Summit Christian Academy is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2019, coinciding with a major expansion for the school.
SCA was founded in 1989 after a pair of mothers set out to form a community, faith-based school. Until that point, Christian schools in Lee’s Summit had been part of individual church ministries. SCA brought a new concept, bringing several area churches and partners together as one.
In its first year, SCA opened its doors to 32 students. LSEDC Board Member Linda Harrelson enrolled her children the following year.
“Best decision we ever made. It was really a life-changing decision for our family,” said Harrelson.
Harrelson soon joined the school board, where she served for seven years. As a board member, Harrelson helped with everything from marketing to land acquisition. Eventually an opportunity came to take the Head of School role. Harrelson, who was then the owner of several ice cream shops at the time, did not immediately jump at the opportunity. After feeling called to the position, Harrelson went back to school for her master’s degree in education.
In 1999 she became Head of School. In her 20 years at SCA, Harrelson has seen students go on to the military, 4-year institutions and even Ivy League Colleges. As proud as she is of those accomplishments, Harrelson said after all this time, she is most touched by the SCA families.
“You see lives changed, families changed. It’s amazing how it’s impacted much more than just a kid,” said Harrelson. “To see all that play out, but most importantly, see them really grounded in who they are, their faith.”
In the 30 years since its founding, SCA enrollment has swelled to more than 830 students, some of whom are second generation SCA students. Even Harrelson’s own grandchildren now attend SCA. Enrollment is so high that sometimes classes spill over to the adjacent church, but a new addition will help with that.
SCA is in the process of adding an 11,000-square-foot secondary classroom wing and a 60-car parking lot. The new classroom will feature technology upgrades and white board walls.
“A lot of the trend in education is the collaborative classroom and the white board walls will allow for that collaboration. Kids can jump up, take notes, similar to the collegiate and corporate environments that they will be learning and working in,” said Director of Development Sarah Coats.
Preparing students for their future careers is engrained into the strategy at SCA. Harrelson said SCA begins offering students hands-on experiences and soft skills training from a young age. Faculty also devote special attention to providing opportunities for students to be challenged in a controlled, emotionally-safe environment. Harrelson said she believes adding faith to the curriculum helps students keep a positive mindset and strive to do their best.
“When there’s a bit of structure and calm around them, they just get past some of that noise and go straight to what’s really important,” said Harrelson. “Our theme for this year is called ‘For a Purpose’ and isn’t that what we want our kids to understand? That they’re on this earth for a reason and how important that is.”