Alternative Education Options
When it comes to educating their children, parents looking for an alternative to public school and home schooling can look to the church.
This is the philosophy of Jamestown’s Seventh-day Adventist Church School, which was founded in 1914 and serves students from kindergarten through eighth grade.
The school, located at 130 McDaniel Ave., offers all of the curriculum and subject matter that would be expected from any other school setting, and does so in a small, intimate environment. Currently, the school has two students enrolled – a fourth-grader and an eighth-grader. According to Daisy Nieman, teacher of the church school, students in different grade levels are instructed in a manner that befits their grade level.
“The younger kids are going to get more attention in the things that they don’t know,” said Nieman. “And the older kids, sometimes they can just read it and they know the answers. And then I combine the classes together and maybe give them a separate activity, maybe one that’s higher and one that’s lower.”
She continued: “Not everyone’s a good test-taker, though, and you have to take that into consideration. They may be good at a lot of other things, but some kids have a phobia to tests and so you have to kind of go beyond that and see what they can do and what I can do to help them be better test-takers.”
A typical day at the school runs from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., and contains a variety of subjects and activities, including: worship, Bible study, math, physical education, English, social studies, spelling, a read-aloud, science and recess.
According to Nieman, the school is active in educating its students about physical health particularly that of the heart.
“Health is really important to our church,” she said. “I think it’s important to know (about) your body and how to take care of it. So, (for Valentine’s Day), instead of having the students make (cards) for me, their parents or each other, I had (the students) type out 10 ways to avoid a heart attack. And that’s important, because heart attacks are the No.1 or No. 2 cause of death (in the country). A lot of the Seventh-day Adventist students that come here and to other (churches) go on to become doctors.”
She added: “I teach smart kids. I feel like all of the kids I’ve ever taught are smart. They might not know everything, because they’re elementary kids and they’re still growing, but their parents care a lot to send them to a church school. And if (a student) calls on me, I’m right there. If he needs help, I’m right there with whatever he needs.”
The church is looking to increase enrollment for upcoming school years, which run from the end of August through the beginning of June. According to Spring Martin, head elder of the church, enrollment has been decreasing for several years due to several contributing factors.
“Years back, the church was very full and there were a lot of younger members,” said Martin. “The classrooms were very full, (whereas) right now we only have a couple of students. There are a number of factors that play into our situation. We’ve raised a lot of these young people that went through the school, and rather than stay local, they’ve gone off to college and to (other) places to find work. While they may still be involved with the church, they may not be here to supply students to the school.”
“The reason why we’ve fought to keep our school going is that it’s important to provide a quality Christian education, and the fundamental world view of creationism versus evolution,” Martin continued. “When it comes to science class, evolution may be discussed, but it’s not the only thing that’s discussed.”
In addition to providing an education, Jamestown’s Seventh-day Adventist Church is making an effort toward community involvement participating annually in the Memorial Day parade and sponsoring a 5K run on April 21. The 5K run is open to the public, and the funds it raises are used to keep the school operational as well as promote good health.