fire: a reflection on 2020-2021

[Heroes heading to the future]


Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. (Exodus 3:2)

In our final week of the Outdoor Survival Quest, the heroes learned about fire and how to build one.  To begin the week, we reflected on Moses’ encounter with the burning bush.  The heroes noticed that they can understand things like fire yet recognize that presence of God goes beyond our understanding.  In ways, we’ve understood what’s happened this year.  Yet we’ve encountered God through finances, through recruiting, through hero achievement and through school growth in ways that we can’t fully explain, especially in a year like this one.  And our only response is to testify to God’s goodness and to look expectantly to next year.

Financially, we are thankful to be positioned with the revenue necessary to gracefully traverse the lean summer months into fall.  Coupled with our lean model, fundraising efforts have kept us on solid footing throughout the year as we raised $66,000 for Journey Academy.  There is even more hope as we consider our enrollment.  We ended the year with 23 heroes for 2019-2020.  We are ending the 2020-2021 year with 32 heroes ready to start in August and with 3 more heroes slated to join us in January 2022.  Starting the year, enrollment numbers will be up 40% and by January we will be up to a 50% increase in our heroes.

[Nora displaying the badges she’s earned]

These metrics are important to keep the doors open at Journey.  But what’s happening inside is even more exciting.  This year, the Elementary Studio piloted iReady, an adaptive on-line platform for reading and math.  It gave Miss Cheryl the ability to more deeply personalize learning as she tracked data, offered support and stretch goals, and rewarded heroes with the chance to engage in learning games.  

As we looked at the growth in reading and math in the Elementary Studio, we bless God for the effort the heroes put forth as well as the growth that came from this effort.  Typical Growth is the average annual growth for a student at their grade and baseline placement level.  ES Heroes made 135% Progress to Annual Typical Growth in Math.  This means as a whole, they experienced a year and one third’s growth.  Certainly this doesn’t mean everyone.  This is the studio average with some having even more growth and others having less growth. Importantly, this is a wonderful example of heroes learning at their own pace and we celebrate the progress of each hero!

Even more exciting news awaits in Reading. ES Heroes made 190% Progress to Annual Typical Growth in Reading this past year. This means as a whole, they experienced almost two years growth this year.  Certainly this doesn’t mean everyone.  This is the studio average with some having even more growth and others having less growth. What joy to see our heroes on their journey, taking charge of their learning, and advancing at a pace that is right for them.

[the heroes portfolios show their construction process much like this shelter]

Looking through portfolios offers another glimpse of what God is doing in our midst as our heroes learn.  Here is a clip from an ELS portfolio.  

The step in the hero’s journey that I feel like I am at is:  I’m having some tough times on reading. It may be in the middle of great and terrible.  I’m getting better. Some of the things that I get stuck with is how do you spell this word but sometimes I just say hey I can do this and I get it. So I’m still having a little bit of a hard time and reading and I think I can get better and better as I get older 

These are some of the friends who have walked beside me this year: Elias has been helping me a lot. I like that. Also Jaina helps me with doing reading and I said reading is hard for me, they don’t just tell it to me but they give me clues to figure it out I like that instead of just telling you. Jacob is very pretty good at reading and he knows a lot of words. There’s one more person that’s been good to reading to me. His name is Asa. He’s been very nice to me and he told me some things.

And this ES Portfolio displays a passion for reading. 

The Deep Books I have read this year:

  • One and Only Ivan

  • Love Does for Kids

  • Jim Elliot

  • Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie

  • Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry

  • The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds

  • (And am about halfway through) Do Hard Things

Deep Book Reviews:

  • Slideshow (One and Only Ivan)

  • Letter to the Author (Love Does for Kids)

  • Mobile (Jim Elliot)

  • Diorama (Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie)

  • Venn Diagram (Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry)

  • Newspaper (The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds) 

[after a slow start, growth is sprouting in every corner]

Finances, recruiting and hero achievement are all encouraging.  One other hopeful metric is our expansion from two studios to three studios.  Our growth is leading us to launch our Intermediate Studio and hire Mr. Ian Grell.   He specializes in reading, writing, social studies, drama and is a design thinking consultant. Innovating and disrupting throughout his career, Ian promises to bring fresh creativity to Journey.

Every day we stepped into studio gave me this confirmation that this is the work that I want to be around.  Looking around outside the studio, there was certainly cause for discouragement.  But when you encounter God in the midst like that bush, tell the story.  I look forward to telling more stories this fall.

//Dr. T//

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