Click each title to read more of the articles below:



Mentoring Moms Dinner Featuring Speaker Gail Alverson
& Floral Workshop Sponsored by Pugh’s Flowers

ECS moms enjoyed a wonderful evening at the Mentoring Moms Dinner & Floral Arranging Workshop.

In this special Mother’s Day edition of our ongoing Partnering with Parents Speaker Series, former ECS mom and current ECS great grandmother Gail Alverson used Scripture to encourage moms in their perennial mission of making disciples in their homes.

Sharing Jen Wilkin’s quote, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know,” Mrs. Alverson encouraged moms to commit themselves to reading Scripture in order to know and love God more.

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Christian family, diversity, admissions

Wil and Lylli Franco moved to the Memphis area from the northwest suburbs of Chicago when Wil took the Lead Pastor position at Mission Church (formerly Highpoint Church). When they moved, Leanna, their older daughter, attended a local public school, and Alyssia, their younger daughter, was enrolled in PDO of a local church. Both girls started at ECS during the 2020-2021 school year when Leanna was in second grade and Alyssia was in junior kindergarten. Currently, the girls are in fifth grade and second grade, respectively.

What made you decide that ECS was the right place for your children’s education?

Once the pandemic hit, we were questioning the education systems’ decisions and education format. We had an opportunity to meet with Braxton and the principal, and we fell in love with their vision for education, intentionality of discipleship, and focus on the gospel.

In what ways did the Lord confirm your decision to send your children to ECS?

We had several conversations about public education vs. private education. While we believe there are benefits to both, for our kids, we saw the benefit of private education. We talked with our oldest about the transition and option and really left it up to the Lord to confirm if it was the right choice. Within a week, we were all in unity around starting ECS, and it has been such a blessing to our children and to us.

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Did you know that ECS Lower School students’ reading scores are 37% higher than the national public school average and 21% higher than the average private school?

 What is the reason for this impressive difference?

The answer, according to Lower School Principal Ashley Colley, is because of a newly adopted comprehensive reading curriculum that spans sequential grades, combined with personalized instruction by trained, caring teachers.

lower school, reading, excellence, inventive education, teaching, Christian education

Four years ago, Mrs. Colley and her team actively looked for the best reading curriculum available. While the previous curriculum was good, Lower School grades were using several different curricula that did not integrate well with one another. They were seeking a proven, comprehensive approach for all learners that provided smooth transitions between grades.  After extensive research, they determined the Orton-Gillingham method, combined with Science of Reading research, was the best approach to offer ECS students the most success.

Originally created for students with dyslexia by psychologists Dr. Samuel T. Orton and Dr. Anna Gillingham in the 1930s, today, it is more widely used for all types of learners. Orton-Gillingham is an evidence-based approach to teaching the structure of language, based on years of study about the brain and how we learn, combined with the logical, sequential building blocks of language. Each lesson is prescriptive, diagnostic and individualized.

According to the educators’ guide, “Orton-Gillingham is multisensory in that all of the senses are engaged simultaneously in order to create the neural network that students need to manipulate the components of language structure. It engages the visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile pathways in the learning process.”

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What is the secret sauce for a championship team?

This question plagues coaches every season as they set goals and evaluate their team’s potential. Certainly, there are universal components required to win a championship regardless of the team sport or level. They include talent, preparation and performance. While all of these are necessary, perhaps an underestimated essential ingredient in the secret sauce to a championship is team unity.

soccer, girls athletics, state championship, Christian education

The 2023 girls soccer team was a picture of unity, and four-time state champion Coach Jordan Thompson said that made the difference in finishing out the season with 18 straight wins, culminating in a state title, earning the Eagles’ girls soccer program their third state championship in the past eight years.

“Last year after the final game, we were very honest about the fact that this team had a ton of potential. That potential to me is a scary thing,” Coach Thompson, the Eagles’ girls and boys soccer coach and ECS alumnus (’06), admitted. “Unrealized potential is the worst thing in the world if they don’t achieve what they should. We knew our potential; but we didn’t know if we had enough leadership, drive and commitment to sacrifice for the team.”

With a full, talented roster of 38 girls, many of whom have been playing soccer their whole lives, a commitment to a team-first mentality was key.

“The thing I’m most proud of is the acceptance of their individual roles on the team,” Coach Thompson said. After their first two games against Houston and Briarcrest ended in losses, he called a team meeting. He said to the girls: “’The only thing that can stop us is ourselves.’”

He explained, “When you have that many talented players and that many seniors, a lot did not start. Teams can fold when that happens. When they are more worried about themselves, then they complain, and it gets toxic.

“What I can do to help that is to define roles, give them honest feedback and allow them to perform.” Proudly, Coach Thompson said, “Every single person committed to her role and made the team better, undoubtedly. Every player said This is my role, and I will thrive in it.

Team captain Rowan Richardson said this team realized her vision for the season. “My goals were to first have all of the seniors buy into the team and to have unity so that we were not playing for ourselves. And to win,” she added with a smile.

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discipleship, Christian education, prayer

Can five minutes a day change a life? A school? A community?

We believe so. That’s why ECS reordered the school day for every student, age two through twelfth grade.

In the 2022-2023 school year, ECS embarked on a schoolwide plan to start each day with five minutes of intentional discipleship time called the First Five in our continued effort to ensure every student is known, nurtured and loved.

For middle and upper school students, that means beginning the first five minutes of every day in their discipleship groups, praying for one another and their concerns.

At the lower school, they pray and teach foundational truths about who God is and what He has done by memorizing key questions, answers and Scripture verses.

“We wanted to start every morning off in prayer to set the tone for the day and provide daily accountability in a small group atmosphere,” Head of School Braxton Brady said.

The idea stemmed from our mission as a Christian discipleship school. “If we are going to be about discipleship,” Brady posed, “then what could we do from a schoolwide perspective to be about that? So we are going to plant our flag in the ground that the first five minutes of every day will be devoted to prayer and discipleship.”

The First Five is an extra layer in ECS’s multilayered discipleship approach. For the past few years, all high and middle school students have been in a discipleship group led by a teacher or staff member and about 8-10 students who are the same grade and gender. In addition to learning together during chapel at the beginning of the week, they meet on Fridays for further discussion. Leaders trained in discipleship ask questions from biblical texts highlighted in chapel which then lead to discussions about how to live out the Christian faith in today’s culture.

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Coach John Roelofs Retires after 51 Years of Faithful Service to ECS

“The poster child of the ECS mission.”

“The embodiment of everything ECS is about.”        

These are some of the descriptions of Coach John Roelofs by those who know him best.

As we honor Coach on the occasion of his retirement after 51 years of faithful service to ECS, we thank the Lord for using this man of God to disciple future generations of ECS students so faithfully for more than a half century.

The son of a farmer and homemaker, Coach learned the value of hard work in the onion and potato fields of Albert Lea, Minnesota. He attended Dordt University, an evangelical Christian college in Sioux Center, Iowa. His college friend, Arlo Kreun, began his career as a math teacher at a fairly new school in Memphis called Evangelical Christian School. A year later, Coach joined him in Memphis to teach PE at ECS, eight years after the school’s founding. 

As they say, the rest is history. 

The history of ECS unfolded during John’s tenure at the school, now in its 59th year of Christian education. And he has the stories to prove it.

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We are proud to open a new Upper Elementary school for 4th, 5th and 6th graders on the Shelby Farms campus this year. This marks the first time in ECS history that 4th and 5th graders have been students on the Shelby Farms campus, representing a new era for ECS. 

In August, ECS fourth and fifth grades moved to the Shelby Farms campus, and Lower School at the Germantown campus is now comprised of Little Eagles through third grade, alleviating previous space constraints at that campus. This move will also accommodate a growing number of families desiring the unique Christian discipleship education that ECS offers.

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ECS Embarks on Inaugural Expo Week

“The world is the true classroom.”

In its inaugural Expo Week, ECS tested Jack Hanna’s theory and scored an A+!

Last year, ECS broke the mold of traditional classroom learning by offering our first ever Expo Week, a week dedicated to expeditionary learning, much like a mini-term many colleges and universities make available. It was a week to explore learning outside the typical school curriculum, and that took many of our teachers and students outside of the walls of a classroom and beyond the constraints of a class schedule.

  • Want to learn dance numbers taught by the cast of Wicked in New York City?
  • Want to learn how the music created in Memphis impacted history nationwide?
  • Want to learn how to build a brick oven to bake homemade pizzas?

So many of our students’ learning goals were met with these and other curiosity-piquing, teen-friendly, outside-the-classroom, fun experiences involving a choice of travel, workshops or internships.

How It Began

In March 2020, shortly before Covid hit, Assistant Head of School and Academic Dean Jenny Shorten, along with Chief Memory Maker David Butler and English teacher Debbie Ellzey attended a Round Square conference in San Francisco. ECS is a member school of Round Square, the very distinguished international academic organization built upon the following educational ideals: internationalism, democracy, environmentalism, good stewardship, adventure, leadership and service. Expo Week answers the call to adventure, and we’re pretty sure Jack Hanna would approve!

“Expo Week fits into our mission of excellence,” Mrs. Shorten stated. “Creating excellence means we are going to have to push ourselves and think outside the box. Learning has a ceiling in the classroom, but learning outside the classroom explodes because the opportunities are so much richer.”

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8 Tips to Help Your Child Transition to Middle School

The natural transition from child into teenager is unchartered territory for many parents, which can create uncertainty and even fear. As a middle school teacher whose own sons are in this phase of life, I have consulted some of my teaching colleagues, other trusted parents and former students for wise parenting advice. Together, we have compiled a list of tips for parents to help their children navigate this transition through adolescence.

1.      Don’t be afraid of failure.

Middle School is a great time and place to fail. It seems counterintuitive of what we want for our kids, but the consequences of failing are not as great in middle school as in high school. It should be a time in which the parents are pulling off and letting their student navigate through conflict and tension. It is such an opportunity for them to grow. Independence builds confidence. Don’t remove the speed bumps because it prevents that head-on collision down the road. We want to prepare the road for our child, but we need to prepare the child for the road. It can be painful. It requires us as parents to have a posture of surrender to the Lord and not control, which is hard. Let them mess up because it helps them learn.

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A few years ago, Laura and Tim Turner decided that ECS was the right place for their four children, Eli and Lucy (now in 8th grade), Anna (5th grade) and Jonathan (2nd grade).

The Turner children were all in the Germantown Municipal School District schools the year before. Tim said, “We actually weren’t actively looking to move schools. We were ultimately drawn in by the leadership, teachers, families and faith. We felt like ECS was so uniquely gifted in those areas, and we wanted to be a part of that.”

Laura added, “The Lord confirmed our decision in different ways throughout the year. We were able to see all four of our children flourish spiritually, academically and socially. It’s such a blessing to have teachers that pour truth and wisdom into the lives of our children.”

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Teachers: The Superheroes of 2020-2021

Batman. Spider-Man. Batgirl. These Superheroes come to mind for wielding their superhuman strength to restore good to an evil world.

Last year, a different type of mask-wearing Superhero emerged.

Cambridge Dictionary defines superheroes as characters in a story who have special strength and use it to do good things and help other people.

We assert this appropriately describes ECS teachers.

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Coaching for the Long Game

A few years ago, Coach Willie Jenkins came to ECS on a path few saw coming. But perhaps no one was more surprised than the coach himself.

“Coach Willie” as he is known to everyone, was biding his time during the offseason, waiting to return to play professional basketball overseas. His discipler Roy “Soup” Campbell, executive director at local Eikon Ministries, hooked him up with a gig teaching basketball skills at Memphis Athletic Ministries (commonly known as “MAM”) in the inner city where he charged neighborhood kids admission to his clinics with a memorized Bible verse instead of money.

ECS dad Travis Slater caught wind of this local talent charging Manna in lieu of dough, and asked if his daughter and her teammate could train under him too. After the training camp that summer, Slater admitted that he knew Coach Willie wanted to play overseas or coach young men, but he asked if he would consider coaching his daughter’s eighth grade school team.

Initially, Coach Willie bristled at the idea of coaching middle school girls. But his wife, Eryka, knew better.

She knew her husband enjoyed watching women’s basketball on TV because they are fundamentally sound.

Mrs. Jenkins said, ‘You are always watching it. It will help you become a better coach.’”

So he conceded.

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ECS Bolsters STEM Program

A New Emphasis

In the past 30 years, employment in STEM occupations has grown 79%, increasing from 9.7 million to 17.3 million jobs,[1] outpacing overall U.S. job growth, which is only expected to climb in the future, especially as companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google continue to dominate the economic landscape. Educating our youth on the disciplines of STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, is imperative to prepare students for tomorrow’s professions. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “If we want a nation where our future leaders, neighbors, and workers have the ability to understand and solve some of the complex challenges of today and tomorrow, and to meet the demands of the dynamic and evolving workforce, building students' skills, content knowledge, and fluency in STEM fields is essential.”[2]

This increased emphasis on STEM acumen served as an opportunity for Assistant Head of School & Academic Dean Jenny Shorten to redefine her search for a new upper school math teacher two years ago.

“The exponential growth in technology today requires us to prepare our learners for that world that is dominated by Science, Technology, Engineering and Math."

The exponential growth in technology today requires us to prepare our learners for that world that is dominated by Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Therefore, it was critical we added someone to our math department who understood this evolving paradigm. Dr. Stevens met and exceeded these criteria.”

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