Generous sponsorships provide for 40 learners from nearby farms and orphanage
Jesus was the initiator of Plumb Line Christian Academy in the farming district of Tarkastad and He remains the centre of this unique school, according to Kitty Phillips, the administrator and visionary of the school.
Kitty says the name ‘Plumb Line’ came from a time of prayer, wanting the standard of the school to be in line with God’s measuring line, the Word of God. There are numerous scriptures where the word ‘Plumb Line’ is used as a measuring line.
“We do not see ourselves as merely a school, but a ministry. The benefit of our curriculum is that it is Christian-based with a Biblical viewpoint and foundation. Students have devotions every morning and learn Scripture.
“Plumb Line Christian Academy is about discipling children, so that when our students graduate they have a firm foundation and a strong personal relationship with the Lord.
“While our academic work at the school is important, much emphasis is placed on giving God space in the syllabus, which is more important than anything else, because the children learn to hear the voice of God.”
Plumb Line Christian Academy began with a vision that Kitty had on her farm in Tarkastad in 2000. “I was sitting and pondering as to why we had to send our children away to boarding school when we live in such a beautiful area in which we could offer our children so much?
“The initial prompting of the Lord that I received during a time of prayer, was to withdraw our children from the government schooling system and introduce them to the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum (ACE), a Bible-based schooling system at home.
“The vision that I received was of a school on a farm in a community setting, with people of different ages positively impacting on the children’s lives.
“The Scriptures to back the vision were from Isaiah concerned with rebuilding the ancient ruins, and Nehemiah, which related to using stones to build something that would glorify God,” says Kitty.
She explains that ACE was founded 45 years ago in the USA and is now used world-wide. The curriculum integrates the learning of formal educational subjects with the truths and values of God’s Word.
“Learners work at their own pace, setting both long and short term goals for themselves. They work on their level of achievement and not according to their chronological age. Students do not move on until they have mastered what they are busy with – unless they achieve an 80% pass mark they do not move on to the next level.
“Students are being taught to set and achieve their own goals. Not only does this facilitate successful learning for various learning styles, but it also teaches children to become responsible for their own learning from a young age. Teaching is one-on-one, so the child works at a pace and level that they can achieve.
“The system provides a well-rounded learning experience for each and every child, continually building on life skills, knowledge and Godly character traits.
“Furthermore, schooling takes place in the simplicity and beauty of country life and encompasses every aspect of a healthy and active lifestyle in a farming environment, with strong Christian values at the core,” says Kitty.
She reports that graduates of the school cope very well at university, because they have been taught to take responsibility themselves, set their goals and to achieve their objectives.
While Plumb Line Christian Academy began in 2007 with 10 students in a garage, today, the school is thriving with almost 100 students being afforded the opportunity to an education of excellence that begins in the preparatory and foundational phases and ends in the final year of secondary school.
However, Kitty says the start of the school was a season of intense training for the Phillips family, as well as four other families that supported the idea of accelerated Bible-based education in the home.
In 2007 Plumb Line Christian Academy employed a teacher and registered a small school on the Phillips’ farm, geared to the holistic education of privileged and underprivileged children. Initially 10 children attended the school, but within a couple of months after inception, the school grew to 14 learners. By the end of 2007, the single classroom was bursting with children eager to learn.
During the course of 2008 the school outgrew the classroom and moved to the nearby town of Tarkastad, renting space in the Sports’ Club Hall for its 24 students. A hostel was also made available, where some of the children boarded during term months. Later on in the year the acquisition of a farm, Orange Grove, was made possible, which is now home to the ‘country school and sports academy’.
God makes a way
Kitty says once again the life-giving leadership of the Lord has been abundantly clear as He has provided ‘a way where there seemed to be no way’ for them to acquire such a perfect piece of land, at such a perfect time.
“In the year 2009 we managed to renovate a learning centre, library, office and bathrooms. We have since built a two-classroom preschool with a playground; several learning centres, a school hall and outdoor educational centre; and sporting facilities, which encompass two sports fields, two tennis courts, three cricket nets, and a gravel athletics track. The sporting facilities form part of our ‘Sporting Academy’, envisaged as a medium through which to raise up young sports stars, or simply affording young people the opportunity of expressing and enjoying themselves in physical sporting activities.
“The wealth of the nations began to pour in, which has enabled us to sponsor children from neighbouring farms and from the local Tarka orphanage.
“Today, we have 40 children at the school who are sponsored. Their sponsorships include everything from school and boarding house fees, to the provision of textbooks, clothing and extra-mural equipment and activities.
“Many of the sponsorships have been provided by visiting Americans that hunt in the area, who are touched by the vision and activities of the school and return home having provided a sponsorship for the requirements of a child to study at Plumb Line School.
“The fact that disadvantaged children mix with more privileged children makes for a well-balanced social environment,” she says.
“Everything that the Lord showed me is unfolding: a place for the young and old, an outdoor education centre, as well as an equine therapy centre. Steadily the vision is coming to pass.”
The school employs 28 staff members that include teachers, outdoor education instructors and groundskeepers. Desireé Joubert , Regional Representative for ACE in the Eastern Cape and Principal of Fountain of Life Christian School in Uitenhage, recently visited Plumb Line Christian Academy to assess systems and offer support.
She says it has been amazing over the last five years to see the way God is blessing the school with resources and the right people to teach the students and take the school forward in a multi-disciplinary education format.
Prophetic art classes
The school’s Prophetic Art classes also made a big impact on Desireé. “I had heard about the school’s Prophetic Art classes, but had no idea of what they were. However, on my most recent visit I had a graphic and uplifting experience of exactly what the classes entail,” says Desireé. Twelve and 13-year-old students were told the day before that Desireé would be visiting, and were requested to spend time with the Lord in prayer and meditation and ask Him to give a picture to encourage her.
However, they knew nothing about Desireé, nor were they given any information concerning her. After spending time waiting on the Lord, the students drew what they felt God was saying to them, and their teacher helped them interpret what they had painted.
The next day the students produced their prophetic art relating to Desireé and explained the meaning of each picture to her.
“I was so blessed by the visit to Plumb Line School and experiencing the prophetic art. Although the students did not know me or what I do, the results absolutely blew me away.
“It was so amazing to hear the unadulterated voice of God that came through the children’s art.
“I have been going through a tough time and have been feeling stressed, which the students’ art was able to touch on and give me direction.
‘Colourful sounds in the earth’
“Bridget said her picture means that I will pray for people and set them alight and bring colour into their lives, while Xolisa said his picture showed that I am going to make colourful sounds in the earth.
“Zukanye said her picture means that I am going to write music and God’s hand is going to help me do it. While I am doing it God is going to put His hand on me, because this is what He wants from me.
“What is really astounding is that before visiting the school God had reminded me that I am a worshipper and that He has called me to worship,” says Desireé.
She says as a principal herself, she is amazed by how holistic and integrated the learning experience at Plumb Line Christian Academy is.
Although Plumb Line Christian Academy was birthed in faith from a seemingly small and insignificant seed, it is growing into a strong rural education and discipling ministry that is attracting students from cities as far afield as Johannesburg and East London.