What does Adventist education need to thrive . . . not just survive? Students are surely the main ingredient to a recipe for a successful school, but where are they all? Our schools have struggled across the country with declined enrollments over the past decade. This challenge has sent Adventist educators to their knees in prayer, seeking the Lord and evaluating how our schools can be saved.
Thanks to Adventist education, our young people can have the opportunity to daily grow in their relationship with Jesus, surrounded by fellow believers and godly teachers. Now, more than ever, it is time to seek a Christian environment away from the worldly temptations that are bombarding our teens from every direction. This should motivate educators to seek ways to reach every family in our churches, encouraging them to choose Adventist education for their children.
High tuition costs are just one reason why families choose to not send their children to Adventist schools. But our schools work hard to help every student who wants an Adventist education to receive it through the help of academic and financial aid scholarships, as well as assistance from the local church and conference. If the choice is made, the sacrifice will reap priceless rewards, which may not be evident until heaven.
A strong work program is a great way for a student to help pay their way through academy. What words of wisdom Ellen G. White had in her book, Education, on this topic! “The youth should be led to see the true dignity of labor. Show them that God is a constant worker. All things in nature do their allotted work. Action pervades the whole creation, and in order to fulfill our mission we, too, must be active” (p. 214).
There are many benefits to having a work program for the student, parent, and the school alike. For the student, it builds a strong work ethic while instilling pride and confidence in themselves. Students can know they are making a difference to help to pay for their education. A work program also teaches the student responsibility and character development. Besides having the obvious benefit of a lower tuition bill, parents benefit from their children being happier, less idle, and more active help at home. The school benefits from work getting done on campus and extra income to the school if an industry can be established.
Seeking outside business partnerships to create an industry for your school is key to reducing student labor costs for your operating budget. When a school tries to start its own industry, oftentimes it fails due to high overhead material costs, the lack of a strong business plan to sustain the industry, or qualified personnel to oversee and run the business. We recommend having a finance committee with business owners serving on it, who can offer expertise and wisdom in the process of evaluating outside potential partnerships.
Union Springs Academy, for the past year, has successfully partnered with a local company that manufactures nutrition bars. Thanks to a long-time relationship with individuals at the academy, they sought out our school’s help, since they needed manual work done to package and ship variety packs. With this recent addition of a packaging and shipping industry, USA has been able to employ up to 15 students throughout the year. Work earnings go toward their tuition, with a small percentage given as a cash incentive to the student.
It is my prayer that we can work together as educators, encouraging each other as we strive to strengthen and grow our schools until Jesus’ soon return.
Janica Caster is the vice president for advancement/recruiting at Union Springs Academy.