Legacy Christian Academy will have three new administrative leaders in place when students go back to school Tuesday, Sept. 4.
Dean Erickson is no longer the school’s president and secondary principal. Steve Larson is the interim president and Jake Mulvihill is the new principal for grades seventh through 12. Diane Lemke resigned from the elementary principal post for grades pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, and Joel Nydam was hired to take her place.
Two out of three of these names are very familiar to the Legacy Christian Academy community.
Mulvihill graduated from this very school in 1998 when it was called Meadow Creek Christian School. After receiving a double major in social studies and Bible study from Northwestern College, he got a job at his alma mater and has taught here for the past 10 years. He completed his master’s degree in theological studies at Northwestern.
Larson is the boys’ hockey coach and is on the school’s advisory committee. He has a master’s degree in education from the University of Miami (Ohio) and has been in education either as a teacher or coach for over 30 years. He taught for over 10 years at Bethel University.
Nydam is a new face at Legacy Christian Academy, but he is familiar with the area. Although he taught at Otter Lake Elementary in the White Bear Lake School District for the past 10 years, he resided in Coon Rapids. Before he went to Northwestern College, he was a student at the now closed Elk River Alliance Academy, which faced off against Meadow Creek Christian School in athletics. Nydam received his education undergraduate degree from Northwestern in 2002, his master’s degree from St. Mary’s University in 2007 and is one class away from completing his master’s degree in administration.
All three had, have or will have kids attend Legacy Christian Academy. Larson’s daughter Kia is entering her junior year in college and has been well prepared because of the education she received at Legacy Christian Academy, Larson said. His son Isaac is a senior at Legacy this year.
Mulvihill’s son Andrew is going to be in kindergarten this year. His son Matthew is almost four years old and his youngest son Timothy is one year old. Nydam has four daughters. Salomae will be in first grade, Briaelle will be in pre-kindergarten, Elliana is two years old and Audrey is almost three months old.
What is in store
There will be an all-day pre-kindergarten program offered on Mondays through Wednesdays, according to Nydam. There was already a five-day program.
One third-grade and one fourth-grade class will be in the same room with two teachers. Nydam said education has become more about teaching to a level of understanding rather than grade specific. Having two teachers makes it easier to meet student’s individual needs. The teachers could both be at the front of the classroom during a lesson or one of them could walk around the classroom to help struggling students.
Seniors have a new requirement this year. They must complete at least 25 hours of service projects.
For the most part, Larson said the three of them have decided to not introduce a lot of new things this school year because there is enough change just by having three new administrators.
“We just really want to get better at some of the things we started last year,” Larson said.
At the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, Legacy Christian Academy adopted a three-house model to identify age appropriate instruction both educationally and spiritually. The three house models are Nurture (pre-K through fourth-grade), Enrich (fifth- through eighth-grade) and Steadfast (ninth- through 12th-grade). Nydam and Mulvihill will thus be working together on educating students in the Enrich phase because these are transition years like middle schools are in the public school system.
Nydam said one idea being explored is for fifth- and sixth-graders to get one-on-one computer training. All Legacy Christian Academy secondary students in seventh- through 12th-grades are loaned laptops that they can bring home to work on projects.
The laptops were purchased at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year thanks to a generous donation, according to former Legacy Christian Academy President Erickson. The school has increased its bandwidth capabilities to handle these machines. While students were at home, they were able to converse about projects through the Moodle online forums set up on each computer. Students have shown how creative they are in the projects they present in class.
Mulvihill said that one student with a medical issue will be logging onto Skype from home to watch teachers give their lessons.
“You can see a whole new level of confidence with (students) because this is who they are,” he said as he pointed to a laptop computer.
A big initiative for the school continues to be to raise money so the school can move to Ramsey. According to Larson, there is still a $6 to $7 million funding gap, but donors have verbally committed to contributing about $1.75 million to lower this amount.
Larson said they are doing everything they can to deliver an excellent education.
“With the computers we’ve taken a lot of great strides, but it’s trying to get better at how can we utilize this technology and to provide kids with the very best education that we can,” he said. “But then integrated with that is we are a Christian school, and we want to help kids grow and firm knowledge and understanding of God’s word and their relationship with Christ.”
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org