love. Over time, we grow more comfortable as we learn how to live together. Marriage is amazing, but for Christians, it should also be a godly thing. But how can we ensure our marriage is a godly one? I think one way is by intentionally applying the Greatest Commandments to our spouse. In Matthew 22, Jesus teaches that the greatest commandment is to love God with all of your heart, mind, and soul. The second greatest commandment is to, “love your neighbor as yourself.” For marriage sake, we could say love your spouse as yourself.
What are the ways you desire to be loved by your spouse? Do you desire kind words of love? Do you know you are loved by receiving gifts, or acts of service? As you become one with your spouse, you learn their love language; you learn what makes them feel loved. As much as you desire to be loved in a certain way, so does your spouse. Be intentional to love your spouse the way you desire to be loved by them. Make it a point every day to focus and prepare your heart. Love God with all of your self, and love your spouse with the zeal you want to be loved with. When you apply the greatest commandments to your home, then you will have a godly marriage.
Larkin Sumerlin - Chaplain
Our new Trussville campus opened shortly after the new year and recently had the official ribbon cutting ceremony! This campus is rapidly growing and the children and teachers are having a blast as they begin the CCS journey and exceed expectations every day. We are delighted with how welcomed we have been into the community and into the lives of the families we are serving, as well as being warmly received by the members from the local Chamber and area businesses.
All of this could not be done without you, our CCS parents! The unique partnership created between CCS and like-minded families enables us to not only provide excellent care but to also carry out the intentional foundation building that is so important in the early years. We strive to work alongside our parents so that we can truly transform the world one child at a time by instilling a love for Christ, a love for each other and a love for learning.
We are surrounded by such precious little faces, little hearts and larger than life dreams. These little “world changers” will go on to impact this world for Christ and we could not be more proud to be a part of it!
What our new parents are saying…
“So proud of my hardworking little girl!!! I absolutely love watching her progress each day!”
“My little angel baby! He loves his new class!”
“Potty trained and learning shapes…all in a week!!! Way to go!!!”
Did you know that if you refer a family to the new Trussville campus you will receive a free week of tuition? That’s right! All you need to do is have them give your name upon enrollment.
Share the good news about CCS and allow us to reward you for being a part of our CCS family!
Every year brings new opportunities and new struggles. Some people are setting New Year’s resolutions, while others are resetting last year’s. I, personally, have the same daily goal: to be a better husband and father than I was yesterday. As I strive to grow as a man of God for my family, there are endless distractions and temptations that try to lead me astray. In order to accomplish my goal, I need God! The secular world will pitch us motivational videos, how-to-succeed books, and multiple strategies to improve ourselves, but without God, these things are useless. The world tells me faith in Jesus Christ is a crutch, but I disagree; Jesus is my stretcher! I do not lean on Him, I need Him to carry me. Some may say it is foolish, or even weak, to put my hope in a God that I cannot physically see. But 1 Corinthians 1:25 tells us, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Whether we are setting goals or just trying to survive our current circumstances, we all need a “booster shot” for our faith. Whether 2016 was good or bad to you, each of us is always in need of God’s daily and amazing grace. God has given us the precious gifts of His word and prayer to help us through our days, and we must make use of these. Rather than looking to the world and its strategies for dealing with stress and anxiety, go to God in prayer and allow Him to give peace to your soul. Instead of worrying about finances, read and recall the words of Jesus telling us not to worry, but “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” in Matthew 6:33.
Daily, we fight this struggle to not be proud and instead to rely on God. You are not weak for needing God, nor are you foolish. God is a refuge for His people, and we can find our strength for 2017 in Him.
I first came to Covenant Classical Schools and Daycare three years ago. I was a recent college grad who studied biology. It was my ambition to go to medical school, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t the right path for me. As I was planning my next move, my dad, who works as director support for all CCS campuses, introduced me to the organization. And I was hooked. I spent my first year as a classroom coordinator, helping our teachers follow CCS policies and assisting wherever I was needed. As the year went on, I found I was passionate about my work, so I worked to progress within the organization.
For the last two years, I’ve been working as the Assistant Director at the Trace Crossing campus. I communicated with our teachers and families, making sure everyone was happy and had what they needed. But God had more in store for me. I was recently promoted to be the director of the Trace Crossing campus, and I am incredibly excited for the opportunity. While I’ll maintain a lot of the responsibilities I had as an assistant director, I’ll also take on more tasks. I’ll have the chance to develop deeper relationships with our teachers, staff, and families — not to mention our kids! We have the best kids, and part of my job will be to do the morning Bible reading with them.
When I’m not directing at CCS, you can usually find me living the newlywed life, on adventures with my husband. We were married in August, and so far, we’ve spent as much time outdoors as possible. We love hiking here at home; skiing in Colorado, where we got engaged; and traveling — we went to Europe and Croatia after we graduated from school. Like I said, I’m excited to continue on my CCS journey, and I’m glad you’re along for the ride!
Director, Trace Crossings
Is it possible to get so caught up in the excitement of Christmas that we forget to take the time to really enjoy the meaning? If we are intentional in how we handle Christmas morning and the day that follows, we can make it an enjoyable time that not only captures the excitement but ensures that we don’t miss out on the importance of the celebration. Here are a few tips for taking time to fully enjoy Christmas this year.
1. Remember the reason for the season. Wake up Christmas morning and take time to remember the reason we celebrate. The tradition of giving gifts is a symbol of the gift God gave us through Christ! Consider setting aside a time to gather the family and read Matthew 1:18–25 or Luke 2:1–21.
2. Take time when opening presents. You don’t have to give in to gift-opening chaos! Let everyone pick one present at a time and take turns opening. This slows down the gift opening and also provides opportunities for giving thanks to the person who gave the gift, as well as learning to be interested in what others are receiving. Once everyone has opened their present, start another round of gift opening!
3. Don’t overlook family meals. Feasting with family and loved ones is a distinct blessing from God. This is the perfect time to share what you’re thankful for, catch up on what has been going on, and enjoy sharing and living life together. Gather together and make the most of the fellowship and feasting!
4. Spend quality AND quantity time with your children. Christmas day always flies by! Be sure to take the time to truly enjoy your children. They grow up fast, so join in on the fun as they enjoy their new toys and games. Sharing stories of your own childhood Christmas experiences is a fun way to pass on cherished memories!
With the year coming to an end, I’d like to reflect on the bounty of blessings at CCS in 2016, as well as give a glimpse of what is to come in 2017.
First of all, I’m thankful for all of our wonderful staff members, who strive to provide excellent care for all of the children entrusted to CCS. Their daily dedication to nurturing young hearts and minds is seen and felt year-round. We certainly wouldn’t be who we are without their commitment to the CCS way.
Secondly, I’m thankful for all of our CCS parents. You will probably not be surprised to hear that the No. 1 way families in the Birmingham and Huntsville areas hear about CCS is by word-of-mouth! Thank you for sharing your CCS experience with others. We are honored to be able to have the opportunity to not only care for your children, but also to enjoy the sweet fellowship that comes from within the CCS community. We had a record turnout for our annual Family Appreciation Event in Birmingham at the McWane Science Center of around 900 people! We also had our first annual Family Appreciation Event in Huntsville at Tate Farms — around 700 people — which was a perfect location. This fall was also the first time that we took the students for mini hay rides on-site at the Birmingham locations. Honestly, this was probably one of the highlights of my year! By the way, have you seen our mascot at your child’s school or event? That’s Leo the CCS lion!
Thirdly, I’m thankful for the opportunities that have paved the way for the expansion of our CCS family. We’re getting closer to the opening of the new Trussville campus, so please continue to spread the word to any friends and family in that area. The new opening date will be January of 2017. Another awesome project is that we will soon be breaking ground for an infant center adjacent to the current campus in Homewood. There are other exciting developmental opportunities in the Huntsville area as well, but I can’t say too much about that right now — sorry, just a teaser will have to do. Looking back, 2016 was indeed a very busy year for us. And looking forward, 2017 will continue to be busy! Yet in the midst of all the craziness that growth brings, we will remain diligently focused on carrying out the CCS mission. CCS will continue to strive for excellence in all areas as we serve our families. We will continue to adhere to the principle that faith is for all of life, and that what we believe as Christians should be reflected in all that we do. I look forward to another year of growing together with the CCS Family.
CEO, Covenant Classical Schools
I love watching young children interact with their friends. Giggles, silly — or serious — conversations, adventures, celebrations … there’s just something about young hearts and minds forging friendships that’s truly special and unique. Even at a very young age, they will look forward to being around those they consider friends, and there are endless opportunities to teach your child from the very beginning how to be a good friend.
With a little diligence, you can ensure that your child is developing healthy relationships with his or her friends. So what character qualities make a good friend? Here are just a few that we use at CCS:
Stewardship: Sharing can be much easier when friends are found trustworthy by demonstrating good stewardship with each other’s belongings. Remind your child to be respectful of their friend’s property.
Generosity: With good stewardship comes generosity! When a child feels like their possessions are no longer threatened, they will be more inclined to be generous with them. This is a two-way street, and it’s equally rewarding to have generosity reciprocated.
Peaceable Spirit: Conflict is a natural part of life, and teaching your little one how to resolve conflict peaceably is a virtue that will last a lifetime! If there is a conflict during an outing or playdate, intentionally intervene so that good choices are made.
Compassion: Encouraging your child to consider and act upon the well-being of others will contribute to a fulfilling lifetime of putting others first. Did a friend fall on the playground? Encourage your child to help them up and ask if they are okay!
Forgiveness: Little ones may struggle with learning to forgive and forget, but it’s still a lesson worth teaching! If conflict isn’t resolved peaceably, take the time to model how to ask for forgiveness and how to give it.
Whether your child is at school or at home, learning how to be a good friend is very important! If you are interested in learning more about the CCS Character Traits so you can continue character training at home, be sure to check out the CCS Chaplain’s Monday Blog!
Matthew 12:33 — “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.”
Can you imagine how crazy it would be to walk up to an apple tree and see watermelons growing on it?! Or to head to the pumpkin patch and find oranges rooted in the ground?! It is silly to even imagine such a thing. We know that apples and oranges grow on trees, that watermelons and pumpkins grow in fields, and that this will never change. We identify a tree or plant by the fruit it produces, because a tree is known by its fruit.
We get the tree illustration in Matthew 12 when Jesus is talking about the character of a person. A good person will bear good fruit, and a bad person will bear bad fruit. We will not find watermelons growing in an apple tree, and in the same way, we will not find a good person doing bad things. Jesus was giving this analogy to the Pharisees, who were major hypocrites. They viewed themselves as the godliest people around, but the fruit showed different. A true godly person will live a God-honoring life — see Galatians 5 for the fruit of the Spirit — and they will not live a wicked, sinful life. Jesus is teaching a bold lesson to the Pharisees, and its message still rings true today. Are you a Christian? If so, does your life reflect that? If people could view your entire life, would they witness a Christian life, or something totally different?
We all need to take time out of our busy schedules to reflect on who we are and the life we are living. In the last month, have you been more loving, patient, kind, selfcontrolled, good, or holy? Are you more mature in your faith now than you were a year ago? These questions are hard, but essential to the Christian life. A tree is known by its fruit, and a Christian is known by the life they live.
What does playing the cello or conducting an orchestra have to do with directing a preschool?! It is a question I have been asked several times in one form or another; indeed, I have asked it myself! After having devoted more than the last decade of my life to being a professional cellist and conductor, the prospect of a different career is both daunting and puzzling, yet ultimately intriguing.
Before recently moving to Huntsville, Alabama, to direct Covenant Classical School at Research Park, my wife, Kaitlyn, and I were teaching at a university in Indonesia. Prior to that time, we had lived in Pittsburgh for two years while Kaitlyn (who is also a cellist) earned a master’s degree at Carnegie Mellon University. We first met at the University of Memphis, and despite having previously sworn not to date — much less marry! — another cellist, we were clearly meant to be together. The year we spent in Indonesia was challenging and rewarding in many ways, yet we knew it was not to be a permanent home. As things turned out, we left sooner than anticipated!
I first heard about the opening at CCS Research Park from my father, Dr. Richard Vest, who is a board member and co-founder of Covenant Classical Schools. Further conversations ensued with the CEO of the schools, John LaBreche, and the job was offered. Despite these valued connections between family and friends though, it was essential in the decision-making process for Kaitlyn and me to sense God’s calling and an idea of how my gifts could be of value to the families and staff of CCS Research Park.
One of the many gifts I have experienced in music is the joy of collaboration on a challenging task. Specifically, as a conductor of an orchestra, I’ve learned that leadership is most effective when one understands the part that each individual plays and finds positive ways to motivate and guide the group. Those lessons of leadership from music already have been helpful at CCS. Additionally, the joy I have experienced in pursuit of artistic nuance finds a new focus in the detailed standards employed by CCS as an organization.
Lastly, performing for and teaching music to children is always challenging, since children are so honest! If they are bored by a lesson or performance, they do not hide it for the dignity of the presenter. I find a wonderful opportunity in the biblical exhortation to “train up a child in the way he should go,” and even more in the simple words of Jesus, to “let the little children come to me,” to love as He does. As Thanksgiving approaches, I am thankful for the opportunity to show the love of Jesus to your children in my new position at CCS. I pray that you all may be filled with blessings and thanks in the coming season.
Dr. Paul Vest
Research Park – Campus Director
A farmer bases his entire work on faith. He can care for the soil and plant as much seed as he wants, but he must rely on God to grow his crops. A farmer may till the ground perfectly; he may properly space out and plant the seeds in the dirt; and he may even create an irrigation system that waters the field with just the right amount of water, but the farmer cannot make anything grow.
Farmers work diligently and do all they know to do, and they must leave the rest up to God. Being a parent and teaching our children about Christ is very similar. We pray with our children and teach them how to pray; we read the Bible with them, and we talk about our faith with them. But we cannot save them. Only God can save our children. However, because only God can save them from sin, this does not negate the work we do as parents. We still work hard every day to lead our children in the way they should go, and we pray every day to see God give growth in our children’s lives.
We cannot put pressure on ourselves to save our children’s souls. God has not called you to save them, but to love your children and teach them God’s ways. Be encouraged, parents. God has called you to plant and water seeds of the Gospel in your child’s life, and He is the one who will give them growth. Fight to remain faithful to love, and instruct them in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Read Bible stories with them and talk about them together. Teach them the Lord’s Prayer and how they can call God their Heavenly Father. Take them to church, and encourage them to be a part of the Body of Christ. Sow those seeds into your child’s life day in and day out, all the while looking to God for growth.
1 Corinthians 3:7 — “For neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”
It’s funny how we try to fool ourselves into thinking we have any control over our lives. We live with the idea that we have full authority over our choices and our days. In early 1989, my husband, Charles, and I were living in Charleston, South Carolina. We had just been blessed with our first baby girl. Bringing her home had put my master’s degree on hold, and my husband felt that this would be the perfect time for us to move, but I quickly nixed his plan.
I was born in Charleston — it was my home — and I wasn’t going to leave. God, however, had other plans for us! In 1989, Hurricane Hugo swept through Charleston, causing massive destruction and devastation — they say it was a turning point for Charleston. It was certainly a turning point for us, as we soon moved to Alabama to live with family.
We were strong, and we trusted in God’s plan, so I settled into our new home and began to look for a position. My husband enrolled in Samford University’s sports medicine program, and I was blessed to begin working with one of the board members for Covenant Classical Schools — CCS. I was able to witness CCS’s growth, and I personally experienced the “CCS Way” when my third daughter attended the Trace Crossings Campus. It was there that I first heard about the four Cs.
Prior to that point, when I thought of the four Cs, it meant my husband, Charles, and our three daughters: Chelsea, Conner, and Carson. The four Cs in CCS are actually the representation of CCS’s four passions: Christ, children, character, and classical education designed to equip children with foundational character attributes as well as a platform of academic excellence. As parents, we want to see our children challenged academically, but even more importantly, we want them to grow in Christian character. We want them to have Biblical references shape their worldview, so that throughout their lives, they can apply these references in order to live Godly lives.
Our world is changing fast, and now more than ever, I believe parents are challenged to be proactive in their parenting. CCS partners with parents and strives to help them meet the challenges of our changing times. The addition of Larkin as our Chaplain is yet another reminder of what CCS, as a company, is all about — caring for the children and families of our CCS communities.
Though my youngest is now in high school and my oldest just got married, I am, once again, thrilled to be a part of the CCS family. When I left Charleston, I was faced with the prospect of massive changes. This time, I want the change to be focused on a greater purpose — one where I can try to make a real difference in the advancement of His kingdom. Being offered the director position for CCS’s newest campus in Trussville will allow me to serve in an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling way. I am able to help not only my staff, but the children of Trussville and their families.
I look forward to working together with the parents of Trussville to “change the world, one child at a time, by instilling a love for Christ, a love for each other, and a love for learning.”
All to His glory,
Director of the Trussville Campus
With summer vacations wrapping up and traffic on the roads backing up, it can only mean one thing: school is back in session! Our lives will once again take on that familiar pattern of waking up to get our children ready for school, packing lunches, beating the traffic rush, working our job, getting the kids to after-school activities, then getting home in time for dinner, and ending with sleep. Our days will be filled with activities, both work and play. These days and opportunities with our families are precious gifts that God gives to us, but the day-to-day business can exhaust us to the point where we lose our joy and appreciation for life.
It is in the midst of this rush I am reminded of the first psalm, which encourages believers to live like a tree planted beside streams of water. When a tree is planted close to water, its roots are able to get all of the nourishment the tree needs to grow and bear fruit. Just like the tree planted beside the water, we need to plant our hearts and minds in Christ, because only Christ can nourish us to live in this world. When we are close to God and our relationship with Him is constant and flourishing, it becomes easier to keep our joy and zeal for life. When we allow the business of life to control us, then we become discouraged and tired by all that we have to do.
None of us want to be grouchy, short-tempered, and too tired to enjoy our children. We want to enjoy every moment God gives us to be with them. If we allow the world to reign in our hearts, then we will become too exhausted to be the parents we want to be. I want to encourage you to plant yourself in Christ every day. Set aside a time, whether early morning, late at night, or even on your lunch break — but set aside a time to read the Word of God and focus your heart and mind on Him through prayer. Root yourself in Christ, and let Him fill your life with joy. I pray this school year will be a blessing to you and your families.
Grace and peace,
The relationship you establish with your child while they are with you, under your authority and care, will have a LIFELONG effect! I don’t know about you, but when my children hit rough spots in their lives, I pray that we (as parents) are the first ones they seek advice and encouragement from — not just as parents but as friends, and more importantly, as brothers and sisters in Christ!
Here are three simple ways to help develop a lifelong relationship with your child:
- Learn to Love. Sure, it seems easy! How could you NOT love that adorable little baby or that trying 2-year-old? 1 Corinthians 13 has a lot to say about love: “Love … bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Children learn how to love by seeing it modeled. Make sure you are demonstrating the love that Scripture describes. As a reminder, take a moment to read through 1 Corinthians 13 in its entirety!
- Learn to Listen. Have you ever nodded and automatically replied “uh-huh” to your child as they were eagerly telling you something, only to realize when they walk away that you really didn’t hear a word that they said? It’s not always easy to stop what you are doing and be intentional in listening. However, taking the time to hear and understand what your child is trying to tell you will teach them that they are important to you and that they can trust you to listen. This is especially important when your child approaches the preteen and teen years.
- Learn to Laugh. When was the last time you had a laughing fit? In our household, it’s a regular occurrence! Of course, I’m not suggesting you laugh at serious matters — and we certainly want to teach our children that there is indeed a time to laugh and a time to not laugh — but rather to take the time to slow down and enjoy life! Sometimes this means being able to laugh at ourselves and finding humor in situations that are beyond our control.
When Covenant Classical CEO, John LaBreche, first described the role of the CCS chaplain to me, I knew I couldn’t have dreamed up a better job for myself. Now, just a few months later, I couldn’t be happier to be known as the new CCS chaplain.
Like many, I found Covenant Classical by chance. My wife, Jessica, and I were researching daycares and nurseries in the area. And as she was looking at the CCS website, she found the job listing for the chaplain. At the time, I had just graduated seminary and was working part time as a youth minister. But my wife thought the opportunity fit me perfectly. Jessica reminded me that I shouldn’t be afraid of God’s path, even if it leads to something new and unexpected.
So with my wife’s blessing and my faith in God, I took a chance. Knowing that CCS was a Christian-based daycare appealed to me most. And I was impressed by how thorough the application process was. Everyone I met cared a lot about the kids and families, working to make sure the position was filled by an acceptable candidate.
All I can say is that I’m humbled and thankful to be your CCS chaplain. As chaplain, I can continue to teach through writing and preaching, which I consider a blessing. I love spreading the Lord’s message on the CCS blog, but I love people more. I look forward to spending more time with CCS staff and families.
Though there are some challenges I will need to overcome, with the help of the Lord. Unlike with smaller ministries, I won’t get to see the same people every day, so it will take time to build relationships with our CCS staff and families. It will take practice and patience, but I’m confident I can do it. I’m also a new father. My daughter, Lucy Grace, is barely a month old, so guiding and encouraging CCS parents is something I will work hard to accomplish.
However, my role as chaplain is to meet the staff and parents where they’re at and find ways to serve, instruct, and encourage where I can — as opposed to telling people what they’re doing wrong. We all take parenting personally, so my goal is to listen and help everyone through what is a lifelong calling.
My strength and peace comes from Christ, and I hope to point people to Him. Hopefully I will bring humility and loyalty to CCS. When you’re called to be in front of people, you can’t make it about yourself. Keeping the mission of the school, which is to be a Christ-serving ministry that builds people up, will be my focus. Along the way, what drives me most is my wife and daughter. Without Jessica telling me how perfect I’d be as chaplain, I wouldn’t be here today. She encourages me and holds me accountable. She is my best friend.
Thank you for allowing me to be your CCS chaplain,
Trussville, Alabama—Covenant Classical Schools & Daycare (CCS) announces the opening of a new campus in Trussville in November of 2016. Situated just off I-59’s Deerfoot Parkway exit, the new 15,000 square foot facility is equipped with 12 classrooms and provides child care ages 6 weeks through Kindergarten. Additionally, the campus will include a soccer field, infant patio, multiple playgrounds and a splash pad for water play in the summer.
Trussville's new daycare and preschool provides more than play-care!
Covenant Classical Schools & Daycare has been open for over 16 years and will now have seven schools located in the Birmingham and Huntsville areas. For many consecutive years, CCS has been voted the best daycare by parents in Birmingham according to area publications. CCS provides quality Christian childcare and strives to maximize each child’s infant and preschool experience, developing well-rounded individuals who are equipped to succeed at the next level. The company’s mission is to “transform the world one child at a time by instilling a love for Christ, a love for each other and a love for learning.” CCS invites local families to visit a campus and Experience the Difference. Pre-enrollment for the new Trussville Daycare is well underway and you are invited to sign up today! Find out more about this campus by emailing Trussville@ccslion.com or call 205-369-1250.
It’s not always easy for a child to wrap their young mind around a God they cannot seemingly experience with their senses. After all, everything they learn about in the world is done through seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, and smelling! So how can we make God as real to our children as a shiny, bright red apple sitting on the counter, or the comforting touch of a parent after a fall on the driveway, or the thrilling sound of a train passing by? Here are a few ways to proactively do so:
- Using Catechism: For centuries, the church has used catechisms — a series of questions and answers designed to be memorized and recited — as a way of transmitting foundational biblical truths to its members, both old and young. At CCS, we also have chosen to implement the use of a very simple children’s catechism. During Bible, they learn and practice reciting these catechisms and, in doing so, they are given a framework from which to view God. You can continue to build on this at home by making it a part of your own family routine.
- Through Creation: Tying in nicely with the use of catechism questions is the use of the world around us — God’s marvelous creation — to further develop your child’s understanding of God. For instance, consider the very first catechism question your child is taught: Who made you? The answer, of course, is “God did!” From a very young age, children can learn to identify themselves as being fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who loves them and takes care of them. The second question is “What else did God make?” The answer is “All things!” When your child explores the world around them, take the time to ask them more questions like “Who made that bird?” They will delightfully respond, “God did!”
- In Conversation: Never underestimate the amazing ability that children have to absorb information! They might seem too young to understand, but through your everyday conversations with your child, you are presented with the opportunity to “show and tell” in a very real way how your faith is a part of your life — how your relationship with God affects all that you do. Praying before you eat, for example, demonstrates the importance of taking the time to be thankful to a God who lovingly provides for us.
- Create a homework station: Whether it be in the kitchen, at the dining room table, or in a quiet office space, equip that space with all they need. Use jars or an organizer to hold pencils and pens, sharpeners, crayons, markers, and scissors. Keep small bottles of water and fruit available for that light afternoon snack to keep them motivated. Make sure the space is clear of toys and screens, and that it’s kept quiet to reduce distractions.
- Celebrate the artist: Find a creative way in your home to display your child’s special artwork and projects. Use magnetic frames to display them on your fridge, or use wire or string to create a “clothesline” of art along a wall or in a large frame. Nothing makes your little one happier than to see you get excited about their hard work at school.
- School backpack hanger: Storing your child’s backpack in the same place every day will help you avoid the lost bag scramble before school in the morning. This can be as simple as an over-the-door hanger on a closet or a coat hook by the front door.
- The night before: Doing as much as you can to prepare for school the night before will help your morning be less hectic. Lay out your child’s clothes and shoes, put their backpack in place, and fill up the car with gas. Teach your child to put their bag and shoes in the same place each day after school.
- Plan the morning routine: Do the same thing every morning, and keep doing it. Children accomplish far more, with less distraction, when they do it the same way every time.
- Weeks’ worth of clothes: Use a closet organizer, or simply hang outfits for a whole week. You can even have your toddler help you pick out what they want to wear when there is plenty of time to discuss the many options.
- Daily Backpack Clearing: Nothing is worse than missing a field trip permission slip because it is buried in the bottom of a backpack. Each day after school, clear out your child’s bag with them. Look for class assignments and notes, dwindling supplies, and important reminders from the teacher or school. This will keep both of you up-to-date and organized.
What do “Beowulf” and Pottery Barn Kids strangely have in common? Back-to-school preparation, of course! Okay, so maybe you don’t have to tackle any ancient British literature like I do — that’s what happens when your kids get older! — but I know you’ve probably picked out a super cute backpack or lunchbox (with the matching thermos, of course) for your child! It’s sad to see the summer go, but the excitement of the new school year is so much fun for both parents and children!
At CCS, there are also many preparations taking place in anticipation of the first day of school. Curriculum is being studied, lesson plans are being carefully considered, schedules are being tweaked, classroom rosters are being determined, field trips are being planned; a lot of time and thought goes into providing the most successful year possible for your child!
We recently had a company-wide training day with the majority of our teachers — Explorers through Kindergarten — and I’m convinced that this may be the best group of teachers we’ve ever had! CCS is truly blessed to have each of our campus leaders and teachers, and I know your family will be blessed by all of these huge-hearted people as well!
So how can you, as parents, make the most out of the upcoming school year at CCS? Well, when your checklist is complete, and the necessary back-to-school preparations are done, consider the following:
- Check out the Year at a Glance for your child’s classroom. This can be found in the welcome packet and provides an outline for what academic material will be covered for the year. What I love is that it allows you to continue the teaching at home! This is definitely a win-win for your child — material that is constantly reviewed or reinforced is better-retained!
- Get to know the teachers! Take the time every once in a while to say more than a simple “hi” or “bye.” Flash them a smile — that in itself can be reassuring and bring a bit of joy to the day! Building relationships with one another encourages the trust that is needed for the excellence in care that CCS strives for.
- Be committed! Whether it’s potty-training time, behavior issues, or trying to pass a reading circle group, children thrive when there is consistency. Speak with the teacher when it comes to setting specific goals, and then be committed to working on them at home!
- Share in our mission! The mission statement at CCS is “Transforming the world one child at a time by instilling a love for Christ, a love for others, and a love for learning.” This is what makes CCS tick — it’s what we wholeheartedly believe in, what we feel called to do, and what we truly love doing. Join us in transforming the world!
- Pray for our staff! You’ve probably never seen the whiteboard in the staff break room, but it is SO encouraging to see staff share their prayers and petitions with one another — the family that prays together, stays together! Likewise, saying a prayer for your child, their teacher, and the classroom is a simple yet powerful way to show them you care!
To a new school year!
Cultivating Young Hearts and Minds in Preschool
Where are the heroes of tomorrow? Who will shape the heroes who will in turn shape the culture? What qualities will our children require in order to be the godly leaders we desperately need for tomorrow?
At Covenant Classical School and Daycare, we are committed to instilling those important character qualities early. It is not our goal to train kids to be “good”, but rather to lay a foundation for our students to become the leaders for tomorrow’s world. We want them to become men and women of high integrity and character who will impact and change the world for Christ.
In Scripture, Peter gives us the pattern for growing into a culture-changer. He says in 2 Peter 1:5, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge…” He goes on to mention self-control, steadfastness, godliness, compassion, and love. Our mission at CCS is “Transforming the world one child at a time by instilling a love for Christ, a love for each other and a love for learning.” We’re passionate about our mission! We’re passionate about these children! We’re passionate about the future impact they will have!
To be truly successful in life, our children need to be sent into the world with this Christ-like character. When you look at the world around you, you are likely to see self-centered hearts tossed by the whims of the world with no true or lasting foundation. We are determined to change this trend one child at a time at Covenant Classical School and Daycare.
Think of it this way: when you construct a building to last, you first invest in a solid foundation. The same principle applies to the way we raise our children! We have to be intentional with our children in the same way by building a strong foundation of God’s Truth from which they can face any challenge the culture throws at them. The heroes of tomorrow need a worldview shaped by God’s eternal Truth on which they can shape and build tomorrow’s culture. Our worldview MUST shape the culture—not the other way around (do we really want our current culture to shape the worldview of our children?)
You see, too often we get it backwards…we believe education and good academics is enough and the faith and virtue will come naturally. But that’s not the case! We must lay a foundation of faith and virtue and then add knowledge. For example, knowledge alone creates pride; however, faith and character balance knowledge and allow a child to then wield their knowledge in a wise and productive manner. By teaching all three of these components together, we are training a generation who will make a real impact on their world.
Parents have the awesome responsibility of being God’s instruments in accomplishing the cultivating of young hearts and minds and it is our desire at Covenant Classical School to come alongside parents in this all important work.
Christ, character, and education: what we are passionate about, what we live, and what we teach. Your children can be the heroes of tomorrow and we are here to help you instill everything a true hero needs.
With summer in full swing, we are all planning our vacations and family trips. We are looking forward to the fun where we can get away and find some rest and relaxation. Chances are we will take a few hundred pictures (at least) and then post the best ones on Facebook or Instagram to share our memories with family and friends.
However, once the trip is over and the pictures are posted, we are at risk of falling into the trap of discontentment and envy. We wait to see how our pictures are liked and commented on. If they don’t get much response from others, we might wonder if our vacation was really as good as we thought. Then we see the trips our friends took that look more exotic or more relaxing, and we are convinced we did not do our vacation the right way.
Now all the joy is stolen from the summer vacation, and we go into catch-up mode to post even better and more fun pictures of our summer experiences. How many self-help books do you have stashed in the hidden corners of your house? Can you relate to having the desire to make changes in your life, yet you lack the most important part: the follow through? In your home, how many books are read (or even bought and stacked on the shelf without ever being opened) with ultimately little action ever taken? Why? Usually the biggest issues holding us back are simply time and commitment, and that more than likely resonates with anyone who has children! There is one book (and it’s an easy read) that really enables anyone to get their day off to a fabulous start spiritually, mentally, and physically. “The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8 a.m.)” has been a HUGE game-changer for many people. This book has the marvelous ability to enable the reader to incorporate a consistent (and fulfilling) morning routine into their everyday life. Author Hal Elrod utilizes the acronym “Life SAVERS” to provide a path for successful commitment. “The Miracle Morning” can truly transform your morning because it is so SIMPLE, which, in turn, makes it EASY to commit (and isn’t that usually the hardest part?). Grab a copy on Amazon and begin Hal’s genius Life SAVERS approach to a more productive and fulfilling day! As you may have experienced this before, it all becomes one big cycle of disappointment. But there is hope. Paul urged Timothy and the people in Ephesus to find their contentment in God and not fall for the falsified promises of the material possessions. It is only in Christ that we find our full worth and joy — and in the end, contentment. When He alone is our source of contentment, everything we do in life will have a new sense of joy.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help ground your contentment in Christ:
• Am I looking for joy from this experience, or am I entering into it with joy already?
• Will I be content if my plans don’t work out?
• Will my joy and contentment from this experience depend on the approval of others, or am I content with God’s love and acceptance of me?
• Do I consider this to be a need or a want? Why do I consider it as one or the other?
- Chaplain Drew Phillips
For thousands of years, couples have gotten married and started families. Procreating is God’s design to keep the human race alive and well. But have you ever thought about the “Why?” of it all? We are all familiar with God’s charge in Genesis for Adam and Eve, and later on for Noah’s family, “to be fruitful and multiply.” But what is the bigger picture? What is God’s purpose for families? Is it more than merely a continual replacing of the population?
As Christians, we can all agree that, YES, God has a purpose for families. But what is it? Here are three points that will help you think a little more deeply about the purpose of families:
1. God’s Relationship With Us When reading through scripture, one quickly realizes the relationship God has with us. He is our Father! Christ is His Son! We are the sons and daughters of the Almighty! Fellow believers are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are adopted; we are claimed; we are received with joy and thanksgiving! The relationship God has established with us not only models for us but sets the standard for all families. Teach your children that they are sons and daughters of God!
2. Our Relationship With Our Children Our relationship with our children extends far beyond physical care. Just as God equips us as believers, so are we to equip our children in the faith. Our desire for our children’s souls should be that they, as author Nancy Wilson writes, “are prospering, taking root, and thriving like vigorous plants — not declining or drooping like wilted seedlings in the sun.” Picture your child’s soul — does it have those fat baby rolls, or is it in serious need of nourishment?
3. Our Relationship With Others Our relationship with others begins with the way we live out our faith as families. There are endless opportunities in our everyday lives to model acts of love, kindness, and compassion for our children. The way in which they interact with others outside the home will ultimately be based on what they have seen and heard. As a family, be aware that you are a testimony of the goodness of the Gospel to everyone you encounter!
Overseeing the entire Huntsville Exchange Place CCS campus means I get to do what few parents can. Every day I go to work, and I can spend time with my children. Aged 3 and 1, my boys are always only a few steps away, and quite honestly, it’s another part of this job that brings me so much joy.
Directing the Exchange Place CCS campus can make for long days. It’s my responsibility to ensure that everything is in place to allow our wonderful staff to operate smoothly, and it’s a job I love. I come from a long line of educators. I taught middle and high school students in the public school system, and I still work as a youth minister. Short of having my own children close, being blessed to step onto a campus with the ability to support the education of children while expressing my faith is the greatest part of this job.
Working with CCS is an extension of ministry. At work, I don’t have to mute my faith, and I get to see other people’s faith in action. As a minister, I have the chance to speak to a lot of people, but at the end of the day, they go home and carry on as usual. I don’t always get to see how they apply each new lesson to their everyday life. But at CCS, I see the difference ministry makes, and I get to show others what God taught me and learn from them in return.
Of the people I speak to, I find I learn the most from CCS students. Even though they’re just beginning in their faith and learning what it’s like to have faith, to hear their passionate affirmations is wonderful. They’ve never had to mute their faith in the CCS environment, and their words give light to all of us. It’s one thing to know people who have faith, but I get to be in an environment where all people share the same faith and values.
At home and work, you could say I have my hands full. When I’m not filling my time with family, I’m teaching college bible study through our church. But even though my life is a busy one, I wouldn’t have it any other way. When you find things you’re made for and placed by God to do those things, it can be taxing, but it’s fun, too. It’s encouraging to know, when I wake up each day, I’m on a path set by God. That’s an awesome feeling for a simple guy like me. Family, church, ministry, and a job I love — I couldn’t ask for any more.
Bruce Alexander Director, Huntsville Exchange Place
If you Google “how to be a good father,” you’ll get an almost endless list of results. The advice given will be as broad as the list is long: everything from how to be an authoritative figure to how to be your kid’s best friend. You will get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. However, we have been given an example of a great father in the character and nature of God as he is revealed in Scripture.
Generous: Jesus uses an example of earthly fathers as a comparison to show how generous and good our Heavenly Father is (Matthew 7:7-11). If fallen human fathers can give their sons and daughters good things when they ask for them, Jesus reasons that God is even more able to provide good things for his children. Bringing it full circle, by looking to God as our example in fatherhood, how much more should we earthly fathers strive to be generous and good to our children?
Gentle: The writer of Hebrews gives fathers an important reminder about discipline (Hebrews 12:5-6). It is a given that fathers should discipline their children. But just as important is how they discipline. God always disciplines out of love for his children. His discipline does not come from anger and a desire to destroy. It comes from the heart of a father who seeks repentance and redemption for the ones he loves.
Kind: In the prophet Hosea, God speaks to Israel as a loving father to his rebellious son and the kindness he extended with the intention of easing their burdens (Hosea 11:4). God says he led them and taught them with kindness. He was not stern with them or harsh.
Holy: Finally, in 1 Peter 1:14-16, believers are reminded to be holy as God our Father is holy. How important is it then for fathers to live lives holy and set apart before our children? As fathers, we are given an awesome responsibility and opportunity to lead our children in the ways that are godly and in line with what we are all called to follow.
Meet CCS Accounting Administrator, Sharon
As the Accounting Administrator for Covenant Classical Schools and Daycare, I live a life of versatility. Since beginning my CCS journey in January 2016 I’ve been hard at work assisting both our accounting department and our HR department. Each day brings a new challenge.
Unlike a lot of my colleagues, I’m not the parent of a CCS student, and I was totally new to CCS before applying, but what’s kept me coming back every day are the people and the scope of work I do. Being able to perform multiple functions, participate in different roles, and still go out to see each CCS campus is great. I‘ve even had the opportunity to assist in the classroom.
Of course, there’s one other thing that keeps me happy in my work, and that’s being in a Christian organization — one that works in partnership together to train, discipline, and shape children to live a Christ-oriented life. Coming from a long career in corporate America, it is refreshing to find employers who pride themselves on their Christian values and encourage others to do the same. I’ve been impressed by CCS’s faith and steadfast values since day one!
When I’m not at work, you can typically find me at my church, shopping, traveling, or spending time with my family. Of all the places I’ve been, I prefer anywhere there’s a beach, so California and Florida are among my top places to visit. I’d say Virginia is closer to the top of the list, though, because of its beautiful beaches and rich history.
My husband, Tony, and I have been married 24 years, and we have two wonderful children. Arrix is 19, and he’s a junior at the University of Miami. He’s studying biochemistry, so he’s a really smart, awesome kid. Ariana is 16 and a senior at the Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School. I’m not an outdoorsy sort of person, but I am a proud softball mom. Ariana plays second base, and I love seeing her on the field having a good time and enjoying herself.
Together, Tony and I like to travel, taste different foods, and visit new wineries. Tony doesn’t love shopping as much as I do, but he’ll come along if I ask and be a good sport. Between my work at CCS, kids, and traveling, life can get busy. But it’s an enjoyable life nonetheless.
Sharon Ryce-Accounting Administrator
The Bible is full of examples of godly mothers. Here are a few examples of how we see faith and motherhood intersect through the story of Scripture:
EVE: Think what it must have been like to experience a world without sin and death and then all of a sudden, to be in a world broken and shattered by sin. It would be enough to cause anyone to despair. But Eve found hope in the promise of God’s ability to crush sin and death. Even with all she had to endure as the mother of all people, she found hope in God and His faithfulness.
MOSES’ MOTHER: Faced with enemies who wanted to destroy her people and her son along with them, she did not lose hope but went to great lengths to save the life of her son. By her action of faith and love for her son, she set into motion events that would result in the redemption of God’s people, the Israelites, from their slavery in Egypt.
HANNAH: Before she was the mother of Samuel, she endured the pain of not being able to conceive a child. She was ridiculed by her rival and misunderstood by a loving husband. She was even misunderstood by the priest when she turned to God for help and deliverance from her barrenness. She did not keep her most prized possession from the LORD, but gave him back to serve in the tabernacle.
MARY: A young girl sitting by herself is surprised by the appearance of an angel of God. She is told that she will give birth to the promised Messiah, and He will be the Son of God. She asks how this will be possible, not because she doubts God, but because she has faith that God will be able to accomplish anything He wills. She remains faithful to what God has called her to and endures the pain and hardship of being the mother to the Son of God.
Each of these women showed extreme faith in the face of great challenges. They experienced moments of distress and hopelessness, but had joy restored to them by faith in the gracious and loving God.
Chaplain Drew Phillips
Mother’s Day is around the corner — a day to honor moms and all they do for us. It’s especially nice for moms with kids who are 12 or 19 — kids who see and appreciate what their mother does. But what about the early childhood mom? Her life is a jumble of little kid craziness — the wheel never stops turning, the needs are constant and unabated. Her children are too young to realize what she does or be grateful for it. If she’s lucky, her husband will remember to get her some flowers or a card commemorating her hard work.
The demands and unrelenting to-do’s rub against this mom’s last nerve. Don’t give up hope if this bedraggled existence sounds like your daily life! That wearying jumble is God’s, and the little people He has given you are precious in His sight. All of the dirty dishes, piles of laundry, and toys strewn about your floor may make you feel like an ungodly mess, but God is using all of this to refine your character and soul. Cast your cares on Him, rely on His strength, bask in His joy, trust His sovereignty, rest in His grace. He has called you to motherhood, and it is a beautiful messy thing — yes, beautiful, even when your hair is a mess, you have spit-up on your blouse, and your toddler just dumped the trash out.
God is using you in the most beautiful way possible — you are raising the next generation of His people. So this Mother’s Day, take a moment to ponder what God is doing in and through you as a Christian mother. What has He taught you? What does He want you to teach them? Keep the big picture of motherhood in mind. In a few years, you will be among the ranks of mothers who gaze back on the little years with rosy glasses. Cherish your little ones now; don’t let the beauty of the mess be eclipsed by a disheveled attitude. This Mother’s Day, stop to ponder the beauty of the messy calling God has given you.
I came to work for CCS in July of 2007, about nine years ago. It seemed like it would be the perfect next step for me, and it was. The Valleydale campus hired me on as an office manager, and a year later, God provided the opportunity for me to become their assistant director.
I studied Biblical counseling and discipleship in college. My internships were in women’s and children’s ministries. Previously, I worked for a women’s ministry that focused on excellence in character, education, and leadership. It is amazing to look back and see how God was preparing me through high school and college to work with CCS. Seemingly random things that I learned and did, such as public speaking, writing, hotel hospitality, character development seminars, running a commercial kitchen, and leading women’s discipleship groups … they all prepared me to work for CCS.
In November of 2014, my husband and I began pursuing a domestic adoption. This led to me accepting a new position in the company as School Support Administrator. As of December 2015, I have served by providing support to the administration of the six CCS campuses. Other responsibilities of my position include content scripting, policy and procedure development, and updating manuals. My husband and I completed a rigorous home study and were approved as an adoptive couple in March. We are eagerly awaiting God’s timing in bringing a sweet baby into our home, and look forward to our child being a CCS student.
The people of CCS are my heart and passion. It is a joy to work here! My co-workers are my family — we would walk through fire for each other. We spend time together both at and outside of work. Furthermore, the families at each campus are precious. I absolutely love getting to know them and serving them. That’s one reason I love my new position — a lot of my time is still spent in the campuses. I am humbled by the opportunities God has given me, and I feel so very grateful for the chance to meet, learn from, and work with so many incredible people.
My career with CCS has definitely helped me grow spiritually and as a person. The more personally challenged I am, the more I am forced to face my shortcomings and fall on the Lord and His grace for forgiveness and strength. As you work closely with others, God allows “iron to sharpen iron” and He takes the opportunity to hone our character to be more like Christ. I am so grateful for all the ways that CCS has challenged me and helped me to grow in my skills, character, service to others, and spiritual life.
CCS is also growing — which I attribute to God’s hand of blessing on a company that is unabashedly honoring His name — and with it, our responsibilities are also growing. It has been fun to watch the company improve over the past nine years on a steady journey toward excellence in all things. I am excited to continue serving the leadership, students, and families of CCS and seeing God’s kingdom advanced as we come alongside parents to help “train children up in the way they should go.”
The thing I love most about the job God has entrusted to me is the eternal impact it has. Our mission here at CCS is “transforming the world one child at a time by instilling a love for Christ, a love for each other, and a love for learning.” This business is about caring for and educating children with excellence … yes, definitely. But ultimately, this job is about advancing God’s kingdom as we do those things. It’s amazing to think about the number of lives impacted by CCS on a daily basis … I pray that the impact is one that is uniquely Christian and points people to The Way, The Truth, and The Life — Jesus Christ.
Jennifer Calhoun-School Support Administrator
There is perhaps no more explicit reminder of God’s love for us in the natural world than the rainbow. In Genesis 6, God looked on the earth and saw only wickedness and corruption in the hearts of men. No one walked with God. This rampant and continual evil did not make God angry so much as it grieved him. He loved what He had made, and it was not made for death, but for life. The good creation He had made was speeding toward total ruin. The men and women He had made after His own image to enjoy their Creator and the creation were now totally bent on self-destruction. So, as we know, God flooded the entire world and all of human life, save Noah and his family.
It pained God to bring about such wide-spread destruction to the earth. It was the painful decision of an all-knowing Creator to stop the downward spiral into oblivion and make ultimate salvation possible for the people and world He loved. God placed Noah and his family in the ark as the means to save mankind from destruction. Through Noah, God preserved hope for the human race, and through the descendants of Noah, the Savior would come who would redeem all of the earth from the curse of sin.
When the flood waters subsided, and God opened the ark, allowing Noah and his family to return to life, He made a promise and a covenant of how He would deal with humanity from that point on. He promised to never flood the earth again; humanity would never have to fear being wiped out completely by God’s judgment. The rainbow was put in the sky as the sign of that covenant, and to remind us of God’s long-suffering mercy.
This promise to save men and women from judgment, though, was not totally fulfilled until Jesus Christ came and died as a substitute in our place. In His sacrifice, God keeps His promise to never again destroy humanity, but redeems and restores us instead.
Chaplain Drew Phillips
When my husband, Josh, accepted a job offer here in Birmingham in 2012, it was just the two of us. In Montgomery, I used my degree in finance to work in a bank. The summer Josh accepted the job; I put in a transfer request at a Birmingham branch.
The move went well, but it wasn’t long before we found out that our family of two was about to become a family of three. With parenthood on our minds, Josh and I knew we wanted the best daycare for our daughter. We depended on new friends and co-workers for advice, and Covenant Classical Schools and Daycare kept coming up.
Of every daycare we toured, the CCS Pelham campus was the only one that gave me, a new mom, such a reassuring sense of quality care. I had no doubt my daughter would be taken care of, so we signed up and were soon accepted.
While I was on maternity leave, I felt a strong calling to leave banking to work with kids. At our former church, I helped teach the toddler class and volunteered in the church nursery, so I had some experience. But having my own daughter only increased my desire to be among kids. So I called the Pelham campus in search of a position and was later called back to interview.
During my interview for a teaching position, I was asked if I would be interested in working at the CCS corporate office as the executive office manager. I accepted the offer in August 2013, and was promoted to HR Manager a year later.
Today, as the HR Manager, it seems like I do a little bit of everything: employee benefits, payroll, creating and implementing policies and procedures, and educating our campus staff on changes that affect them.
As a CCS parent, it’s crazy to see how much knowledge my now 2-year-old daughter, Lily, comes home with. It’s amazing to see her grow as a child and to know that my 10-month old son, Wyatt, will also have the same great experience. That affirms my family’s CCS decision every day.
As a CCS employee, I value the people and the level of communication I have with each campus. I’m a peopleperson, and here I can interact with others who share my values. I can remember a recent discussion a co-worker and I were having about the Bible. It was honest, open, and welcomed in our environment — something I wouldn’t normally experience.
Being a part of the CCS family where people actively support the success of one another has only helped me grow as a Christian. While not at work, my family and I enjoy being in the outdoors. Some of the activities you may find us doing are hiking or taking trips to the mountains and lake.
We are so thankful for the time spent together as a family doing what we love and we look forward to a wonderful future with CCS.
Beth Caldwell-HR Manager
Easter is a reminder to us of a reality that we have, for the most part, forgotten about or have chosen to ignore. When most of us look at the world around us, we see something that seems to work reasonably well but is at constant risk of falling apart. But the reality is the opposite. We do not live in a world that is working fairly well with regular maintenance; it is a world that has been broken to pieces by sin and death. We have just grown so used to it that we don’t realize this is not how things were supposed to be.
When God made all things, He made them good and put man and woman in the midst of it all to fill the world and live in His presence forever. That was the plan God laid out in Genesis 1 and 2. But of course, the man and the woman disobeyed, believing they could better meet their needs on their own, without God.
From that moment on, God promised to make everything right and put everything the way it was created to be. This plan, which is recounted in the Bible, climaxes with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus reminds us that our lives are not what they were made to be. In Jesus we see humanity the way it was meant to be: sinless and in perfect fellowship with the Father. When we see His death we are reminded of what we all deserve. Though we will not experience the same sort of death, we are reminded that we will all one day experience death.
But in the resurrection we are reminded of something different. When we see Jesus raised from the dead we are reminded that we have been made for life. His resurrection is not only a reminder, but it is better understood as our guarantee. It is God’s first fulfillment of His promise to give us everlasting life. Because Jesus is raised, we know that we will be raised too. Because He has overcome and defeated death, we know that death is defeated for us too.
Chaplain Drew Phillips
Schedule extra time: Children and toddlers love to explore and have little concern for time. Both a trip to the airport or drive down the highway can be filled with fun — exploring the surroundings and relaxing, rather than dashing between locations with no time for potty breaks, snacks, or a look around.
Give them a camera: Remember those days prior to digital cameras and the wonder of seeing the pictures developed days or weeks after they were taken? What fun would it be to give your child a disposable camera of their own! If they drop it, no worries. If it gets wet, who cares? After the trip is over you can develop the pictures and see what your child saw along the way.
Dress accordingly: No parent wants to be stuck in the cold with your child’s coat crammed at the bottom of a suitcase. Make sure you check the weather for your trip and prepare your child’s wardrobe and carry-on in advance.
Potty training: Public restrooms can be few and far between on long journeys, so be prepared with Pull-Ups just in case. Carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer is also helpful.
Activities: Fill a bag with enough toys or trinkets that you can deliver one to your child each hour you are on the road. This gets them excited about the next hour and intrigued by what new toy they have just received.
Savory not sweet: Avoid packing sweets and try other options like cheese cubes, fruit, and crackers. This way you avoid the sugar rushes and candy crashes along the way. Kid’s travel journal: If your child can draw or write, have them bring a journal they can use to draw a picture, write a word, or even complete a sentence about each leg of the journey. Then you both can look back on how far you’ve come.
Bright attire: If you are going to be in a busy airport or train station, have your child wear a bright shirt or book bag. This helps keep your eye on them when you are among other travelers.
We enrolled our first child in CCS when he was 10 weeks old. And from day one, I was impressed with the staff, facility, and core values of the school. I felt strongly that I wanted to contribute to the CCS mission and assist the schools in achieving goals as well as providing a quality experience for each child and family.
My previous professional experience is in business administration and medical device sales. These experiences have prepared me for my current position at CCS. I’ve been working for CCS for a year and half as the Operations Manager. I enjoy the people I work with, and I am happy to be a part of the CCS team.
My wife, Desirae, and I are the proud parents of our two boys Hudson, (3) and Porter (8 months). I am originally from Ocala, Florida (and a Florida Gators Fan). We currently live in Pelham and are always busy keeping up with our sons and activities. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family and doing anything that makes them smile. I am an avid hunter and outdoorsman. I enjoy most athletic activities and completed my first sprint triathlon last year. You can often find my wife and me running through our neighborhood with the boys. We also enjoy entertaining and socializing with our friends. Traveling is something we all look forward to and we have a long list of destinations we will go to as the boys grow.
When asked what’s made all the difference for me at CCS, my response is the people. I am proud of CCS and the quality of education it provides to each student (including to my own two children). I feel good about working for a company that makes an impact on young lives, and I enjoy being surrounded by people who share the same values as I do. It fulfills me to know that I am contributing to the foundation for our students. The love, skills, and knowledge they acquire in their formative years will contribute to their success and impact on the world as adults.
As for me, personally and spiritually, CCS has humbled me in many ways. It has helped me be a part of the community and to do more things for the greater good of others. I have seen so much generosity in the CCS family, and I am incredibly thankful for this. I believe that spiritually I have grown in the way I think and how I act. I have grown in the way I think about community and in the fact that I operate with gratitude at the forefront of all that I do.
In my future with CCS, I am excited about all that’s ahead, including plans for new campuses. I look forward to seeing new faces at CCS, continuing to improve what we have, and seeing innovations as we open new locations. Not to mention, I look forward to seeing students who have been through CCS succeed throughout their education and into adulthood. All things considered, I feel extremely grateful to work with CCS families and staff.
Michael Janowiak-CCS Operations Manager
Everyone loves a love story. There is something about watching someone struggle and overcome obstacles in the name of their love for another that we can all relate to. All of the stories that seem to weather the ages and remain with us have some element of a love story interwoven into them. All the fairy tales are about some prince and some princess who are able to overcome even death to be with one another. “Snow White,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and “Cinderella” all tell a story of love that is able to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.
One reason these stories seem to have such a universal draw could be that the themes they draw from are drawn from the very heart of God.
Consider all the love stories that are in Scripture. Jacob and Rachel, Ruth and Boaz, Solomon and his beloved in Song of Solomon, even Hosea and the unfaithful Gomer are all love stories told in Scripture. But these stories, among others, are not meant to stand alone. They are a part of the everlasting love story between God and his people. Each story in some way symbolizes and teaches us something more about the love we have in Christ Jesus.
Jacob leaves his father’s house to find his love. Boaz stands as the only one able and willing to redeem his beloved. Solomon is enraptured with the love he has for his beloved. Hosea endures great heartache and betrayal for his beloved, though she is unfaithful.
The Gospel itself is a love story by its own right. Christ, though he is a King, takes on the form and place of a servant just so that he can save his beloved bride, the Church. Because of his love, he lays down even his life for the sake of the one he loves. Even when we are unfaithful to him and we don’t give him the love and trust he deserves, he never stops loving or pursuing us as his beloved bride. In this story we are the ones rescued and loved beyond measure; in other words, the beloved.
Chaplain Drew Phillips
As parents, we can often see what motivates our young child’s actions. We know the big hug we get when picking our child up from school is filled with love and also that their inability to share a toy with a friend is because of selfishness. As they get older, motivations become hidden and the “whys” behind behaviors may not be so apparent. We all have motives driving what we do, but how often do we take a step back and consider what drives us?
Paul speaks of love in 1 Corinthians 13, stating that it is greater than any spiritual gift. He says words, faith, and even selfsacrifice mean nothing without love. This causes us to ponder activities we consider noble and look deeper to the motives behind those activities.
(Vs. 1-3) What if I could speak all languages of humans and even of angels? If I did not love others, I would be nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. What if I could prophesy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge? And what if I had faith that moved mountains? I would be nothing, unless I loved others. What if I gave away all that I owned and let myself be burned alive? I would gain nothing, unless I loved others.
Although no one has perfectly pure motives, we should seek to love others through our actions. Paul defines love with words of action and not feelings.
(Vs. 4-8 )Love is patient and kind, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. Love never fails!
As we become humble in our own shortcomings, we can find it easier to be patient with others. True love desires the success of others, and God calls us to serve others. There is graciousness in love which never forgets that courtesy, tact, and politeness are lovely. As we step back to consider what motivates us, may our love be seen, experienced, and demonstrated in all that we do.
As for many of us, life tends to follow our professional careers. In looking for a career to call home, I wanted to be in a place where my faith, my values, and my passions all worked in harmony. I found that with Covenant Classical Schools it isn’t just a dream. It’s a reality! Not only is CCS firm and steadfast in their faith, but we emphasize the same traits I live by every day. A chance encounter led me to this workplace and to an extended family about which I am so passionate.
I was first introduced to CCS while I was working at the Pelham YMCA. CCS CEO, John LaBreche, approached the YMCA about becoming a community partner through our youth sports sponsorships. That chance encounter turned out to be something I am thankful for today. At the time, I was expecting my first baby and would be in need of childcare very soon. John invited me to see the new campus that was still under construction and told me all about who and what CCS is. I fell in love with CCS on that tour. Once the campus opened, I enrolled my new daughter, Taryn, in the Infant 1 class. I was thrilled with our school and fell in love with its vision. My child was thriving at CCS and, as a parent, I took notice when a position became available. I applied for the Assistant Director position at the Pelham campus in 2013. I soon found out that this was the place for my family and I now serve as the Executive Office Manager in our corporate office.
In the corporate office, I would consider myself a jack-of-all-trades — working on everything from marketing, to policy and procedure, to assessments for all CCS locations. There’s never a dull moment here and we are constantly growing and advancing CCS. Our ultimate goal and focus is the CCS mission; “To transform the world one child at a time by instilling in them a love for Christ, a love for each other, and a love for learning.” It is our backbone and one that I fully support. I am part of the positive impact that’s being made on our kids and families. As a CCS parent with 3-year-old and 8-month old daughters, I love seeing our mission in action.
In my jack-of-all-trades position, I get to exercise my life long passions of staying busy and getting into everything. I was raised in the Tennessee foothills, so I grew up playing in creeks and woods. Those childhood hobbies grew up with me, so now I scuba dive, hang glide, cave, and climb. I have to admit, it’s hard to do with two little girls, but I’m confident they’ll learn to love the outdoors too. Maybe I’ll have them in the water scuba diving before they’re old enough to drive!
Without a doubt, my passions for life and family go hand in hand with my passion for CCS. It’s why I continue to do what I do!
Tamara Harrelson-Covenant Classical Schools Executive Office Manager
How can I make the most of 2016? This is a question many of us ask for ourselves and for our families. Scripture gives us clear guidance and help in making the most of our lives, but it is not always in the ways we are most familiar with or the ways that come most naturally to us.
One place we are given help on this subject is Psalm 90. The psalm begins with a reflection on how short life really is. The initial reflection can be summed up as, “The most my life will add up to will be 70 years, maybe 80, but then I am swept away like dried leaves and brought before my Creator to answer for my life.” So far we are not given much hope. It is a gloomy reflection on life, one most would rather ignore, but it is an honest reflection on life. If we give much thought at all to our lives, many of us will feel this very same thing. We feel like life continues to move along, even speeding up as we get older, and we are just trying to make it count for something.
But we are not left to despair in our lives. The psalmist says, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” What an insightful prayer! When many in our culture would rather ignore the truth of life as presented in this psalm, Scripture tells us to accept it and embrace it. Admitting that my life is limited allows me to see every day as significant.
It is one thing to say each day is significant, but it is another to truly live as if each day truly counts. The psalmist’s prayer to be satisfied by the steadfast love of God shows us where to start. True significance does not begin inside us, but with the sustaining love of God. Make each day significant by seeing the work of God in your life and the lives of your children. Teach them to look for the “glorious power” of God in their lives.
Chaplain Drew Phillips
My journey with Covenant Classical began in May of 2000 when we only had a few locations, with just a handful of kids enrolled at each school. At the time of my interview, I was working at the secular childcare center my kids attended. Even though I worked there, I wasn’t necessarily happy with the childcare environment, as the focus wasn’t always on fostering the love and care a child could give and receive. But Covenant Classical School was different.
I immediately identified with Covenant’s values, where faith and love were the main focus, and not just supplementary to education. So I accepted a position in Covenant’s Infant and Toddler program doing administrative work. By 2001, I was the assistant director at my location. Three years later, I jumped at the chance to help the organization as a whole and moved into the corporate office in the accounting and finance department. Today, I am the financial control officer for all six of Covenant’s locations.
As a parent of Covenant Classical students, I loved seeing the change in my kids’ behavior speak for itself. When my children were younger and I’d take them out in public, people were constantly impressed that they were polite and attentive listeners. I was constantly asked where my kids went to school, and I was proud to answer! Though my kids are much older now, I feel lucky and blessed to have those values instilled in them through a faith-based, Christian education.
Professionally, Covenant allowed me to grow and branch out in other areas that appealed to me. I came on board for the education, with an interest on the business side; I had the opportunity to push my educational boundaries to achieve great things. If you had asked me all those years ago if I ever saw myself with a degree in accounting, I probably would have laughed!
Working in a Christian environment has strengthened my faith too. I feel blessed to work in a place where faith plays a real role in our discussions and isn’t looked at negatively as a crutch. I’m fortunate to take what I learn in church and apply it to both my home and professional life. So few people get to say that. I come to work and I feel truly cared about. Every day, I see my colleagues extend genuine acts of love and kindness to team members who need encouragement or a helping hand.
In the coming years, I’m excited to see Covenant Classical grow in influence — participating in our growth has been a wonderful experience! I fully believe that Covenant Classical Schools have a positive impact on families and communities like mine, and in a world that can be so dark and negative at times, it’s great to be part of a bright, growing Christian community investing in future generations.
Jennifer Jones-Covenant Classical Schools Financial Control Officer