You may have heard or read in the recent edition of The Herald that Eastern Christian was recently named a New Jersey State School of Character.
EC is one of a select group of only forty schools and four school districts nationwide to be named State Schools of Character on the basis of a series of very rigorous selection criteria established by the Character Education Partnership.
Since our formal receipt of this great honor last month, we have also learned that we have been nominated as a finalist for the National School of Character designation, and last week we received a site visit from a school evaluator affiliated with the National School of Character program.
A number of my colleagues and I had the opportunity to meet with the evaluator over lunch and ask her about her visit and first impressions of our school. Her insights were very interesting and very affirming to us, and I thought that they would be very affirming to our broader school community as well.
Our visitor, a highly experienced teacher and school administrator who now visits numerous schools which have been nominated for this prestigious honor, told us that Eastern Christian was not the sort of school that she expected to find on her visit. She told us that she expected to find a sheltered environment that was closed to the outside world and not concerned about others.
Instead she found a vibrant school community that was welcoming to others and filled with students learning, from the earliest grades, about the role that Christians are called to play in addressing the world’s big issues.
She was impressed to have students from early elementary grades through high school who were genuinely welcoming to her as a visitor and proud of their school. She was amazed to observe how articulate our students were in describing very real world problems like hunger, homelessness, disability concerns, chronic disease and human trafficking.
She was even more impressed by the way that they were able to articulate the role that Christians are called to play – and the role that our current students and our alumni, both young and old, are playing – in being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in giving the proverbial cup of cold water to the least of these, our brothers and sisters.
She closed our meeting by telling me something that I already knew, but which was very gratifying to hear from a truly independent, some might say critical, observer.
She said, “You have something very special going on in this school.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Eastern Christian School is a pretty spectacular place with some very special things going on each and every day. For 122 years, the Lord has blessed our school, has provided for us, and has used us to prepare young men and women of Christian character, vision and influence who are prepared to lead and serve in the name of God’s kingdom.
Tom Dykhouse, Executive Director & Head of School