We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord…that the next generation might know them…so that they should set their hope in God… ~ Psalm 78:4-7
One of the glorious deeds of the Lord I will be telling others about for years to come is the story of Redeemer Day School, a story of mountains moved and waters parted before our eyes.
On January 21, 2014, The Heiskell School announced it would be closing its doors after 65 years of serving the Lord through Christian education in Atlanta. Those of us who had been teaching there for years were heartbroken. We felt called of the Lord to be teachers, to impart to the next generation a love for the Lord and a desire to pursue excellence in academics and in a life dedicated to Him. How were we to do that when our school was closing after generations of faithful service? School parents grieved alongside us because they treasured the way the Lord nurtured the minds and hearts of their children through The Heiskell School.
Over the next few months, parents of our preschool students kept approaching us individually asking questions like, “Where can I find something like Miss Page’s two year old class for my youngest?” and “Can I please drop my child off in your driveway next year?” and “Could you just do a little something at your house?” We knew we did not want our unique ministry to end. Why would the Lord invest so much in equipping us to teach only to have us stop? Five of the preschool teachers, Pat Reynolds, Connie Heiskell, Cheryl LeBlanc, Page Whitfield, and I, decided to meet with these parents and hear the desire of their hearts. Would it be possible for us to start a school with no building and little business experience? We had a century of teaching experience between us, but none of us had ever started a school or a business. It was a daunting prospect.
Amber Vestal, a mother of three at Heiskell, helped to coordinate a meeting on April 24th at the home of one of the teachers. Lori Holsinger, a school parent whose children were already committed to another independent school for the following school year, asked if she could come to pray with us at that meeting. By the time the meeting was over, we had decided that there seemed to be enough interest and support for us to begin to search for a location. The group created a list of potential locations to explore. The Church of The Apostles was our first choice, but with a thriving women’s and children’s ministry, we had heard that there was no room for a five day preschool program.
Lori found a church in Smyrna, Tillman United Methodist Church, whose senior pastor happily opened the doors wide for us. We sent out a school wide flyer and a survey to our parents to see who might be interested in attending our school if we were located in Smyrna. Unfortunately, the location was simply not practical for many of our interested families. Our group determined to keep searching for a location.
Unbeknownst to us, the email flyer we sent out was forwarded to Joshua Youssef at The Church of The Apostles. Since the previous fall, he had been part of a group of fathers who had been praying and researching the idea of starting a preschool at The Church of The Apostles. He contacted Lori and me and asked if we would consider being located there. Consider it? It was our first choice! Initially, there was still concern about room for a five day preschool program, but the church graciously found space for us. We knew now that the Lord was doing something special. He had brought two groups with a common vision and desire together. His hand was on this work, and the mountains really started moving. Anything we needed or asked for, He gave us, and then some.
Quickly, the Lord showed us how the Holy Spirit works through His people. Amber Vestal continued to spread the word about our new school among Heiskell families and the broader Atlanta community. Lori Holsinger has spent countless hours helping us navigate the business side of things and agreed to be Chairman of the Board. We needed legal assistance to establish ourselves as a non-profit corporation. Only moments after we asked the Lord for help, Scott Harty emailed and volunteered any legal work we needed. Cannon Reynolds designed a logo for us. We needed a website, and Julie Easton volunteered to design it at no cost to us. Lisa Zimmerman offered to donate her time and talent as our website photographer.
The Lord also assembled a wonderful group of people to serve on our Board along with Lori and me: Chip Brookhart, Jamie Heiskell, Pat Reynolds, Ray Leatherman, and Joshua Youssef. Mr. Leatherman, who served as the Bible teacher at The Heiskell School for 39 years, agreed to be our chaplain and lead a parent Bible Study.
Virginia Peebles, our treasured Principal of the preschool at The Heiskell School agreed to serve as Assistant to the Director. She is an invaluable mentor and support with 48 years of experience building relationships with both preschool families and other Atlanta area schools.
Best of all, the Lord has brought wonderful families to be part of the Redeemer family. As teachers, we look forward to coming alongside our school parents to mentor and support them as they train [their children] in the way they should go — Proverbs 22:6. By God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s work in the hearts of men and women, the dream of Redeemer Day School has become a reality.
Why do we share this story? As our school verse says, so that they [the coming generation] should set their hope in God. — Psalm 78:4-7. We hope that you will join us on this wonder filled journey. Join us as a school family. Join us in prayer for His new school. As Mr. Leatherman reminds us, Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. — Psalm 127:1. We are standing back, watching Him build, amazed, wondering, “What will He do next?” With our God, anything is possible.
Giving all Praise and Honor and Glory to Him,