Is Our Vision Understood or …
by Marlene Bylenga, SCSBC International Student Program Coordinator ◊
As Christian schools it is our desire that parents who enroll their children do so because they understand and are committed to educating their children from a Christian life and worldview. Although the school year has just begun, it is wise to review and evaluate the enrolment policies and procedures we have in place for new families. It has been my experience that individuals seeking enrolment for their children do so for differing reasons. In the case of international students it might be that parents are looking for an education which will give their children a global perspective. Some are disillusioned with the school systems in their home countries, others feel that their children will be more successful if they have received their instruction in English and some are seeking a school where their children will be taught from a Christian perspective.
For international students and their parents the biggest challenge in the admissions process is their inability to communicate effectively in English. A good place to start in the process of evaluating policies is to ask the following questions:
How are we ensuring that the vision of Christian education is communicated in the admissions process and that parents understand and accept this vision?
What resources are we making available to non-English speakers so that they can make an informed decision regarding the school they are considering enrolling their child in?
The following are some ideas which might assist you in communicating your mission and vision:
Enrolment packages should contain your school’s mission statement, Code of Conduct and homestay expectations. If possible these documents should be translated into the languages of the students who are coming from overseas. It is extremely important that the person doing the translating understands the meaning and intent of these documents – a literal translation does not keep theflavour of the content. It is important that in the interview these documents be used as a reference.
It is important to have a face to face interview with the parent/s and student. This interview gives school administration a chance to communicate important details to both parent and child regarding the school and another chance to communicate the vision of Christian education. It is also a time when the parent/s are able to share with administration their reasons for sending their child to a Christian school in Canada and voice their concerns regarding this decision. An adult interpreter should be part of the interview process. Ideally, this interpreter is someone who understands the vision and mission of the school and does not have a vested interest in the admittance of the student.
A continuing challenge for boards and administration is that they guard and consistently communicate the vision of Christian education. As our communities become increasingly diverse we need to find creative ways of bridging the language barrier and hopefully begin the process of building multicultural communities who are unified in providing Christian education for our children.