Praise God from whom all blessings flow! The first quarter of 2022 came and swiftly passed. Nevertheless, the joy and excitement within our children remains. During the month of January, District 189 resumed virtual teaching due to the rise of COVID-19 within the school district. As a result, our children were not able to participate in CAC activities. The arrival of February meant we had to be even more aggressive in ensuring our students stayed on track with school requirements. Because the prayers of the righteous avail much, most of our children were able to focus on their academics and in some cases make up lost ground. There was a slight drop in math proficiency, with 62.8% of our students at grade level or above compared to 63.9% in 2021. However, 61.9% of our students were at or above grade level for reading, which was a slight increase from 61.7% in 2021. At a minimum, we want to have at least 70% of our regular attending students at or above grade level for both reading and math.
Academic support remains a key focus in addition to ensuring our children are given access to extracurricular activities. For example, our students continue to grow in foreign languages and have learned how to pray in each language. Six students have been learning Mandarin, five have been learning French, and most of our children have been learning Spanish. Students participating in Spanish classes learned children’s worship songs and have begun reading Bible verses in Spanish.
Another area of interest for our students is coding and STEM. Two students have been working on earning their drone licenses, while four other students are signed up to do so through Wings of Hope’s SOAR into STEM aviation camp later this year. Three students will continue participating in coding classes led by a CAC alumnus (who is also a software engineer).
In the agriculture and gardening classes, we have been reading Jesus’ agricultural parables. Students went to the orchard and read the first chapter of Jeremiah, which discusses his first prophetic vision of the almond tree - the first to bloom and the last to bear fruit. Our students saw this firsthand, as our almond tree was the first thing to bloom in the orchard. Almond tree in Hebrew can also be translated to mean “to watch”, so we discussed how this applies to God watching the ways in which we manage and cultivate the gifts and responsibilities He has charged us with.
God has also charged us to be good financial stewards. Many of our students in 3rd – 12th grade have been learning about credit, home ownership, and community economic development through the collective impact of personal finance. Younger students have also been learning about goods, services, production, and consumption. In addition, we covered a few of Jesus’ parables relating to managing what God provides as an investment principle (such as those in the Parable of the Talents).
Due to teacher shortages, our maximum capacity for students remains at 60. Regular attendees (those who attend at least 3 times per week) and program participation overall exceeded 76% and 81%, respectively.
We also recognize that children will model the adults around them. We are thrilled to report that student participation in our Adult High School Diploma Program picked up during the first quarter. Enrollment increased by 27 students, which brings the total enrollment to 366 students. During the first quarter, 13 students completed their classes and will receive their diplomas in May. In addition, students spent over 1,800 hours working online towards completing the requirements for their diplomas.
In just a few months we will be transitioning to our summer program schedule. The children are excited about returning to Kids Across America (KAA) after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. On June 24, 2022, our 15th annual Golf for a Brighter Future Tournament will be held at Stonewolf Golf Course (visit www.cacesl.org/golf for more information). Please be on the lookout for other fundraiser appeals that will focus on our summer camps as well as our back-to-school bash in August.
I am thankful for your faithful support through the years and grateful that you continue to walk with us. As we journey together, our mission continues to move us forward. We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do!
Blessings to you!
Dr. Jeffrey Williams