Last month, LNP published a story on the struggling enrollment at many private schools in Lancaster County. It was a featured story in the April 13 edition, which LNP subscribers can read here.
As I pondered the enrollment trends and numbers, and the unique education market here in Lancaster County, I realized there are a few lessons that we as a school community can draw from this story.
Lesson 1: Gratitude
First, we are thankful for the growth that we have experienced. We know that it has been a challenging time. The numbers are even more pronounced in a negative direction if you go back to 2000. The trend has been down—considerably down—for some private schools. It has been up—considerably up—for others of us.
I am thankful to our teaching faculty, our staff, and our families. We are on a mission at Veritas Academy to cultivate loving, serving, thinking students. I am thankful that this mission has resonated with people. I am thankful that God has been gracious to our school and has blessed our efforts.
Lesson 2: Be Who You Are
When you survey the list of growing schools, there is a particular attribute evident in these schools. First, they are distinctive, and they're looking to be more distinctive. This does not mean that they all have the same distinguishing characteristics, but it seems that each of these schools is holding tightly to a positive vision of what they are about.
I have a few experienced educational leaders who informally mentor me. I tap into their wisdom about running a school. Sometimes I share my frustrations and questions with them. Many times they remind me, “Hold to your distinctives. Be who you are.”
It might seem like I and my teachers are obsessed with Classical Christian education (We are.) We are because we love it, but we also are because it is the best way for us to be a sustainable growing institution. We will continue to grow into being more faithful to Christ, more deeply classical, more deeply missional as we mature as an institution.
Lesson 3: Keep Your Eyes on the Future
Here is what we can expect from schools on this list. Those who have grown could either lose focus and eventually see their growth fade or keep their focus and continue to thrive. Those facing decreasing enrollment will look at ways they need to change, and may be searching for and examining their identity.
Many of the schools facing decreasing enrollment are still larger than Veritas, and with those greater numbers comes increased resources. Of course, we want to continue to grow our school, so that we may gain more resources to help us serve families effectively. But as we seek to grow, we are committed to doing so without losing our focus on those things that matter most.