Treasurer’s Annual Report
By: Greg Nicholas
We finished the fiscal year on June 30, 2022 with much for which to be thankful! We have seen God move in many amazing ways this past year and I want to briefly summarize a few things that have clearly displayed God’s guiding and providing hand over our finances:
1.We not only have no outstanding bills or debt of any kind, we carried over a modest balance in our checking account to start the new fiscal year!
2.This year saw the successful purchase of our Mars Hill campus-which, in itself, was a miraculous story of God accomplishing something that we thought had been permanently closed to us. Once the door was opened we were able to raise enough funds to buy the building outright without borrowing a cent! We still have some work to do on the property and hopefully we can successfully conclude the Capital Campaign before the end of the 2022 with sufficient funds to complete all of the planned improvements.
3.The Iowa law that grants state tax credits for donations to the Northwest Iowa Christian School Tuition Organization (NICSTO) resulted in CLC receiving over $61,000 that helped many of our families reduce their out-of-pocket payments for tuition. That number will increase to almost $90,000 for the school year to start this fall and will again be used to help qualified families to send their kids to CLC. We don’t want finances to be a bar to any student who otherwise qualifies for CLC. If you would like to help us reach the $90,000 goal this year and receive a 75% state tax credit in the process, please see the Headmaster or any Board member.
Thank you to all who have made sacrifices for your children to attend CLC, to those who gave toward the Capital Campaign, to those who will give again to help reach the Campaign goal, to our staff whose value is priceless but who serve sacrificially for compensation that is a fraction of what a public teacher earns, and especially to those who pray regularly for CLC. I visited briefly with Phil Betz in the parking lot at the Baptist Camp at the end-of-the-year ceremony and after I commented on how it was obvious how God had blessed the Camp with such a beautiful facility, Phil responded by saying that he had prayed for years that what would take place there could only be explained by God’s provision, not by good people working hard. I shared with Phil that I have prayed exactly that same way for CLC! In less than 10 years God has done immeasurably more than we could have ever asked for and He is not done yet!
Parents of CLC students,
As we stand on the precipice of some major milestones this coming school year (Lord-willing, our first CLC graduates and formal accreditation), it would be easy ruminate on the past 8 years rather than the past 1. But the last year has been a remarkable and action-packed one. By God’s grace we grew to 2 campuses and 130+ students. As we look ahead to fill our staffing needs for next year, we remember how blessed CLC was by the excellent additions to our staff who came aboard for the last year. We have seen encouraging growth in our students academically (with strong school-wide results from standardized tests), but more importantly, we have seen spiritual and relational growth in students in every grade from PreK-11th. For Emily and me, the 2021-22 school year was extra special as we got to experience the joy and comfort of sending our beloved Landry John to CLC. In this blessing, the presence of CLC has taken on additional import, as I am regularly thankful, with fresh eyes, for the committed work and ministry of our dedicated staff. God has surely been gracious to us in supplying for this need.
As I have reflected on the 2021-22 school year in recent weeks, 2 things have occurred to me:
1. We are no longer small and we aren’t yet big.
We are firmly shifting (is that an oxymoron?!?) from a little startup school to a developed school of some consequence (size and otherwise). Evidences of growing pains (the good kind of pains) are all around me: a larger staff, two campuses, policies and procedures that need adjustment, etc.
But maybe the thing that is highest on my radar as we grow is…
2. Connection with you, the CLC parents:
I have thoroughly enjoyed the partnership in classical & Christian education with all of you and your children throughout CLC’s “startup” phase. And I know that, as with any organization that grows, one person cannot possibility maintain the close knit personal and professional relationships I have been blessed to have with many of you. I am glad for the growth of our enrollment and for the many close-knit relationships I have with many of you, but I rejoice further when I see families whose primary connection to this school is something or someone other than one of its founders.
However, there is one thing I am eager to establish/retain as we continue to grow, and that is the willingness for you, as parents, to come to me (or to any current or future administrator) with encouragements and concerns. As I often say to people to make their way to my office, “Lay it on me, I can handle it!!” That is to say, I want to be the kind of Headmaster and I want us to be the kind of school that is willing to hear and understand things from another perspective, while simultaneously being open and transparent with our own. Of course, this doesn’t mean that there will always be perfect agreement or immediate change. But it does mean that we want to hear it. I was very encouraged by the feedback that we received from the Parent surveys – both the positive comments and the suggestions for improvement. Thank you for taking the time to do those, and know that there is a Board and a Headmaster at CLC who desires to know what you’re thinking.
Many challenges, but even more and greater joys await us in the year ahead. Thank you again for your desire for your children to have a place to pursue objective truth, beauty and goodness as we seek to graduate culture-shaping students who love that which is worth loving.
Dr. Cory Gerdts
Clear Lake Classical
By: Alex Olson
Secretary of the Board and Leader of Accreditation Team
As a Board, we are amazed at God’s provision and goodness toward CLC. We see Him working in our students, teachers, and administrators. As a classical Christian school, we are nothing without Him but with Him, we are able to graduate culture-shaping young men and women whose minds and hearts have been trained to love that which is worth loving!
The word “graduate” stands out to us for this year, as this is the first year that we will have a graduating class. Graduation is a huge milestone for CLC. Like the incoming seniors, we have work to do prior to graduation. This work is the accreditation process that is in full swing. I would like to thank the 59 parents that took the time to complete the survey. Your responses to the questions and thoughtful remarks are currently being reviewed as part of the accreditation process.
We appreciate your candor on what is going well and what we need to focus upon. While as parents we have educational options for our children, I was heartened to see strong support for what CLC provides – Christian based education taught in the classical tradition. We also see areas that we can strengthen, such as stronger promotion of our vision and purpose to our community and providing more service opportunities to help our children learn to be like Christ. These areas were only some of what we heard, and we would ask that you prayer for us as we consider the feedback from our parents, our upper level students, our teachers, and our board members.
Over the coming months, the Accreditation Team (also known as the School Improvement Team – SIT) will be doing an assessment against 70 standards that Christian Schools International (CSI) have established for accreditation. In addition to providing ratings for each standard, the SIT will determine key areas for growth over the coming five years. In early 2023, we will host a team of individuals that will provide an independent assessment of our school and the work of the SIT. This independent team will make a recommendation to CSI concerning our accreditation. As a board and SIT, we would ask for your prayers not just for the positive outcome of accreditation but also that God will show us areas that He desires us to improve.
God has blessed CLC over the past many years, and we are excited to see what He has in store for us. He has blessed CLC with teachers, finances, buildings, students, and you – the parents. We know that we are a work in progress, so as a board, we want to continue to hear from you – positive or negative. Through our faithfulness with what God has provided each of us – time, talent, and treasure – we are confident that God will do amazing things in and through us at CLC!
Thanks be to God for the blessing this past school year was for students, teachers, and parents also. We began the year with new Upper School staff who, with their wisdom and experience, took the 11th graders up to the next level. These students have gone from being challenged five years ago by a five paragraph essay to the newest challenge of their first fifteen to twenty page thesis paper this past spring. They have gone from graphing a line five years ago to graphing waves in Algebra 2. They have gone from botany five years ago to chemistry. They have gone from Latin to Spanish and even had a whole meal spoken in Spanish at a restaurant. They have been through all four cycles of history at CLC by reading classic books that enabled them to participate in the Great Conversation of significant topics every year. They have practiced their defense of the truth, goodness, and beauty of God in theology and in science and math and history and art. They acted in another memorable Shakespeare production. They sang solos and duets in music. I love watching them sing!
Even with the Lower School at Mars, they tried to keep fellowship going with the grammar school students through several planned assemblies, lunches and recesses. It is my understanding that they even improved their time running the mile in physical education. It was another year full of failure and success, sorrow and renewal, being forgiven and forgiving. They will be challenged this coming year with everything from pre-calculus and human anatomy to economics and apologetics. They will continue to be part of the Great Conversation with books such as City of God and Pensees. Most important of all, they will continue to have their hearts and minds trained toward that which is worth loving. Personally, I want to thank you, parents, for all your support, trust, faithfulness, and perseverance. You desired a Christian education for your children and because of you, it continues ever on.
By: Mrs. Heidi Sokol
Lower School Dean
1st Grade Lead Teacher
As the school year came to a close in 2021, we, the CLC family, had an exciting but arduous task in front of us. Parents, students, teachers, and staff worked tirelessly through the summer to complete the first stage of the Mars Hill renovation project. As a group we were able to transform a tired old building into a beautiful school that would come to hold 81 students in the upcoming year. Even though there were many challenges, there were even more successes to celebrate. Between figuring out which classrooms we would be in and then setting up those classrooms from scratch to figuring out which bathrooms students would use and meandering all the logistics of many people in a new building, the teachers, students, and staff of the CLC Mars Hill grammar school worked together with patience and understanding to complete a very successful 1st year.
One of the highlights I noticed this past year of being in the new building was that the lower grades were united even more than before. With our classrooms all being in one hallway, one of my favorite times at Mars Hill was when I walked through the halls and delighted in the sound of the sweet voices of our students, chanting jingles, reciting poetry, and singing hymns. We were also united when students worked together to do multi-grade spelling and math games to improve and learn from each other, and they practiced their reading skills with their reading buddies. We enjoyed the 4th grade band solo concert and 4th grade play on the “new” stage, which has been a tremendous addition to the grammar school. We have a large space where all of the students had lunch together, and volunteer parents came in monthly to give the teachers time to collaborate during the lunch hour. Faithful volunteer parents, who organized the unfinished portion of Mars Hill, created a welcoming and comfortable place for students to grab a book, kick back and enjoy the wonder of jumping into a timeless tale. With the help of those willing to contribute to our Mars Hill Capital Campaign, this could be a glimpse into what may become a permanent library someday.