We sat down with Associate Head of School – Academics, Dr. Marcia Sutton to share her story, hear her thoughts on early childhood education, and explore the essence of kindergarten and lower school at CPA.
Tell us about your background.
I was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, raised in Maine, and completed high school in New Jersey. I have my Bachelor of Science in Education, Master of Science in Counseling, and Doctor of Educational Leadership degrees. I have worked in education for 18 years, and my experience is largely in public education. I’ve been a teacher, counselor, and administrator in public schools; I was raised in a preacher’s home and am married to a minister. We have three sons, two married and living in Nashville, and one son still in college. We moved to Nashville last June, and I have never seen so many private schools in one area. I have also never met a place that loves as well as CPA!
How have your experiences working in elementary education shaped your perspective on early childhood development?
I have worked to educate and mentor children for 18 years. I have also worked with elementary school teachers to improve their classrooms. I have been blessed to witness hundreds of times the journey of a child to early adolescence and adulthood. I have also been a pastor’s wife for over 25 years, teaching and mentoring teens from all kinds of schooling environments, and I believe the early years of education and development are critical for a healthy path to independence.
A solid cognitive, emotional, and spiritual foundation built for children in their early years serves them through early adolescence, all the way into young adulthood.
Research shows us that a person’s moral foundations are generally in place by the age of nine. These foundations create fundamental perspectives on truth, integrity, meaning, justice, morality and ethics. Scripture helps us to understand the principle that parents should train up their children while they are young.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
How does K-2 at CPA work to build this foundation of faith, life skills, and character?
Working in a public education environment, I was often privy to the “missing piece” of a faith-based curriculum for many children struggling to cope with harsh realities in life or at home, realities that unfortunately creep deeper into early childhood in this day and age than for generations before us. Children need to see Jesus. They need to experience His love and grace. Jesus repeatedly emphasizes the role of children in His Kingdom in the Scriptures:
“‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” –Mark 10:14-16
CPA embraces childlike faith and wonder, teaches scripture, and opens the door for students to pursue a relationship with Jesus. This is critical to inculcate Christian worldview in the K-2 classroom.
Young children pattern their thinking and behavior based upon what is modeled for them by their parents and early influencers. The faculty and staff at CPA are dedicated to partnering with parents in surrounding their children with faith in action, authentic experiences, and daily reminders of God’s creation, His pursuant love, and dominion over all knowledge.
Through a rigorous academic curriculum, students are encouraged not only to learn who, what, and how…but WHY. The Academy strives for purpose-filled learning.
What is kindergarten like at CPA?
Our kindergarten teachers are an incredible group of educators with a shared passion for growing the minds and hearts of young children.
A kindergartner’s day is filled with reading fundamentals, Bible stories, praise and worship, phonics instruction, stories and rhyme, physical development, patterns and number sequence, ABC Bible memory verses, artistic exploration, self-help skills, modeling kindness, and serving others. It is all about exploring the wonder of the world in which God has placed us. Check out this video to get to know our teachers and the amazing atmosphere they create for student development.
If you could offer words of advice to young parents in search of a quality Christian education- what would they be?
Young children are God’s gift to the world. Today, perhaps more than ever, it is paramount to invest intentionally towards their character, not just their education.
Please feel free to reach out to Dr. Sutton if you’d like to learn more about CPA, or discuss parenting through big decisions around education and development. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org