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Woodlands Christian Academy celebrates new accreditation, 25th anniversary

August 30, 2018

The school year may have just started, but one local school has already received its first report card. It’s one that they’ve worked hard for, too.

The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which is a board that examines the transparency, fundraising and gift stewardship of Christ-centered organizations, announced last week the accreditation of The Woodlands Christian Academy.

It’s been a journey for the school to get to this point. When Head of School Julie Ambler stepped in over 12 years ago, she said things were less than perfect financially.

“We were so broke, we weren’t sure we were going to have enough money to finish the 2006 school year,” Ambler said.

So, the school rallied to make tough decisions and, has been “in the black” financially ever since.

“We’ve never missed payroll, never missed debt services and we’ve worked hard to be transparent and utilize best practices to be good stewards of our money,” Ambler said.

Those practices included actions such as restructuring the school’s board policy as well as ensuring that tuition and fees cover all of the school’s operating expenses, Ambler said.

Ambler said they were accepted the first time they applied for the accreditation, which is unusual.

To add to the excitement over the accreditation, the school is also celebrating their 25th year of operation.

Ambler said when the founders started the school, they had prayed to open with 75 students. The original founders opened the school with double the number of students of their original goal, and have grown the student body incrementally each year, with enrollment at more than 650 students this fall.

“We are completely full on campus right now. We’ve managed to fill every office, classroom, closet: everything,” Ambler said.

And they’re not done growing, either. Their dream is to expand to a student body of about 950.

To do that, they’re in the process of constructing a new high school building on their 40-acre campus. The three-story building is expected to have classrooms, science labs, a large lecture hall and performance space in addition to conference rooms and student gathering areas.

Ambler said officials hope to complete the building by the spring to give this year’s senior class a few weeks to enjoy it before they graduate, but the new school addition will officially open for the 2019-20 school year.

The expansion doesn’t mean the school will automatically increase the student body population next year. Ambler said they don’t want to grow too fast and risk losing the unique culture at the academy.

“A key part of our culture is the relationships we build with each other and our students,” Ambler said.

Over the school’s quarter of a century, they’ve had the same mission statement. Ambler described that mission statement simply: officials are focused on building warriors for Christ, both spiritually, academically, physically and socially.

However, while the school’s mission statement has remained a constant, not everything has stayed the same at the school. Ambler said the teaching style has evolved so that the students take more ownership over their education.

One of the ways this happens is that the academy is an Apple Distinguished school, meaning that they use technology to create a blended digital learning environment in all grades, pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade.

To put that into perspective, Ambler said, there are only about 400 of those designated schools worldwide.

“Every one of our students has at least one device, whether it’s an iPad or an actual computer, that’s integrated into what they do in the classroom,” Ambler said. “A lot of what they do now is discover answers for themselves.”

jane.stueckemann@chron.com

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