“It is hard to believe it’s already been seven years since we moved to Faith Academy from Japan,” says Tom Hardeman with OC since 1990. “This school year begins year eight for us—this time around. I say that because both of us have worked at Faith Academy before.
Maddy taught here two and a half years before we were married and I taught here one year. Our Faith Academy experience continues to be an exciting ride! We have seen God’s hand at work in so many ways over the years, with many confirmations that this is right where He wants us to be at this time in our lives!”
Faith Academy started in 1957 as a school primarily for the children of American missionaries serving in Asia. Over the years, Faith’s demographics have changed as missions have changed. Currently the student body is about 30 percent American, 40 percent Korean, 14 percent Filipino, and the rest a mix of about 15 other nationalities. In other words, the school has become a much more international and diverse community. This has been both exciting and challenging.
“As I reflect on God’s timing in bringing us to the Philippines,” says Tom, “I believe it comes when the school is at a crossroad of sorts. It is clearly no longer the same school it was when we attended it back in the ’60s and ’70s. The world in general, and the make-up of the mission community, has changed dramatically since then.”
Faith Academy, by necessity has to adjust in order to provide a relevant educational experience for our students. Here are some of the things that are stretching the boundaries for this school community. Please pray for the school board, administrators, teachers, parents and students as each of these are addressed:
- A new grading system that seeks to better reflect academic achievement and separate out: attitude, work habits, and behavior into independent categories.
- Exploring ways to expand integration of technology throughout the curriculum.
- Admitting non-missionary families on a regular basis (we have a 20 percent limit).
- Advertising to bring in local Christian Filipino families.
- Significant additions and changes to campus buildings.
- Discussions about possibly adding the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program to our American-based curriculum.
- An English only campus to encourage unity and community.
- Discussions about some form of compensation for the teaching staff.
- Meeting the college entrance needs of students who will not go to the U.S. for their next steps.
- Helping educate children of the new missionaries going out from many Asian countries.
“Another huge change has happened this year, which will impact me personally,” says Tom. “In 1982, Faith Academy Mindanao was started. This was a 1st-8th grade satellite school over 1,000 kilometers south of Manila. As Head of the School, I am also responsible for this campus. Recently Faith Mindanao became a K-12 school and began feeling the need for greater independence. In dialogue with the School Board, the decision was made to separate the two campuses. Instead of having one Superintendent over both schools, each campus will have a Head of School. Starting this year Faith Mindanao has their own Head of School, and I serve as Faith Manila’s Head. This is an answer to many prayers. I will no longer need to travel several times a year down to Mindanao as part of my job, but can instead focus on the needs of the Manila campus.”
There has also been a significant shift in the ways U.S. churches view supporting teachers who come to serve at Faith Academy. This is not considered “front line” ministry, therefore many churches are not as interested in supporting the school or its teachers. What these churches fail to realize is that without Faith Academy, many of the families serving in “front line” ministry would need to return home prematurely to educate their children.
“What we do at Faith Academy is definitely a parallel ministry and critical to the missionary effort in Asia,” says Tom. “Please pray with us that God will touch the hearts of decision-makers in churches to see the value of continuing to support those who minister at Faith Academy, especially with the ongoing, worldwide economic situation.”
“In the meantime, we continue to joyfully serve the Lord here in the Philippines. We can think of no greater way to invest our lives than to give our time, energy, and love to these students and their families. Our efforts at Faith Academy involve making eternal investments in the lives of students, which in turn supports families who can then focus on spreading the good news of the gospel! What a rewarding adventure to be a part of.”
“THANK YOU for helping to make this happen with your faithful prayers, encouragement, and financial support. We are honored to be your representatives to the mission field.”
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