SPECIAL REPORT: East Texas Abroad

Local school discipling children and families through education

TYLER/COLOMBIA (KETK) - A local school focuses on teaching their students the founding principles of America, they say, by discipling them through education. However, if you walk through Christian Heritage School in Tyler, you'll notice many teachers are not from America. 

"I once read a quote that said 'Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see,' so what do we want our countries to look like in 20 years?" said Junior High Director Anna Bastounes. 

It's this question the leaders of Christian Heritage School ask themselves as they try to replicate the model of education from our American founding fathers.

"It doesn't look like a great big huge institution of learning from the outside," said Elementary Director Carolyn Frederickson. "It's an old building, we don't have the newest things but it's a gem because students here are learning the truth."

Frederickson said they center their teaching around biblical thinking.

"I believe they know more about the real principles of government than a lot of adults do in this nation," she said, referring to first graders. 

All students clean up their classroom, take out the trash and say a prayer before the end of each day.

"My wife and I consider ourselves to be a very small percentage of incredibly privileged people to send our kids to a school that the teachers are not only educating them in all the subjects they need to be taught in, but they care about the character of our children," said Chris Lascelles, parent and Youth With A Mission Leadership Council.

This campus is apart of a missionary training center.

"We moved here in 1980 but our school really started in 1979," said Co-Founder, Barbara Kilkenny. "What thrills us the most is to see the young people that we educate, to see the change in their lives, step by step by step as their learning principles of truth."

Her and her late-husband, Dr. James Kilkenny founded the school. While the mission of Christian Heritage School is to teach their students to love God and love America, they say the joys of liberty are not exclusive to Americans. There is more than 13 nations represented on their campus.

"When I came to the United States and began teaching at Christian Heritage School, I learned why Americans are so proud to be Americans," said Vice Principal Jeff Schapansky.

Schapansky is originally from Canada and said when students from other parts of the world hear about God's kindness to this country, it gives them hope for their nations too.

In 1980, Mr. Kilkenny launched Teachers For the Nations. (TFN)

"So they started by coming by one, by two by threes little by little and then after they spent several years with us they would go back and start schools in their nation and ask us to come and teach their teachers," said Mrs. Kilkenny.

Ye Eun Park, or Amanda, will complete the TFN program at the end of May. She said her country, South Korea, is predominantly Buddhist and coming to America has taught her how to apply biblical principles in her own life.

"When I go back to Korea, I want to teach biblical principle to my students to next generation," said Park. "They're teaching not only knowledge and with experience, but through their daily life so they really, really inspired me."

Sherry Cai is also finishing up TFN this month and she said her calling is to disciple children and families in China.

"In China, the education system, the parents have such an expectation on you, you need to do certain things. I didn't know who I am. I didn't know what my life was about," said Sherry. "That's how God met me where I am. He gave me the purpose of my life."

These student teachers are apart of a bigger as they learn their foundation in Tyler, they'll one day take their training back to their countries.

"In Tyler I learned how important it is to change a nation," said Gladys Molina, via Skype.

Her and husband Ricardo started a Christian Heritage School in Bucaramanga, Colombia.

"Our goal is to raise up a generation with a Christian character that would be a blessing to our country Colombia," said Ricardo.

They built their school and have been training parents and teachers the past four years and this is the first year for children.

"We have children from kindergarten to fifth grade right now so we're pretty new in this experience," said Gladys.

Their goal is to have a high school and eventually, a university. Their relationship with Christian Heritage School in Tyler is consistent.

"It's so exciting to go back to Bucaramanga in Colombia and teach with them in their teacher training and in their schools," said Frederickson.

Tatyana Silva and her husband came to Tyler in 2013.

"Everybody has the same goal, same understanding, it's unity you know," she said. "Ten years that I spent teaching in Brazil, I thought I lost my time."

She said she loves East Texas and the school so much so, they've decided to stay.

"When you see this working together, you see God's character here," she said.

Their foundation is built on the relevance of scripture to education. 

"These aspects of American history are very important to recognize because they had such an impact on the development of this nation and they'll be lost to another generation unless it's intentionally looked at and understood and passed on to another generation," added Lascelles.

That's their goal at Christian Heritage School, giving back to society by growing leaders in the gospel, one generation and one nation to the next.

If you'd like to know more about their school, click here.


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