Archive for ‘BCS Blog’

Greatness in the Mundane

Posted on: May 1st, 2018

This post was originally shared by our talented Middle School Language Arts teacher in our weekly staff gathering on Mondays as a devotional and then adapted to share on our blog.  

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the mundane rhythms of life.  Maybe it’s because it’s April and I’m “teacher-tired” – everyone in this room knows what I mean when I say “teacher-tired” –  it’s that bone-tired weariness that goes beyond the reach of sleep.

Maybe it’s because Wisconsin decided to hold off on spring for far too long this year, and because of the seasonal “boycott,” UW-Milwaukee’s baseball team (and their handsome coach who happens to be my husband) has had to play 33-straight games on the road.  That is, thirty-three and counting…there are 4 more road games this week.

Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about the mundane things of life – the daily tasks that glue our lives together hour by hour: the laundry and the shopping and the meal prep and the running of kids to and fro, the tedious but important stuff that we work out behind the scenes before we step onto the stages of our classrooms, the countless hours making comments on papers that may (or may not) be read while also posting grades and returning emails in timely fashion. Because of the repetition – the redundancy – of the daily grind, these mundane tasks often become a kind of white noise in our lives.  And if we let it, it can drown out a holy chorus that speaks to the beauty and greatness that God can create in the midst of the mundane.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes living in the spin cycle of the mundane make me feel like I’m missing out on some bigger “Kingdom Work”…something greater, something bigger, something more.  But, as author Ann Voskamp asks, “what if living a life of greatness for God is not about doing a few great things, but instead it’s about living a life of holy redundancy—showing up faithfully day after day in the seemingly little things? What if our greatest investments are faithfully raising our family, building a God-honoring career, cultivating a healthy heart, and developing strong relationships?”

In his book, Dream Big, Think Small, author and pastor Jeff Manion shares what he has observed through his thirty steady and consistent years of ministry, which is this: the remarkable life is built by taking a thousand unremarkable steps.   

He shares, “As believers, we want our lives to count.  We long to do great things for the kingdom of God.  However, greatness is rarely achieved by doing great things, but instead by doing good things repetitively.

The tragedy is that, while waiting for great opportunities to come along, we miss out on a parade of good opportunities that march steadily by. Goodness is largely ignored because it seems too common, too mundane, too everyday.

Consider the way this plays out in the example of a small community.  A town mourns the death of three teenagers killed in a car accident.

Tragedy struck with screeching tires and twisting metal. The horrific news sweeps through the high school with the devastating shock of a tsunami. Bouquets and handwritten notes form a spontaneous memorial at the intersection where the cars collided. Tragedy strikes.  Conversely, goodness rarely ‘strikes.’ It arrives on the stage with little drama.

In the same community that experienced the awful accident, a devoted coach painstakingly builds a cross-country program for middle school girls. For a dozen seasons, she forges diligence, teamwork, and confidence. While some of these girls are the products of affirming, encouraging homes, others will remember their seventh-grade cross-country coach as “the first person who believed in me.”

And then, twenty years pass.  Ask a thirty-three-year-old woman from that community what influences impacted her while she was growing up. Reflecting for a moment, she answers, ‘The Accident’ and ‘The Coach.’

But recall that ‘The Accident’ and ‘The Coach’ arrived at different speeds and in radically different ways.  Tragedy strikes. Goodness grows slowly.  The snail’s pace at which goodness travels will require extreme devotion to the journey.

Goodness demands staying power. The question is whether we will summon the requisite endurance for a slow, faithful, consistent outpouring of love.

I believe this is why Paul urged an early community of Jesus’ followers with these words from Galatians 6:9: ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’”

Paul speaks to the issue of weariness because a life of goodness can be tedious and redundant and absolutely overflowing with the mundane.  Manion adds, “It involves bringing ourselves again and again, often to the same tasks and often to the same people. The repetition takes something out of us. It drains our energy. Paul was writing here of a kind of weariness (maybe even “teacher-tired”) that leads to calling it quits.  But he also reminds us that we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.”

“If I’m honest, I wish Paul had selected a different metaphor. Perhaps something with a little more speed, and decidedly quicker results. But, no, Paul went with farming. Because you can’t rush a harvest. You plow, you plant, and you wait.  And this is not a mistake: I believe the farming image can radically adjust our expectations. Sometimes a life of positive impact is about as interesting as watching a garden grow.”

And there it is: Goodness grows slowly.  It arrives through the repeated kindness of the diligent faithful.  It arrives quietly, traveling the slow path of devoted love.

As Manion gently reminds us, we must “dream big, but think small,” we must toil with the slow process that yields a harvest. Day by day, through one loving act after another, we have an opportunity to grow a life of greatness.  Through one more paper comment. Through one more load of laundry. Through one more trip to the grocery store.  Through one more, and then another, and then another. We have the opportunity to grow a life of greatness. We just have to keep showing up and planting.  We have to keep keeping on…even in – no, especially in – the mundane.

 

Want to learn more about Brookfield Christian School?  Contact us today for more information or to schedule a visit. 

Why Choose a K-8 School Model?

Posted on: January 12th, 2018

When deciding what type of learning environment will best serve your child, there are obviously many considerations: academic rigor, course offerings, educational philosophy, sense of community, extracurriculars, etc. However, sometimes lost in the decision-making process is the educational structure of the grade levels themselves.

Many larger schools and districts physically separate their students into elementary schools (usually K-5), middle schools (typically grades 6-8), and high schools (grades 9-12) due to space limitations and in order to operate efficiently. While such a setup works for some students and families, others express concern, especially at the middle school level, with the sheer size of the student body and a lack of feeling connected both on a student and family level.

That concern is understandable. Middle school is a time when students are going through many transitions socially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and academically. It is a stage in life unlike any other. Students are exploring their independence and defining their sense of self in relation to others. They need to feel connected to the adults they interact with on a daily basis and be given opportunities to serve as positive role models themselves.

A self-contained K-8 school provides such a learning environment and offers many benefits, including:

    • Students who start in kindergarten are known by teachers and parents as they progress throughout the grade levels.
      This enables students to have a sense of belonging and being known. It also gives students and their parents a strong sense of community and support and an ease of access to teachers as both parents and teachers partner together to help students. Socially, students are able to develop lasting friendships. Spiritually, through weekly chapels and small groups led by teachers and parents, students explore and solidify their faith foundation through discussions with trusted adult role models.
    • K-8 schools are often smaller in size, enabling teachers to better identify student needs.
      This results in fewer students falling through the cracks. At Brookfield Christian, our teachers, Resource teacher, and Student Support Team are able to work effectively and flexibly to identify and address learning needs.
    • More students have opportunities to be involved in activities.
      For example middle school students at Brookfield Christian may choose to play sports and/or perform in the band. All students in 6th-8th grades participate in a speech competition/showcase, a music festival, choir, art, service-learning, and a musical. Having students engage in these activities is beneficial because it provides students with an opportunity to develop and display skills that they may otherwise never explore had they been in a larger school setting.
    • Students have a sense of independence but are still connected to the larger student community.
      The middle school students at Brookfield Christian have block schedules for their subject area instruction and change classes, an important part of preparing them for high school, but they still cross paths and interact with lower grade students on a daily basis. This builds character and serves as a reminder of the need for students in the 6th-8th grade levels to serve as role models for the younger students. In addition, all school Unity Group chapels, dress rehearsal performances, and book shares, among other things, provides the older students with the opportunity to engage with students in the elementary grades and hone their leadership skills.

    All of these benefits lead to an overall sense of confidence that translates well as students transition to high school. As our graduate surveys consistently show, students from Brookfield Christian are prepared to succeed in high school whether they attend high schools large or small, public or private.

    When considering a school for your child, we encourage you to visit Brookfield Christian School to see what we have to offer. Our self-contained PreK-8 model offers many educational benefits for you and your child(ren). Contact us to schedule a tour today.

Low or No-Mess Activities for Little Hands

Posted on: January 5th, 2018

Brr!  Its cold, and that means lots of time inside, and the usual toys are getting old.  Need some creative activities that won’t have you wasting time on major clean-up?  Try some of these road-tested options:

  • Have them draw a picture or write a letter to grandparents or a neighbor.
  • See how many different kinds of animals they can spot in the backyard through the window (if it’s really cold, this might be a little challenging). Keep a tally on a whiteboard or a piece of paper on the fridge.
  • If you’re up for a little disorder, build a couch fort!  Check out some of the tutorials you can find on Pinterest, like this one.  Or create a tunnel out of your dining chairs and a sheet, and use a few strands of Christmas lights to make it even more fun!
  • Print a few Snowman Bingo cards and pay a few games using mini marshmallows for markers.
  • If you have a balloon, tape a plastic spoon or wooden spoon to a paper plate for a”racket” and have your child practice keeping the balloon afloat, or you can grab one too and play “balloon tennis” with the balloon.

Find few more activities and ideas on our Winter Fun Pinterest board.

 

Brookfield Christian School is an independent Christian school offering grades 3K-8 in Brookfield, Wisconsin. For more information about BCS, contact us at admissions@brookfieldchristian.org.

Reflections On Our School Theme

Posted on: September 26th, 2017

One of our teachers recently shared this reflection on our theme for the year – please enjoy!

I Corinthians 12:27 says that we are the body of Christ, and each one of us is a part of it. Students, parents, teachers, and other staff members at BCS are all part of the body of Christ. We all belong to our Maker, and we all have a role in serving Him.

Some of us are organized, others are creative, some are musical, and others are encouraging. We all have been given gifts from the Holy Spirit , and we are to use them for God’s glory. No gift is more important than another, nor is one member of thebody more important than another. At BCS each member is valuable. We need each other, and our combined parts work
together to grow as a body of Christ.

There are times when trouble comes. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. It is during the difficult times when we need to rally around each other, encourage, and lift each other up. When there is success and reason to rejoice, the whole body should celebrate together. There are so many things to be grateful for.

As we begin a new school year at BCS, let’s work together, encourage one another, and have a great year of growing in God’s
kingdom.

Amen!

 

To learn more about Brookfield Christian School and how we’re living out our theme this year, contact us at admissions@brookfieldchristian.org

Welcome to the 2017-’18 School Year!

Posted on: August 29th, 2017

We kicked off our 54th year at BCS this morning! Our chapel speaker was alumnus and parent of three BCS students, Ryan Dooyema.  He shared some fun stories of his times at BCS, and spoke on our theme for the year, “The Body of Christ.” We can’t wait to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ this throughout the school year. Our Middle School students started Monday with a retreat at a local camp, to spend some time getting to know one another and preparing for a great year.  Our 1st-8th graders had their first official school day today, and then our littlest Eagles will start tomorrow.  Please continue to keep the students, staff and families of Brookfield Christian School in your prayers throughout this school year.

 

To learn more about BCS, please contact us at admissions@brookfieldchristian.org or call (262) 782-4722. 

Have Fun With Summer Learning

Posted on: August 6th, 2017

Need to get your kids back into the swing of things before school starts?  Try some of these fun learning activities!

Read the Book, Watch the Movie

If you’ve hoping to encourage your kids to open a book and read this summer but it’s been a struggle, then this might do the trick. Pick out a book that is also a movie and then pick a date for a movie night. To view the movie, they have to read the book. 

Then, have a family movie night where you watch the movie together.  Since the movie is often a creative interpretation of the book, talk about the differences that you noticed and what you thought was more interesting in the book and what was more interesting in the movie.  Ask your child to be a movie critic and critique how the movie portrayed the book (characters, plot, scenes, imagery, etc.).  Make sure to have some popcorn, too!

Dive into a DIY

Find a project for your kids to do and have them follow the step by step instructions online. Pinterest and YouTube are great resources for finding fun project ideas. This allows kids to use a screen but to also create something and learn about how different things are made. You could also have your kids create their own DIY project and publish it online or email a tutorial to a family member.

Photo Hunt

Plan an outdoor photo scavenger hunt! Make a list of all planets, rocks, bugs etc. that you want your kids to find and ask them to photograph each item they find with a camera, iPod, smartphone or tablet. Afterwards you could use the photos to create a photo book together. Great for those end of summer camping trips and vacations!

 

Screen Time with a Purpose

Encourage your kids to dust off those word processing, graphic design and keyboarding skills! Create flyers for a rummage sale or lemonade stand and give proceeds to a favorite charity. Create cards for missionaries or soldiers. Volunteer to help a senior citizen with computer skills.  Create a photo book of summer vacation photos for the family to enjoy.

Summer Safety Tips

Posted on: June 14th, 2017

Summer Safety Tips

This is part of a series of posts providing practical information for parents and families while highlighting the talents and expertise that we have within our school community.  Here one of our parents in law enforcement shares some tips for keeping your family safe in large crowds.

1. Encourage your children to memorize your home address and phone numbers for parents. Make a game of it!

2. When your family goes to Summerfest, Six Flags, a local church festival or any other crowded venue, take a minute and snap a photo of your kids after you park your vehicle.  If your child goes missing, you have a photo of what they’re wearing and don’t need to struggle to try to remember their outfit at a time when you are already panicked.

3. Have a “reunion plan” in place for crowded venues, i.e. “if we get separated we will meet up at the Spinning Teacups.” (This is more appropriate for older children.) Make sure your younger children understand what staff members wear and know to ask them for help if they get lost.  Depending on your child’s age, it may be prudent to have a reunion site in and outside of the venue.

4) Remind your children that adults shouldn’t try to get them to go places away from their parents and that if someone does try to get them to “see a puppy”, “get some candy”, etc. that they should immediately tell an adult with kids, an employee, a police officer, etc.

Stay safe, and have a great summer!

 

To learn more about Brookfield Christian School, contact us today at admissions@brookfieldchristian.org.

Improving Your Everyday Photography

Posted on: June 2nd, 2017

This is part of a series of posts providing practical information for parents and families while highlighting the many talents and expertise that we have in our BCS school community.  Here one of our talented parents shares some tips and tricks everyone can use to improve their everyday photography.  Read on, and put these to use capturing your family this summer (maybe wearing BCS spirit wear….)!

The end of the school year is fast approaching which means one of the best times of year – summer vacation! This time of year also means more time outside enjoying the beautiful weather and celebrations with family and friends. If you are anything like me, you can never have enough pictures of your children. They grow and change so fast and it is fun to document them at the stage they are in. However, having professional pictures taken on a semi-regular basis to keep up with tracking these changes can certainly get expensive.  So here are some quick and easy tips you can use to improve your photography, whether you are using an expensive DSLR or your iPhone!

1) Consider Your Background
When you prepare to take a picture, I am sure you are focusing mostly on your subject. This makes complete sense. However, right before you snap the picture, take a quick minute and look at what is behind your subject(s). Clutter can be a very distracting element to a picture. You want to try to keep your main focus on the subject, not the background. Are there any small changes you can make to your background to make it more visually appealing? Is there a pile of clothes you can move to the side? A stash of toys you can shove behind the couch quickly? You want your background to distract as little as possible from your main subject and sometimes simple changes can really help take your picture from blah to great in a very short period of time. You may even be able to change your position or angle just slightly to remove a distracting object from your photograph.

Bedrooms can be tricky as there is a lot of stuff that can get in the way of the picture and be a distraction. Just keep moving around (or move stuff out of the way) to make sure the background is visually appealing in your photo.

2) Get Closer
One easy way to remove distracting or unappealing objects from your photo and bring the focus to your subject is by getting closer and filling your frame with your subject. When you are ready to snap your photo, take a few more steps closer to your subject. Yep, even closer. Try to fill your frame with your subject, not the background.  This may take a little getting use to but I promise you will like some of the resulting pictures. Yes you may cut off or remove some parts of your subject from the picture but you will create a much more intimate picture.

Moving in closer to your subject allows you to focus on the details as well. Not every picture you take of you children has to be standing and smiling at your camera (not like this is even possible most of the time). Instead, try to think outside of the box and focus on some of the other details that are equally important to capture. Think about ways to get creative with the shot you are taking and the story you are trying to tell.

3. Watch the Light
Good lighting can really make or break a picture. While this can get pretty technical, a few basic things you can learn about lighting that will dramatically improve your pictures.  Summer time is of course a great time to get outside to take pictures of your kids. However, with the longer days and warm weather comes bright sun and harsh shadows. These two factors do not make for the best pictures. In fact, overcast days are ideal for shooting outside pictures because colors stay true and your subjects won’t be squinting instead of smiling.  Many photographers like to photograph during what is called the “golden hours” – the hours right after sunrise in the morning and right before sunset in the early evening because this time of day nicely lights your subjects and creates a warm natural glow. However, as a parent, I know very well that taking pictures during this limited window of time is very hard with kids. So what can you do if you want to take pictures in the middle of the day? The key is looking for open shade. Basically you want your subject out of the bright sun in a shady (but not too shady) area facing towards the light. This will help give you nice even skin tones and a better overall result.

For these pictures I waited until the sun was setting (maybe around 7 pm) so the colors were nice and even and there were no harsh shadows falling on their faces.

Now let’s talk for a minute about taking pictures inside. When taking pictures indoors, as tempting as it is to use your flash, I would first try to find the most natural light you can from your window source. Spend some time watching where and when the sun comes into your home for a few days and figure out the best spots to use for natural light. Open up your blinds and curtains. I like to position my subject facing the window (such as near a window or an open door) at a 45 degree angle while I stand in the doorway or as close to the window as possible to actually take the picture. By positioning your subject towards the light source, you will also get a nice little sparkle (also called a catchlight) in their eye which really helps make your picture feel alive and bright.

This picture was taken in the dead of winter in our dining room. I simply positioned my son facing the window and stood with my back facing the window to make sure there was that sparkle in his eyes. If you aren’t sure whether you are getting good light, just keep moving your subject around until you see that nice little sparkle in their eyes.

4) Compose Your Picture
There is a concept in photography called the Rule of Thirds. This is a timeless technique that will help take your pictures from boring snapshots to wow photographs. Here is how it works. Think of placing a tic-tac-tow grid over your picture. You want the most interesting part of your picture to fall on one of the lines on the tic-tac-toe grid. When taking portraits, the eyes usually are the part you are aiming to place at one of the interesting lines. This is not a hard and fast rule and can certainly be broken. It is just something to consider when composing your picture. 

5) Do Some Basic Editing

You don’t have to have fancy editing software to improve your photographs with editing. Many iPhones comes with basic editing features right in the camera. You can even add filters for more artistic looks. Play around with a few and see which one speaks to you.  You can also add light, color, contrast and saturation pretty simply to your photographs that will help make them look a tad more professional. Just play around with the little levers until you get your picture to a place you like. Also, check out picmonkey.com for a free and easy editing software program that allows you to quickly and easy doctor your photos.  

I snapped this picture on my iPhone and with a few small tweaks – tightening the crop to remove the shadow in the bottom left, adding some light to brighten everything up, and saturating the colors a tad the edited picture is much better than the original and it only took me a minute!

6) Improving Group Photos
We’ve all been there. You are celebrating at that special family reunion or bridal show and you attempt a group picture to capture the special day. Afterwards, you check out the photo and realize there is not one picture with everyone’s eyes open! Here is an easy trick when taking a group shot. If you are acting as the photographer, tell everyone to close their eyes. Tell them you are going to count to three and then they need to open their eyes and smile.  As they open their eyes on the count of three, start snapping pictures. Those first few are bound to contain a few good shots!

7) Don’t Pose Your Kids
I know we all love the pictures of our kids standing and smiling perfectly at the camera, right? But let’s be honest, they are hard to come by.  Try experimenting with “non-posed” pictures. Those pictures of your kids playing and exploring; taking a bath; building with Legos; having breakfast; snuggling watching a movie. Take pictures of things other than their smiling faces. They help tell your story and share more about your son or daughter than any posed picture ever will.

And while you are quietly documenting these moments, softly whisper their name. When they look up from whatever they are doing, snap the picture. They may even smile when they hear their name. Or say something funny when you call their name. These are the moments you will get the genuine expressions we are all looking for.

With older children, I also like to play the “no smile” game. This works with most kids over the age of 4. Make it a game for them NOT to smile. Play it up as best you can — “don’t smile. Oh no, I see you smiling.” They will generally start laughing (and smiling) and a nice, genuine smile is almost always the results. They just can’t help themselves.

There you have it, a few quick and easy tweaks you can make to instantly improve your photography. If you are looking for a great resource to improve your photography even further, I highly recommend the book Mamarazzi: Every Mom’s Guide to Photographing Kids by Stacey Wasmuth.

 

Thanks to Kara Hilburger Photography for these great tips!  To learn more about how you can join the Brookfield Christian School community, contact us today at admissions@brookfieldchristian.org.

The BCS Buddy Bench

Posted on: March 27th, 2017

Earlier this year, our first graders were having a discussion about living out our Christian faith, and a “Buddy Bench” was an idea that they really got passionate about. The idea is that students who don’t have anyone to play with, who are having a bad day or maybe who aren’t getting along with their normal friends can go sit on the Buddy Bench. Other kids on the playground would keep an eye on the bench, and would hopefully go over to invite kids sitting there to play.  A school family generously donated a bench to be used, and it’s ready to go on the playground!

The first graders prepared a script and then went to the other elementary classes to explain the concept and get others on board with the Buddy Bench.  (Our K-5th grade students have recess together.) They even visited the Middle School classes to talk about it!  If you’d like to learn more about Buddy Benches, check out this site. This slide show is a great resource that goes over some of the expectations for the kids sitting on the bench.  We’re excited to see how kids respond to the BCS Buddy Bench!

 

To learn more about Brookfield Christian School, or to schedule a time to visit, contact us today!

 

Open Doors

Posted on: March 25th, 2017

Except on rare occasions like when I’m on the phone or having a meeting, my door is usually open.  Part of it is due to the fact that I’m a busybody who likes to move around and get up and down and out of the office and feel connected to the students and the activity of the school day.  Another reason is that I want to be approachable and have people feel welcome to pop in and talk with me.  And then there’s the recognition that God uses open doors (or opens closed doors) to accomplish his plan.

As a school, we strive to carry out our mission every day, but we also believe in strategically planning for the future to ensure the vision of BCS continues for years to come.  Dreams are realized, decisions are made, and plans are put into place.  At the end of the day, though, it takes people to make it happen.

There are some occasions where I wonder, based on the demands and skill requirements of the project, how those plans will be brought to fruition.  Yet I continue to be amazed at how God provides the right people at the right time.  And they often walk through my open door.

For instance, a few years ago we made the decision to use a new student information system.  A couple months after the decision was made, a parent volunteer walked through my door and shared that her expertise was in the area of software training and deployment.  She offered her skills to help us transfer our data, learn the system, and train our faculty and staff on how to use the system.  Thanks to her, we had a smooth, successful transition.  She continues to serve as a resource for us, tirelessly researching answers to questions and keeping us informed of the best way to use our system.

Similarly, two years ago, after we went through the reaccreditation process and evaluated ourselves as a school, we determined that we wanted to improve our professional collaboration as a faculty.  The next fall, a member of the broader school community walked into my office and told me that she had experience in leading staff development and asked if she could be of service to us.  Her work has enhanced teacher collaboration and collegial conversations at BCS.

Other times, I am made aware of possible opportunities for our students but need funding and/or a parent volunteer to make it happen.  One of the most requested programs I am asked about is Lego robotics.  Last spring, I had an acquaintance inform me that he could help us launch a team at BCS if I could find someone to head it.  I thanked him for the offer but placed the idea on the back burner due to the busyness of the year and not knowing what it would take to find a volunteer leader.  I totally forgot about it until a week or two ago when, after a committee meeting, a parent came up to me and asked about the possibility of starting a Lego club at BCS.  I told him I could get the funding, but I needed a coach for the club.  He responded, “Well, I’m saying that I would be that person.”

These are just a few examples of the many ways that God has blessed BCS and me, personally, and there are many more stories like them.  We dream big at BCS, seeking God’s will for our school.  Moving forward in faith, sometimes the path is abundantly clear and other times it truly seems like a leap of faith.  Yet God always provides, using open doors to reveal his perfect plan and impeccable timing.

Want to learn more about Brookfield Christian School?  Contact us for more information or to schedule a time to visit. 

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