This year, two elementary schools’ programs have helped increase enrollment and involvement in their schools.

Springfield SDA Junior Academy has a homeschool program where homeschooled children can attend the school on Wednesdays for classes. These classes are focused on STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. Fifteen homeschoolers attend weekly.

Due to the group size, 23 total including those enrolled at the school fulltime, half the students do PE while the other half does the STEAM activity. During PE, the group takes swimming or gymnastics taught at the Springfield Gymnastics and Aquatics Center.

Amanda Fender, teacher at the Springfield, said the program has not only been beneficial to the homeschool students but has also been a positive experience for those enrolled full time at the school.

“I have seen this really help the relationship between our large homeschool community and our school,” Fender said.

This year, the Sedalia SDA School started a new program, Forest School, which has an emphasis on nature. Students spend two or more hours outside daily as part of their curriculum.

Enrollment at the school has doubled in comparison to last year. Principal and teacher Jeff White said this is partially due to Forest School. The program was an attractive element to parents considering different area schools, according to White.

White said he enjoys being able to teach outside and considers some of the unique lessons he is able to teach because of it “priceless.”

“As a teacher, one loves being able to challenge students physically by allowing them to run, jump, dig and build while mentally challenging them by incorporating their lessons into their time outside,” White said.

Students at the school said they enjoy experiencing God’s nature during school.

“I love being able to sit in the trees and do my schoolwork. Desks inside get boring,” said Hadassah, student.