At every turn there was another fork in the road during the historic 2020-2021 school year. I finished most days at work this year well aware this could only be done through the grace of God. Yet I’ve never held a stronger conviction and resolve to fight for our youth — to move forward...to press on. I’ve never asked so much of so many. I’ve never been more energized or more committed to a mission...our mission impossible.
Over the course of the past school year, I’ve heard from the critics many times. According to them we shouldn’t have started the year in person...and then we shouldn’t have stayed in person. We shouldn’t have allowed kids to have their masks off at recess or outdoor PE. We shouldn’t have had lunch indoors. We shouldn’t have had music at all. We shouldn’t have played sports. We shouldn’t have had 1,200 people at Homecoming. And this list goes on.
The focus from our detractors, mostly from the outside and just a few from within, has been on what we shouldn’t have done all year long. I’d like to take some time in this article to report on what we did...with success, with responsible planning, and with God as our helper and guide.
Jesus looked at them and said,"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26
I’ve been told on many occasions that we were the only large PreK-12 school in Chicagoland that was fully in person (no hybrid) for the entire school year. This put us in the public eye throughout the year, including multiple spots on WGN-TV. We assisted other schools, locally and nationwide, in opening their doors for in-person learning with our highly-acclaimed health and education plans. Here’s a portion of a quote from one of the leaders at a Christian school on the East Coast: “Your insight helped two schools to open in-person and on time this year.” And we have plenty of other stories like this.
We set a 111-year-old record for our highest enrollment ever, and we have already surpassed that number for the 2021-2022 school year with over 300 students in a waitpool (at the time of this writing). We are nearly finished with Project IMPACT Phase 3 — a significant (and overdue) renovation of our high school, thus investing another $10MM into our campus. Moreover, we acquired almost another acre of real estate contiguous to our property, thus increasing our footprint in Elmhurst for future growth. We are approaching the galaxy of $50MM in fundraising since 2010. We saw record achievements in our athletic programs, extraordinary productions in our performing arts programs, and our award-winning program of education was on full display throughout the year...all in the midst of a global pandemic.
All of our staff stepped up this year for our children unlike ever before in our history. On three different occasions starting in the spring of 2020, our classroom teachers were given viable options for the 2020-2021 school year ranging from joining Timothy by teaching in-person to leaving Timothy with a letter of recommendation and a lump sum of $5,000. There were also other options in between. Well guess what...100% of our classroom teachers marched into work. They took risks, adapted to new surroundings, and even sustained morale throughout the year. They collaborated, covered for each other, and even participated in professional development and growth opportunities. It was an extremely difficult year for my team. This year was hard. Even so, deep down inside remained a level of enthusiasm fostered by the joy of the Lord. My entire team sacrificed, worked overtime, and together we achieved our mission impossible — all for the glory of God. Our motivation? Kids.
The students of Timothy Christian Schools were an inspiration to us all this year. Their strength and resilience shifted their role from pupil to teacher at times this year. We all learned from them. They overcame obstacles and stayed united through a volatile year. They handled the pandemic with a selfless mindset. Nearly 450 Timothy students were in quarantine as close contacts at some point during the school year and only 8 ever reported symptoms. (And several of them reported exposure on a club sports team as well.)
In other words, over 98% of close contacts by definition never got sick. One hundred percent of all of our positive Covid cases fully recovered quickly. Timothy students and staff collectively visited our campus over 200,000 times this school year, and yet we only had 113 positive Covid cases among over 1,300 staff and students. At the time of this writing, the Covid survival rate for ages 19 and under for all of DuPage County is 100%...and 99.998% for the entire state of Illinois ages 20 and under. Our older students in particular know this data...it’s easy to find. And yet they allowed for extraordinary disruptions in their lives, they put their dreams on hold, and they patiently cooperated with our protocols and health plan to protect the elderly and those at-risk with other health conditions. Now that anyone eligible in our area seeking the vaccine has had that opportunity, Timothy plans to return to a semblance of normalcy in the fall —for our kids. This is the desire of the overwhelming majority of our staff, families, and our students. Although the critics and second-guessers will be back, this is our next mission.
So many others contributed to the success of the historic 2020-2021 school year. Our school board, parents, grandparents, alumni, donors, and several others “off the record” and behind the scenes — even politicians and other leaders. I wish I could share every story, but it would take up an entire book and so much of it I simply can never tell. Just know that God has used His people to help Timothy all year long. And let’s always be people of courage. For we serve an Almighty and Everlasting God. He proves Himself strong in our weakness. Ultimately He is the One to whom we give all glory and honor and praise. He has never failed...He has never been stopped...and nothing is impossible for Him.
Press on, Timothy.