Suffolk school moves to one location

Published 9:38 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A relatively small but ever-expanding Suffolk school will go into the coming school year at one convenient location.

Suffolk Christian Academy moved its Lower School classes from its campus at Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church on Godwin Boulevard to the Upper School campus at Southside Baptist Church on Carolina Road.

The move was made to improve school logistics, quality of life for parents and faculty and awareness for what headmaster Tamra VanDorn described as the “invisible school.”

Email newsletter signup

“We’ve been called the best kept secret in Suffolk, but we don’t want to be a secret anymore,” VanDorn said. “We’re really hoping it brings more vision to the school.”

SCA enrollment swelled from 173 students in the 2013 to 2014 school year to 214 last year. VanDorn said that having all students on one campus will be more convenient for parents, especially those that have children enrolled in both the Lower and Upper schools.

It will also be an improvement for teachers that were forced to drive between the two campuses to teach different grade levels. It will also solve the issue of having to duplicate roles that kept both campuses supplied and running.

“It’s going to be a lot of streamlining of the jobs we were having to duplicate because of the two campuses,” VanDorn said.

After the SCA board of directors approved the plan to consolidate the school at Southside Baptist, the church voted in approval of a 5-year contract with the school with the option to renew.

The plan ended up costing about $65,000, VanDorn said, some of which was shared with the church. The cost covered improvements to the building to better serve the school’s growing population.

“It’s all about foundations and structures and putting in place departments and capable support that are able to handle more,” VanDorn said.

Furniture, textbooks and classroom supplies were moved from Westminster to Southside Baptist on June 8 with the help of Two Men and a Truck movers and staff dressed in T-shirts labeled with “SCA on the Move” designs.

“It’s generated a lot of excitement,” VanDorn said.

Even more exciting for the school has been a growth in teacher qualifications. The percentage of administration and faculty with master’s degrees at the school has increased from 13 percent in the 2012 to 2013 school year to 29 percent last year.

“We want to instill in our student that they’re lifelong learners, and we have faculty that continue to learn and inspire our students,” VanDorn said.

Growth and school culture drew the attention of residents like Donna and Joseph Brown. They met with VanDorn on Monday to discuss enrolling their 13-year-old daughter, Melissa, in the sixth grade this fall.

“That’s what I want for my daughter’s future,” Donna Brown said. “I want her to be around those scenarios and situations. I want her to have a good foundation to go out in the world.”

VanDorn said she was looking forward to having everyone on the same campus for morning pledge of allegiance and prayer when classes start on Aug. 23.

“We get to do that with all of our staff and all of our students, and all at one time,” she said. “That’s going to be a powerful time.”