Adventist school has new teacher, programs
GETTING READY: Carrie Ferguson, new teacher at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, examines some of the computers in her classroom as she prepares for the coming school year.
The Seventh Day Adventist school in Goldendale has a new teacher and room for new students.
Carrie Ferguson joined the school a month ago. Asked what brought her to Goldendale, she responds, “God.”
“I like to be where He wants me to be,” she adds, “and I had been teaching in Montana for four years at a mission school.”
That school, on an Indian reservation, discontinued operations, and Ferguson went next to Seattle, where she spent the last three years substitute teaching before arriving here. Ferguson says in Seattle she learned she could teach high school and even adult education, although here her grades will be kindergarten through eighth.
The school, which offers enrollment to all students, plans to provide a broad curriculum this year. “We will be planning a program that is very diverse,” Ferguson says, “everything from agriculture to computers to music. We will be having special programs and special things throughout the year. There will be a Christmas program, and we are going to be having the harvest party and a Thanksgiving banquet to start things out. There will be different programs going on that will invite community members, too.”
Gary Garvin is the school board chairman, and he states that the Adventist school has a lot of advantages over public education. “In the public schools, for teachers it’s become so specialized,” he says. “You specialize in a grade, and then in that grade you specialize in that subject. Here Carrie gets to do it all. I like it because in a small school you’re so flexible. I taught one year in a school where there was probably eight or 10 classrooms and everything was run by the bell, so you were right in the middle of an important topic and the bell would ring, and it’s time to go to P.E ., then time to go to band. Here, Carrie has the luxury of being able to kind of adjust her schedule as the subject matter and the interest indicates.”
Since all the grades are in the same learning space, Garvin maintains that too provides advantages. “Let’s say you have couple of second graders and a third and fourth grader, and then you have seventh and maybe a ninth grader in here, and while she’s teaching the eighth grade the algorisms in math, here are the second and fourth graders sitting there listening—‘Mm, that’s how that works.’ They’re getting a preview. I think one of the really big strengths of this situation is that you have peer tutoring.”
Another key difference with the school is its constructivist approach to learning, often called project-based learning, something rarely done in public education with its emphasis on standards-based education. Ferguson says she likes teaching with projects because it affords broad opportunities for learning a variety of subjects.
“We would do a cooking project,” she cites as an example, “and then we would write about it, so we were combining things together, combining cooking with writing and reading. Then they are going to read what they wrote. One time I came to school, and there was a cat up on the power line on the transformer, so I called the power company and they came out with their bucket and brought him down. The kids were there by that time, and we used that as a reason to write. We invented a story about how the cat got up there and why, and they illustrated the book with their own drawings, adding a couple of photographs.”
“Adventist education is known for its excellence,” Garvin says. “All of our teachers are fully certified. They go through a four-year program fully certified by the state and by our church organization. We have a worldwide education system with schools in probably 140 or 150 countries. Of course, we have a leg up because when parents are committed enough to come and pay that kind of money. They are really supportive, so we have a wonderful task of teaching kids who are highly motivated because they are motivated at home.”
The Adventist school is open to all students. “It’s not just for Adventists,” Ferguson says, “and worldwide, you would be surprised—there are schools that are 90 percent non-Adventist.”
For more information on the Adventist school, call 773-3120 or visit www.goldendaleschool.org.