State of the School

Hello SVC Community,

Well, the second half of the school year is off and running. I hope your sons and daughters are coming home every day excited about their teachers, their classes, and their co-curricular experiences. Next week we are going to continue with our videos, exploring various aspects of our school and its programs. There are so many great things happening here every day. We have to keep telling these stories!

But today I thought I would get into the state of the school. I know it’s a little long, but this one is pretty important. Try to hang in there for the whole three pages. Let’s get into it!

When we sat down to create the three-year vision for SVCS, we focused on three core strategic priorities:

  • Faith Formation and Discipleship
  • Program Balance and Breadth
  • Institutional Sustainability

 

Let’s start where we should always start – with faith and discipleship. First, we need to recognize that this is our core competency at SVCS. This is what we do best. Teachers infuse a BIblical worldview and memorize scripture and sing praise songs and attend weekly chapels and go on mission trips and retreats. More than anything, our teachers are all fully committed followers of Christ and the next generation is their mission field. They model Christ on a daily basis and their influence is irreplaceable.

But, even though this is an area of strength, I don’t think God would be too keen on, “Yeah Lord, we mastered that discipleship thing in 2017 and there are only so many hours in the day, so we decided to shift our focus toward our other educational priorities.” That’s not exactly a reflection of the Great Commission. So, despite the fact that we already do this well, we are constantly working to improve and constantly strategizing about ways to make our faith and discipleship program more robust. Let’s keep doing what we do well, and make improvements above and beyond our current offerings! Here are just a few of the things that we have been working on:

  • Mrs. Jensen and the Elementary faculty have been exploring a new lower Elementary Bible curriculum for next year. You can learn more about it by clicking here. It’s 100% online. It’s digital. It’s fun. We are really excited about it!
  • Starting this summer, we will be retrofitting our gym with improved sound, a stage, curtains, screens, etc. This will greatly improve the chapel experience for every student by making the space more conducive to worship. It’s going to change the weekly chapel experience. I can’t wait for kids to come back in August and say, “Whoa, it looks like a church!”
  • We are ramping up our retreat program by expanding it to Jr. High and we are looking at adding smaller class retreats in High School. Retreats can be so formative and so essential on the spiritual journeys of our students. Our goal is that every student meets Jesus. Retreat is a great tool toward the accomplishment of this goal.

 

These are only a few of our conversations and strategic plans for priority one, but I said I would try to keep this post to three pages. So… onward!

Our second strategic priority is program balance and breadth. We are focused on maintaining excellence and improving our offerings in academics, athletics, and the arts. There is already so much that we are doing well. Our kids’ SAT, ACT, and AP scores are well above the national and state averages. We are sending graduates to some of the nation’s top universities. Our K-12 curriculum is fully accredited and fully UC approved. We have 21 AP and honors courses. Our teachers are passionate about their subjects, our students, and Christ. Our athletic program is thriving. Eighty-two percent of our students play an interscholastic sport and our teams are highly successful. Our basketball team is ranked #5 in Orange County (that includes all of the Mater Deis and JSerras and Servites…we can compete with anyone)! Our Elementary, Jr. High, and High School students are singing in choir and leading worship in chapel. Our art classes produce beautiful work which adorns the hallways of the entire campus. There is so much that we do well!

But…we cannot rest on our laurels. We must continue to improve and move forward. So, here a few of things we are working on for next year and the years to come:

  • Mr. Markum and the High School academic team has negotiated a deal with EdTech Solutions in order to provide online textbooks for the majority of our High School curriculum. The resources are amazing and the platform is incredibly user-friendly. Plus, online textbooks will provide a savings to our families in the neighborhood of $200 – $400. This is a huge step forward for instructional delivery!
  • Many of you read about the hiring of Octavius Womack to run our Jr. High and High School choir and performing arts programs. Mr. O is only part-time right now, but he will be coming on staff full-time next year with the goal of growing our performing arts program to include choir, theatre and drama. We are so excited to see where he can take the program. If you are interested in more about this program, you can click here.
  • Mrs. Jensen and the Elementary teachers have been exploring various curriculum and materials for next year in language and math. We all know the importance of laying a foundation, especially in these two core subjects. Language and math are the basis for future SAT scores and college essays. Our kids deserve the best that is out there, so we are investing heavily in new resources and curriculum in these areas.
  • As we budget for next year, we will be setting aside more resources and time for teacher training and professional development. We believe in lifelong learning and we want our teachers to model this. But we have to provide the resources and the opportunities for them to learn and grow and progress.
  • Finally, we will be expanding and improving our network capabilities. As we begin the transition to more online resources and technology driven curriculum, our Wi-Fi network and security protocols have to be able to handle the traffic. This is our primary focus in the area of technology over the next one to three years.

 

Again, there is so much more that we could talk about in terms of program expansion, but let’s move on to our final strategic priority – institutional sustainability. In other words, how do we
ensure that this ministry continues to educate and disciple students for years to come? We have talked a lot about this over the last few months, but I will try to summarize some of our current challenges and some of our short-term wins and long term-strategies.

Before I go into all of this … if you have any questions about the school’s finances, let’s set up a meeting. It’s probably a 30-minute conversation to explain everything. But, here is the quick version. Basically, too large a percentage of our budget goes to our land and our buildings. This limits the resources that we can invest in people and programs, which as we know, are the most important piece of the educational experience. There are three basic reasons for this. First, we have a large mortgage on the property. Second, enrollment is down significantly over the last five years. Third, fundraising revenue is not what it could be for a school our size.

But, what I want to stress is that the future is bright! We know the issues and we are working on them. We have made huge progress in just the last six months:

  • The Board is very close to a deal that would eliminate a large portion of our debt and free up operational cash to invest in people and programs. This deal is essential for our long-term sustainability and it is going to get done! We need to hire more people and pay our current staff what they deserve. But we have to free up operational funds in order to make this happen.
  • It is too early to forecast exactly what enrollment will be for next year, but our grass roots marketing efforts are working. We have held two admission open houses. Our open house in December was attended by more than 35 potential students and last night’s open house was attended by more than 40 potential students. The word is out about SVCS and people want to learn more about us. This is so exciting!
  • We are in the process of forming partnerships with churches and other Christian schools which will help create enrollment pipelines for years to come.
  • Our fundraising efforts continue to improve. So far, we have raised $80,000 in our annual giving campaign and 49 families have stepped up with monthly gifts or one-time donations. This is a great improvement from years past, but we are still far short of our goal of 100% participation. Please pray and consider whether you would be willing to support SVCS financially. We can’t do it without you. Click here to participate in the annual giving campaign!

 

Ok, I have to stop because I could go on and on and I just dripped onto page four of what I said would be a three-page message. But I can’t contain the passion and the energy. I am fired up about our school…about where we are and about where we are going. I can’t stop talking about all the good that is happening and will continue to happen at SVCS. The present is bright and the future is even brighter. I’m so pumped about this school!

So, in summary, the state of our school is strong and getting stronger every single day. We ask that you continue to support us with your prayers, your time, your expertise, and your financial resources. There is strength in numbers and we need everyone on board and excited about SVCS. Thanks again for everything you do! Have a great weekend!

Blessings,

Erick Streelman
Head of School

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