Kindergarten Success: Weston’s Home at Providence Christian
Rooted in the belief that church and school work in tandem to reinforce the teachings occurring at home, six-year-old Weston’s parents desired a Christian education for their son. They wanted him to attend Providence Christian School (PCS) where his older sister, Savanna, attended alongside other Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Kalamazoo (MI) families and community members.
The church and school knew Weston belonged at PCS; however, they were uncertain about how to support his needs and create opportunities for him to share his gifts. Due to Providence Christian School’s willingness, a community committed to Weston’s inclusion, and the support of All Belong donors, Weston is finishing his kindergarten year at Providence Christian this spring!
“Weston has drastically improved this school year, not only academically, but also socially,” said his mom, Bridget.
“He is not afraid to chat with anyone despite his speech delays.” Melissa DeJong, educational support services teacher, affirmed his holistic growth, including his curiosity about faith. In reviewing Bible stories with Weston throughout the school year, Melissa noticed that he increasingly became more interested in the stories. He is curious and inquires, “Is this person a good guy or a bad guy? Do they love God or Satan?”.
His kindergarten peers have embraced Weston, and he connects well with the other boys in his class. Weston’s classmates find him quite humorous, as he has a knack for acting. Bridget shared, “[His classmates] help him open his juice box and remind him when he forgets things, but they also aren’t afraid to tell him to wait his turn! At a Christmas program this year, two of his friends were assigned to make sure he stayed on the stage. He calmly obeyed them every time they pulled him back into line.”
“This class has very few arguments, and they all seem to take care of Weston and of each other,” reflected Joan Blok, his kindergarten teacher.
“They don’t treat Weston as special, but they don’t ignore him either. They accept their classroom situation as normal. We feel that this [atmosphere] is partly a result of our open discussions about unique needs in the classroom and the treatment of each child as an individual with special talents and needs.”
Weston enhances the classroom and school with a unique joy, encouraging staff and students to receive the gift of each day.
His infectious smile, positive nature, and love for reading—especially books about animals or bugs—makes the classroom a “happy place”, said Joan.
Weston’s presence at Providence Christian continuously reminds Joan that Christian education is about more than mastering curriculum. Rather, Weston has helped affirm Genesis 1:31 to staff and classmates: that each person is made in God’s image and that God’s image is very good.
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Katie Barkley is the director of marketing and communications at All Belong.