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Dover School Enrollment Spins Up After Tornado

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Part 3 of our “Growing Schools” series.

“It was one thing after another,” says Chelsea Calhoun when asked about her first summer as principal and head teacher of Dover First Christian School (DFCS).

It was the summer of 2020. The pandemic was raging in full force. Calhoun worked with the school board to develop safety protocols for a planned return to in-person learning in the fall. The two-teacher school in Dover, Del., was facing a significant problem: they only had 11 students enrolled for the upcoming school year—far short of what they needed.

And then a tornado hit the school.

“Text messages started coming in saying that the building was damaged,” recalls Calhoun. “We got in the car and drove over there, and when we arrived, the side of the building was no longer attached. There were bricks all over the place, and we had a neighbor’s roof in our playground.”

The tornado, generated by Hurricane Isaias on Aug. 4, 2020, tore down an exterior brick wall of the school but, fortunately, left the rest of the building intact. Despite the damage, DFCS returned quickly to in-person learning—but still with only 11 students.

Damage caused by a tornado that hit Dover First Christian School on Aug. 4, 2020.

The school board prayed that God would bring more students to the school, and their prayers were soon answered.

“We definitely saw God show up in a big way,” says Calhoun. “At the start of the school year, we had only 11 students. By the first month, we had doubled our enrollment, and we were at 22 students.”

DFCS continued to grow into this current school year. After finishing last year with 22 students, the school board decided to act in faith and remove an interior wall to create a more spacious classroom to accommodate a growing student body. This year, they have 31 students.

“Having the growth mindset shows how much faith we have in God,” says Javier Scharon, pastor of the Dover First church. “If we are ready to receive the blessing, it’s because we trust in God. All through Scripture, we have so many examples of God telling us, ‘Be ready!’ Having a growth mindset is so important for schools and churches because it shows how much faith we have in God.”

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