Mintz Christian Academy had its first day of school back in 2009 with just 28 students. Now, just four short years later, enrollment is up to 70 students and the school is desperately in need of more space. To accommodate its growing number of students and staff, the school is constructing of a new facility, a project everyone at the school is excited about.
At its start, Mintz Christian Academy only offered kindergarten through fifth grade, but as each year has passed, they have added one, if not two, new grades per year. “Next year, we are planning to add a pre-k class and 10th grade,” shared Joy McDowell, principal of the school. “Our first graduating class should be the class of 2016.”
With enrollment steadily rising and the addition of new grades every year, the school has quickly outgrown its current space in the church. “It was a nice place to start,” said McDowell as she walked down the hall, pointing out the small Sunday School rooms in the church that are used as school classrooms during the week. “We’ve maxed out our space here though.”
Begun last September, construction of the new school building is expected to be completed some time in late May.
“The church started to study the idea of having a Christian school back about five years ago,” explained Dr. John McBride, pastor of Mintz Baptist Church. “We had about 55 acres of land that we were wondering what to do with. What did God want us to do with it? We decided to start a Christian school. The concrete commitment came about three years ago along with a lot of changes and revisions to the plans, but now it looks like we’re on target.”
According to McBride and McDowell, the new facility will be comprised of a lobby, an office complex for staff, an east wing for elementary school classes, a west wing for middle and high school classes, a computer lab, a science lab, a regulation gymnasium with stage, a kitchen and cafeteria, and an upstairs mezzanine.
“There are 15 classrooms downstairs, and upstairs there is room available for growth,” noted McBride. “In total, the building is 30,000 square feet and our investment is around $2.5 million dollars.”
Everyone at the school is eagerly anticipating the move to the new, spacious school building, especially the teachers.
“I’m looking forward to everything. Right now, my desk is a cart and my books are on there, so one of the things I’m looking forward to is having a desk and decorating my own space. Being able to be more interactive and just move around more will be nice too,” shared Jennifer Oliver, middle school language arts, history, and music teacher. “My family actually said that we will help paint the classrooms. We’re that excited to get in there.”
Winnie White, who teaches computer classes and third and fourth grade language arts and math classes, is especially excited about the new computer lab and new electives. “I’m going to be teaching more computer classes next year, especially since we are adding the 10th grade. Next year, we are also going to offer keyboarding (piano) classes and a flute choir which I can teach. We just haven’t had the space to do it before.”
According to McDowell, other new electives that will be offered next year include yearbook, worship team, art, public speaking, and journalism/school newspaper.
The new space will also come in handy for the many dramas that the school and church regularly present. “We will have that whole new gym space to dance and do lifts in,” said Oliver, mentioning that the drama they are currently working on,’Fiddler on the Roof,’ will be presented in May. “It’s exciting to think about all that we will be able to do with that kind of space.”
In addition to more space, the new school building will also boast more security. “It was designed with security in mind. We studied up on that quite a bit. We also met with the Sheriff’s Department and got their advice ,” shared McBride. “There is a camera system and alarm system. In order to get into the lobby, people will have to be buzzed in. Once inside, people can only go as far as the lobby. The wings where the classrooms are located have doors that lock electronically, so once classes start, the kids are basically locked in.”
“The students can move easily within the wings,” added McDowell, “but people can’t just walk in there with them. It gives us a sense of security for our students.”
While the new facility will naturally bring many new and positive changes, certain aspects of the school, important ones that McBride and McDowell say have drawn many people in, will not change.
“Our small classrooms have always been a draw,” said McDowell, “However, our small class sizes were partly out of necessity because we’re using these small Sunday School rooms. In the new facility, we’re looking forward to having more space, larger classrooms.”
However, although the rooms will be bigger, the class size will not change drastically. “We have an average of 10 students in each class. We maintain a one to 10 teacher student ratio right now.”
“We don’t really want that to change much,” stressed McBride. “We want to stay at about a one to fifteen teacher student ratio. That’s a priority for us.”
“With small classes, there is a lot more teacher and student one on one interaction and teaching. There’s much more growth,” McDowell explained. “Our small classes is one of the reasons some families decide to send their children here. They (the children) need that additional instruction in order to build up areas that haven’t been mastered yet.”
The advantages of Mintz Christian Academy’s small classes do not end with education. “We want to address the whole student, not just the academic part. Having small classes creates a closer bond, a closer connection between students and teachers,” said McDowell, explaining that a teacher at Mintz Christian Academy is not only a teacher but can also be a prayer partner and an encourager. “It’s relationship building.”
“I love the small environment because it’s like they (the students) are all brother and sister, and they all feel like my children,” said Oliver, who has four children attending Mintz Christian Academy. “Often, I get to teach them more than once. Some of the kids in my class right now I have had for three years, and next year I have to give them up to high school. It’s bittersweet.”
“Sharing God’s Word with them in everything we do is also such a privilege,” Oliver added.
The commitment to Christian education is another aspect of the school that will remain as firm as ever.”One of the main things about the new facility is the visibility it will have,” attested McBride. “It will give a clear statement from the church to the community that we have made a commitment, we are here to stay, and we have made an investment.”
“We want our students to be able to go out and apply what they have learned here to their Christian walk,” added McDowell, explaining that there are three parties involved in shaping a child’s life. “There’s family, church, and school. We feel we are a part of preparing that individual to walk with the Lord.”
“It’s what we’ve been praying for from the beginning,” Oliver said. “I mean, it’s really happening. Even though you believe, there is still a side of you that is a little shocked when you see Him doing what you have prayed for and asked Him to do.”
“We’re out in the country,” noted McDowell, calling the school an offering to the whole community. “It’s been so exciting to see what God can do in the middle of nowhere.”
Mintz Christian Academy currently has open enrollment and appilcations can be found online on their website at www.mcanc.com.
Visit Mintz Christian Academy’s website and Facebook page for school information, news, and pictures.
Mintz Christian Academy is located 3761 Old Mintz Hwy. in Roseboro.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.