Growing Great Schools Washington Conference Schools Committed to Adventist Christian Education

Enrollment trends in Seventh-day Adventist schools across the nation caused the Washington Conference to specifically focus on how to grow great schools in a multi-year effort to increase enrollment.

"We saw the downward movement of enrollment and wanted to do something about it," says Lon Gruesbeck, Washington Conference vice president for education. "We are investing in discovering how to grow great schools through leadership, academics, spiritual growth, marketing and teacher development."

In recent years, a significant number of principals, teachers and school board chairs attended the North American Division's education marketing summits and participated in multiple training sessions. School boards continue to explore new and creative ways to build enrollment, increase visibility and reinforce community support.

Northwest Christian School in Puyallup, Wash.; Lewis County Adventist School in Chehalis, Wash.; and other schools host a fair booth twice a year as an opportunity for community networking.

"We now have families enrolled in our school who saw us at the fair," says Marshall Merklin, Northwest Christian School principal. "Our booth allows us to create a fun atmosphere for kids and gives us an opportunity to tell their parents what we're all about."

In addition, many schools — including Northwest Christian School, Shelton Valley Christian School, Kirkland Adventist School, Olympia Christian School, Puget Sound Adventist Academy and Skagit Adventist Academy — host frequent open houses where prospective students and their parents can visit the educational campus.

Cypress Adventist School in Lynnwood, Wash., hosts Christian Education Sabbaths in constituent churches where school leaders give little bear baskets with a miniature bear in a school shirt, an Adventist education brochure and a certificate for a free first month of tuition to church families with prospective students.

Buena Vista Adventist School in Auburn, Wash., presents a $100 tuition certificate to families in constituent churches when they dedicate their new baby.

"Our school understands that it takes a lot of individuals to nurture a child," says Ron Trautwein, Buena Vista Adventist School principal. "The school wants to partner with parents to prepare their children for life and eternity, spiritually, physically, mentally and socially."

Whether schools are improving their facilities, engaging in creative marketing, investing in professional development for leaders and teachers, focusing on community service, or developing campus witnessing plans, the schools in the Washington Conference are committed to growing great schools.

"We are committed to addressing the spiritual and academic culture and climate of our schools by strengthening relationships, providing excellence and improving service," says Gruesbeck. "This is what we're all about."

July 01, 2010 / Washington Conference
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Heidi Martella, Washington Conference communication director