What does an urban lower school in Frayser have to do with a suburban private middle and upper school in east Shelby County? It may not seem obvious on the surface, but the fact is that these two schools are connected on multiple levels! Since 2006, when the first New Hope Christian Academy student arrived at Evangelical Christian School to begin seventh grade, the two schools have enjoyed a great relationship and close ties. Those connections are multi-faceted and continue to grow and deepen.
According to their mission statement, "New Hope Christian Academy is an urban, college-preparatory elementary school providing students with a challenging intellectual and Christ-centered education." The all-important phrase, "Christ-centered," also occurs in the ECS mission statement so this common perspective on education is certainly a foundational commonality.
New Hope opened with 27 K-2nd grade students in 1996 and has now grown to over 400 students with their own facility in Frayser, within the community they serve. Their history (HERE) tells the story of God's faithfulness and blessing on the unique vision of the founder to bring to fruition the New Hope of today.
One incredible aspect of the New Hope ministry is their support of those who qualify and pursue middle and upper school education in one of several private schools in the Memphis area. More than 50 New Hope students have come to ECS since 2006, enriching our community and broadening our ministry. This connection is one that brings greater diversity to our campus which benefits every aspect of the ECS program. New Hope students overall have thrived at ECS, with one, Jada Flake, even being a 2012 Top Scholar, in the top ten per cent of her class.
Not only do a number of New Hope students come to middle school at ECS, the two schools are connected in other ways. ECS fourth graders and New Hope Junior Kindergartners have a joint Field Day at the ECS lower school campus each year. Servant Leadership Institute in upper school sponsors service days at the New Hope campus to work together with their students to do needed projects. These and other similar activities encourage relationships between the students and serve to familiarize New Hope students with ECS as a possible choice for middle and upper school.
The fact that several ECS alumni and former faculty are now part of the New Hope community strengthens the bond to an even greater degree. Cathy Short taught at ECS, served as lower school principal, and her four children are alumni, and she has now been at New Hope for five years. ECS alumni who now work at New Hope in a variety of capacities include Gil Brandon (1989),McKenzie Gorman Hendricks (2000), Andrea Cook Kay (2001), Anna Duggan (2001), Eric Stenberg (2002), Allie Watson Wiggins (2005), Morgan Clark Park (2007), Cathleen Parris Gagnon (2011), and Micah Teed (2011). In addition, several New Hope parents are ECS alumni as well.
New Hope Christian Academy and Evangelical Christian School truly do enjoy a great relationship that benefits students at both. Hopefully, that reciprocal relationship will continue for years to come.