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Northwest Christian School
Dear NCS family,
As I enjoyed the wonderful holiday weekend, celebrating the birth of our exceptional nation, I encountered a quote that I thought might be wise to revisit time and again in the future.  And, while I typically attempt to fill this space within the monthly school newsletter with whatever pablum is top-of-mind with hopes of inspiring our school community, even with much thought I am not sure I could ever offer maxims as true as those that follow.  The date was June 28, 1787, and our young nation's Constitutional Convention was deadlocked in heated arguments between forefathers who debated the future of a soon-great nation.   (Sound familiar?)  In the midst of the feuding, Benjamin Franklin--arguably, history would record him as the most "liberal" of all the forefathers--rose and made plain his case for the divine provenance of our nation.  Without further commentary (I'd only muddle the simple truths you are about to read), I offer his plea to his fellow countrymen:

"In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor.

To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth -- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that 'except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.' I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages ...

I therefore beg leave to move -- that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service."

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

Progress Report:  New Kitchen and Lunch Area Improvements 

Though progress is slow, the project has been covered entirely by donations 

Northwest Christian School continues to work towards improving its lunch area, a historic effort that has seen significant support and generosity from the Northwest Christian family.
"The project has gone more slowly than I would have liked," explains superintendent Geoff Brown, "but prudence has really demanded that.  Patience has allowed us to proceed through the project with zero debt acquisition.  In the long term, that will mean that our families won't see an impact to tuition as a result of the improvements.  Instead, donors have stepped forward to help make the project a reality.  It has also afforded us the time to do this correctly, improving our ability to serve lunches while also improving the student experience."  The first phase of the campaign, titled "Growing and Going", pulled in enough financial support to ultimately construct a new kitchen, a building that will replace the existing, older cinder block structure on the north side of campus.  "The plans are being reviewed and revised by the city and health department but those approvals are coming in," says Geoff.  "Once we have the final approvals and permits, we'll have a better idea of timeline but, obviously, fall 2016 is out of the question.  At the latest, this will be a summer 2017 project--we'll know that shortly."

Phase 2 of the "Growing and Going" campus improvement effort will also address the lunch area with an eye to improve the area where students sit for lunch as well as some of the outdoor practice areas for basketball and volleyball.  "This will be our chief focus for fundraising in 2016/2017," says Geoff.  "We have acquired plans that range from $250,000 to $1.2 million.  Where we go and what we do will all depend on what the Lord provides this year.  I am committed to seeing this accomplished without debt and without increasing expense for our families."

The time has also come to begin looking forward to other projects and improvements on the campus as the school prepares to begin rolling out Phase 3 and beyond.  "I maintain that the single biggest need on our campus," says Geoff, "is our elementary classrooms.  We've started drafting plans for a new elementary classroom building and in the coming year, we are going to begin communicating that vision to our families."  This communication will kick off this fall at the 2nd annual "Wild About NCS" auction and dinner at the Phoenix Zoo.  "We'll use that moment to show our families the 'big picture'," continues Geoff, "painting a picture that will truly speak to the sustainability of this school and its ministry well into the future."
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Summer 2016 "On Purpose" Reading and Video Series Continues 

Take a moment to enjoy Mrs. Waymire discussing American legacy with the author of our summer reading, Russ Miller 

On Purpose:  American Legacy
On Purpose: American Legacy

The annual tradition of a school-community-wide summer reading rose to a new level this year with the "On Purpose" video series.  The series, now in its sixth week, features different staff and faculty from Northwest Christian interacting with Russ Miller, the author of the summer 2016 summer reading, "The Cost".  This weeks video, delivered to Northwest Christian families and staff via a weekly email on Monday, July 4th, featured the chair of the Northwest Christian history department, Mrs. Deb Waymire, discussing chapter 14 ("The Theft of America's Heritage") with author Russ Miller.  The book and videos have served as a springboard for a study of the Biblical account of creation and the costs associated with diverting our attention from that truth.  In the next few weeks, Northwest Christian families will be receiving the emailed videos and hearing from Tyler Collins, Brandon Southall, Brett Irwin, Dawna Underwood, and Samantha Maszton.

Coming School Year to Include Historic Number of Missions Opportunities 

Summer 2016 is laying the groundwork for multiple future trips 

As you read this article, multiple Northwest Christian "scouts" are out in the field, planning, preparing, and laying the groundwork for a momentous number of missions opportunities for Northwest Christian students in the coming year.  Each of the trips will feature Northwest Christian leaders working with missions-partner organizations that have worked with the school in the past.  Mr. Matt Jo Diaz (Junior Bible teacher, pictured left in Cambodia) has just returned from a scouting trip to Cambodia through Christ in Youth, working with Rapha House, a safe-house ministry designed to meet the needs of young people rescued out of sex trafficking.  Additionally, Ms. Amber Perona has just left on a scouting trip to Haiti where she will be visiting feeding centers facilitated by Feed My Starving Children.  Northwest Christian is looking forward to partnering with YoungLife to facilitate a summer 2017 trip to Costa Rica.  In addition to the summer trips to Cambodia, Haiti, and Costa Rica, NCS will continue to partner within the academic year for multiple trips to Mexico with 1Mission and the Kids Kingdom orphanage in Imuris, Sonora.

Also presently in the field is a group of NCS alumni and current students (pictured above and below) who are serving the the City of Joy orphanage and school in Rwanda.  The students designed and funded this trip completely on their own after hearing from the orphanage's founder during a high school chapel this past year.

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Spotlight on Students:  2016 Grad Willow Cheadle Leaves Her Mark in AIA All-Star Softball Game

After a strong senior season, 2016 grad Willow Cheadle was nominated to play in the AIA's All-Star softball game this summer.  She capped off the competition by hitting the game-winning homer!  Willow will be sorely missed for reasons outside of the softball diamond.  She was a strong leader in the school's trips to the Kids Kingdom orphanage in Imuris, Sonora.  Willow was one of the trips' leaders, facilitating all food and supplies for these missions trips.  She led a team that shopped for and prepared   just over a half-dozen meals for over a hundred people.  We're proud of you, Willow!

Northwest Christian Excited to Welcome New Teachers and Staff to the Crusader Family for Fall 2016
Bill Harbeck is certainly no stranger to the Northwest Christian community as that many alumni and parents will recognize him for the decade-plus that he served the school in both the classroom and the administrative offices.  It is with great enthusiasm that the school welcomes him back to the Crusader community in the role of high school Bible teacher.  The coming school year will find Brandon Southall transitioning to teach senior Bible while Bill will move to take over the sophomore Bible classroom.  With a total of 36 years of teaching experience, split between Christian schools in both Illinois and Arizona, his most recent posts have included stints at Arizona Christian University and Joy Christian School, in addition to his many years of successful service as a Crusader Bible teacher and principal.  Bill's undergrad degree is from Wheaton and he holds a masters degree from National Lewis University.  Northwest Christian is also excited to report that Bill will be assuming the reins of the varsity girls basketball program beginning in 2016/2017 as that he has a strong history of basketball success with the school.
Northwest Christian is pleased to announce that Scott Williams will be taking hold of the conductor's baton within the school's far-reaching band program starting this fall.  Mr. Williams' busy band room will welcome fourth graders for recorders, fifth graders for beginning band, and both middle school and high school students for intermediate and advanced bands.  He will also take the lead of the high school's growing marching band program.  With twenty-four years of educational experience, he is well-prepared for his new position having previously served as band director at both the K-8 and high school levels.  Williams was the band director at Sweetwater Elementary for six years and has fifteen years of experience within thriving high school band programs at both Cortez High School in Phoenix and Pueblo High School in Tucson.  With proven experience in growing band programs, Williams reports that the key to success is building a strong team.  Describing the team he looks forward to building at NCS, Williams says, "I have found this element to be one of the most crucial in the sustainability and advancement of of not only the program itself, but also of the students' individual achievements.  Having a deep and rich relationship with the band parents, based on trust and shared common values and goals allows for the building of a team focused on the well-being of the student and the school."  Williams has been actively involved in the ministry of Paradise Valley Community Church for six years where he plays with the worship team and serves as part of the usher team. 
With a strong and diverse educational background, Kristi Kelly is poised to make a big impact in the Northwest Christian fifth grade classroom.  Kristi's most recent experience has been leading a fifth grade classroom at Trinity Christian School in Kailua, Hawaii.  Prior to that post, she accumulated six years working as a language arts and science teacher and project manager at the International English School in Jonkoping, Sweden.  Other international experience includes a post as sixth grade teacher at the Riverside International School in Prague, Czech Republic.  For all of her international experience, she is not unfamiliar with the Arizona brand of education in that she started her career as a fourth grade teacher at Country Meadows Elementary in Glendale after graduating from Arizona State University's West Campus.  Kristi brings a passion for ministry and missions to her Northwest Christian role as evidenced by her time working with both World Vision and WYAM in Thailand.
The Northwest Christian elementary program is looking forward to welcoming Janet Lusher to the fifth grade team.  With a degree in Elementary Education (with English minor) from Seattle Pacific University, Mrs. Lusher has a strong track record of being a student and parent favorite in kindergarten, first grade, and third grade classrooms at Paradise Valley Christian Prep in Phoenix.  Janet has attended Open Door Fellowship for eighteen years where she serves as a member of the worship team and teacher within the K-5 Sunday School program.  After spending even just a few minutes with Janet, it is clear to see that she is passionate about Christian education.  "Overall," she explains, "my greatest aim in teaching is to glorify the name of Jesus in all that I do, and to use the gifts that He has given me to benefit others, namely my students.  My job is to teach, but my deeper purpose is to draw them to the heart of God in that process and to model Christ to them."
Also joining Northwest Christian elementary's fifth grade teaching team is  Amy Veen.  After graduating from Grand Canyon University, the lion's share of Amy's educational experience has been in Colorado where she has served as both an elementary reading interventionalist and an elementary classroom teacher.  Most recently, she served as an elementary teacher at Paradise Valley Christian Prep.  Amy's family attends Valley View Bible Church where she serves both as part of the Children's ministry team and as part of the team teaching a women's Bible study.  As you talk to Amy, it is clear to see that her passion for Christ and that ministry will be the cornerstone of the culture created in her classroom.  "I want to be part of nurturing the faith of my students," she explains.  "I love Jesus and I want to share Him with my students.  I want to challenge my students and help support them in their faith walk."
Northwest Christian is thrilled to welcome alumnus Brenna Roth back to the high school halls that still reverberate with the boundless energy and enthusiasm for Christ that she brought as a Crusader.  After graduating from Northwest Christian, she went on to earn degrees in secondary education and English from Grand Canyon University.  Her student teaching and educational practicum experiences included time in classrooms at Moon Valley High School and Alhambra High School.  Most recently, she has spent time working with current Northwest Christian freshman English teacher, Mrs. Stasi Gibson.  Brenna will be moving to take the freshman English post as Stasi moves into sophomore English.  Brenna has attended New City Church for the past four years where she works as a Sunday School teacher.  Northwest Christian High School students will also enjoy Brenna as the lead varsity cheer coach, working alongside returning cheer assistant coaches Brittney Huizinga and Allison VanLiew.  Following a successful stint as cheer captain at Northwest Christian, she went on to become the Head Captain of the Grand Canyon University cheer team and a cheer instructor at the Arizona Cheer Factory,
"As a Christian," explains new first grade teacher Joanne Wohlgemuth, "I experience God's truth on a daily basis and use the Holy Spirit to empower me as I teach.  As a teacher, I seek to integrate Biblical truth into what is being taught and into discipline."  Joanne's established track record of success in early elementary classrooms includes time at Sunset Heights Elementary, Frontier Elementary, and Rancho Solano Private Schools in Scottsdale.  She earned her undergrad education degree from Ottawa University where she's presently working to earn a masters degree in curriculum and instruction.  "Even though others can see Christ through my actions and words in a public school setting, it will be a blessing to speak freely of God's love with others and to be able to work in a Christ-filled environment," she says.  "I am blessed with the gift to be able to teach children and will enjoy integrating God's truth in my daily lessons."
The Northwest Christian Middle School choir program has grown tremendously in the last few years and that momentum is poised to continue as Melissa Maguire takes the lead.  After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Arizona State University, Mrs. Maguire has assembled an impressive array of fine arts educational experiences.  She led the choir program at Central High School in Phoenix where she also served as the Performing Arts Department Chair.  She has also led middle school and high school choirs at Village Christian School in Sun Valley, California and Desert Mirage Elementary in Glendale.  Most recently, she served as the accompanist for the Northwest Christian High School choir program and an Area Administrator within Central Phoenix Young Life.  Melissa and her family attend Living Streams Christian Church where she is involved in a weekly women's BIble study and part of the worship team.
With Brittney Meyer vacating Northwest Christian High's academic counselor position as she starts a family with her husband, pastor Jayce Meyer, the school's aggressive and far-reaching guidance role is being handed to the very capable and experienced Christy Wells.  Titled "Pursuing His Purposes", the Northwest Christian guidance program is unique with a plan that is strategically paired with the teachers from the Bible department and impacts students beginning in sixth and seventh grades before culminating with seniors as they graduate.  In that Christy is an alumni of Northwest Christian, however, it's a role within a school culture that she knows and appreciates.  She has an undergrad degree in Elementary and Special Education from Evangel University and a Master in Educational Counseling from Ottawa University.  She's served time in the classroom, teaching for three years at Mountain View, before serving in academic counseling roles at Goldwater High School and the K-8 program at Highland Lakes.  But Christy is excited about her return to Northwest Christian, calling the school's academic counselor role as her "dream job".  Christy and her husband have attended New Life Community Church for eight years where they lead a small group Bible study for young families.
Jenna Young is excited to invest her Christian faith into her lessons within her second grade classroom at Northwest Christian School after a time within a public school setting where that couldn't be the case.  "I can finally put my Christian beliefs into teaching," she explains.  "It will be great to talk about God and the Bible without worrying whether the principal or a parent would walk in."  Hailing from New York, Jenna's undergrad education is from the State University of New York at Owego.  From the same university, she's also earned a Masters of Education in Literacy.  Locally, she has worked at Camelback Academy where she worked within a Title I setting in grades 3-5.   Jenna and her husband are active at Radiant Church where she serves as a leader within a women's Bible study.  They also enjoy serving at the Phoenix Dream Center. 
With two students at Northwest Christian, Amy McPeek has been an active parent within the Crusader community.  Though she's ably served as a sub when needed, most often she's volunteered her time to support teachers within the classroom, help organize school events, or serve within the office.  But, with a degree in elementary education from Arizona State University  and teaching experience at Foothills Elementary, she's now been tapped to work part-time to support the middle school's growing technology program, spearheading several classes of electives.  The McPeeks are active at Mountain Ridge Church where Amy teaches within the preschool program. 
No doubt the astute reader will notice from the hires listed above that we've done a bit of Rubik's-inspired shuffling this spring with teacher placements as we have moved existing teachers into new roles matching their strengths and areas of enthusiasm.  These changes include:
  • Karen Gill will be moving to 7th grade math.  Karen's clear success with math, her passion for the subject, and her educational background in secondary math made her an obvious choice.
  • Ben Sheets will be moving to middle school Social Studies Ben is highly qualified in secondary history and is passionate about the subject.
  • Emilie Johannes has a masters degree in secondary language, is a fluent speaker of Spanish, and is excited about transitioning into a role that will find her presenting intro level high school Spanish and some elementary Spanish specials.
  • Teri Beckner has a masters degree in educational technology and is excited to take the lead in the growing elementary technology program.
  • Candace Phillips is moving to 7th grade Language Arts.  With LA success in her elementary classroom this year, she will complete a strong team.
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July 5, 2016
Vol. 6, Issue 9
II Cor. 3:17
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

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