By Judy Vos
Teacher/Administrator from 1982-2008
Several years of visioning a Christian school in Pella in the early 1900s led to the reality of opening PCGS on Jan. 6, 1913. The events leading to that exciting day and the century following will be celebrated this summer from July 6 to 8. The theme, “Founded on faith, growing by grace,” describes aptly the faithful efforts of those who have shaped the school to become what it is today.
As I neared retirement from Pella Christian Grade School in 2008 and sorted through years of educational collections, I remember advising our new Principal, Mr. David De Jong, of the necessity of organizing archival information for our upcoming 100th anniversary celebration. Soon that conversation led to a board request and my consent to serve as Chair of a History/Archives Committee, and eventually to accept the position of Chair of the One Hundredth Anniversary Steering Committee. It is because of that Co-chair position (now held jointly with Carroll Hoksbergen) that I have been asked to write this informational summary of Pella Christian’s exciting “Vision to Reality” history during the twenty-six years I served Pella Christian.
I began my teaching career at Peoria Christian School, a one year at Dordt College beginner who signed the teaching contract in August. Soon I was in a classroom of thirty-four 1st and 2nd graders. My teaching assignment there continued for 13 years and I would serve in multiple ways from K -2 classroom teaching to 7th and 8th grade creative writing, drama and directing musicals. Those experiences were preparing me for the future. I then became a stay at home Mom.
Talented and Gifted Program
During that time I was pursuing my Master’s degree at Drake University in order to become a certified administrator. My administrative internship was served at Pella Christian Grade School under Mr. Ivan Groothuis, Principal, as my mentor. There were eight broad areas such as Finances, Transportation, Food Service, and Research and Development to be explored. My assignment in Research and Development was to design a study to implement a Talented and Gifted program, the recommendation of a Christian Schools International recent evaluation of the School. Observing and being part of that process helped me to realize the innovative vision of Pella Christian Grade and its firm faith foundations.
Few Christian schools at that time had TAG programs nor had they broached the research. The U.S. Department of Education was issuing definitions of areas of giftedness and monies were flowing to public schools for that purpose. A committee was appointed and we began the research under my direction as an Intern. Christian Schools International stayed very much abreast of our work. The study turned into a new career for me.
At the end of the internship, the School asked if I would stay on as a staff member to continue the development of this program for advanced students. After nine months of looking at our Christian philosophy of what ‘gifted’ means, study of many program designs, interview of all teachers in the school to incorporate staff vision and committee guidance, the TAG program at PCGS was underway in March 1983, holding firm to the school’s mission of helping each child to develop unique talents and gifts. Despite questions and challenges of some concerning ‘giftedness’ and thoughts that these ‘ kids can make it on their own,’ the school continued the program development.
The vision became reality and the 100th anniversary theme, “Founded on faith, growing by grace, ” rang true. Our mission of “providing excellent academic training rooted in God’s infallible Word, challenging students to develop their individual God-given gifts for a life of service in God’s kingdom” was carried out. Pella Christian Grade (through a Vermeer Foundation grant) provided scholarships to attend the University of Northern Colorado for two summers, studying under Dr. George Betts, an expert in gifted education. During the era of the TAG program development, principals Larry Vander Leest and David Lyon served at the school. I completed my Master’s and Specialist degrees at Drake in Curriculum and Instruction with the Macro Design of the Gifted Program as a major graduate project and became a Certified Administrator.