Faith-based school enrollment in Creston has grown over the past decade.
Creston St. Malachy, a Catholic school for kindergarten through eighth grade, has had an enrollment surge from 134 students in 2004 to as many as 184 in 2010.
The Mayflower Heritage Christian School, located at Crest Baptist Church, had 11 students for their first year of classes in 2002.
Administrators plan on having more than 66 students starting this fall.
Both schools believe their student’s success rate in high school and college make St. Malachy and Mayflower an attractive option for alternative schooling.
Principal John Walsh said the school has been actively recruiting parishioners and families that have younger students.
“We are a small school,” Walsh said. “Teachers know students, the school and the families know each other and we work together.”
Walsh credited the school’s reputation of successful graduates as another major recruiting tool to increase enrollment.
“Parents want their children to be successful,” Walsh said. “We have a high rate of successful students once they leave here and move on into high school, college and beyond.”
One aspect St. Malachy has focused on to improve their learning environment is technology.
This year, each seventh and eighth grader will receive a personal laptop. Teachers will use a new learning technique that uses textbooks and technology.
“It’s called blended learning in which you utilize technology and the textbook,” Walsh said. “The objective is to help kids to be able to participate in the world that they are growing up to live in.”
The school has also adopted a new language arts curriculum that uses common core as a guide. Walsh said the school will look into installing a new math curriculum as early as next school year.
“When I came here 21 years ago, the first technology move we made was installing a bell on a timer,” Walsh said. “Since that time, there have been all kinds of changes.”
Also new this year at St. Malachy is e-register, an online program to register students for classes.
The new program has cut down the amount of paperwork parents and staff members had to go through at previous registrations.
Walsh said registration online takes about five minutes. If parents do not have internet access or are having trouble signing their child up, they can stop in the office for assistance.
“In the past we would have had piles of paperwork for parents to complete,” Walsh said. “We use to send out packets with registration information, as many as 10 to 15 pieces of paper. This year it was three.”
Going into the 12th year of classes, staff at Mayflower Heritage Christian School believes they have found their niche to providing a quality, Christian education.
“What makes us a little different is our curriculum,” said Karla Powers. “We have a biblical-based, Christian world view. We are trying to look at the whole child.”
Classes at Mayflower are also grouped together. Kindergarten is the only class that is not partnered with another class.
“It has been a real good tool for kids to get that reinforcement,” Powers said.
Powers said more advanced students are able to listen in on the next grade and challenge themselves while other students benefit from hearing lessons twice.
As class sizes grow, Powers said the need for volunteers increases. Mayflower partners with parents and grandparents in a reading assistance program for students.
Another developing program is Mayflower mentors. Seventh and eighth grade students partner with underclassmen for field trips and reading.
“We are trying to let the older kids be good influences on the younger ones,” Powers said.
Both St. Malachy and Mayflower begin classes on Aug. 20 with Creston public schools.