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Christian school

The Sheph​​erd's Academy

The Principal's Corner

An ongoing series of informational entries

Dr. Penn received the Ford Unsung Hero

 We opened a school during the pandemic. All glory to God. This recognition is bittersweet as I think of the number of my colleagues (Sonja Weese and countless others) who lost their lives to the pandemic, including my BFsF, Angelia Farmer and Sherell Hunter.


In honor of the outstanding achievements of Unsung Heroes in the community, Ford Motor Company launched a search for national Unsung Heroes of COVID-19. This special edition of Ford Freedom Unsung honored K-12 teachers for their many heroic and selfless acts taken to help combat the Coronavirus. Nominees were K-12 teachers who went above and beyond to educate their students, despite the many challenges presented by COVID-19, including virtual learning, and other challenges during the Coronavirus pandemic. Twenty-five national winners were selected to receive a $1,000 award, plus a $100 gift card to an office supply store for resources for their classroom.

Flourishing School Culture

Dr. Penn has been a featured conference speaker for the Association of Christian Schools International Flourishing Schools Institute.  The FSi is part of ACSI’s Flourishing Initiative—a multifaceted approach to assessing and improving school culture so that all members can collectively thrive.


The institute is organized around five research-based domains that contribute to the development of a Christ-centered flourishing school. The FSi correlates with the research validated Flourishing School Culture Instrument (FSCI) and the resulting Flourishing School Culture Model (FSCM). The FSCI provides a comprehensive analysis of a school's strengths and areas for growth, while the FSCM serves as a model comprised of five domains—Purpose, Relationships, Teaching & Learning, Expertise & Resources, and Well-Being, as stated on the ACSI website.


Experts including John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Rex Miller, author of “Humanizing the Education Machine,” Dr. Althea Penn, Executive Director of The Shepherd’s Academy, Dr. Rob Loe, CEO of Group and Peter Greer, President & CEO of HOPE International, will assist leaders in developing a strategic school culture plan.

ACSI President, Dr. Larry Taylor, believes equipping leaders with a biblically based philosophy of education is essential to the health and well-being of the entire school community.


“Preparing students to navigate the raging waters of our external culture is directly dependent on building the foundation of the school’s internal culture,” he said. “Developing Christ-following, transformational leaders is key for the whole school body to prosper.”


According to ACSI Professional Development Director, Cindy Dodds, FSi sessions will be largely interactive, allowing leaders to assess their current school culture and experiment with and apply best practices to improve. The framework will be used for the schoolwide improvement plan.  

Good news!

We are bringing the Scripps Spelling Bee and the Parent Teacher Fellowship meeting online! We believe that student well-being is improved when families are engaged and in charge of the educational process. We are here to support you. We will hold virtual Parent Teacher Fellowship meetings whereby we can obtain your input and stay informed about school activities. Guest speakers such as Biblical counselors will speak on topics such as psychological well-being for staff, parents, and students, childhood nutrition, safety and ways we can help our children excel. The primary goal of this group is to become informed on school needs and try to supply some of those needs through strategic partnerships, fundraising projects, coordination of volunteer efforts, faculty support and appreciation, and implementation of goals set by the administration. The purpose is to facilitate relationships between parents, teachers, and staff in a Christian family environment by providing opportunities for parents to support and encourage teachers. Meetings will being Spring semester and be held the 2nd Thursday night of each month 7-8 p.m. The PTF committee shall be composed of a group of officers selected from the PTF body. The committee includes the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Sunshine Coordinator, Fundraising Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator (service), Room Parent Coordinator (K-6), and Class Parent Coordinator (7-12). After the first school term, officers will be nominated by a simple majority vote with two-thirds quorum with administrator approval. The slate of PTF officers will be presented on a ballot submitted to PTF members for approval in the spring. All agendas, decisions and disbursal of funds require a simple majority vote of the PTF committee with two-thirds quorum and administration approval. Meetings dates are:

January 13, 7-8 p.m.

February 10, 7-8 p.m.

March 11, 7-8 p.m.

May 12, 7-8 p.m.

Also, we had to cancel Spelling Bee and Geography Bee club this year due to the pandemic. The Scripps National Spelling Bee provides powerful tools for educators and schools to execute a successful and memorable spelling bee program. They now have an online platform for the school bee, thus we will resume these clubs during the 2022-2023 schoolyear. Help your students begin their spelling bee journeys by registering for the Spelling Bee Club by September 15. Students increase their vocabulary and confidence when competing. They will receive the Great Words, Great Works reading list with all source books, organized by reading level; Words of the Champions: the 4,000-word study guide for school champions; and winners of the school bee receive access to the National Scripps Spelling Bee Online Testing Platform, a tool that allows educators to administer a school spelling bee program via online tests whether students are learning in the classroom or virtually (Available September 30) The winner receives a one-year subscription to Britannica Online for Kids (a $74.95 value)!

More details will be provided in February when enrollment for the 2022-23 school year opens.

Learning Orientation and Organization

“May I see John’s records? I want to take another look at his placement test,” asked the fifth-grade teacher. My ears perked up and my heart leapt. I was so excited! A teacher wants to use the assessment data to inform his teaching practices, I thought. “I knew I made the right hiring decision!” I proudly assumed. My heart quickly plummeted to the floor after he asked, “Should we have accepted this student, considering his placement test results?”

I quickly realized the teacher had lost sight of our mission. The student had tested above grade level for years before experiencing a traumatic event which led to challenging behavior and poor academic performance. His placement test indicated a high aptitude for learning although his achievement level was lower than his grade level. This teacher had decades of experience working in a Christian school, however, in that moment he lacked a key ingredient found within flourishing school cultures—a learning orientation.

A learning orientation is a mental set that enables stakeholders to evaluate and recalibrate inputs and the outcomes, processes and policies required for growth. Research, including ACSI’s Flourishing Schools initiative, has found that a focus on outcomes is a key component of a learning orientation.

Learning Orientation Flourishing Schools

What is an Outcomes Focus?

The Flourishing School Culture data indicate that having an outcomes focus involves believing that “process doesn’t matter if it isn’t producing results, and change is distracting if it doesn’t lead to increases in student achievement” (Swaner, Dodds, and Lee 2021). What results are we hoping to achieve? We hope that our students will develop a biblical worldview and show God’s glory through their academic scholarship, stewardship of their time, talents, temple, and treasure, and engage their communities as transformational leaders. Identifying expected student outcomes and criterion for continuously measuring progress toward achievement of those outcomes is essential to success in achieving them for both the educator and the student.

Kingdom educators achieve their teaching and learning goals by maintaining an outcomes focus. Their instruction is aligned with the school’s overall mission to promote holistic development in each student by implementing innovative and responsive instructional strategies. It is important that we begin each year reviewing and orienting the entire learning community to the expected student outcomes (ESOs). As the writer of Proverbs exclaimed, “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint” (or perish as some translations recount) (Proverbs 29:18a). This is true for families, churches, and especially schools. Dr. Erin Wilcox, ACSI’s assistant vice president for Academic Services, shared the importance of ESOs, ESO examples, and ESO assessment tools in a prior blog post, “The Value of Expected Student Outcomes.” ESOs enable the learning community to identify, focus upon, measure, allocate resources for, and align people with time-related, achievable performance standards for academic and non-academic outcomes.

The identification of realistic outcomes empowers school teams with the capacity to be solution-oriented and see challenges or crises as an opportunity for improvement. We pray each year for enrollment growth and transformation in the lives of our stakeholders (students, families, faculty, board members, and the community at large) and often act surprised when God sends those opportunities in seed form. Studies indicate that an educator’s orientation toward professional learning is directly correlated to student achievement. For far too long, we’ve ignored the influence school culture has upon teachers’ expectations in addition to their willingness to learn and implement innovative instructional strategies (Brion 2021).

Another key to an outcomes focus is that it begins with a recognition that God is sovereign over our student selections and admissions. Our primary outcome is that our students are conformed to the image of Christ. Jesus grew holistically and pleased the Father (Luke 2:52); thus, our programs must be aimed at the same student outcomes. Researchers have found that students in preK-12 schools where team members lack an outcomes focus have disparities not just in literacy and social skills, but also in school readiness, long-term educational and health outcomes (e.g., increased high school dropout rates, increases in juvenile delinquency, higher teen pregnancy rates, poverty, mental health issues, and so forth), lower earnings, and ultimately family stability (Jeynes 2012; Wells 2017).

Hiring and Developing Staff

The scriptures inform us that a learning orientation is the disposition of a wise man who fears the Lord. This begins with a biblical worldview as we identify criteria used to recruit staff. Leaders intentionally create, change, and maintain school culture by identifying inputs necessary to achieve the outcomes of Christian education. We search the scriptures for characteristics of kingdom educators and write job announcements, job descriptions, employment forms, policies, and procedures that are designed to cast vision and screen unqualified candidates. As boards and owners cast vision throughout the onboarding process, adequate time should be provided to identify measurable standards and tools by which to assess student development in each domain (spiritual, social, emotional, cognitive, and physical).

When hiring for a learning orientation in general, and an outcomes focus in particular, the following dispositions and capacities should be considered:

The willingness to view a student with a growth mindset (improvement is not only possible but inevitable).

The readiness to seek and receive feedback from other team members to see a situation more fully.

The ability to recognize that the components of our learning communities are interrelated (e.g., family dynamics, industry trends, global crises, teacher competency, standards, and their implementation all influence performance).

The acknowledgment that there are multiple interventions that may be implemented to address a problem.

The commitment to champion processes that may not be popular or easy.

A growth mindset is positively related to a learning orientation in that one assumes intelligence and ability can be improved (Vandewalle, Nerstad, and Dysvik 2019). As kingdom educators seek to understand why a student fails to attain ESOs, it is important that we seek goals-oriented feedback. We would agree that developing standards-aligned experiences that optimize student achievement and prepare our students for a successful transition to college and adult life, as disciples of Christ, is our highest priority. It is important that we establish professional learning communities that provide opportunities for collaboration and support our teachers’ transfer of learning from professional development events to targeted reflective practices in the classroom.

References

Brion, C. 2021. Culture: The link to learning transfer. Adult Learning DOI: 10451595211007926.

Jeynes, W.H. 2012. A meta-analysis on the effects and contributions of public, public charter, and religious schools on student outcomes. Peabody Journal of Education 87(3): 305-335.

Marzano, R. J., J.S. Marzano, and D. Pickering. 2003. Classroom management that works: Research-based strategies for every teacher. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Stronge, J. H. 2018. Qualities of effective teachers. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Swaner, L., C. Dodds, and M.H. Lee. 2021. Leadership for flourishing schools. Colorado Springs, CO: ACSI.

Vandewalle, D., C.G. L. Nerstad, and A. Dysvik. 2019. Goal orientation: A review of the miles traveled and the miles to go. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior 6:115-1





Ford Freedom Unsung: Teacher Hero of COVID-19 Award​

I am truly honored to serve. Now this!

Congratulations Dr. Althea Penn!

In this unprecedented time and in honor of the outstanding achievements of unsung heroes in the African-American community, Ford Motor Company Fund (Ford Fund), in partnership with Rainbow PUSH, launched a national search for the unsung K-12 Teacher Heroes of COVID-19.

On behalf of Ford Fund and Rainbow PUSH, we are proud to announce that you have been selected as a Ford Freedom Unsung: Teacher Hero of COVID-19 for going above and beyond to educate your students, despite the challenges of virtual learning and other challenges during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Ford Freedom Unsung program salutes and honors those who have positively impacted communities and whose achievements serve to enlighten and inspire others; individuals whose achievements may otherwise go unacknowledged.

We will celebrate you and the other Ford Freedom Unsung: Teacher Heroes of COVID-19 winners with a virtual presentation during Rainbow PUSH's Global Automotive Summit on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. We will send you a link so you and your nominator can see the presentation.

All glory to God. Thank you to my nominator.

What a Year

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; 

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

This school year has been a wonder! Our students are off to a great start! They are excelling academically and socially. I am amazed at their resilience and inspired by your commitment to Christian education. You have been faithful to connect with our partners in the community as evidenced by your diligence in serving at the Hugs and Hope Food Pantry and babysitting for foster children. Students are showing up in virtual learning classes and are engaged as our teachers tirelessly use research proven instructional strategies to intentionally cultivate growth. However, we've weekly heard of reports of parents being hospitalized with COVID-19 pneumonia, entire families being impacted by COVID symptoms, and the untimely deaths of loved ones.


We have numerous supports in place such as our Weekly Prayer Warrior Prayer time, Thrive Tribe PE/Total Health on Tuesdays, and tutoring to address COVID-19 learning loss. We were recently awarded EANSI and additional Title I funds for supplemental instruction/tutoring. We're in the process of hiring tutors for the spring semester. Please sign up today if you are interested in FREE one-on-one virtual tutoring once or twice a week in reading or math. We will administer a pre-test on January 5 and sessions will begin the following week. Please see details under FLEX Learning at https://shepherds-academy.com/virtual-services Be sure to join the TSA Administration group in Edmodo to stay informed. The join link is https://new.edmodo.com/joincg/k3brrj.


Our BETA club members are also participating in the upcoming BETA Leadership Summit at Great Wolf Lodge in LaGrange, GA and the ACSI Student Leadership Experience in Washington, DC. The Redemption Everyday Conference is an annual leadership experience for Christian high school students about God’s story of creation, our fall into sin, and God’s redemption and restoration for all of life. From the framework that is built on this story, we will focus on human suffering and the biblical responses to it.Topics covered will include poverty, abortion, human trafficking, and other difficult topics. We are truly equipping the next generation of global leaders to impact the world for Christ. In the midst of challenges our students are making the most of every opportunity to serve and encourage others. Faith and servant leadership can be a great source of comfort to a child. Unfortunately, adults often misstate God’s role in a death and thereby confuse, rather than comfort. Rather than speaking about God’s will and plan with a child, emphasize God’s love. Love is a concept that appeals to even the youngest child. Children can be reminded gently, “God loves us and wants to help us. We can bring all of our fears and concerns to God in prayer. God will help us.” By responding sensitively to children, you’ll ensure they develop the coping skills they need to understand, manage, and respond to loss. Take time to help children cope with death, and make it possible for them to have a healthy bereavement.


Grief and loss are endemic to our earthly sojourn even if pandemics are not. Grieving is the gift that helps us process through tragedy and loss. You have stepped up and been there for each other by listening and meeting practical needs. Crises are not always tragic and negative. Some are exciting and fulfilling, such as the birth of a child or a child's graduation from high school or college. But every crisis is a turning point, a time when friends and fellow Christians should respond in appropriate ways to meet specific needs. In meeting needs, we let them know that Jesus cares for them as well. I am continually asking the Father what lessons he wants me to learn from this challenging time. Primarily I am learning that I find joy in being other focused. As we follow Jesus’ example, we find there is grace for every challenge we will face this school year. Be sure to exemplify this for one another.

Coach Penn and I are here for you. Please message us in Edmodo and let us know of any way we may be of support. Please find materials below to address grief and loss.

By grace alone,

Dr. Penn


“‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine. I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior” (Isa. 43:1b–3a, CSB).

Psalm 30 Day Devotional

Dealing with Death

Dealing with Grief

Jump Start College with Dual Enrollment December 21, 2020

The pandemic has had an impact on schools and colleges around the country, with many seeing a decline in enrollment. That’s not the case, though, for dual enrollment — the only type of enrollment at colleges not seeing a decline according to preliminary data provided by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The Shepherd's Academy offers tutoring and peer study groups for homeschool students enrolled at Toccoa Falls College.


Dual enrollment allows students still in high school to take courses for credit from colleges. It’s an option that is helpful in closing equity gaps.Dual enrollment allows high school students to earn both high school and college credit for college courses completed while they are still in high school. This can be accomplished by taking classes on a college campus or online. Classes are tuition-free for 10th-12th grade students. By taking advantage of dual enrollment, high schoolers will save time and money and be better prepared for college and career.


Best of all, students who participate in dual enrollment are still eligible for the Hope Scholarship. Michael, a 14 year old junior has completed 30 hours of college credit in just three semesters and is slated to graduate early. He has a 3.04 gpa and could graduate high school with a diploma and an associates degree. Georgia Futures pays tuition and textbook costs for the first 30 hours of college credit. Our fees are minimal for dual enrollment students ($50 registration and $90/month for tutoring on Thursday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.). Students participate in study groups and receive assistance in study skills and assignment submission.


2021 Spring Semester Registration is open.  Below is a quick summary of important dates and deadlines:

Semester / Session Spring ’21 Online 16-week or Spring ’21 Online Session A 8-week

Registration Opens Oct. 5

Apply by Jan. 8

Register by Jan. 13

Classes Start Jan. 19


Semester / Session Spring ’21 Online Session B 8-week

Registration Opens Oct. 5

Apply by Mar. 9

Register by Mar. 15

Classes Start Mar. 22


If you wish to enroll in 2021 Spring Dual Enrollment, please click the link below:

Public/Private School Students: https://tfc.edu/.../20FA-21SP-Registration-Form-PUB-PRIV.pdf


Feel free to contact me about which courses to take. The 2021 Spring Course Offerings List is posted online (https://tfc.edu/.../2020/10/Spring_2021_Course-Offerings.pdf). As you think about the 2021 Spring Semester, please keep in mind how HB 444 implications will affect your eligibility to receive State Funding. For any funding limit questions please contact GA Futures (https://www.gafutures.org/).


TFC Offices arefor Christmas Break until January 4th. They will be happy to assist and process your paperwork when we return in the New Year. For further information regarding Dual Enrollment, feel free to glance at their website (https://tfc.edu/admissions/dual-enrollment/). Please let us know if you have any questions.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dr. Penn

Beta Club Members Participate in State Competitions

Our students have demonstrated compassion and care for their neighbors during this time of social distancing like never before. They have also excelled academically and socially. National Beta members from The Shepherd’s Academy are celebrating their recent participation in the Georgia Virtual Leadership Summit and Georgia State Convention. Three members (Chelsea, Gabrielle, and Jillian) were announced as qualifiers of the Rapid Response Challenge.


Typically, National Beta Leadership Summits bring together students from multiple states for 1-2 day events. During that time, students work with interactive speakers who engage members through introspective exercises and team-building activities. Clubs can also participate in team-based leadership challenges which test their communication, critical thinking, creativity, presentation, and collaboration skills. Annual National Beta State Conventions bring together students from across the state to compete in a variety of competitions ranging from academic and STEM-based to visual and performing arts. While the Leadership Summit and Convention, originally planned to be held in Savannah, were cancelled for in-person attendance due to health and safety concerns stemming from COVID-19, members were able to work together to submit their challenges online and met virtually for interactive leadership trainings from Bill Cordes and Ted Weise. Their victories at this level provide the opportunity to compete at the national level. National Convention will be held at the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida during Summer 2021.


The club was chartered in 2001 and members annually exceed service hour requirements. Dr. Althea Penn, the Beta Club sponsor, commented that “The students have worked hard to serve their communities and shine a bright light during this COVID-19 era. We have been inspired by the student’s leadership and resilience. Service projects have been difficult this year, but the students have met every challenge. We were able to collect and pack 24 shoeboxes as part of the Operation Christmas Child initiative, in addition to serving children in foster care, the elderly, and school children throughout Gwinnett county.” In spite of COVID-19, club membership grew to 27 students. Students meet virtually each month to brainstorm about ways to serve their community and develop leadership skills..


With more than 500,000 active members and 8,750 clubs nationally and internationally, National Beta has become the nation’s largest independent, non-profit, educational youth organization. National Beta promotes the ideals of academic achievement, character, service and leadership among elementary and secondary school students. National Junior Beta includes grades 4-8 and National Senior Beta includes grades 9-12. Our club is open to homeschool students.

October 19, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

HAPPY FALL! It is beautiful to see the leaves of the trees changing colors. This reminds us of the faithfulness of our God. In Genesis 8:22 he declared, “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.” The cycles and seasons are evidence of God’s sovereign rule over the universe.

With the change in weather patterns, I would like to remind you to please send your child prepared for all types of weather. You may want to check and make sure all hats, mittens, coats, boots, and snow pants are fitting and ready to go. In spite of the pandemic, great things are happening this fall, so please make note of the Dates to Remember below. This will help keep you informed on what is taking place in our school.

Please do not park in the circular drive when school is in session. Either park in the East parking or north parking lots, this will decrease the likelihood that a pedestrian is injured. We hope to offer carpooling as the student population grows and risks decrease.

We have implemented measures that mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among our staff and students on school campus. These measures include, but are not limited to, screening for COVID-19 symptoms, increasing air circulation with air purifiers, frequent sanitation and handwashing. Yet it is still difficult to find Christian teachers who love God and children, and are competent in Bible integration. We are in desperate need of substitutes and teachers in the following areas: food service, early educators, and instructional aides. We hope to open the early learning classrooms in January, if COVID numbers begin to decrease. If you feel that this is something that you could help with, please apply in person at 4554 Annistown Road Snellville, GA 30039 or download the application and submit it via email.

As we enter winter semester, please remember to practice reading with your child every night. Reading word lists and content logs will be sent home over the next couple of weeks. Elementary students struggling with number sense should count and calculate as much as possible in real life settings, such as counting cans of soup, canned vegetables, or snacks while shopping. As you’re grocery shopping or purchasing gas encourage your child to calculate quantities needed to serve your family or gallons of gas needed for the week.

Lastly, please remember that new guidelines established by the Governor’s office in conjunction with the CDC, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning: Bright from the Start, and the public health department, dictate isolation or quarantine when students or staff experience respiratory symptoms. Our Illness policy is to have the student return to school after they have completed a 24 hour symptom free period, however, if there are three or more cases of respiratory illness we will close the school and go virtual for 14 days. We appreciate your help in protecting the health of our learning community by keeping children home who are experiencing signs and symptoms of contagious diseases and alerting us of the same.

We appreciate your collaborative efforts in working together to make your child’s educational career a successful one. We are honored to work with you in building a firm foundation in their lives. This is a calling and ministry for us and we believe God is faithful to honor your commitment to Christian education. Please email me at [email protected], if you have any questions or concerns.

For His glory,

Dr. Althea Penn

Train up a Child​

September 18, 2020

As a child, I loved trains. They daily ran near my grandparent's farm each morning and evening. It was amazing to observe the engine pull so many cars. I would dream of where the trains were destined to travel. The destinations were limitless, just as a child's potential. God has entrusted little lives to us...to train them up in His ways. (Proverbs 22:6)  He takes this directive seriously. Throughout the Old testament and New Testament, God disciplines parents, civil and religious leaders and teachers for failure to instruct others (especially the youngest) in His ways. He repeatedly disciplined the Israelites and punished the other nations for rejecting Him and neglecting His word. A whole generation died in the wilderness for their stubborn rebellion. 


As we deal with this pandemic, natural disasters, and famines around the world, we should be prompted to examine ourselves and set our houses order. It grieves my heart to observe young children swearing, using euphemisms (OMG, dang, crap, snap, etc.) for curse words, bullying others, being sexually exploited, disrespecting their parents, and violently injuring others.  Sadly they are doing what they have observed or heard. These perilous times were mentioned in the Bible, (2 Timothy 3:1) yet it is still very disturbing. 


For such a time as this, God has called us to come alongside you and help you to model and cultivate Christian character that will enable your child to:

1) come into personal relationship with the Lord

2) grow in their faith to trust Him personally,

3) glorify God by using their gifts and talents to turn other's hearts back to the Lord.

As Christ’s followers, we have the Holy Spirit within us to guide us and empower us to train our children. But if we neglect His divine leadership and insist on going our own way, the Lord will let us face the consequences until we finally repent and turn back to Him. We either pay attention to Him now or later (when the child is too unruly and is punished by society). 

Remember, Christlike character is caught more than it is taught. That means, as you live out godly character before your kids, they’ll naturally get it more than if you just tell them what it’s supposed to look like. Just as an engine pulls the cars and caboose in the right direction. Below are some things we can all do to live out godly character in front of our children:

Read God's Word daily and strive to live it.

Confess your sins to Christ and to others.

Recognize your child's behavior when it is pleasing to the Lord.

Teach our children that God hears, sees, rewards, and disciplines.

Use the scripture to correct inappropriate behavior (such as asking...is that a wise or foolish choice...is that Word edifying or pleasing to God or not...is that kind or mean...is that how Jesus told us to treat our neighbor or friend?)

Confess when you miss the mark and make a commitment to obey the Lord.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you model godly words and behavior.

Journal to keep connected with what’s motivating you.

Talk with a trusted friend about your spiritual and emotional struggles.

Attend church regularly as a family.


Although there are no perfect parents or teachers, we do serve a perfect Heavenly Father, who is always willing to forgive, and to continue teaching us godly character while we pass it on to our children. After all He is the one who began a good work in each of us! He has promised to complete it or help us reach His planned destination. He has predestined us and our children unto good works. (Ephesians 2:10) Thank you for joining our Christ-centered community of learners. May the Lord continue to empower your family to be salt and light in a dark world.

For His glory,

Dr. Penn

COVID-19 Updates and the Check-in System

August 8, 2020

Greetings parents and scholars,


God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1


Camp Destiny is off to a smooth start and the students are enjoying learning about God, our Creator and the destiny He has in store for them. Our theme is: You are created with a purpose!

Memory Verses:

08/05/20-08/14/20 The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

08/19-08/21/20 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Our Bible integrated activities have been centered on creation and salvation as God’s primary purpose. Students have learned how they are uniquely created and God created this incredible world for them to enjoy. Older students are also learning to be media smart as we learn about the importance of being discerning regarding media, physical activity, and nutrition. We want our students to:

Know God

Grow in Faith and

Show His glory


We completed academic placement testing on last Thursday and are working diligently to get the tests scored. We are also awaiting records from 1st-12th grade student schools. As I mentioned in the email, a standardized test should never be the sole source of data for placement decisions. 


In order to stay abreast of the complex and evolving situation in the United States and to exercise best practices in safeguarding our community, The Shepherd’s Academy is remaining in constant communication with governmental and educational organizations. For the most detailed and up-to-date information on COVID-19, we encourage you to bookmark this page, watch our school calendar, and monitor the following websites. It amazing, one minute you're reading about camps that have served thousands of children with no reported cases of COVID-19 and then others, like the one in south Georgia with 85 cases. We are doing our part to take the necessary precautions and trust that God will do His part. We are asking parents to ensure everyone wears a mask as they enter the facility and that you stop at the door of the classroom to reduce the spread of disease. We are also limiting the number of students to 4-8 per classroom. Many of our students are from the same households and this may reduce the number of germs introduced in our setting.


We will update our facebook page www.facebook.com/shepherdsacad/ with information about COVID-19 as it relates to The Shepherd’s Academy.

Students and staff members exhibiting signs or symptoms of illness will be excluded. Those who believe they may have been exposed to or infected with the novel coronavirus should seek medical care right away. Before you go to a clinic, doctor’s office, or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

What precautions are being taken to mitigate the spread of COVID?

Temperature screenings are taken upon arrival

Class sizes are reduced to 4-8 students

High touch surfaces are frequently disinfected

Frequent handwashing is practices

Face masks are worn by staff and students 3 and older

Many activities are conducted outside

Physical distancing is practiced as much as possible

Classes are livestreamed for K-8th grade students

Large gatherings are conducted via LIVE videoconferences

Students may attend classes in a distance learning environment with synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities

Staff and students with signs of communicable disease are excluded:

Do not send your child to school if you suspect he or she may be ill or has exhibited any of the following signs or symptoms:

• An elevated temperature of 100 degrees or more during the last 24 hours.

• Vomiting within the last 24 hours.

• Repeated episodes of diarrhea within the last 24 hours.

• Chills, loss of appetite, unusual fatigue, and/or lingering headache.

• A significant amount of nasal discharge, particularly if the discharge is yellow or greenish in color.

• A persistent cough.

• A significant sore throat.

• An earache.

If you suspect that you or your child has a serious communicable disease, you must notify the school so we can comply with reporting requirements.

In the event a child becomes sick while at school…While we usually monitor ill students for a period of time, given the circumstances, parents will be immediately called to pick up their child as quickly as possible.

• Additional cleaning of common surfaces by faculty and staff is happening at regular intervals throughout the school day.

• A professional cleaning crew has implemented a weekly disinfectant protocol in addition to the regular cleaning.

May the Lord continue to bless and keep your family.

In Christ,

Dr. Penn


Resources

Georgia High School Association memo regarding conditioning for basketball (postponed until further notice) and baseball: https://www.ghsa.net/…/executive-…/MinutesBOTMay_21_2020.pdf

How do we talk to children about crises?

American Academy of Pediatrics www.apa.org/topics/talking-children

CDC www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping

Time magazine https://time.com/5776857/how-to-talk-to-kids-coronavirus/

New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/…/parent…/coronavirus-kids-talk.html

Are there resources to help maintain mental health and emotional stability for kids?

Child Evangelism Fellowship www.cefonline.com/covid19/

Focus on the Family www.focusonthefamily.com/family-time-during-the-coronaviru…/

PBS Kids www.pbs.org/parents

Parenting During a Crises https://www.m

A Time to Listen and Lead: Developing a Biblical Response to Racism

June 4, 2020

     

We are deeply saddened by the series of disturbing and tragic events that have taken place over the last few weeks. This open letter to Association of Christian Schools International member schools from Dr. Taylor expresses our heart for teaching our diverse student body to love their neighbors because they are created in the image of God. We are committed to appreciating the diverse cultures we serve and cultivating unity within diversity that informs the decisions, programs, pedagogy, and culture of our school. We are reconciled to God and one another by the precious blood of the Lamb.

-The Shepherd's Academy Team


Dear ACSI Community:

We have all been immersed in national race-related tension and dissension. NFL Hall of Fame Football Coach, Tony Dungy, a long-time friend and mentor, said it best, “America is in a very sad place today. We have seen a man die senselessly, at the hands of the very people who are supposed to be protecting our citizens. What happened to George Floyd was inexcusable and it should never happen. Justice needs to be served ...”

The video of George Floyd is painful to my soul, and the widespread violent protests sting my heart. Race-related issues and incidents are complex and require a multifaceted solution. ACSI believes that God’s Word addresses the racial, class, and cultural issues of our day. Regardless of one’s race or opinions, what we are currently experiencing calls for continued prayer, conversation, and a genuine pursuit of biblical reconciliation. It is a heart and internal character transformed by the power of God that enables a person to sincerely love deeply. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated:

“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”

In his famous letter written from a Birmingham jail cell, Dr. King also wrote about the person “… who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.” Dr. King went on to say that, “I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: ‘Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother.’" King was right on this point and his quest for “positive peace” will always be a top priority for our ACSI community.

Christian schools cannot fit every cultural issue into their training, but civil rights, justice, and human dignity are topics that need the voice and thoughtful consideration of the Christian community. They transcend all other issues, as they speak to humanity, the sanctity of life, and foundational biblical principles. I want to remind the ACSI community of our longstanding dedication to biblically based diversity. Our primary focus of race-related issues will always revolve around the conviction of developing a biblical worldview for our ACSI staff, school leaders, faculty, students, and the parents we serve.

Over the last 20 years, under the leadership of Dr. Vernard Gant, ACSI’s focus on race-related issues facing our schools has been a priority. During this time, Dr. Gant has led robust discussions, planning, and training. Several months ago, long before our current national crisis, ACSI hired Jerry Nelson to join Dr. Gant with the specific assignment of elevating race relations, and all other aspects of diversity, throughout ACSI. We have also assembled key leaders among our staff, board, and heads of school to develop a multi-phase strategy and comprehensive plan to create depth in understanding and talking about race related issues from a biblical perspective. Our goal is to develop a biblical worldview—one not based on political party or ethnicity. The transcendent guideline for our thoughts, ideas, and opinions must filter through the Bible. Our responsibility is to lead, guide, listen, and challenge our students, parents, and all stakeholders to critically analyze political policy and ideology as Christ would. Our allegiance is to Christ and Him alone.

Even with a strong commitment to race and diversity-based unity, ACSI schools will not be immune from internal issues and incidents. Our goal is to remain steadfast in preparing Christian thinkers and advocates to be ambassadors of influence throughout all sectors of society. Developing depth in thinking and action is no easy task, but this is precisely our objective. Dr. King states:

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

Dr. King modeled the power of civil dialogue. He said:

“Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.”

Dialogue versus monologue—I believe Dr. King’s desire for dialogue is as relevant today as it was on April 16, 1963 when he wrote this letter. What conversations are parents having with their children regarding race relations? What discussions are schools having with their students and faculty? And is our dialogue filtered first through Scripture, or is it formed by personal opinions, or historical and cultural traditions? As an educator and father, I have grown to respect the importance of hearing different perspectives and wrestling with difficult topics and principles. We want to show our students that people can have civil “dialogue” on this very divisive issue, unlike the shallow noise on talk-radio or partisan-oriented TV news. What an opportunity we have in our educational efforts to take students to a deeper level—and we must. Dr. King stated:

“To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.”

Maturation is a process, and part of the process is having conversations … over and over. I wish it was as simple as some people think, that the only thing a school leader (or a parent, coach, or pastor) has to do is gather the students for a special chapel service, tell them what is right and wrong, and expect all of them to abide. We all know it is not that easy. We cannot alleviate all of the race-related issues in our community or in our nation, but we can try to make things better. We need to bring people together by creating dialogue.

I am motivated afresh to remain steadfast in my commitment to continue the essential conversations within my sphere of influence. I am encouraged by these conversations. I hope you are also emboldened. I pray that the powerful work of the Holy Spirit is transforming one mind/heart at a time and that the fruit of our labor will produce a great harvest that includes transformed hearts and an eternal/biblical perspective on race-related issues. I am hopeful that our young men and women will lead the way in bringing people together.

Long before Dr. King led marches, our Lord Jesus Christ marched. He marched up a hill carrying the cross he would be nailed to. Through His death and resurrection, He proclaimed a message of hope, forgiveness, salvation, and love. Let us prayerfully yield to God’s call, that for “such a time as this,” ACSI, and every Christian school, needs to step into this space and lead with courage, empathy, and conviction.

Larry Taylor, Ph.D.

ACSI President

Association of Christian Schools International

731 Chapel Hills Dr, Colorado Springs, CO 80920


Tips for Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic

May 26, 2020

     I've parented and walked alongside parents and students through the heat wave and resulting drought of 1988, numerous snowstorms and floods,  9/11, Hurricanes Matthew and Katrina, the Great Smoky Mountain Wildfires, bird flu, SARS, measles, and Ebola outbreaks. One thing I've learned is God is faithful, especially to the faith-filled. He is committed to completing the good work He began in you individually and as a family. 

     This pandemic has given us the opportunity to reset our focus on God and realign our priorities with His. He promised in Matthew 6:33, that if we "seek first His kingdom and righteousness" that all things (employment, mental health, protection, healing, and such) would be added to us. The current health crisis reveals where we've placed our trust. Even in the loss of friends, family, job, and investments, I've been comforted by the fact that God is a very present help. 

     As parents its important that we cultivate faith development so that we and our children come out of the pandemic better than we entered it. Below are a few tips for strengthening your family's faith during this time.

1) Create a schedule or set goals for the summer: Stick to routines or create new ones. Wake up in the morning at the usual time: shower, get dressed, have breakfast, and a 15 minute devotional, then take a brief walk or exercise. Maybe there’s a skill ​that your child didn’t quite master during the school year (e.g., math facts, shoe tying). Summer can be the time to tackle it in a more relaxed way.

2) A morning devotional time can calm anxious thoughts for kids as they are given the opportunity to discuss COVID -19 precautions and tools to identify fake news (e.g. checking sources, the author, and biases, and triangulating data with reputable sources). Set a timer if needed, then allow kids to discuss concerns and worries, and then move on to whatever content you had planned. https://www.josh.org/resour…/youth-family/daily-devotions/…/

3) Set up a designated place in your home where your student can focus on schoolwork: a desk, a quiet corner. Use of a calendar, planner, or other organization system will help develop time and space management skills. This can serve as a homework site during the schoolyear. Be sure to reduce distractions such as television or toys.

4) Treat online school like real school: homework and attendance matter. Be sure to take a 15 minute break every hour or 90 minutes. Prevent summer brain drain by reading a minimum of 15 minutes a day and engaging in fun math activities daily. https://xtramath.org/#/home/index Take advantage of free daily challenges: https://us-en.superbook.cbn.com/sb_bible

5) Show respect for others: Help students to intentionally focus on being understanding not demanding. As they seek to help others they will find joy. Be especially kind to teachers who have also been tasked with shifting to distance learning virtually overnight.

6) Help your child learn responsibility and self-regulation by completing chores daily. Give short simple directions and provide support. You can make it fun by putting on a 1 hour playlist and dancing while cleaning. They may enjoy it more if they choose the playlist. https://www.understood.org/…/10-tips-to-help-your-child-fol…

7) Get some exercise: When online school is over for the day, encourage children to play outside if they can. Enjoy the sun. If the weather doesn't permit outdoor play, play indoor games that help with self-regulation such as musical chairs, mother may I, duck duck goose, Simon says.

8) Stay connected: Playdates are out for now, but children can still keep in touch with friends and family by phone, Skype or FaceTime. Writing letters and sending cards to elderly loved ones or deployed soldiers can be especially rewarding. If you are already virtual learning, consider having a discussion board, group chat, or other means of communication in which kids can chat about developments, share jokes, read aloud, have praise dance parties, play charades, or instruments. Parents can encourage kids to communicate with their siblings and friends about their feelings, as well as trusted adults.

9) Embrace this new season and realize things will change. Keep family prayer time, devotional time, and turn toward God for hope, courage and the meaning of life. Take evening walks, eat dinner on the patio, or read books outside on a blanket. Choose a normal part of your daily routine and give it a summer spin. End the day on a positive note with prayer and a bedtime story that gives hope or play board games after dinner.

10) Share your feelings: Its a good idea to have a once a week family night in addition to a date night. Encourage your spouse and children to open up about how they're feeling and ask others how they're doing. This is a great time to make a couple's devotional time a priority (it doesn't matter if you choose daily, weekly, every other day or monthly). Setting aside time for just the two of you gives you a chance to pause and spend quality time with each other – connecting at the end of a busy and possibly, stressful day. Check out other resources for your family:

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=264836374549888

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/educators

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/…/how-to-care-for-your-me…/

https://www.focusonthefamily.ca/covid-19

https://www.weareteachers.com/social-and-emotional-learnin…/

https://www.cefonline.com/about/our-curriculum/dyww/

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/build-a-kingdom-marriage-through-devotions-for-couples/ 

     Please know that we are taking every precaution in creating an emotionally safe and physically secure learning environment for your child. I am praying for all of you that you will rise above this current situation and find amazing, new ways to thrive. Our families, churches, and nation will recover and be stronger. Stay connected with others while maintaining physical distancing, stay grateful, be kind, and for the sake of everyone else, stay calm!

Love eternally,

Dr. Althea Penn

Executive Director