We continue with our three-part series on RMC education. In this section, we will look at how inflation and the nationwide shortage of teachers are affecting RMC education.  We will also discover how anyone who wishes to enroll their child in an RMC school, can do so regardless of finances. Looking ahead to next week, we will be asking Diane Harris, RMC education director, and Paul Negrete, associate director of education, how RMC’s two academies are faring and about the future of Campion and Mile High Academy.

NN: We know that the economy these days is hard to adjust to, with inflation and the cost of living increases. The cost of Adventist education is continuing to rise every year. Is the Rocky Mountain Conference ensuring Adventist education remains affordable so that any child can attend regardless of finances?

Diane Harris: The beauty of our system is that every one of our school treasurers and principals never want any family to miss attending our schools because of finances. There is the strongest commitment to ensuring that those students are able to come to our school.

Our structure is that our income primarily comes from tuition, either from churches or from parents. There’s a lot of fundraising at our schools to meet the needs of those families who need the extra support.

NN: If there is a family who wishes to send their child to Campion Academy, but they know the finances won’t allow them to send their child, what would be your advice to that family?

Diane Harris: My advice to the family is, do not hesitate to reach out to Campion. There are resources available for any family. Campion works very hard to make sure that finances do not hinder enrollment.

Paul Negrete: This goes for all of our schools. Go take a tour, look at the school and speak to the administration.

They have a variety of ways to help your student get into school. I haven’t heard of any stories at all where a student goes to Campion or any of our schools and, for financial reasons, doesn’t get in.

Diane Harris: Absolutely. Dean Helm at Campion has a passion for working with these families to make sure that they’re able to send their children.

NN: Our school enrollment is increasing, and that brings unique challenges in hiring teachers for the increased number of students.  As of the end of April, RMC has 17 open positions for the next school year. Are you worried?

Diane Harris: At the end of the day, these are God’s schools, and I believe that He has someone for each of these positions. Some of the openings are transitions from teachers within our conference to another school within the conference.

I’m excited about the possibilities. We’re conversing with some strong candidates right now, and this week and next, we’ve got interviews. It’s definitely a time that I’ve never seen before with the number of resumes coming in versus the number of openings that we have.

NN: Other than praying for the fulfillment of these openings, what are some steps RMC members can do concerning these openings?  Can they reach out to teachers they know?

Diane Harris: I think that if they know of someone who is a strong teacher, someone that they are connected to, they could encourage them to explore the option of working in the Rocky Mountain Conference. That’s the best way to recruit.

NN: How about teachers who have recently retired but want to help for a few years.  Would you welcome them to apply?

Diane Harris:  Absolutely, yes!

NN: What happens if these positions don’t get filled?

Diane Harris: Glenwood Springs, for example, would like to reopen, and yet they feel like they would rather stay closed than bring in the wrong candidate. They are trusting in God’s timing. And if now’s not the time to reopen, they will wait until the right candidate comes.

NN: Are there any schools that are in danger of closing because of the teacher shortage?

Paul Negrete: I don’t know that we immediately have any schools in danger of closing. We’ve gone through different scenarios, and maybe at first it looked like that might be an option, but thankfully, I don’t think we’re there yet.

There have been some last-minute people who have come through. The last-minute people are, again, God’s direction, but I think we’re going to be fairly shored up.

We may have to tighten the belt here and there. We may have to combine some classes in some schools and make some adjustments. I don’t think, at least right now, unless something drastically changes, that we’re going to have to close a school.

Diane Harris: Everyone in schools, including our teachers, cares deeply about the families and the students because of their love for Jesus and it’s transmitted into their teaching. I think that’s why we’re growing. And that’s why we’re not without challenges, but I’m really proud of our schools.

–RMCNews; photo supplied