ROCKINGHAM — Sticking with the basics is tactic employed in the curriculum at Temple Christian School — a mainstay among the county’s alternatives to free, public education.
The school is operated by Temple Baptist Church at 165 Airport Road and was founded in 1972, according to Joey Byrd, church pastor and school administrator.
“We’ve got a curriculum that works so well,” Byrd said. “Our children take standardized tests, and they do very well. We focus on teaching kids to read and do math. We believe in phonics. We believe in cursive writing. Every kid needs to know these basic things.”
Byrd said that as public schools have undergone frequent changes in curriculum standards, Temple Christian School has stuck with what is most effective for its students.
“They did the phonetics, and dropped the phonetics,” he said. “Then they picked them back up again. The same has happened with cursive, with math and science. We teach the same things, but our curriculum has been consistent. We believe it’s been best for our kids.”
The school’s ACT scores, shown to the Daily Journal in the form of a comparative graph without revealing any student names or individual performance scores, were significantly higher than those of local public schools and well above the national average in all subjects.
Students at the private, Baptist school also receive additional education in the form of Bible study.
“We don’t make any apology that our curriculum is Christian-based,” Byrd said. “We don’t use the Bible as a text book, but we believe that it speaks authoritatively in certain matters and our students study its teachings. The only successful society is a disciplined society. When you incorporate these principles, you begin to have a product that is beneficial for society.”
He said that while the curriculum is best described as college preparatory, the school also accommodates students who have no plans to enter college.
“We certainly encourage them to go,” Byrd added. “And again, we teach all of the same subjects as public schools — just with a different philosophy. We don’t have a lot of fluff and we know the limits of what we can and can’t reasonably accomplish given our resources. Our staff is stretched.
“But we believe a child is not just a physical being,” he explained. “We believe a child has a spiritual aspect that needs to be ministered to. We partner with our parents to give their children a Christian education. Bible (study) is required for all students.”
Byrd believes there is an important distinction between an education and a Christian education.
“I think a Christian education is the only education that can sit down and tell a parent, ‘It’s okay for your child to be average,” he said. “God made all of us. Some are intellectually gifted, but some may be mechanically gifted. Average is not a bad thing to be, but (in other schools) telling a parent a child is average is like telling them they don’t have what it takes to make it in the world. There’s just so much in Christian education that speaks to authentic education. I think education is about truth.”
The school offers classes for K3 — kindergarten for three-, four- and five-year-olds — through 12th grade, and while it lacks some of the “extras” public schools enjoy, such as art and music education, it does have a sports program. There is also after school day care until 5:30 p.m.
“It costs approximately $3,000 per year with books, registration and tuition,” Byrd said. “We use Abeka and Bob Jones University curricula.”
This year, the school opens with “approximately 115 students” and 14 teaching staff.
Open house is Thursday at 7 p.m., and the first day of school is Friday. For more information, call 910-997-3179.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.