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Northwest Christian School
Dear NCS family,

Please,  we cannot allow this to get out.  We are going to need to keep this particular piece of sensitive information very confidential.  Here it is:   truth be told, I have had some pretty bad ideas .  

Scandalous, I recognize, but in the event that you have not yet had the opportunity to experience this phenomenon first hand (just wait), the guy you are trusting to run the school that educates your students has had some ideas the essence of which only one particularly rich colloquialism can adequately convey:  "some real stinkers".  Let me give you an example.

At some point last year, I came across what I thought must have been a divine epiphany, an inspired vision from heaven:  it was a hoodie that had been custom designed to look like a Crusader's suit of armor.  To my earthly eyes, it almost leaped off the catalog page and seemed to show forth the Lord's favor as soon as my eyes beheld it.  I envisioned a myriad of glorious possibilities!  Imagine getting these in purple and then having the Northwest Christian marching band wearing them on the field next football season!  Or, picture this:  our soccer players, who play during the coolest part of the year, wearing them as a warm-up before games!  Or, imagine selling them in the school spirit shop--could any school conceive of a better fundraiser?
Student enthusiasm for Mr. Brown's "Crusader hoodie" idea is running so high, clearly a picture cannot contain it.

My mind's eye already picturing the horde of grateful students wearing these Crusader hoodies and singing my praises, I ordered one (the first of many, I was certain!), and showed it around to coaches, teachers, and students.  I was stunned to discover that the idea was not as warmly embraced as I thought it would surely be!  In fact, I actually brought it back twice to our amazing band teacher, Mrs. Hutson.  "She's relatively new," I thought to myself, "maybe she just didn't understand how cool this suit of armor hoodie idea is!"  But, upon this second attempt to convince the marching band of the merits of my idea, she reported, "Geoff, there was only one student in the whole group who did not totally despise the idea.  He only kind of despised it."

This is a bit awkward and maybe a little unsettling but, apparently, left to my own devices, I have the capacity to generate some ideas which can best be described as "dumb".  And, unfortunately for you, this was just one example.

If we are honest, we have need to recognize that the true virtue of Northwest Christian School does not reside within a single individual.  The truest strength of this precious place is parents and teachers working together to establish a richly rigorous program of education centered within God's word--home and school working together to realize the promise Christian education within the lives of students.  To accomplish this inspired feat, we need your help.

Each year, generally in the spring, the school sends out the online parent partnership survey.  The survey is completely anonymous, has just under forty questions, and will take about twenty minutes to complete.  To be sure, we will use the positive praise that you provide to celebrate the programs, staff, coaches, clubs, curricula, and teachers that so richly deserve it.  But, the strength of Northwest Christian School is that we are content to reside within a feedback loop--information rooted within your experience as a family that we can use to propel the school forward.  Further, like my less-than-inspired "Crusader hoodie" idea, we have need to hear when, from your perspective, something is not quite working correctly.  As a parent or guardian within our school family, you will be receiving the link to our annual online parent partnership survey this next week.  Please take the time to complete it when time permits.

But, as you do, don't worry about providing any feedback on the aforementioned "Crusader hoodie" idea.  Despite the obvious inspiration, shockingly, the data on that one was pretty conclusive.

Grateful for the opportunity to serve this school and your family,
  
Geoff Brown
Superintendent
Northwest Christian School
(623)225-5573 (cell)

Quality First Gives Highest Rating to Northwest Christian Early Education Program

The five-star rating means that Northwest Christian preschool students are enrolled in one of the top programs in the state
Northwest Christian's "Five Star" Early Ed Teaching Team

First Things First is a state-funded initiative that partners with families and communities to help the state's youngest children be ready for success in kindergarten and beyond.  Quality First, a key effort within First Things First, is a statewide initiative to partner with preschool providers to improve the quality of their early learning settings. After about two years of support - such as coaching, assessments, professional development and incentives - participating early learning programs are rated on a scale of one to five stars, according to Quality First's rigorous standards for quality.

With an abundance of research suggesting that upwards of 90% of a student's brain is formed prior to kindergarten, a school's support of developmentally appropriate, robust early education is fundamental to K-12 success.  To that end, Northwest Christian is one of the over-one-thousand Arizona-based preschool programs that are involved in Quality First...a number that translates into over 60,000 infant and pre-K students throughout the state.  But for all of these significant numbers, the number of preschool programs that have earned a five-star rating, the highest that Quality First will award as part of its two-year certification program, is remarkably low.   Northwest Christian was excited to learn this month that its Early Education preschool program will join the handful of schools to earn that five-star rank.

"Our teachers have worked hard to do what is right for our kids as they teach skills in the preschool realm," said Elementary Principal and Early Ed Director Dawna Underwood.  "They were recognized for their excellence with a five-star rating which is very difficult to achieve within the Quality First program. I am proud of their work, thankful for the recognition but not surprised as the excellence within the program is something I have long appreciated."

Superintendent Geoff Brown additionally enthused, "I know that Dawna says that she wasn't surprised but honestly, I was...this year, more than any other, I really came to understand the effort that is involved in five-star program.  And, as we reviewed the reports that accompany the ratings, I was stunned to see that several of our teachers and aides had achieved the highest possible rating in the view of the program's judges.  That is phenomenal and unbelievably rare.  So, not only has this team earned an 'exceptional' rating from ACSI, one of only eleven such ratings in the world, they have also earned the highest rating they could within the state.  I am incredibly grateful for a team of teachers and aides that clearly care so much for our youngest students."
Spotlight on Students


Friday, February 21st was a wonderful day as Northwest Christian's middle school students facilitated "Crusader Unified Day".  Partnered with Special Olympics Arizona, students played host to one hundred Special Olympians from three different schools.  The day began with a rally in the Don Sanderson Gymnasium and then students enjoyed competitive activities, including a memorable dance-off, across the campus.
Spotlight on Students

Northwest Christian's HAM radio station is up and running!  Operating under KJ7JPJ as a station call sign and license, with financial support generously provided by the Amateur Radio Relay League and the Thunderbird Amateur Radio Club, the Northwest Christian Amateur Radio Club (NCARC) is presently open to middle school students who are working to earn their own licenses. The students are learning the science behind radio communication as they talk to HAM radio operators around the world.  The club, and the HAM radio station, are part of the forthcoming Crusader Creation Commons within the school's "Growing and Going" campus improvement plan.
Prospective families are invited to join us at our Open House on March 5th!

Current Crusader families, 
check our our referral program!

Spotlight on Students


Northwest Christian Middle School's 8th grade baseball team won the league championship in early February in a decisive 9-1 win over Valley Christian.

Northwest Christian Announces Transition within the Role of High School Principal

Josh Schlesinger prepares for new adventure after nine years of stellar service, offers the baton of high school principal to Jeff Parsons 

"Nine years ago," explains superintendent Geoff Brown, "I knew definitively that God brought Josh Schlesinger to us to serve as high school principal.  The set of circumstances surrounding his recruitment were so Providential, there was no doubting that this was God's direction.  And a decade later, the high school, for all its growth and transition, really is a reflection of the energy and effort that Josh has invested within it."

This spring, Josh Schlesinger is feeling God's call once more--but this time he is feeling God's leading outside the field of education and towards an opportunity in providing commercial insurance for non-profit organizations.

"Josh has been a champion within Northwest Christian's 'Mission Learning' program as we have been involved in so many Christ-honoring non-profits within the state," continues Geoff,  "and his passion for ministries like the ones that he has already been serving within alongside the hundreds and hundreds of students that have graduated under his watch will continue but in a different context."

Though Schlesinger's job title will change, his involvement within the school will continue.  His kids will continue towards Northwest Christian graduation and his wife, Lindsay, will be staying on as the school's dynamic French teacher.

Josh says, "I am so thankful for the years of friendship that I have enjoyed within the school, working alongside teachers, parents, and students.  There's a small town feel within this school that I love.  My prayer is that NCS will continue to thrive and be a leader within the community.  I am praying for the students in the years ahead to continue to be change-makers and difference-makers in the places that God calls them."

The transition opens the door for a new leader within the high school and Northwest Christian is excited to report that Jeff Parsons has accepted the offer to lead the students and staff as high school principal.  "When we hired Jeff as the school's Director of Curriculum and Instruction, a role he has held for two years," says Geoff, "we did so with the intent to see him ultimately develop as a leader of one of the divisions within the school.  In fact, we had tried to hire him a couple of years prior to that but didn't quite pull it off.  When we did, we knew that he would further grow into a leader on this campus."

Jeff Parsons was an Assistant Principal at both Washington High School and Independence High School where he was responsible for guidance, graduation, college readiness, career and technical education, discipline, and attendance.  In addition to his demonstrable success as a leader within these other schools, Jeff was also involved with the online education programs on those campuses.  "We recently announced that we are developing an online platform for Northwest Christian School using Grand Canyon University's 'LoudCloud' learning management system," says Geoff.  "For the past two years, Jeff has been at the point for development of Northwest Christian School Online working closely with teachers at Northwest Christian and curriculum development teams at GCU.  In the next year, we are going to begin to see this vision become a reality.  I am excited that Jeff's new role will continue to see him leading that momentous effort."

Jeff Parsons is excited for the new adventure ahead of him:  "Before I was ever employed at Northwest Christian, I had been a member of the Crusader family since my oldest, who is about to become a freshman, was enrolled in the preschool.  My love for this school's mission was strong then and it has only grown stronger since I have joined this team as an employee.  It really is my privilege and honor to be in a role that allows me to serve our staff, students, and their families in a way that will preserve the enduring legacy of this school for years to come."

Free, Streaming "RightNow Media" Program Enables Families to Enjoy a New Dimension of Northwest Christian Together

Called by some the "Netflix of Bible studies", consider this the Disney+ of Northwest Christian

Every wonder what Northwest Christian's high school chapel looked like?  Have you always desired to see one of the school's famously unique fall NXNW movies but couldn't find a babysitter to see them in the theater?  Look no further as that the free solution already resides at your proverbial, digital fingertips!

Completely complementary to all Northwest Christian families and available on your phone, tablet, smart TV, gaming system, or computer, RightNow media has been termed the "Netflix of Bible studies".  And, while that descriptor certainly is apt, it fails to encompass the scope of services that the digital streaming platform presents to NCS families.  In addition to thousands of topical and exegetical Bible studies, there are hundreds of safe and appropriate children's programs for discerning Christian families.  As well, for school families, the initial 'landing page' for the app takes them to a plethora of Northwest Christian content.  This includes a building library of on-campus chapel services, Parent University sessions, NXNW movies featuring Northwest Christian students, and so much more.

As Northwest Christian prepares for the imminent launch of its online school, this summer will find the school transitioning towards a new website, a new student information system, an expanding learning management system in classrooms, and a growing number of digital features like RightNow Media that will further increase the connectedness between home and school, allowing families to experience NCS culture and community together.

For those families that have not yet taken advantage of RightNow media, keep an eye on your in-box as that a new invite to the service will be landing there next week.  If you do not see the email within the next few days, please reach out to the school's Director of Technology and Operations, Roman Nelson, rnelson@ncsaz.org.


Midyear Testing Reveals that Northwest Christian Student Achievement is Exceeding Expectations

Strategic planning by teachers combined with hard work from students equates to early successes within the school year 

Across all divisions of the school, Northwest Christian teachers employ a number of pacing and assessment tools that gauge student success and progress.  Within classrooms in third grade and above, teachers use interim testing to assess progress towards the year-ending ACT Aspire standardized test.  In the younger grades, teachers employ  Stanford 10, DIBELS, and others.

DIBELS, an acronym which stands for "Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills", is the school's K-2 assessment system that indicates students' progress in reading three times a year (Sept-Feb-May). This year, after two assessments, scores have exceeded expectations.  In all grades, K-2, 94% of all students are already at the benchmark or above. In first grade, that number jumps to 98%. As teachers track student scores and follow students from year to year, first grade has already matched their end-of-year performance from last year (in kindergarten) showing that 98% of students have already met the benchmark or gone above it.  Second grade is up 4% (from 91% to 95%) in meeting benchmark or above from their last year's first grade performance.

In third through fifth grades, ACT Aspire Interim Assessments are equally impressive. In each of the four areas assessed (English, reading, science, and math), every grade level experienced double-digit growth when comparing Interim I with Interim II data. Every area assessed met the ACT Aspire benchmark for the mid-year assessment. Eight of the twelve areas assessed were at least 10% above the benchmark for mid-year while five of the twelve areas achieved at 20% or higher over the benchmark.

"This is tremendous information," states superintendent Geoff Brown.  "It reveals unbelievable learning momentum that is the product of teachers diligently planning and teaching rigorous lessons to hard-working students."
Spotlight on Students


February rains threatened to usurp a long-standing Crusader tradition:  the annual "Top of the School Luncheon".  In the early spring each year, the school hosts a special luncheon on the highest place on campus, the roof of the two-story classroom building.  This year's rains prevented the students from enjoying the luncheon on the roof...instead, they enjoyed their luncheon at the Outback Steakhouse.  Congratulations to these students!

Spotlight on Upcoming Events



TICKETS ON SALE NOW for the
Northwest Christian School Spring 2020 Musical
Performances March 5th through 7th

This inspirational story, based on the memoir of Maria Augusta Trapp, follows Maria, an ebullient postulant who serves as governess to the seven children of the imperious Captain Von Trapp, bringing music and joy to the household. But as the forces of Nazism take hold of Austria, the Von Trapp family must make a moral decision.

Click HERE to purchase tickets online.  Special staff/student pricing available in the office.
Spotlight on God's Word and Ice Cream


Each spring, Mr. Brown launches a "Red Letter Challenge" Bible reading plan as an invitation to incite a passion for God's word within elementary students.  To be sure, reading God's word daily is its own reward but as we first seek to establish this discipline in young lives, it can be fun to establish incentives as extrinsic reminders of those intrinsic rewards.  As was the case last spring, this year's incentive is an opportunity to join Mr. Brown, Mrs. Underwood, and Mr. G at Baskin Robbins for an "all you can eat ice cream extravaganza".  Last year saw nearly one hundred elementary-aged Crusaders rise to the challenge and enjoy absurd amounts of ice cream  This year, Mr. Brown is hoping to see 150 students join him!

As part of a quality control exercise, earlier this month, Mr. Brown, Mrs. Underwood, and Mr. G visited Baskin Robbins to make certain that the ice cream was up to grade.  (Great news:  it was.)  If your elementary-aged student (or their parents!) would like to join the effort, it's never to late to start your journey within God's word... you can download the plan here.


Chelsi Johnson, a Great Addition to the NCS Staff, Prepares for the Mission Field
Sure, Chelsi is great...but let's get her out of here 

Even though Chelsi Johnson is just in her first year as a member of the Northwest Christian team, we are ready to work together to get her out of here.  But, Chelsi's good with that.

In fact, her deepest desire at this point is to see what she has come to understand as God's call on her life fulfilled--to serve as a full-time, international missionary in a country that, for reason of her own safety, cannot be named within this newsletter.  She is presently attempting to raise the support that will enable her to work within a community center that serves North African refugee families.  And, she will not be the only Crusader family serving there:  a year ago, in February 2019, Sean and Ruthann Cross (who served within the preschool program) relocated their family to serve within the same mission.

A graduate of Faith Baptist Bible College, Chelsi works as an instructional and duty aide for Northwest Christian's first and second grade classrooms.  She is a favorite around campus for a unique aspect of recess that she provides for her first and second grade students:  she grabs her guitar and roams throughout recess, leading the students in praise and worship choruses.  Prior to her time at Northwest Christian, she served for seven years as an employee and volunteer within church children's ministry positions.  "I started to notice in college," explains Chelsi, "that God had given me a drive towards children's ministry.  Then, during a missions trip in September 2016, as I was sitting and interacting with students within a community of refugees, I felt God calling me to this very purpose."

Once she has raised the support she needs through World Venture to deploy to the unnamed community center for North African refugees, she will be charged with developing an extended care preschool program that will enable the parents of her students to learn English.  She explains, "The community center is rooted within authentic relationships and I am excited to be able to build relationships with the preschool students and their families.  I am excited to be able to share the love of Jesus within those relationships."

To read a bit more about Chelsi Johnson's upcoming adventure, please click here.

Is God leading you to support the effort to get Chelsi 'out of here' and on her way to the mission field?  Click here to learn how to help!
Spotlight on Students and Robots


High school band took an odd twist in late February when Mrs. Hutson surrendered her conductor's baton to a special guest conductor.  BB-8 from Star Wars was on campus to help elementary students gear up for Read Across NCS and led a rousing rendition of "Guardians of the Galaxy".
Spotlight on Students

  
Congratulations to Crusader wrestlers for strong finishes at state!  Left to right, Tanner placed fifth, Corbin placed third, and Julian placed sixth.
Spotlight on Students


Nearly one hundred Crusaders descended upon Washington D.C. this past week, led by the high school's Mrs. Waymire.  Students visited also visited Gettysburg and enjoyed the school's first visit to the Museum of the Bible.
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February 28, 2020
Vol. 10, Issue 7
Psalm 18:1-2

"I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower."
Mark your calendars now for another VITAL session of Parent University!
Partnership with Ottawa University
means huge college savings!
Saturn Pools  is a generous sponsor
of NCS Athletics
Bumble Bee Plumbing  is a generous sponsor
of NCS Missions Learning

Generous Supporters of Northwest Christian

 Athletes

Northwest Christian's Prayer Group for Men 
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NEW FUNDRAISING PARTNER

Grand Canyon University

Box Tops for Education
NCS Purple Pages
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State Tuition Tax Credit Opportunity
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LifeStream

a NCS Mssions Learning partner

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