Almost two decades ago, alumni parents Shon and Claire Katzenberger moved out to Washington for jobs at Microsoft. Of course, the move meant looking for a great school for their growing family. In their search, the Katzenbergers were captivated by the Bellevue Christian School motto: “Learning to think through life.”
They found a great fit at BCS and enrolled their oldest son Nathaniel at Mack Elementary. He was followed by their daughter Karen and younger son, Ben. At BCS, Nathaniel developed a passion for music, math and chess. Claire actually started the Chess Club at Mack, complete with cool T-shirts and opportunities to play at competitions. Nathaniel went on to study computer science at Taylor University and currently works as a software engineer at Microsoft.
Like her older brother, Karen (’16) was inspired by the school’s evolving STEM program. She was motivated and challenged in AP Calculus with Mr. Olfert, Technical Drawing and Engineering Design with Mr. Brown as well as Mr. Wishart’s AP Physics courses. Mr. Wishart was a teacher who inspired Karen to believe in her potential in STEM.
Claire said, “If it wasn’t for Mr. Wishart, I don’t think Karen would have studied engineering, to be honest. He recognized her potential in all areas of her life, socially as well as intellectually. He built her confidence technically and she entered college believing she could be a great engineer.”
This philosophy of growing students holistically is what makes BCS such a unique place for the Katzenbergers. They saw how each of their three kids were challenged to grow and become excellent critical thinkers. “When the students are comfortable in the space – when they feel loved, accepted and encouraged – they are going to learn a lot more,” Shon explained.
After graduating from BCS and finishing her first year at George Fox University, Karen got a technical internship in aerospace engineering. Through the unique and challenging courses offered at BCS, Karen was well-prepared to step into the field.
“All of this started with Charlie Brown’s tech draw class. Tech draw gave her a skill where engineering companies could justify taking a freshman as an intern. This company saw how unique her portfolio was and they took interest.” Shon explained. After taking multiple internships. Karen completed her degree in Mechanical Engineering and is now considering graduate programs.
Following his older siblings, sophomore Ben benefits from a robust STEM program including classes like 3D Printing, Computer Science and Maker’s Space. He also loves being involved in the Robotics Team and playing football for BCS.
Through their experience as a family, Shon and Claire Katzenberger appreciate how BCS develops students and supports them through challenges. For all three of their kids, teachers at BCS helped them realize their potential to become great problem solvers.
Claire said, “I always had the feeling that BCS fosters respect for kids with many different gifts from many different backgrounds. You don’t have to be elite to go to BCS, but if you are elite, you can get a really good education here.”