April 7, 2023

The Nashville Shooting and Small Community Church Schools

By: Peyton Holliday

The Nashville Shooting and Small Community Church Schools

As I watched the footage of the Nashville shooting I was quickly brought back to the very small local Christian church school that I attended for 10 years. Church schools around the country are the backbone of many communities and their impact is far reaching. Many of these schools are incredibly small and oftentimes not well funded.

When attending the Christian church school, I did not fully appreciate or understand how impactful the school would be on my education and my life—both in good ways and in ways that I sometimes wish were different. These church schools are normally small and a ministry of the church that they are hosted in. Few of them have their own building outside of the church. 

           The school that I attended had a small staff and the pastor of the church was the principal of the school. Ministry was strong for each teacher employed by the school. With low pay and long hours, teachers were not there to make money, but to love on children and teach them morals and values. 

Growing up at my church school, I learned the value of hard work and how to study on my own. With small classes, the teachers were able to invest in all of us more than other schools. It was easy to stay in from recess and talk to the teacher about an issue you had or to get to know the teacher. I remember asking one teacher who she was voting for and if she ever wore “slacks”. My curiosity of how my teachers lived their lives was able to be answered with the small student to teacher ratio. 

These church schools are small enough to almost remain hidden within communities and keep their heads low in the midst of national school controversies. Their silent ministry to the students who attend impacts students beyond school age. My eighth grade teacher is the one who inspired me to get a history degree in college. My third grade teacher is who inspired me to love handwritten letters and the beauty of penmanship. My kindergarten teacher is the one who inspired me to discipline myself and spend my time wisely. My second grade teacher inspired me to write. Each one of them holds a special place in my life journey as a child learning and growing and seeking out what I wanted to be and guiding those early years in my life. 

In the wake of the Nashville shooting, I was immediately sent back to my school days at the church school I attended. I remember before we had alarm systems in the school and before there was a camera system installed and before the front door was locked each day. I remember the debut of the camera system and how we could watch the classrooms from our teacher’s phone. It is sad that security has to be heightened in these local church schools. Already these schools are low on funds and their work is ministry-oriented which leaves many of them unable to fully afford extra levels of security. I would venture to say that most of these schools would not even consider government funding for higher security measures, but would rely on their church members to possibly help pay the expense or keep going unarmed and unprotected. 

Protecting our children, especially in vulnerable small Christian schools is important and I think we also need to understand all the facts. Most of these schools cost very little for children to attend as their goal is ministry. Parents scrape together money each year and make sacrifices to give their children a Christian education. Students are sometimes from lower income families or have been kicked out of other schools in the area.It’s very difficult for local Christian schools to afford the systems and measures to keep their students safe. Parents want to send their children to good schools and want to do what they can to make sure their children are given a good education. School choice is a great option, but at the end of the day many of these church schools are not interested in government funds and enjoy the autonomy of non-accreditation and running on their own church funded programs. 

With the horror of the Nashville shooting hanging over our minds, it is vital that we look beyond government programs. Parents who want to send their children to church schools should work together to fund security guards and church members who are able to step up and make sure these vulnerable church schools are protected. Gun control will do nothing, but armed security guards will help to protect students in the long run.