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Northwest Christian School
Dear NCS family,
As many of you may know, just before Easter this year, my family walked through a very scary health situation with my dad.  On the first Sunday of spring break, my wife and I were grocery shopping when my mom called.  As soon as she said my name, I knew.  "Geoff, it's not good...he's not breathing," was all I could hear.  We ran from the store, jumped into the car, and shot across town--joining the ambulance en route to Mayo Hospital.  Once we were there, the situation seemed to go from bad to worse with somber-faced doctors describing my dad's situation in bleak terms--giving him just a 10% chance of recovery.  

We stood helpless, breathless, and praying around the perimeter of the room as doctors and nurses took drastic measures to save my dad and we were forced to recognize the prospect of saying "goodbye".  An eternity passed in the span of a few minutes when one of the orderlies approached and said, "There are some folks in the lobby and they were hoping to hear about your father."  I went into the teeming ER lobby but it was so packed, I had no idea who I was looking for.  "Excuse me," I said with a raised voice, "I'm Geoff Brown.  Who were the folks that were wondering about my dad?"  That next moment will forever be etched within my recollection:  every hand in that crowded emergency room lobby went up.  It was utterly surreal:  I was suddenly surrounded by dozens of people, the anguish on each of their faces seemingly as profound as my own.  Though there were a few sparks of recognition that pulled me from my shock, I was encompassed on every side by compassionate strangers who practiced a divine alchemy, turning the few leaden words I then spoke into the precious metal of prayers with unrivaled fervency.

My parents attend Shiloh Community Church where they are actively engaged and serving.  On that Sunday afternoon, in a place where none of us ever plans to be, Shiloh Community Church was there.  They rallied around mom and hedged her with hope.  At her side, they were quiet when they needed to be, offered encouragement when it was needed, and they prayed all the while.  I have counted myself as a Christ follower ever since a decision I made when I was in middle school, but in all those years I don't know that I have ever seen Him as clearly as I did reflected in the faces of strangers from Shiloh.

These several weeks later, I fully recognize that it was the Lord who ultimately restored my dad to health, and I am deeply grateful to Him for His grace and to compassionate strangers for their many graces.  But, I cannot help but wonder what this moment may have looked like if that emergency room lobby had been empty.  What would it have felt like if my new friends from Shiloh had not been there?  How often would my mom have felt alone?  In those moments when she was frightened, would she have had the strength to fend off fears?

Please forgive my directness here but I have one additional anxiety as well.  Although we are a "covenant Christian education community"--a school that "requires" its families to be involved in church--I am worried that for some of our families--families that have yet to make that "requirement" a "reality" within their homes--the emergency room lobby would be empty.  It is for this reason that we are using this summer's reading--our annual "Crusaders Charge into Summer Reading" tradition--to emphasize the priority of the local church.  As you will read below, we are going to enjoy the Psalms this summer as a school family.  In the process, we intend to challenge our community to consider their current place within a church--with sincerest hopes that your own emergency room lobby will never be empty.

Grateful for the opportunity to serve this school and your family,
Geoff Brown
Northwest Christian School
(623)225-5573 (cell)
NCS Launches Summer Reading Campaign for the Crusader Community and Offers Free Access to Right Now Media
The Crusader community will have the chance this summer to explore the Psalms and the priority of the local church

"Crusaders Charge into Summer Reading" is the tradition that serves to set the tone for the coming school year through the school's annual spiritual emphasis theme.  Each summer, the community explores a reading--usually a book or a passage of scripture--that helps to call attention to a common theme or message.  During summer meetings, student leaders also use the reading to prayerfully decide the spiritual emphasis theme for the coming year based on what they are experiencing within the reading.

The summer 2018 reading will be from the book of Psalms and the emphasis will be on shepherding, discipleship, and the local church.  Each week throughout the summer, starting on June 4th, Crusader families will receive a video email that will walk through the Psalms that are in focus for that week.  Each video will capture a different Northwest Christian faculty or staff member interacting with the pastor from their own church.  The two will discuss their church and what makes it so special within their family.  Then, the staff member and the pastor will present their favorite Psalms and what within their Psalm speaks to them--with those Psalms becoming the reading for that week.  In this way, Crusaders will have the chance to hear from nearly a dozen Northwest Christian staff and faculty as well as their Phoenix-area pastors from Christ's Church of the Valley, Redemption Peoria, Palmcroft Church, Calvary Community Church, Trinity Church, Moon Valley Bible, Open Door Fellowship, Thomas Road Baptist, Desert View Bible, and others.

"I am excited for this summer," says superintendent Geoff Brown.  "As important as we feel Christian education may be, as a community, we need to recognize that the local church is God's 'plan A'.  As we have worked to film these videos, I have been incredibly impressed by the many different churches that our school partners with in service to families.  I love to think about the potential for students who are immersed in Christian education and deeply committed to their churches."

Another unique opportunity is being provided to school families as part of the summer reading campaign.  Starting in June, all Northwest Christian families will have "free" access to RightNow Media.  "RightNow has a couple of different features our families will enjoy," say Geoff.  "First, it is the 'Netflix' of Bible teaching with prominent Bible teachers and authors from across the country presenting in-depth teaching from God's word.  Second, younger kids will have access to Christ-centered cartoons and children's features that parents can safely trust--features like Veggie Tales, Boz, Superbook, 321 Penguins, and Bibleman."  Access to RightNow will start on June 4th as the first "Crusaders Charge into Summer Reading" email hits family inboxes.

The video below introduces the summer reading effort.  As well, Geoff Brown and Chris Gardiner discuss "Mr. G's" new role in the coming school year.

Crusaders Charge into Summer 2018 Reading!
Northwest Christian Teachers and Students Head to Rwanda this Summer to Help Train African Christian School Teachers
Teams are also headed out this summer to Costa Rica and Mexico

As the 2017/2018 school year comes to a close and plans are being formulated for the summer, some members of the NCS community are anticipating an opportunity to travel to City of Joy Christian School (CoJ) in Nyanza, Rwanda. As part of a partnership between the CoJ and NCS, during the fall of 2017, Elizabeth Ogutta, a teacher from CoJ, shadowed Northwest Christian elementary teachers and trained under them.  Now, a group of eleven Northwest Christian teachers is preparing to head to Rwanda to provide some of the same professional development to a broader group of CoJ teachers.  The team will also include eight Northwest Christian high school students who will support the teachers, providing VBS, games, and sport camps for the CoJ students as their teachers are engaged in training.
The team is being led by elementary principal Dawna Underwood.  "It is exciting to have the opportunity to travel to Rwanda," says Dawna of the trip. "In the 1990's, the country experienced some very difficult times. In the years that have followed that tragedy, Rwanda has become known as a country that knows how to forgive and grow past the hardships of a season of history.  While I think that we have some things that we can contribute to City of Joy Christian School, I am also excited about what they will teach us at the same time." 

It was during the season of rebuilding following the tragedies of Rwandan genocide that the City of Joy Christian School was established as a Christian school for students in the Rwandan countryside. The school was started by Todd and Andria Ellingson, missionaries from Phoenix.  The Ellingson family followed God's leading to work in education and their work within the country has been well recognized and honored by the Rwandan government.
The Northwest Christian group leaves for Rwanda shortly after school gets out for the summer and they are requesting two things from the NCS community.  The first is prayer.  "I would ask that our community prays that the team is able to really contribute to both the City of Joy teachers and students," says Dawna.  "But, I'm also praying that the team is stretched and grows tremendously during our time there."  In addition to prayer, the team is collecting a few supplies that have been requested by Todd and Andria for the school.  If you are able to assist with these items, they can be dropped off this week and next within the school office.  The items include:  construction paper, bulletin board supplies, scissors, paint pallets, colored pencils, markers, gel pens, and zip lock bags.

Look forward to the next issue of the Spotlight--we will report a bit more about NCS teams headed to Costa Rica and Mexico.
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Northwest Christian Middle School Students Host Special Olympics Event on Campus
Middle school welcomes dozens of Special Olympians to campus for a memorable day

Each fall, Northwest Christian's middle school hosts "Impact Day"--a day committed to exploring different ministries and non-profits through which students can make an impact in the world.  In the fall of 2017, one of those non-profits was the Special Olympics of Arizona.  Middle school students heard from both a Special Olympics representative and a Special Olympian.  The presentation resonated so deeply with students that it wasn't long before an idea germinated within middle school's student council.  That student leadership group, led by Mrs. Lisa Ehlers and Mrs. Amy Boven who serve as advisors, began to investigate the possibility of a Special Olympics event being hosted at Northwest Christian.

Mrs. Ehlers and Mrs. Boven took a group of students to Brophy College Prep where a similar event has been hosted and they observed what would be required to pull it off.  Mrs. Ehlers reported that at first she was hesitant to consider whether a group of middle school students could pull off what Brophy students had done.  But, in the end, on May 11th, as Northwest Christian middle schoolers welcomed 67 Special Olympians from five different Phoenix-area schools, she was blessed to see what students accomplished.

"This truly was an effort led by middle school students," said Mrs. Ehlers.  Honestly, in ten years at Northwest Christian, this may have been my very favorite day as I watched God work through our students.  Without hesitation, they celebrated their Special Olympians and truly enjoyed spending time with them.  Our kids put a ton of effort into prepping for this day and I know it had a tremendous impact."  Mrs. Ehlers and Mrs. Boven are already looking forward to planning next year's event.
Jeff Parsons Named as Northwest Christian Director of Curriculum and Instruction
The school is also excited to welcome Don Moenich back into a part-time capacity

As the 2017/2018 school year winds to a close, one of the school's administrators is preparing for a transition.  After starting at the school as a high school math teacher, three years ago, Brett Irwin (on the right in the picture) moved into the role of the Director of Curriculum and Instruction.  Now, realizing his love of direct classroom instruction is his truest passion, he is preparing to move back towards high school math.  "While I am excited that Brett will be in the classroom," says superintendent Geoff Brown, "I am going to miss his knack for understanding school data and assessment.  His intuitive ability to assess and apply data is among the best I have ever known."
Don and LIz Moenich

Brett's decision to return to the classroom full-time kicked of a search for a replacement that ultimately culminated in the selection of two "new" team members.

The first is Jeff Parsons (on the left in the picture above) who will serve as the school's full-time C&I director starting in July.  Jeff joins Northwest Christian after most recently serving as an assistant principal at Independence High School with responsibilities similar to his new NCS role.  Jeff is also a Northwest Christian dad with three children at the school.  "It is an honor for me to be joining the NCS family as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction," says Jeff.  "I am looking forward to serving the whole NCS community--students, staff, and families. I am excited to connect with other NCS parents as I get started."

Jeff will also be joined by Don Moenich (pictured with his wife, Liz Moenich, above) who has served in the role before.  "Don will be coming back part-time," explains Geoff, "and I am excited to see these two work together.  We are bringing in Don because we have a couple of big, specific curricular projects on the horizon.  The skill sets that these two possess are going to go a long way to accomplishing those efforts."

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In First Year, Elementary Math Olympiad Team Enjoys Impressive Results

During the 2017/2018 school year, Northwest Christian formed a "Math Olympiad" team to provide additional levels of challenge and opportunity for older elementary aged students that were demonstrably ready for math challenges and competition.  This first year's team included sixteen students from  fourth and fifth grades that scored very high on the ACT Aspire standardized test in math and had demonstrated strong work ethic in their classes.  In the first year, the team was coached by Debbie Yee and, next year, the team will be coached by Nicole Chalmers.  The forums for math competition included the Association of Christian School International's Math Olympics program and MOEMS, the Math Olympiad for Elementary and Middle School Students.

"This has been something that I have wanted to see happen for a number of years," said elementary principal Dawna Underwood.  "I am grateful to Debbie and Nicole for their willingness to lead this team as well as their enthusiasm.  That enthusiasm worked to inspire a group of kids that already love math to love it even more.  These kids gave up recesses and took upon themselves extra work because they love math and learning."

In just its first year, the team has enjoyed some real success.  They enjoyed strong results within ACSI's Math Olympics, a regional event that is facilitated through a rigorous math test taken in December with results released in the early spring.  In that competition, three Crusaders will press forward into the next level.  Jenise Chalmers took first place and Kayla Joe took second place in the computation division of the competition while Braydon Yee finished in the top twenty percent of the application division.  The team also participated in two competitions through MOEMS and they scored very well.  In the Math Olympiad, which featured 150,000  international participants, there were three students who scored in the top 10%, four that scored in the top 25%, one in the top 30%, one in the top 40% and three more in the top 50%. "When I went in to congratulate the students in their last session," said Mrs. Underwood, they all said they loved the math competition and opportunity to work at a higher level.  I really look forward to seeing where this goes in the future."
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May 22, 2018
Vol. 8, Issue 8 
Ephesians 4:32 (MSG)
" Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. "
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