Christian school sees growth
Fairmont Christian School, currently located inside Bethel Evangelical Free Church, has been growing over time. The school added a second grade class in 2018 and now a third grade class this year. Kimberly Fast is the director of children’s ministries at Bethel, director the the Small Sprouts preschool program and principal of the school.
“We are primarily growing from the bottom up,” she said. “We made a commitment to the families that started that we would continue to add a grade.”
The idea to start a school actually stemmed from Small Sprouts. Parents who had sent their children to the preschool program asked Fast if she ever thought of adding additional grades after preschool. Bethel offered the space and after some consideration, the school started its first year in 2017 with just a kindergarten and first grade class.
There are currently 45 preschoolers in three different sections of 15 students each. Grades K-1, which is called Brave Buds, has 15 students and grades 2-3, called Tender Twigs, has eight students.
“The names correspond with character traits that we work on like bravery, courage, compassion, empathy,” Fast said.
Fast said most students have been with the school since the beginning, but some just joined in kindergarten without going through Bethel’s small sprouts preschool program.
“This year, rather than adding a full-time home room teacher, we decided to be proactive and add a teacher that we call our specialist. She has special education background. This year she’s teaching all of our math classes,” Fast said.
The new specialist is Rebecca Denaway. Fast said the decision to have Denaway teach math allows children to experience more than one teacher and allows them to keep their ratio one teacher for every eight students in the core subjects. Brave Buds shares a home room and Tender Twigs share a home room.
“This way we have some special education opportunities for students who are struggling in an area, but also we have a couple students who are ready to fly so they can have some extra time, too,” Fast explained.
Along with the new specialist, the school got a new classroom this year, called the Safari Room, where math classes take place.
“For lots of kids reading and math are new adventures and we have to look at it as an adventure. You’ll meet challenges whenever you go on an adventure,” Fast said of the theme of the room.
Children attend the school from 8:15 a.m.- 3 p.m. though kindergarten students just have three full school days a week. There is no bussing system at the school but Fast said most families connect in some way to come up with a carpool plan.
Students bring their own lunch and a snack. The school has companion dog, Birdee, that comes in primarily on Fridays. There is a full-size gym upstairs and a large grassy area outside for recess.
“We have a lot of play equipment that we bring out to encourage play,” Fast said.
Fast said the plan is to continue to add a grade each year through 5th or 6th grade, though they don’t have an intention to go into high school grades.
The school has had help from Mountain Lake Christian School, which is a high school in Mountain Lake. The two schools share a superintendent and a goal or providing a Christian education to students. MLC is looking at adding a more centrally located school down the line with the hope that the two schools will feed into each other.