Excellent is perhaps the most overused word in our culture to describe everything from food to art to organizations. However, there is not a more fitting word to describe an organization that has sought — and achieved — excellence in so many areas.Since 1980, Bethesda Christian School (BCS) has established itself in the Fort Worth community as a school of excellence in three primary areas: Character, Academics and Service.
Forming Christian character in the hearts of its students is the lens through which all activities on the campus are measured. For Bethesda, it is not enough that math and science are taught well. Weaving a Christian worldview into the curriculum is the prime focus of the school. Sean Lawler, Bethesda parent and board member says, “I have seen year after year that our BCS teachers place Christ first, and I see them wonderfully bring the Gospel into every subject and sphere of learning.”
The emphasis placed on building character in students is primarily what drove Bethesda’s principal, Vicki Vaughn, to create the Honorable Character Classroom Management System™. Selected in 2010 by the National Association of Elementary School Principals as a National Distinguished Principal, Vaughn has a vast experience as an educator. The Honorable Character system will leave a legacy in classrooms across the globe.
With materials for both public and private classrooms, the Honorable Character system aids teachers in building character in the lives of each student. Teachers acknowledge students when they exhibit virtuous qualities such as kindness, self-control and responsibility.
Bethesda also places great value on Bible classes and chapel services. Daily bible classes allow students to have open, honest discussions about faith in a safe environment, as well as learn Scripture through a variety of methods. Weekly chapel services are led musically by a group of their peers.
Not only does Bethesda strive for excellence in the building of character, but also in academics. With a low student/teacher ratio, Bethesda provides an academically robust environment where students receive specialized attention from their teacher. Bethesda students consistently test above national averages in standardized testing, and college preparation begins early. "Our students are especially known for their writing skills. This is a foundational skill that begins at the elementary level,” Vaughn says.
Beyond character building and solid academics, Bethesda also encourages students to serve others, both in their community and around the world. Students are regularly involved in local service projects like blood drives, disaster relief and mentoring. Globally, students have raised money for water wells and served in Costa Rica, Honduras and Mexico. “Christ came and demonstrated servanthood, so we’re following His model,” says Keith Chadwick, school chaplain. “Serving takes the focus off one’s self and improves attitude. This is a lifetime truth we are teaching our students.”
Two other areas Bethesda has demonstrated excellence are in fine arts and athletics. With an award-winning arts program, a band program that consistently wins state-level awards, a robotics program that regularly competes at the state-level, and several state championships in athletics, Bethesda is a place where children can thrive in their callings. “Students are gifted in many different areas. Our goals is to expose them to a variety of opportunities to allow their gifts to emerge,” says Vaughn.
A ministry of Bethesda Community Church, the school certainly has a well-defined mission and purpose. “Every school has its own distinctive,” J. Daniel Smith, senior pastor explains. “Though Bethesda Christian School is well-known in our community for academic excellence, our students and parent body also know that we place prime value on the spiritual formation of our students. Simply put, we pray that our students will leave Bethesda loving Jesus more than they did the day they walked in. We are not only working toward the expansion of the mind but also toward the expansion of the heart.”