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Growing up in rural, upstate New York, TJ and Elisa Duger had very different schooling experiences.   

“The Christian school I attended when I was growing up was very tiny and lacked the typical school experience. My husband, a product of public school, didn’t want that type of Christian school. He associated Christian school with a limiting childhood experience,” Elisa shares.

Although they had met in their hometown, the couple completed graduate school and moved to Manhattan. She became a marriage and family therapist; he cofounded a residential real estate firm. Seven years later, they moved to Westchester.

“When we bought our house, we checked what schools were like, what neighborhoods were like,” she says. In their new town, “the schools were considered beyond phenomenal.” Deeply committed to the Christian faith, the Duger family prayerfully made the decision to send their oldest to public school; a decision made in the confidence that “it was more about the home than the school.”

However, it soon became apparent that “the public school of 30 years ago is not the same public school of today,” she shares.

After several years, and with another child about to enroll, the family became convinced of the need for Christian schooling. The problem was that no Protestant schools existed in Westchester, she says. So, they casted a wider net, searching out schools in both Connecticut and New Jersey.

Their search ultimately ended with Eastern Christian School. Last August, they moved to Bergen County. And later that month, their two children enrolled in Eastern Christian Elementary School.

“My son was coming out of a very desirable public school facility with great teachers, so we wanted him to feel like he was in the same type of environment, but with messaging from scripture that directly and indirectly shaped his heart.”

A year later, she says that despite the challenges of uprooting the entire family to New Jersey, they made the right decision. “The other day I heard the kids singing worship songs in the house. I value EC for the direct education they give, but what my kids are showing even at the subconscious level, is that the messages we give at home are being reinforced at the school…EC offers comparable academics and programming to any public school, with the gift of Jesus in all of it. School is a hard decision these days, but each family has to decide what is their greatest priority. For us, it was the eternal messages.”

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