Partnering Together: Discipleship and Expectations

I trust you had a wonderful Christmas in celebration of our Lord’s birth! My family and I were able to get away to visit family and to unwind after a busy seven months of transition to our new home and ministry at Westminster. My wife and I have been warmly received and have already grown to love the Westminster community.

On a personal note, my youngest daughter became engaged over the holidays to a wonderful, godly man. We are looking forward to (and saving for!) a second wedding in a year!

Over the last six months, I have focused on learning as much about Westminster Christian Academy as possible and on building relationships with students, parents, staff, area pastors, and schools. It has been wonderful to meet so many of our students and parents at picnics, athletic events, fine arts performances, during morning drop-off, and elsewhere. Thank you for extending such a warm welcome to me and my wife Beverly.

I can say without qualification that your children are blessed with wonderful teachers! I have been visiting classrooms on a weekly basis and have been extremely impressed with the godly character, competence, and commitment of our teachers and staff. They are a blessing!


Over the last five to six months, I have sought to focus on what I call “First Things”—the spiritual development of our students, unity and community within the school, and relationship building. Along these lines, we developed the theme for the year, The Fruit of the Spirit, placed flags throughout the campus on July 4 and Veterans Day to visually show our support, and have developed and are working to implement the We CARE program, which is designed to foster healthy dialog between individuals and within the Westminster community on sensitive and often controversial topics.

In addition to the above:

  • We have refined the hiring process for more in-depth vetting of potential hires and consistency across all departments in hiring. The new process now includes a final interview with the Head of School and extensive social media vetting.
  • We are recruiting for a new Athletic Director and Head of Academic Development. We have produced a great athletic video, which you can view here.
  • We are hiring a Director of Security.
  • I am currently reviewing our organizational structure to identify ways to streamline communications, improve cross-department coordination, enhance student support and school culture, and facilitate our school and home partnership. We have engaged the services of an outside consultant to assist me with this process.
  • The review of the Problem Based Instructional (PBI) math program is also underway. This will be a thorough and careful process, which will include an independent outside expert to assist us in the review. We will also be soliciting parent input as we move forward in this review.
  • Our short-term International Exchange Student Program begins this month.
Read more

Every year, Westminster’s Global Education Department facilitates annual short-term student exchange programs to provide Westminster students with an opportunity to interact with international students from various countries in their classrooms and to host them at home for a language immersion experience. These international student visitors come from our global partner schools in Spain, France, and South Korea. We host 20-25 Korean students for four weeks in January, 10-15 French students for two weeks in April, and 10-15 Spanish students for two weeks in October. Over 60 Westminster families have participated in this program and hosted nearly 200 students from different countries over the last five years.

The exchange student program provides a unique opportunity for our Westminster students to develop transformative relationships on campus with young people from countries throughout the world. Our students experience cross-cultural learning and growth experiences with other students from different languages, cultures, and backgrounds, which reflects the full image of the Kingdom of God.


One of our top priorities is to partner with you in the spiritual, social, and academic growth of your children, our students. One way we can work together is to reinforce what we are covering in our Chapel program over the next several weeks. Listed below are the themes for upcoming chapels. Remember, you can watch a livestream of our Chapel services here.

January 17 Theme: Fruit of the Spirit – Kindness – Using Our Words and Social Media

During this chapel, we will focus on our language and how we use social media. Both our words and our social media use can be used for good or bad.

From what I have observed and experienced, the vast majority of our students are well-behaved and well-spoken. We are blessed to have wonderful students and families.

Unfortunately, I have heard reports of some students using inappropriate language and profanity. We also know that some students (and some adults) use social media to tear down rather than to build up.

We recognize that we are sinners who live in a culture filled with temptations that sometimes lead our young people to do or say the wrong things. But, such language or inappropriate social media use is unacceptable in any context, especially so within the Westminster Christian community.

With heartfelt commitment to work with you in cultivating the Christian minds and hearts of our students, I invite and encourage you to work with us in training our young ladies and gentlemen to be just that—ladies and gentlemen in their speech and in their use of social media.

As parents and as a Christian school, our joint mission is to honor Jesus Christ and uphold biblical principles in the school and in our homes. I love the sign above the main doors in the Grand Entry as you leave the building:

This was an intentional design. The message is that as we head out into the world, we are to honor God in word and deed. We want our students to take what they learn in school out into the world. We desire for staff, students, and parents to honor Christ and to represent Westminster Christian Academy well, in word and deed.

The Scriptures are clear, our language, and by extension our social media use, is to be honoring to the Lord and edifying to others. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.…Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 4:29, 5:4)

We ask that you assist us by being a model of appropriate speech, reinforcing with your children what is and is not acceptable regarding language and social media use, and supporting the school in upholding the highest standards in the words we use remembering that Jesus said, “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” (Matthew 15:18)

Thank you in advance for your understanding, support, and assistance. We need and appreciate your partnership with us!

January 24 Theme: Faithfulness

The Bible speaks constantly of God’s faithfulness to us and of our obligation to be faithful to Him and to others. In today’s world, faithfulness can be in short supply.

Consider using this chapel service to discuss the meaning of faithfulness toward God, in a marriage, and in fulfilling one’s promises and responsibilities.

We have had a wonderful first semester. I look forward to great things this coming semester! I am blessed and deeply honored to serve with you in training your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord as we prepare them to serve Christ in college and career. Thank you for letting us serve your family.

Honoring Our Veterans

We are instructed by the Apostle Peter to “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:17)

Honor is showing public esteem for someone and to regard someone with great respect and recognition. For Veterans Day, “honoring the king” will be reflected by honoring the men and women who are serving, or who have served, in the military who so richly deserve our honor, respect, and gratitude.

To honor our veterans, tens of thousands of whom paid the ultimate price for our freedom, we are placing American flags throughout the school campus. I also thought it fitting to share the logo, motto, and song for each branch of the military as we take time to honor our veterans.

Another way to honor them is to love and serve each other: “Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

May our Lord be honored as we honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, and honor the king. Be sure to thank a veteran.

Read more about each military branch

Air Force

Motto: Aim High: Fly-Fight-Win

Mission: The mission of the United States Air Force is to fly, fight and win—in air, space and cyberspace. We are America’s Airmen.

Song: “Off We Go” also known as “U.S. Air Force Song”

Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder
At ’em boys, Give ‘er the gun!
Down we dive, spouting our flame from under
Off with one helluva roar!
We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey!
Nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force!

Minds of men fashioned a crate of thunder
Sent it high into the blue
Hands of men blasted the world asunder
How they lived God only knew!
Souls of men dreaming of skies to conquer
Gave us wings, ever to soar!
With scouts before and bombers galore.
Nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force!

Here’s a toast to the host
Of those who love the vastness of the sky,
To a friend we send a message of his brother men who fly.
We drink to those who gave their all of old
Then down we roar to score the rainbow’s pot of gold.
A toast to the host of men we boast, the U.S. Air Force!

Off we go into the wild sky yonder,
Keep the wings level and true
If you’d live to be a grey-haired wonder
Keep the nose out of the blue!
Flying men, guarding the nation’s border,
We’ll be there followed by more!
In echelon, we carry on
Oh, nothing’ll stop the Air Force!
Nothing’ll stop the U.S. Air Force!


Motto: This We’ll Defend.

Mission: The U.S. Army’s mission is to fight and win our nation’s wars by providing prompt, sustained land dominance across the full range of military operations and spectrum of conflict in support of combatant commanders.

Song: “The Army Goes Rolling Along”

March along, sing our song, with the Army of the free
Count the brave, count the true, who have fought to victory
We’re the Army and proud of our name
We’re the Army and proudly proclaim

First to fight for the right,
And to build the Nation’s might,
And the Army goes rolling along
Proud of all we have done,
Fighting till the battle’s won,
And the Army goes rolling along.

Refrain: Then it’s Hi! Hi! Hey!
The Army’s on its way.
Count off the cadence loud and strong (TWO! THREE!)
For where e’er we go,
You will always know
That the Army goes rolling along.

Valley Forge, Custer’s ranks,
San Juan Hill and Patton’s tanks,
And the Army went rolling along
Minutemen, from the start,
Always fighting from the heart,
And the Army keeps rolling along.

Men in rags, men who froze,
Still that Army met its foes,
And the Army went rolling along.
Faith in God, then we’re right,
And we’ll fight with all our might,
As the Army keeps rolling along.

Coast Guard

Motto: Semper Paratus, meaning “Always Ready”

Mission: The mission of the United States Coast Guard is to ensure our nation’s maritime safety, security and stewardship.

Song: “Semper Paratus”

From Aztec shore to Arctic zone, to Europe and Far East.
The flag is carried by our ships in times of war and peace;
And never have we struck it yet in spite of foe-men’s might,
Who cheered our crews and cheered again for showing how to fight.

The HUDSON and the TAMPA, the names are hard to match;
From Barrow’s shores shore to Paraguay, Great Lakes or ocean’s wave,
The Coast Guard fought through storms and winds, to punish or to save

Aye, we’ve been “Always Ready,” to do to fight, or die
Write glory to the shield we wear,  in letters to the sky.
To sink the foe or save the maimed, our mission and our pride,
We’ll carry on ’til Kingdom come, ideals for which we’ve died.

So here’s the Coast Guard marching song, we sing on land or sea.
Through surf and storm and howling gale, high shall our purpose be.
“Semper Paratus” is our guide, our fame, our glory too,
To fight to save or fight and die! Aye! Coast Guard we are for you!


Motto: Semper Fidelis, meaning “Always Faithful”

Mission: As America’s expeditionary force in readiness since 1775, the Marines are forward deployed to win our nation’s battles swiftly and aggressively in times of crisis. We fight on land, sea, and air, as well as provide forces and detachments to naval ships and ground operations.

Song: “Marines Hymn”

From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.

Our flag’s unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.

Here’s health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we’ve fought for life
And never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.


Motto: Semper Fortis often shortened to Semper Fi, meaning “Always Courageous”

Mission: The mission of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas.

Song:  “Anchors Aweigh” (revised lyrics of 1997)

Stand Navy out to sea,
Fight our battle cry;
We’ll never change our course,
So vicious foe steer shy-y-y-y.
Roll out the TNT,
Anchors Aweigh.
Sail on to victory
And sink their bones to Davy Jones, hooray!

Anchors Aweigh, my boys,
Anchors Aweigh.
Farewell to foreign shores,
We sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay.
Through our last night ashore,
Drink to the foam,
Until we meet once more.
Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.

Blue of the mighty deep:
Gold of God’s great sun.
Let these our colors be
Till all of time be done, done, done, done.
On seven seas we learn
Navy’s stern call:
Faith, courage, service true,
With honor, over honor, over all.


The History of Veterans Day

Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.'” As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.

In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress – at the urging of the veterans service organizations — amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Sleep, Screen Time, Social Media and Student Success

Character is more important than competence for our children’s success. In fact, character leads to greater competence through hard work, self-discipline, integrity, and other virtues, which help a child maximize his or her God-given abilities. 


Character does not just happen, it must be cultivated. For maximum benefit, good character needs to be reinforced with good life habits. One of those is getting enough sleep. National studies indicate that too many students are coming to school tired.

According to the CDC, too little sleep is common. About 69 out of 100 high school students get insufficient sleep — defined as seven hours of sleep or less on an average school night. In many cases, staying up too late is the culprit.

Read More

In one National Sleep Foundation experiment, children were asked to go to bed later than normal for a week, and then were asked to spend no fewer than 10 hours in bed for another week. During the week of later bedtimes, teachers rated these kids as having more academic problems and more attention problems (even though the teachers didn’t know they had lost sleep). Many parents think their children go to bed early, but even 9:00 p.m. could be considered a late bedtime for an elementary school child.

As kids get older, sleepiness leads to slipping grades. In a study of roughly 1,000 children and preadolescents, researchers measured kids’ sleep and school performance and found that one of the best predictors of school failure was children’s fatigue (being difficult to arouse in the morning and falling asleep during the day). In another study of 3,000 high school students, those who reported higher grades had significantly more sleep time and earlier bedtimes on school nights than those with lower grades. Students reporting B’s or better got 17-33 minutes more sleep on school nights and went to bed 10-50 minutes earlier than students with C’s and below. Students with lower grades also went to bed on average 2.3 hours later on the weekends than on school nights, compared to A/B students, who went to bed 1.8 hours later on the weekends.

Screen Time and Social Media

A significant contributing factor to sleepiness is the amount of time students are spending on mobile devices, computers, and TV at night. Being in the bedroom or in the bed does not mean that they are sleeping.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports in a recent study that the average 8 to 10-year-old spends nearly 8 hours a day with different media, and older children and teens spend more than 11 hours per day. Children who have a TV in their bedroom spend more time with media. About 75 percent of 12 to 17-year-olds own cell phones and nearly all teenagers use text messaging. 

Many children are permitted to have mobile phones, tablets, computers, and/or TV’s in their rooms at night. During this time they are engaging in substantial use of social media, unsupervised. School leaders know this because when investigating behavioral matters they often see social media posts and text messages posted late at night. This can lead to three negative outcomes:

  • Loss of sleep
  • Lower academic performance, and
  • Abusing or being abused through social media

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that while every child is slightly different in terms of how much sleep he or she may need, most require the following to be fully rested. Note that this is not time in the room or in bed, it is actual sleeping time.

Age Recommended
Preschoolers 3-5 years 10 to 13 hours
School-aged children 6-13 years 9 to 11 hours
Teenagers 14-17 years 8 to 10 hours
Young adults 18-25 years 7 to 9 hours

Assuming it takes about two hours from alarm to being in school, most children will be awakened at 6:00 a.m., which means that bedtimes would need to be approximately as follows (bedtime means no devices, no TV, no lights on; it means in bed to sleep) for children to get the minimum recommended amount of sleep. It is also worth noting that depending on the child, it may take 15 to 30 minutes to fall asleep, which moves the times below earlier by the same amount.

Preschoolers 3-5 years 8 p.m.
School-aged children 6-13 years 9 p.m.
Teenagers 14-17 years 10 p.m.
Young adults 18-25 years 11 p.m.

This will be a controversial statement for some but children do not have a right to privacy. Parents are accountable to the Lord for their parenting. Parents own the devices and pay the data plan. Parents not only have the right, but the responsibility to know what is on their children’s devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these recommendations for parents: Model effective “media diets” to help children learn to be selective and healthy in what they consume. Take an active role in children’s media education by co-viewing programs with them and discussing values. 

  • Model effective “media diets” to help children learn to be selective and healthy in what they consume. Take an active role in children’s media education by co-viewing programs with them and discussing values.
  • Make a media use plan, including mealtime and bedtime curfews for media devices.
  • Screens should be kept out of kids’ bedrooms. 


Children will be blessed and more successful when parents:

  • Foster the development of character,
  • Ensure they get enough sleep, and
  • Monitor and control their children’s use of social media.

More sleep, less screen time, and monitored social media are life-skills that will build upon good character to enhance children’s spiritual and secular success, now and later in life.

Benjamin Franklin is quoted to have said: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” It is a saying that is viewed as a commonsensical proverb, which was included in “A Method of Prayer” by Mathew Henry who also listed it as a phrase “long said.”

We want our children and students to be successful. While there are many factors that contribute to success, the most important is character and one of the first places to start building character is to develop early life skills, including getting enough sleep and monitoring and controlling the use of social media and other screen time.