Transforming Lives through Adventist Education

Even little Adventist schools in small communities can make a difference when God works through a partnership with school staff and church members.

North American November 5, 2020

It was just a regular day in Melody’s classroom when a visitor arrived, asked to do a classroom observation, and stayed for two days. The visitor was an associate superintendent of schools and she liked what she saw – she offered Melody a job in a school 13 hours away.

The only catch was the school had been voted to close and there was only one student enrolled for the school year. Melody and her new husband of one week arrived and immediately started work. Building an edible garden, painting, cleaning and getting ready for the school year. The church members joined in and soon the school was sparkling. People noticed and the school year started with not 1 but 8 children. That was 8 years ago and that little school now has 32 children, with three classrooms, Melody, and three assistant teachers.

The community of Stanley has a median income of only $25,000 per household and sadly there is a massive problem with methamphetamines. This hasn’t stopped the Stanley Seventh-day Adventist Church from recruiting and supporting their school. Although everyone pays, tuition is determined solely by income, meaning that tuition for some can be as low as $10 per month. How does the school provide a quality Christian education without the luxury of a tuition-driven budget?

Every Fall for over 80 years the church members have gathered together to make apple butter. They have a secret method that makes their apple butter something people drive from Illinois or South Carolina to buy. The church makes 300 gallons of apple butter every year, they also run an annual auction, go door to door to businesses to solicit tax deductible funds and many other fundraisers.

Melody prays over her students every day, even the students she hasn’t yet met. Many of the families of her students want the best for their children but tragically some of the parents have been incarcerated for one reason or another. So, Melody not only works with her students every day in the classroom – she also welcomes them into her home. From with her first year at Stanley when she and her husband overcame many insurmountable obstacles to become foster parents so they could care for two of the children in her class, to the ten children she has adopted or fosters in her home today.

One of her children came to school each day with just one sad little sausage in a dingy plastic container. Melody noticed and a new idea was born. Three days a week the church family cooks and serves a hot lunch for the school children. Breakfast is served every day for free.

The stories Melody describes when asked to share her testimony bring the listener to tears. The children she has taught and brought to live in her home are so precious and have been dealt some unbelievably difficult cards. However, they have been blessed by an amazing teacher who is very humble and gives all the credit for the success of her school to God.

Melody’s voice trembles as she states, “I am not an amazing teacher, I am a broken person that has given my life to the Lord and He has used me to transform lives despite of my many failings.”

When asked why she continues to serve each year – she laughs and says, “God hasn’t told me to move yet and my superintendent says I can’t leave because they don’t have anyone to take my place.”

God is working in amazing ways in Stanley, and right across North America Adventist Education is transforming lives. Won’t you join us in the journey?


Dr. Leisa is the Director of Elementary Education at the North American Division. She has taught on the east and west coasts of the U.S, both in and out of the Adventist education system, and in Australia and New Zealand. She has also spent a considerable part of her career teaching at universities, including lecturing in the education departments at the University of Maryland, Washington Adventist University and Macquarie University, a large state university in Sydney, Australia, with over 40,000 students. Leisa holds a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland, an MA in Education from California State University and a Diploma in Education from Avondale College.

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