By: Kevin Dunning, Bellevue Christian Head of School (kevin.dunning@bellevuechristian.org)

 A blog post from “A Few Good Minutes”

 

I want to begin this communication by again thanking the many people who participated in our recently concluded Online Auction. Your generosity will make a difference in the lives of our students, faculty, and staff. A special thank you to the family of freshman Nick Olsen, who shared their story to help illuminate the difference of a Bellevue Christian education. If you missed the video during Auction week, you can access it and other videos here.

And here is more good news: BCS will not hold classes on Friday, May 22. Students, teachers, and parents have earned a four-day weekend even if our travel options are limited.

On May 1st, Governor Inslee extended the stay-at-home order until the end of the month and announced a phased approach to reopening the state’s economy. We are currently planning alternatives to as many year-end events as we can. We know how much students and families value these celebrations! Look for more information in the next few weeks.

We are overwhelmed by the number of parents and students who responded so favorably to our transition to online learning. That success is mainly due to the leadership provided by our Curriculum and Technology teams and the eagerness with which of faculty embraced change. Credit must also be given to parents who are walking beside their children in this new learning adventure. Of course, our students continue to work hard and shown incredible flexibility in adapting to all these changes. Word of mouth remains the number one-way families learn about BCS, so we encourage you to share this with your friends, family, and neighbors.

As we had indicated earlier in the spring, we anticipated some staffing changes this spring based on the changing needs of the school. These changes are rooted in both enrollment trends and elements of our program that continues to evolve. We will continue to offer a comprehensive range of programs in support of our longstanding mission. As we have demonstrated this spring, our commitment to families and our ability to provide high-quality Christian education is as strong as it has ever been.

I acknowledge that staffing changes are difficult for the community. We are a relational, tightly connected community, and that means when people leave the organization for any reason, they are missed. As we approached this season, we made every effort to reassign employees if their skills matched another need within the school. We used a systematic, consistent approach to our decisions – factors considered included experience, length of time at BCS, and flexibility of skill sets. We have made every effort to support employees if they wish to seek employment elsewhere.

We have an obligation to honor our employees, to treat them fairly and with dignity. They are the school’s most treasured resource. We are also called to be financially responsible. Managing costs keep tuition affordable for a broad range of families. We have been able to keep our tuition far lower than many of our peer schools because we are committed to sound financial management.

On a different front, we also identified a need to refresh how our parent organizations are organized. For instance, existing bylaws give the Head of School broad authority to appoint the officers of each organization. While we have not operated that way in a long time, the changes the Board adopted in April give us a chance to remind our families that every parent is a member of either VPG or the PTF and are eligible for our Booster Club. We are working toward expanding participation while reducing the excessive obligations and workload that being a volunteer leader sometimes entails. The bylaws reaffirm that our parent groups are auxiliary organizations that support the mission and goals of the school. We are so grateful for the many moms, dads, and grandparents who have served for years in leadership roles or as volunteers working the ticket booth, serving as room parents, helping with JAT, or making popcorn. We will become a stronger community when participation is broader.

Several weeks ago, I introduced Blake DeYoung as our new Chief Advancement Officer and announced Adam Hart as the new interim Clyde Hill Principal. I indicated Clyde Hill leadership would continue to benefit from the guidance provided by Kim Postma and Mike Olson. Not surprisingly, the plans of men are often uprooted by the plans of God. Kim Postma recently let us know her formal service to BCS will conclude at the end of the school year. Whether as a student, parent, teacher, or administrator, Kim’s contributions to BCS are too numerous to count, and we will miss her. The timing of her departure is part of a happy story, but one that is hers to tell. The process of finding her replacement is well underway.

I am enthusiastic about Bellevue Christian’s future. We have proven our ability to model our mission, adjusting to a “rapidly changing world” while we seek God’s will for our school. We have the right leaders in the right roles, and we have excellent teachers. We have curious students and committed families. Our recent auction success indicates our community wants to support our mission enthusiastically. Our re-enrollment is very positive, and we hope that those who’ve not re-enrolled will consider doing so based on our response to COVID-19.

While this message details some current challenges and changes, what is most important about BCS is not changing: our mission, the importance of building relationships in community, and our commitment to our students. Change often breeds uncertainty, but I am confident that God always keeps His promises. It is why I love Jeremiah 29:11 ” For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Seventy years of evidence should be all that we need.

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