By STEPHEN FLANAGAN JACKSON
“Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”— Mark 10:14.
The Ruskin Christian School (RCS) has been serving South Shore since 1968. The RCS not only follows these words of Jesus Christ as attributed by Mark, RCS takes it to the next level and beyond. The school and the faculty and staff encourage, guide and develop youth of all ages in their spiritual, physical and intellectual growth. Over its 50 years of existence of service, the school program has expanded but the mission remains the same: A quality academic education integrated with a Christian view of God and the world.
The RCS staff and faculty are professional and called to serve families by teaching and modeling a Christ-centered life that glorifies Jesus Christ. The close personal instruction with a family atmosphere attracts parents who are seeking an accepting and friendly environment for their children. The faculty represent a variety of academic credentials and backgrounds and are selected based on their Christian testimony, love and concern for children, their professional training and their ability to teach. The faculty help prepare the RCS students to go forth into the world and also to move on to other institutions of learning.
The leaders at RCS enjoy investing into the lives of the children, as do the faculty and staff who have chosen to work in a private Christian school. At the top of the organizational chart is the superintendent, Dr. Barry Rumsey. Rumsey is also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ruskin. The school principal and top administrator is Tim Vanderveer, while Kent Alexander is the secondary school principal. They are the ones, along with approximately 30 faculty and staff, who make sure RCS has the resources, spirit and credentials to serve 271 students from 2 years old right on through 12th grade. They make sure that RCS retains its accreditation by the Florida Association of Christian Colleges & Schools, and by the national Council for Private Schools.
Vanderveer has been the RCS administrator for 15 years. He grew up in Haines City, Fla., and attended Landmark Christian School. Later, he attended Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Mo. and then received a master’s degree in School Administration from Louisiana Bible College. Vanderveer worked at three other Christian schools for 22 years in Tampa, Tallahassee and Arlington, Texas, prior to coming to RCS.
Vanderveer says, “It is our desire at RCS to remain a valuable option to public education in the South Shore area. We hope that parents choose to enroll their children in RCS because it supports the same biblical values that are taught at home.”
The veteran educator also realizes the practical challenges he and his team face, such as maintaining and sustaining RCS “with several charter schools opening in the South Shore area over the past few years.”
As RCS celebrates and commemorates its 50th anniversary, Vanderveer aspires that the private school continues to provide a quality educational program including the fine arts, technology and athletics at a cost that parents in the community can afford.
The grounds and facilities are impeccable and include well-kept classrooms, a spacious, modern gymnasium and a lush, green soccer field as well as outside basketball goals, playgrounds, cafeteria and tables for dining outside. Right in front of the school is the location of the venerable First Baptist Church with a large, spirit-filled auditorium for the congregation and for the use of the students for special programs and assemblies.
Vanderveer is extremely proud of the wide range of programs and activities — curricular and extracurricular — offered at RCS.This includes the Warriors athletic program and PE under Athletic Director Mike Melone for students in middle and high school in soccer, volleyball, basketball, cheerleading and boosters. Each spring the RCS drama department puts on a production involving many of the students. In April, the students will perform the all-time favorite, Annie.
The school is also up-to-date in technology, with grades seven through 12 including e-books, Apple classrooms and other educational apps. The elementary level students have daily PE, art, music, iPads and Spanish classes weekly.
Of course, RCS includes Chapel and daily Bible classes as part of its educational day.
The school and church are located at 820 College Ave. in Ruskin. For more information about the school, call 813-645-6441, or visit the school’s website at www.ruskinchristianschool.net.
For 50 years the RCS has lived up to its motto, and plans to continue doing so for a long time to come: Rewarding Experience, Christian Perspective, Serving Others.