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New name, new space, new horizons for Christian school focused on special needs

New name, new space, new horizons for Christian school focused on special needs

A Christian school’s relocation from Jackson to the Morrison Heights Mission Campus in Clinton opens new horizons, as Providence Christian Academy (formerly Kaleidoscope Heights) finds a more suitable space and fills a niche in the community’s education choices, school and church leaders say.


The academy, accredited by the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools, is one of the few Christian schools in the state that primarily serves children with special learning needs.


The move folds the private nonprofit K-12 Christian academy into a family-oriented neighborhood setting — a vast improvement over its current office building surroundings, which offer little access to outdoor recreation, Head of School Becky DeWett said.


The move also represents another key community mission for Morrison Heights Baptist Church, whose former campus in Clinton’s Easthaven subdivision is now the meeting base for three churches, and home to a day care facility and a food pantry.


“We see it as a mission opportunity to our community, and also to the school,” said Morrison Heights Associate Pastor of Missions Tim Rowan. The school will partner with the Hispanic church, Iglecia HIspana de Clinton, in one building’s use, and occupy other areas exclusively.


“I think it’s going to be transformational,” academy teacher Tabatha Tucker said of the move. She praised the uplifting, supportive environment the school provides for students, including her own son and daughter. “It opens up a way for every student to get an education they deserve, in a Christian environment that helps encourage them, and strengthens their faith.”


The academy was founded as Kaleidoscope Heights three years ago, in the wake of the state welfare scandal that embroiled New Summit School owners and led to their school’s closure. Kaleidoscope Heights formed to fill the educational void for children with learning disabilities.


The newly named Providence Christian Academy continues to serve a diverse range of students with specialized learning needs — children with dyslexia or anxiety and those on the autism spectrum, for instance — who can benefit from the school’s smaller class sizes and more individualized instruction. Its Christian founding principles emphasize the full embrace of its mission.


“We are all created in the image of God and God does not make mistakes,” said DeWett, a Clinton native who served as a missionary based in Ukraine for nearly 30 years and returned home when war broke out. She has been with the school for two of its three years in existence. “We try to help our students understand that they may have a difficulty to overcome, but they’re still image bearers of Christ. … We don’t just teach the minds. We teach the hearts, the minds and the souls. We believe in the well-rounded student, in every aspect.”


The school’s name change honors the providence of God. “We’re guided by divine care, prudent preparation, community belonging,” DeWett said, echoing the school’s purpose as a place “where faith meets wisdom.”


Providing options to meet individual learning needs, along with opportunities to earn a degree or complete a track toward possible employment, is a real ministry to families searching for the appropriate education for their children, Rowan said. “And, it’s a great opportunity to get to know these families and invite them into our church, to be able to meet other needs that they may have as well.”


The new location’s more affordable rent offers another bright outlook. “We’re going to be able to invest in some more state-of-the-art training and state-of-the-art equipment — things that our kids are going to need in the long run.” DeWett said.


The academy has 54 students and 15 staff members now, with the goal for a student body of 65 next fall. “In time, maybe next year, we’ll have more space and can expand more,” DeWett said. Class sizes never exceed 12 students. “We adapt and make allowances for different students. We meet them where they are, and take them beyond.”


The school will begin its move to Clinton as early as late May, and start classes there in mid-August. Fall enrollment is now open. The 7th through 12th grades classes are near capacity with limited openings, with greater availability in the elementary levels, DeWett said. Call 769-233-8813 or email providenceacademyclinton@gmail.com for more information.


The school welcomes partnerships, sponsorships and donations from local businesses, particularly for scholarships. “We have many students that are far below the poverty line, that struggle to pay our tuition, which is not exorbitant,” DeWett said. “We have parents that have three and four jobs, because they believe that their child needs to be here. We would love to look at them and say, ‘Look, we’ve covered half of your tuition, give up two of those jobs and be with your child.’ … We want to minister to the family, and the child.


“The Clinton community needs to know that we’re there and we’re ready to help families and students to prosper.”

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