January 20, 2011 at 8:45 a.m.
Spouses are directors at Christian school

Leisure takes a back seat to learning

Leisure takes a back seat to learning
Leisure takes a back seat to learning

This fall, when the 2010-2011 school year began, for the first time in their combined 40 years of working in public education, Charles and Renee King were not heading to work in a high school classroom or middle school counseling office.

They are, however, still deeply involved in education. Maybe even deeper than ever-- because now they mediate student/parent concerns, tackle instructional staffing dilemmas and are responsible for the reports and paperwork that come with running a school.

The Kings accepted a call to share the directorship of the Trinity Christian School, in North Branch. Charles and Renee are supposed to work 20 hours in a part time position. What they are finding is that Renee, who oversaw North Branch High School choral music education, is good at the day-to-day details. Charles, who retired from St. Francis School District, is the "big picture guy." He said they are still learning cues for when to defer to the other's wisdom and skills.

The best thing about this phase in their lives is, "We both decided we wanted this job, we didn't need it," Charles explained.

Retirement can present itself as an end or a beginning. The Kings felt it would be better to "retire to something" instead of feeling they were leaving something behind, he added.

As a school where spiritual and educational lessons overlap, Trinity Christian School fits Charles to a T. With his counseling background and training in emotional and brain sciences, he likes being able to directly promote positive behaviors and interact with students on a more basic emotional level.

The curriculum is described as ecumenical. There's chapel once a week and the students learn Bible verses. Because TCS has an underlying spiritual theme Charles finds this gives him "more tools" with which to tackle challenges inherent in every school.

He said for example, if a conflict erupts it is acceptable for him to approach a student and remind him that "...our job here is to love each other and support one another." In a public school setting he would have responded with a more common sense approach and only hope the child's homelife was grounded on Christian values.

Charles also makes a point of applauding and rewarding any students he sees handling situations using those values.

There are just six teachers, two aides, a playground supervisor and a lunchroom supervisor and an office manager. This means that when Trinity holds a "staff meeting" everybody involved can sit around one round table. This gives Charles, as an administrator, time, another very important resource.

He has enough time in his day to visit each classroom, know what's going on in people's lives, greet every student by name. And, in turn, he is accessible.

"Small means nimble," Charles shared. "This is not a shot at public school, but simply in terms of size there's so much more time for me to do things a director needs to be able to do."

Renee stresses that TCS isn't in competition with the area schools, it is just an option. She adds, "Public school may not be for everyone, and private school also may not be for everyone."

Charles said Trinity enjoys a "...very healthy and cooperative relationship with the North Branch District."

The lunches are provided through North Branch food service contractors and some specialized programming and instruction is contracted through North Branch schools.

The Kings are frequently asked by Superintendent Deb Henton if there's anything that North Branch can assist in. "We all realize, in the North Branch district office and here, that these kids (Trinity goes up to grade 5) are probably going to be students in North Branch at some point. Everybody works together to see that they receive the best education," said Charles.

Parents or extended family members of TCS students are also counted on to be involved. They provide "stewardship" hours to help keep things humming. A student tuition includes 30 hours a year in stewardship volunteering (depends on grade level.) Charles said some families can do more and if they exceed the required hours they can transfer their hours to a family that doesn't have the flexibility. There has been no problem with meeting this stewardship, which is done to boost the connection the school has with each family. North Branch school students also volunteer to tutor and work with TCS students, which has provided a "powerful character building" opportunity for both the volunteering students and the TCS community.

Tour school, meet staff, January 27

Are you a parent looking for small class sizes, 15 to 18 students, with enrichment opportunities like technology, Spanish, physical education, and music? Are you looking for quality preschool or elementary school classes? Have you thought about a Christian education for your child?

Trinity Christian School is the place to check out. On January 27, Trinity Christian School will host its annual Taste of Trinity event from 8:40 to 9:15 a.m. This is an opportunity to tour the school, meet teachers and other students, and spend time talking with the TCS directors, Charles and Renee King. (See feature story).

Students will have a chance to participate in a typical half hour segment of a kindergarten or other elementary school class, depending on their age, to experience what that grade level is like. Preschool teachers will attend the kindergarten experience to help with the younger students.

Open enrollment at TCS starts January 31. The preschool offerings for three year olds include one and two day, two and one half hour programs available in both mornings and afternoons; pre-kindergarten offerings for four year olds include two and three day, two and one half hour programs, also available both mornings and afternoons. Pre-kindergarten classes currently use the Houghton Mifflin Reading and Language curriculum.

Trinity Christian School is an ecumenical school located within Trinity Lutheran Church in North Branch. Elementary school classes run from kindergarten through sixth grade, five days a week, with class sizes no larger than 20. The school day ends at 2:45 p.m. After school care is available for parents who need to pick up students after 2:45 and before 5:30 p.m. Open enrollment classes fill on a first come, first served basis.

Call (651) 674-7042 to reserve a spot at Taste of Trinity or if you simply want additional information. Families unable to make the date may call and arrange for a private tour as well. For further information, check out their web site at www.tcsnb.org.

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