All posts by Dawn Stephens

About Dawn Stephens

I am the Principal/Administrator at Central Christian Academy, a fruitful Christian school for Preschool through Sixth Grade. Our curriuclum is based on the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. This is my personal blog. It is focused on education. My philosophy is that everything you do should be purposed in bearing fruit. I write on school issues, children’s literature, integrating Biblical principles, and any fruit bearing opprtunities I find. Little Pot is the main character in one of my books. In the book, Little Pot searches for its purpose. I’ve searched as well, through many different jobs and career paths. And even as Prinicpal, I know my true purpose needs to be the same as yours. . . that . . . WE ARE VESSELS MADE BY THE POTTER TO BEAR FRUIT!

Sweet Tea and Children

Sweet Tea and Children

Last night at our Parent Orientation, Pastor Tim shared these words of wisdom with our families.


by Rev. Tim Robertson

Teaching children how to live and choose wisely is time consuming and difficult.

We carry cell phones … cell phones have so much potential for good. They also remind us the world around us is full of fear, rejection, hate and uncertainty.

Those experiences and emotions aren’t what we want for our children. Parents work hard to protect their children from those negative influences. Parents work tirelessly to provide the safest environment and carefully select the best adults to train and coach their children.

This isn’t easy … life is hard … and more often than not families are struggling with this world where our children are growing up and experiencing life.

Where do you go to find answers? Where can you bring your children to find unrelenting hope, unconditional acceptance and uncompromising coaching?

The church is your answer.

This is the place adults show up week after week committed to show God’s unconditional love and acceptance to your child.

The church is the place children can learn how to make wise choices and choose friends wisely.

The church is the place where we can laugh and be silly and experience a glimpse of what heaven will be like.

The church is the place where what matters most is where you are going not where you have been and to discover how God is shaping you; not to experience how the world is squeezing you.

You see; there is no other place on this earth like the church. It’s the place your children will love to attend if you give them a reason to come.

For our families that have chosen Central Christian Academy, thank you for allowing us to partner with you regarding your child’s education. The school your child attends is very important and here at CCA our educators have been working tirelessly preparing for you. But, CCA or the school of your choice is only part of the total experience you child needs. It’s the home, the church, and the school.

I love sweet ice tea and it takes three items to have a great glass of tea; water, tea and sugar. When one is missing it doesn’t work.

Home … Church … School … if one is missing; don’t fool yourself, it doesn’t work.

Reflections on the 2015-2016 School Year

inside out little pot

It is the first day of summer and time to relax from all the hard work. Only off one week, however, our staff immediately begins to prepare for the new school year. Before we get there, I want to take some moments to reflect on the last year with you. Our theme was “Inside Out”. We branched off Pixar’s  movie of last summer and asked God to help us understand how the fruit of the Spirit and our emotions work simultaneously and separately.  We have jokingly said that God heard our request and made it one emotional year! I do not think any of us had an idea to how much our insides needed work. Alicia Chloe Britt shared a blog recently that described how Jesus wanted His followers to examine inside-attitudes that guide outside-actions. (Matthew 5.3-12, Luke 6.22) She gave a list of things that hinder our spiritual growth.

  • Pride
  • Resisting brokenness
  • Power without humility
  • Apathy toward righteousness
  • Withholding mercy
  • Impurity
  • Causing division
  • Avoiding suffering

She also gave the following points to guide our reflection of the last year.

For guided reflection…

  1. Change. We all long for it. But we don’t always work for it. Today ask yourself a question: Am I waiting for change to originate from “without” or “within”?
    Personally, I gravitate back to seeking change through my surroundings. Church and school ministries constantly require change. I can spend my entire summer making decisions about change for the next school year without looking inward at what God needs to change in me!
  2. Take a personal inventory at the end of the day: Did you resist brokenness? Did you use power without humility? Were you morally apathetic? Did you withhold mercy? Did you approve of impurity? Did you contribute to division?
    If I am honest there were moments this year when I could say, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes!” I love these questions and the fact that our God is so loving and forgiving that we always have another chance to get things right for Him. I also appreciate a school where we can make mistakes and forgive one another so that we continually grow and change to be more like Christ.
  3. Consider the following scripture and then close your time in prayer:
    “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5.3
    Jesus, I ask You to rule in my life.
    I am poor in spirit and in need of You.
    Establish Your kingdom in the realm of my heart.

The 2015-2016 School Year was truly a time when God changed hearts at CCA! We witnessed so many of our saints giving their hearts to Christ and also experienced growth as we further allowed Him to rule in each of our hearts. It is still evident that for Christ to change our school outwardly, He must first change our hearts inwardly.


iNsiDE oUt – ANGER

anger potANGER! We tend to think that anger is bad or that when we feel anger we are not Godly. However, there are many examples in the Bible when God states that He is angry. Exodus 32:11, and Deuteronomy 6:15 both mention that the anger of God burns. Many examples in the Old Testament tell of times when people’s behavior caused God to be angry. We can also assume that our behavior can provoke God to anger. The Spirit of the Lord can be angry too. In 1 Samuel 11:6,the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul and he burned in anger. Therefore, the Holy Spirit within us can be angry and cause us to be angry. In Matthew 21:12, we see Jesus reacting to his anger of how people misused the temple. God is incapable of sin, and yet the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all possess anger. Therefore feeling angry is not a sin. God created us in his image and the emotion of anger is something we all possess.

This is why our Inside Out theme is important this year. The emotions within us come out as Fruit of the Spirit or as sin. The anger we have inside us, causes us to take action. We should be angry that people are dying and going to Hell. In James 1:20 it tells us that human anger does not lead to righteousness. If God describes this anger as human anger, it is safe to assume that Godly anger does lead to righteousness.

We can use the text in James chapter 1 to learn four important things about anger.

  1. Be slow to anger (vs. 19)
  2. Check to see that the anger is Godly and leads to righteousness (vs. 20)
  3. Get rid of any bad stuff in your life, be humble, and make sure you have God’s Word planted in your heart. (Little Pot’s vision lessons apply here once again).
  4. Take action! (vs. 22) Don’t just let the anger fester inside. We need to DO the Word of God and not deceive ourselves by just hearing God’s voice.

iNsiDE ouT

2015-2016 planner imageThis year at CCA we are examining ourselves (and our school) from the INSIDE OUT! Our theme verse is Romans 12:2. The Message commentary reads this way … “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the INSIDE OUT!”

Pixar’s movie with the same title came out this summer and introduced us to the five main emotions that each of us have on the inside. Emotions are sometimes confused with Fruit. However, emotions are feelings and the Fruit of the Spirit is what grows from us when we allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our emotions. Children sometimes get confused by this, especially because JOY is listed as both an emotion and a part of God’s fruit.

Emotions (Anger, Disgust, Fear, Sadness, and Joy) can lead us to growing fruit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, and Self-Control), or emotions can lead us to sin. It is important to realize that God created us to feel through each emotion and He will use them to transform into what is the good, acceptable, perfect, will of God. –Romans 12:2.

Our saints will be examining each of the five emotions this year and discovering how we can use these feelings to grow the Fruit of the Spirit and not allow them to lead us to sin. 

We will be learning how to propagate too. For Little Pot, propagate means to reproduce fruit in other vessels. For CCA, it means we will be taking the amazing things God does INSIDE of Central Christian Academy … OUT to our community!

Click on the words below to see our talks on each emotion…


AdvancED Results


A little over a year ago we began praying about taking Central Christian Academy through the AdvancED accreditation process. Our current accreditation expires in June of 2015 and if we wanted to change accreditation agencies, now was the time. We had been accredited through ACSI and attended a conference where ACSI was encouraging their schools to gain AdvancED accreditation along with their ACSI accreditation. For a small school like Central Christian Academy, having both did not seem cost effective, since each carry their own yearly fee. As I prayed over the decision, God sent different administrators and spiritual leaders into my path that guided the decision to go directly through AdvancED. I presented the decisions to the school advisory board, who voted to move ahead with the process. It all began in July of 2014. We submitted the application and were scheduled a readiness visit for August of 2014. Typically the process that a school goes through between their readiness visit and receiving accreditation takes two years. We knew that we needed to complete the process in just nine months, so we set out to do the impossible. After all, we believed this is what God had asked us to do and in Him all things are possible. The task was not been an easy one, it completely took the Lord’s strength and guidance all year.  There were times when we questioned if we had made the right decision. We saw easier paths that tempted us. We were tempted to quit along the way. However, we encouraged one another, saw God provide strength to some who built up others. When time arrived for the team to evaluate CCA, we were prepared and ready to see Him work. Below is a ten minute show of the presentation we gave to the team. They spent a couple days reading through our reports and examining our evidences. The most exciting thing for us however, was seeing God work through our students as they confidently shared their faith in Jesus with the visiting team members. AdvancED is a network of 32,000 institutions serving 20 million students worldwide. AdvancED evaluates three areas of a school.   The scores we received were a testament to the work God does through CCA too.

1. Impact of teaching and learning The External Review Team examined student performance results; instructional quality; learner and family engagement; support services for student learning; curriculum quality and efficacy; and college and career readiness data.


CCA’s Scores

AdvancED’s Network Average

     Teaching and Learning Impact



Our scores for the domains in this area were:



National Average

Equitable Learning Environment



High Expectations Environment



Supportive Learning Environment



Active Learning Environment



Progress Monitoring and Feedback Environment



Well-Managed Learning Environment



Digital Learning Environment





  2. Capacity of leadership The External Review Team examined institutional purpose and direction, governance and leadership effectiveness; stakeholder engagement, improvement capacity and results.


CCA’s score

AdvancED’s Network Average

     Leadership Capacity





3. Use of resources The External Review Team examined allocation and use of resources; equity of resource distribution to need; level and sustainability of resources; long range capital and resource planning effectiveness.


CCA’s score

AdvancED’s Network Average

     Resource Utilization




Our overall scores are something we praise God for!

CCA’s Score

AdvancED’s Network Average

Overall Score



Planting God’s Word to Grow Relationships

Planting God’s Word to Grow Relationships

(Continuing our fruit growing process)


In the last post, we mentioned the humus soil that needs to be in Little Pot … which for each of us represents HUMILITY.


Since then, our saints have learned about the seed that needs to take root. The seed is God’s Word. Jesus tells us a parable about good soil and explains that the seed that can grow in the good soil is the word of God. (Luke 8:11)




Before we can move on to the integrity and relationship side of fruit bearing, it is important to always remember that God’s Word is the thing that produces life! So often we try to have integrity and good relationships without reading, hearing, and studying God’s Word. We spent this week talking with our saints about how they can have more of God’s Word in their lives. They agreed that attending AWANA is a great way. Going to Bible Studies, like the Soul Train and Sunday School, will also help them to hear and know God’s Word. The most important thing we can do as a family is read God’s Word together too. Our saints were encouraged to read their Bibles at home with you.



Once the seed or word of God is planted in them, integrity will stem. The next week we learned specifically what integrity is. The stem is straight, and the book of Proverbs tells us all about how being crooked means that they are acting sneaky and trying to get away with doing something that will not show integrity.  (Proverbs 10:9, 11:3, 19:1, 28:6) Crooked people might be successful and can even get rich, but God’s word tells us that honest people are people with integrity. It is better to have integrity and be poor than to be rich. We even compared that to how cheating might help us get better grades, but that having poor grades and being honest is better!



If we act with integrity, we can foster relationships. During this week, we had lessons about what leafs do for a plant. The students knew all about photosynthesis, which means changing something (synthesis) through light (photo). The leaf in our model represents the relationships that we can have with others. We learned that our relationships should change us through God. We listed people that we should have relationships with and gave some very practical ways to keep those relationships Godly or full of light.

Contain Humility






This week our saints are focusing on humility. At CCA we illustrate it with placing dirt into Little Pot.




Our word humility comes from the Latin word humus. Humus means good soil. We tell our saints that Little Pot wasn’t excited about being filled with dirt. However, dirt is what is needed to grow fruit. Just like humility is necessary for us to grow the fruit of the Spirit.


In chapel last week we read several verses about how God feels about humility.

I will bless those who have HUMBLE and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word -Isaiah 66:2


Do nothing out or rivalry or conceit

In HUMILITY consider others as more important than yourselves

Everyone should look not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others -Philippians 2:3-4


We learned that humility IS NOT

Downplaying or thinking less of yourself

Feeling sorry for yourself


And, that humility IS

Knowing the truth about yourself and where you stand with God.

Knowing you can’t do things without God and that you need Him.

Know that God knows you better than you know yourself.

It is saying, “God, I need your help!”


It is hard for children to pray for themselves. Often their prayer requests are for others. We ended our chapel by asking each child to put a scoop of soil into Little Pot and pray “Lord, I need your help ___________.” It was precious to hear the requests each of them made for a need of their own.



And as God always does for me, I can never teach a lesson that isn’t hitting home with me too. While giving this lesson, the teachers and I have been reading a book by Nicole Unice called “She’s Got Issues”.


This week it dealt with control. It is no secret to anyone what a control freak I can be. This book, however, put my need for control in the context of my own humility or lack of.  Pray with us as we all work on gaining a deeper understanding of how to be humble.

Our first chapel of the year


Friday, we held our first chapel of the year. I love Chapel. It is the time each week that our whole school comes together to worship. This year is extra special because we have a new stage and are able to use the cafeteria. (We have outgrown all other rooms in our school).

The chapel this week focused on Little Pot.

We each shared what we would like to be when we grow up. Then, we discussed that no matter what God allows us to be or hold, He expects us to grow fruit. The coming weeks, we are going to revisit our vision and go over the steps God uses in our lives to grow the fruit of the Spirit through us.


Here are some pictures of our first Chapel Time together.







Time to SHINE


CCA teacher presentationThe 2014-2015 School Year has officially begun!

On Tuesday, August 26th, our saints will bust through the doors with smiles and anticipations of all that is to come. One of the main reasons I love education is because each year creates a fresh new start.

This year begins my 5th year at CCA and the 25th year since my first year of teaching. Time really does fly when you are having fun!  

At CCA, we will still continue to strive to be like Little Pot  and bear the fruit of the Spirit every day.


We will also remember the lessons Tea Pot taught in 2012, as we serve others.


In 2013, we kindled our light with a little clay oil lamp. This year, we are ready for the potter to place up high on a lamp stand, so we can SHINE!


I am looking forward to SHINING with the teachers and staff at CCA. They are amazing and I love working alongside of them.


We will SHINE with technology! This past summer we added new interactive white boards in every classroom. We will continue to equip each of our saints in kindergarten through sixth grade with their own Kindle Fire too. We also remodeled the front office and added new touch screen computers for check in.


We will SHINE with the children’s ministry at Central Baptist Church, Central Station. They will share our classrooms and cafeteria, which now doubles as an assembly area.


We will SHINE as we achieve AdvancED accreditation this year. AdvancED is the largest community of education professionals in the world. It was created through a 2006 merger of the PreK-12 divisions of the North Central Association (NCA) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)—and expanded through the 2011 acquisition of the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC).


 2014-15 is going to be an amazing year!




Reflections of 2013 and Expectations for 2014

I love New Years.

It is a great time to reflect and think about choices we’ve made

and what we want to accomplish in the next 365 days.

I’ve been preparing for a new ladies Bible study in January

that begins with the idea of, “What do I want to get out of this”.

That idea can drive you crazy if you try to search for a good reason

to every decision you make each day.

It has me evaluating everything before I do it.

I’ve discovered my life is so busy that I often find myself on auto pilot,

forgetting why I do what I do.

Those of us that are parents or work with children

know just how fast time can go by.

If we don’t strategically set a course for our lives and the children in them,

we miss some great fruit bearing opportunities!

The teachers at CCA set the course every day.

They write and carry out plans that will allow

our saints to reach their fullest potential!

Personally, as I reflect on 2013 and CCA,

I’m still in awe of what God does in my life and in our little school.

This past year didn’t go by without some very big challenges.

We had some staffing changes that discouraged me in many ways.

I probably had more doubts then I have ever had as I went through 2013.

My Moto has often been, “Fake it till you make it!”

(I work hard at faking success).

But, those close to me know when I’m faking, and at CCA,

we’ve become a very close family.

I knew there were some things that I couldn’t fake with the CCA family.

I once again found myself on my knees,

begging God to make something of me and this little Christian school.

I remember telling Him how alone I felt at this job.

I told him I would need some amazing teachers and staff people

by my side to pull off what I felt He wanted me to accomplish.

Then, He basically told me to get out of the way and let Him work.

I wasn’t supposed to accomplish anything. He was.

So once again I thought of Little Pot and emptied myself.

I humbled myself and began to allow God’s Word to take root in me…

I focused on living straight…

I made new relationships…

I gained more knowledge…

And then, God grow fruit through me.

vision (2)

Sounds like our CCA vision – huh?

The vision of CCA is a journey that God takes us on over and over.

Fruit never stops reproducing itself.

Cultivating our lives,

so we can be the vessels that bear His fruit is a challenge every year.

So, what are my expectations of 2014?

Well, simply to live each day with purpose and

continue carrying out the vision of CCA in my own life.

I will humbly plant God’s word into my life,

live with integrity,

foster relationships,

and bloom knowledge.

I’m leaving the fruit bearing up to God.

As I do that,

I am very excited about some specific milestones

that I and the CCA family have ahead of us.

We will prepare to update our accreditation.

Our enrollment is already showing signs of growth for next year.

Two of our teachers will have new additions to their families this summer.

(I’m so excited to share in their lives as they bring new babies into the world.)

In my own household,

My oldest daughter will graduate from college and then marry a great guy.

(I’m very excited to plan the wedding with her!)

My youngest daughter graduates from high school.

Then she’ll follow my second daughter to Liberty University.

(My house will feel empty in 2014)

I am looking forward to spending more time with my husband.

We will celebrate 25 years of marriage this year too.

While I see the plans our family and friends have ahead,

I know God’s plans are what must be done.

The one thing I count on is that He is in control of 2014.

That makes my expectations miraculous and fruitful!