Fulfilling A Vision

Prestonwood, PCA and St. Timothy Form Partnership for Special Needs

A partnership among Prestonwood, Prestonwood Christian Academy and St. Timothy Christian Academy will provide a new home and greater opportunities for students who attend the local private school for those with learning differences.

The new affiliation with St. Timothy was announced recently during Special Needs Ministry Emphasis Weekend. Pastor Jack Graham has long called the Special Needs Ministry a “Jesus Ministry.” Through this ministry, Prestonwood serves some 200 families with babies to senior adults with special needs. We also have many outreach events and ministry opportunities such as Night to Shine, a prom for special needs teens and adults in February founded by the Tim Tebow Foundation, and our annual Special Needs Ministry Dinner in December.

The crowd spills onto the court after the third annual PCA Special Friends Basketball Game.

St. Timothy Christian Academy was established in 2006 by the late Dr. Paul Warren, a noted Christian educator and psychologist who also helped PCA launch its Learning Lab program for students with learning difficulties.

St. Timothy, an independent K-12 school that currently serves about 30 students, has been located at the First Christian Church of Plano.

Dr. Larry Taylor, PCA Head of School, called the new relationship “a wonderful opportunity for our students, staff and parents to grow further in appreciation of the biblical definition of diversity as well as minister to the needs of others beyond our own.

“In attempting to be a blessing to the St. Timothy community,” Dr. Taylor said, “we recognize that PCA stakeholders will be the ones who will be blessed!”

St. Timothy will begin using classroom space in the Prestonwood Special Needs Ministry Suite later this summer—the next step in a process that will provide increased educational and extracurricular opportunities for St. Timothy students through PCA.

Initially, PCA officials had considered creating its own program for students with learning difficulties, studying similar Christian schools across the country and visiting a couple. But eventually it became clear that creating the partnership with St. Timothy would be the best fit for both schools.

St. Timothy and PCA share a “philosophical and educational like-mindedness” that will provide students from St. Timothy with spiritual, educational and athletic opportunities now largely unavailable to them, Dr. Taylor said.

Temple Weiss, a member of the PCA Board of Trustees and longtime Prestonwood member, has been deeply involved in the process of bringing the two schools and the church together. Temple and his wife, Jennifer, have a son and daughter at PCA and a daughter with special needs.

“St. Timothy does a great job of providing instruction for folks with different learning issues,” Temple said, but because of its size, there is no band, no choir, no football, no sports.

Those kinds of opportunities and the interaction those things provide become increasingly important as students move into middle-school age.

More than 500 participated in the 2nd annual Tim Tebow Night to Shine prom for people with special needs at Prestonwood.

“By affiliating and becoming part of a larger community, the St. Timothy students will get that kind of atmosphere,” he said.

Students from the special friends team played against the PCA boys middle school basketball team.

At first, it’s likely that the interaction between PCA and St. Timothy students will center around combined chapel services. But that’s just a first step, Temple said.

A little farther out, it’s possible that St. Timothy students will attend some classes at PCA, based on their academic abilities and interests. Some specific programs that could help students find their place in the job market are also a possibility, officials said.

But most importantly, the interaction between the student bodies will create new opportunities for both, Temple said, and in particular represent a great teachable moment for students at PCA.

“We’re constantly teaching students about the heart of PCA—sensitivity and empathy—and these are the kinds of things you can only learn by being around them,” Temple said. “It’s our hope that the community rallies around these kids and recognizes that all life has value.

“That’s exactly why we hope the potential is to have the two schools work together,” he said.

Interestingly, the PCA-St. Timothy partnership is exactly what Dr. Warren envisioned from the very beginning.

“His vision was always to have a Christian school with a special needs program, kind of like the public schools have,” Temple said. “Starting a school wasn’t really his vision. It was to have a special needs program within a Christian school.

“So, bringing St. Timothy into the Prestonwood organization is really fulfilling Dr. Warren’s original vision.”

Published: April 3, 2017 
Author: Michael Young

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