Yesterday, today, and tomorrow: How the Redeemer created a Branch…
I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.
Well…how did I get here?
-David Byrne, 1980
The 2012 revitalization, redirection, and recommitment of The Branch Christian School is the end result of one family’s beginning vision. Bob and Joyce Rewalt had more than thirty years each educating in the Ohio public school system, and had been co-principals of a Christian school of 350 students, having increased it from an original fifty young people when they commenced. At a time when most teachers were either retiring or considering it, they felt the Lord urging them to establish their own Christian school.
Accordingly, they opened Redeemer Academy in 1996, in central Ohio. Their vision was to provide an educational institution, anchored in Christian faith, which would offer scholastic excellence and Godly development to an economically and culturally diverse student body. Their program also had the component of community outreach ministry.
Hence, the seeds had been planted. Redeemer Academy flourished, educating and managing 150 students for some time. High academic standards, intensive class instruction, and the infusion of family participation portrayed the success that God had granted them, their students, and all of the families associated with that school.
Subsequently, the Rewalts moved to Hilton Head, where they continued the concept began in Ohio. The school they opened in 2005 with their daughter, Wendy Lauffer, also a teacher of ten years at Redeemed, became The Branch, as it had extended its impact to South Carolina, but was, more aptly, so named from the passage in John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches, abide in me.”
The high academic standards reflected the higher calling of God, for teachers, students, and families at The Branch School. Teaching and learning at the school adopted a true tutorial approach and atmosphere. It allowed for advanced curriculum deliverable to smaller sized classes.
This year, the school has again been spiritually roused to amplify and expand. As such, planning and implementation relies heavily upon the very first foundation arising from the family’s incipient vision, as depicted in the school’s Mission Statement. The Branch School’s dynamic and demanding academics, accompanied by interwoven biblical studies, are both presented through a modified Harkness method. This is a vivified program for enthusiastic students seeking deeper knowledge and desired growth in their Christian faith.
The Rewalts and their staff bring well over one hundred years of teaching experience to the school, appreciably more so when factoring their accumulated knowledge from other previous professions, now relatable and incorporated into The Branch School program and its delivery. Aside from the exceptional skills, enduring energy, and limitless creativity so necessary for quality teaching, staff members also draw from various successful career histories and expertise in commercial art, cottage craft, engineering and architecture, law, business, criminal investigation, management, and more. This staff is the embodiment of theory and practice, energy and reflection, as well as faith and application.
The interrelation of academic learning and spiritual development is challenging. The atmosphere is charged and the characteristic thus created is exciting. A key element in the success of both is that teachers and students take this journey together…and along the way there are plenty of laughs. Serious education should never be undertaken without the seasoning of fun.