“Your love, not your worry, is the most valuable thing any of us can give our children.” ~ Jason E. Royle
The places we learn the deepest, most significant lessons about hard work, good choices, and persistence are in our families and in school. Add to the mix of school and family a sound biblical world view that teaches young people to treat others with respect and forgiveness—this is what you find at Cornerstone Christian Academy. Cornerstone families agree that the education their children receive is second to none. In fact, I would say it is outstanding.
Everyone learns in their own special way. Children come to the table with certain abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. When teachers are trained to tap into those skills, identify the areas that need attention, and present lessons that lead to achievement—students thrive. While some students love to read, others love to run; some can outdo their parents in math, others are natural born musicians. At Cornerstone Christian Academy, teachers and administrators understand that a mastery-based, one-on-one curriculum that is designed specifically for each student works exceptionally well to prepare them for academic success and a full, satisfying life.
I met recently with Renee Griffith and immediately sensed a sincere dedication to her students. Renee is founder and the principal at Cornerstone, and she spoke about the school as, “North Carolina’s premier, individualized, college preparatory academy.” That certainly sums it up, but you won’t understand what that means exactly until you understand all that goes on every day between the teachers and their students.
Cornerstone uses the Accelerated Christian Education’s three levels of learning: Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom. The strength of this curriculum is a combination of student self-responsibility and character training in biblical principles.
Students at Cornerstone are challenged to master each subject, from pre-kindergarteners through middle and high school students. The curriculum starts with testing to determine students’ understanding, and those results help determine the appropriate level of classwork and assignments. Teachers support students in setting their own challenges to progress to more advanced work. If academic gaps are present, instead of struggling to learn from a textbook they don’t fully understand, students more easily master lessons from an earlier grade level. When they are successful at that subject’s level and understand the material, they move on.
Indeed, everything at Cornerstone Christian Academy is individualized and based on each child’s current academic ability. “We all learn in different ways…some are visual, some audial learners; some progress by reading, some in a hands-on way,” Renee explained. “We get that, and we teach to a child’s individual strengths for better results.”
Renee explained that about one-third of students receive an opportunity scholarship or disability grant to assist with tuition. In addition, among Cornerstone middle and high schoolers, $1.7 million in college scholarships have been awarded to help with tuition after graduation.
“He counts the stars and calls them by name,” Psalm 147:4
Carmen Bandy is assistant principal and STAR Program director. This is her 11th year in special needs education. STAR stands for Strategy, Tutoring, Assistance, Remediation. “In recent years, the number of students whose needs are not being met has increased,” Carmen explained. “I love every opportunity that walks in the door, and my job at Cornerstone is challenging and rewarding every day. We’re having a huge success in the STAR program.” Because students don’t necessarily fit a traditional, one-sized mold, STAR creates a custom mold for each child’s needs and enables them to create their unique possibilities.
Young children who don’t want to go to school respond very well to the STAR Program. In fact, they get excited about school and don’t want to leave! Some children need a low stress setting (at Cornerstone, they work in smaller classes); personalized support (students get one-on-one tutoring); individualized learning methods for specialized lesson plans (learning center support specialists work in regular classes, too); and teachers and tutors establish expectations and goals that align with students’ interests and capacity.
IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR
Parents at Cornerstone are encouraged to be involved in all areas of the school. They understand their critical role and the importance of their child’s focus and participation. “Our parents are vital members of their child’s team, in STAR and throughout our school,” Renee said. “They are eager volunteers in classrooms and field trips—who wouldn’t want to take kids to Discovery Place or the zoo? We believe parents are the number one resource for their children’s Christian upbringing and support their role as teachers of Christ-like character and biblical principles.”
Enrichment means, “to make something more meaningful, substantial, or rewarding. Enrichment improves something.” In education, as in life, enrichment is vital. At Cornerstone Christian Academy, value is placed on making each child’s experience more meaningful and substantial. The rewards of arts education here show up in hallways filled with drawings and paintings—from finger paintings to pastels to photographs—and the sounds of band, choir, hand bells, guitar, and piano. Students can study dance, drama, and sign language or join the Debate Club, Drama Club, Spanish Club, and Bible Club. Enrichment begins with the youngest students and continues throughout their school career.
“Our recent expansion enlarged the classroom space we dedicate to enrichment learning and added a new library. And, we’re making plans for a new 400-seat auditorium,” Renee shared, as she gave me a tour of the new wing and inviting new classrooms.
Enriching the holiday season will be this year’s Christmas presentation, The Christmas Choir, featuring 80 student actors, the choir, band, and dance students. With over 500 in attendance, this seasonal production is a favorite for families in Statesville…it’s open to the public at Statesville Civic Center.
A WELL-ROUNDED YEAR
Sports add substance and rewards to a student’s educational experience. “Our 25-member archery team has earned numerous national awards. Most recently, the elementary archery team was crowned the 2018 national champions, and, I am proud to say, C.J. Griffith won the national championship and was named National Shooter of the Year,” Renee said with a smile. “We also offer individual and team Taekwondo starting in kindergarten, volleyball, track and field, and a full physical education program.”
CHURCH AND COMMUNITY
Cornerstone of Victory Assembly of God was founded in 1991. “The school is one of several ways our church reaches into the community,” Renee shared. “There are numerous churches represented in our student body. I think our families appreciate and respect our church’s mission statement—love God, love people, pass it on. For us, this is what it’s all about at the school, as well.”
93% percent of the students at Cornerstone re-enroll. “We’re affordable, we don’t have a discipline problem, and above all, we are quality educators with heart,” Carmen said. “We deal with behavior issues from a Christian viewpoint, so teachers can spend their time teaching.” Enrollment is open any time of year. Most new students are referred by word of mouth from parents and grandparents.
Cornerstone Christian Academy is an opportunity for your children to experience an exceptional education that will prepare them for a life of learning and success. “I believe I have the best job in the world, and I believe in what we do,” Renee told me. “We love every student.” If you want to learn about all that school can be for your child, I suggest you meet with Renee. Take the tour. Ask all the questions you want—you will be inspired!
650 Glover Street • Statesville, NC